Sunsets and dawns

Ninety-sixth dawn: Snow

A/N: I'm scared. The review count is frozen at 666. That's the devil's number. This story is cursed until at least on of you reviews. Go on. Uncurse us.

I'm sorry I forgot to update yesterday. Dream Team had an unexpected meeting over Facebook and Twitter and my wits left me. ^^ (love you gals if you read this)

Anyway, enjoy this chapter!

37. Ninety-sixth dawn: Snow

It was a morning as every other for Snow White and Prince Charming.

Their natural alarm clock was, as usual, the hungry cries of their son Neal in the adjacent room, and as usual on a Saturday morning, it was David who did the honour to get up, pecking his wife on the lips before he exited the room to start a baby bottle in the kitchen.

Snow groaned a little then turned to the side, eyes closing again for a gain of minutes of sleep.

She knew she must look a mess. Newborns weren't what she was used to, Emma having been taken from her arms early on, but nothing had prepared her for the endless cooing of a restless baby, for the belly-aching, for the early baby bottles, for the constant looking over your shoulder.

She was utterly exhausted.

And yet, also utterly happy.

The knowledge that her son could be a key to defeating the newest threat on Storybrooke wasn't even a surprise at all. She was used to it by now. Her children, being born out of True Love, would always be special and would always be of some use, whatever that use was.

It did not prevent her from sleeping, even if, sometimes, David softly shook her awake when, in her nightmares, she started screaming, her cries awaking the whole loft.

And yet, in moments like these, she was mostly concerned about Regina.

She had never have had to consider her child a saviour, had never had to look at him or her as a solution for the world to be in peace. She would have wanted her daughter for herself, and here she was, three months pregnant, and her unborn child was already the talk of town.

There also was the issue of Regina being stubborn enough not to tell Robin of her pregnancy. If Snow understood her motives, she could not fathom that one would want to live through this period – hardened by the threat of Thea – without help or support from someone she loved and who loved her.

That made her restless.

A little later, Snow got up, crossing the curtain that was their bedroom's limit and into the living-room, and a smile formed on her lips.

David was holding little Neal in a sitting position in his arms, and the toddler was almost ready to hold the baby bottle on his own. His blue eyes were closed and he was enjoying his breakfast in silence.

She advanced in the room and walked to the counter to prepare their own breakfast, putting a soft kiss on her husband's naked shoulder. He responded by flashing her a grin.

What a peaceful scene.

That was interrupted as the doorbell rang.

David looked over as his wife, an eyebrow raised. "Who could call at this hour?"

She shrugged. "Maybe Regina. She's not very well at the moment..." She did not think about her being in her nightgown and wrapped a robe around herself to open the door while David remained hidden in the kitchen. You never knew.

It was indeed Regina, her eyes red, trails of tears on her cheeks.

She was looking a mess, and a sob escaped her lips as she took in Snow, who stood in her doorway, flabbergasted at her friend's appearance. "So-sorry... I d-did not know where to-to go..."

Snow didn't think twice before pulling Regina's arm so she entered the loft, and her hands squeezed her shoulders softly, her green eyes boring into her unexpected guest. "What happened?"

Regina looked at her, weakened by the visible pain in her eyes. Snow could not remember another time when her step-mother had been in her mercy like this, soul bare and pain out in the open. Asking her help. "Robin came. He knows for the baby."

In a second Snow understood the implications. Robin had learnt she did not know how of Regina's child being his as well and had gone to confront her, and somehow, the conversation had turned bitter, Regina no doubt trying to make him understand that he had no right to be mad at her when he had chosen Marian over her.

Snow's heart screamed at her that two True Loves needed to be together, and she wanted to yell at Robin for choosing Marian and at Regina for pushing him away. But her mind was more clever, and she knew the scars this whole ordeal had left on Regina's heart.

Right now, she did not need a lecture, she needed a friend.

Snow closed the door and turned to her husband, who stood frozen in the kitchen, he too moved by Regina's appearance. She threw him a look.

David's eyes widened, and then he cleared his throat. "Right... I-I'll be upstairs." And he crossed the room to the staircase, disappearing in Neal's room, the door silently closing behind both boys.

Snow turned to Regina. "Take your coat off. I'm making you a hot chocolate. With a lot of chocolate."

Regina nodded, tears still streaming from her eyes, and she fumbled with the buttons for a moment before effectively taking her coat off, putting it down on a chair before she let herself fall on the couch, hands encompassing her face as she tried to stop crying.

Snow watched her intently as she prepared their beverage. Trying to know what was the right course of action. Did her friend need companionship, or to talk, or maybe help?

She decided to try for the talking part.

Sitting down next to Regina, she put two smoking mugs down on the coffee-table and looked at her former foe gently. "Want to tell me the whole story?"

Regina shook her head. "Not really..."

"Okay then." She smirked and remained silent, knowing that Regina's refusal was usually followed by a flow of words.

She was right.

"Marian's left him."

That simple sentence froze Snow on place. Her mouth was slightly agape, and she gasped, unable to stop herself. "She what?"

"Left him. Yesterday. She told me she'd do it, but apparently, she was waiting for the right moment..."

"She told you-? Wait wait wait, hold on. Let's start at the beginning. You and Marian have been talking?"

Regina bit her lip, and Snow understood she was somehow ashamed not to have told her. But Snow understood her reasons. She had Elsa, and Jefferson, and Tinkerbell. She was swallowed up to the eyeballs in nursing her son, and had missed quite the things since Elsa's saving.

Her friend nodded. "I went to visit Elsa at the hospital one evening, and Marian asked to talk to me. She said Robin had told her I was pregnant, and that she knew it was his. She had understood on her own that Robin and I had started a relationship while she was...away, and she didn't want to be in the way."

"Wow." Snow's eyes widened. "That's brave."

Regina nodded. "She said she did not want to live a loveless marriage, and that ever since she had been back, Robin and her had been constantly fighting. And so, yesterday, she left him."

"How do you know?"

"Roland ran away."

Snow gasped, but then tilted her head. "Makes sense. Poor darling...it must have been a shock."

Regina nodded. "It was. He came to me. I soothed him, he stayed little less than an hour, ad then Robin arrived. He had guessed he had come to me, I think."

"And that's when he noticed your belly or something?" Snow was glancing down at Regina's fingers playing on her stomach, and it was showing a little under her dress.

Regina shook her head. "No, he didn't. But Roland had. I think he might have told his father."

Snow nodded, a light-bulb switching on in her mind. "So he came to you this morning."

Regina nodded. "Yes." Fresh tears escaped her eyes. "He was furious...and then...he said he wanted to start over."

"And you don't want it?" her eternal romantic heart was leaping in her chest.

"No. I mean...he'd only be choosing me because Marian has left. I promised myself I'd never be anyone's second-choice ever again."

She paused, and Snow pondered her words. She had guessed, she thought, that Regina's torn soul was still mending from Zelena's attacks and the discovery that Rumpel and Cora had only chosen her because Zelena was not there. She had been everyone's second-choice all her life. Even Henry's.

She understood. She was not certain she approved, but she understood.

Her fingers found Regina's, and she smiled gently. "Well...you can stay here as long as you want."

Their moment was interrupted with an angry knocking on the door, followed by a loud "Snow!"

The princess sprang to her feet, having recognized one of her small friends. She opened the lock and was met with Happy's concerned face. "Happy? What is it?"

"You've got to come!" he panted as if he had been running. "Grumpy's been attacked by the witch!"

Snow gasped and she whirled around, her eyes meetings Regina's, which were less red with the urgency. She nodded with determination.

Snow turned back to Happy. "Where is he?"

"We've brought him to Dr Whale at the hospital."

She nodded. "I'll be there in a moment. I just need to get dressed. Go." Happy nodded and flew back down the stairs as she closed the door again.

Regina sighed and stood, her hand going to her coat. "I'm going to call your daughter. Go change."

Snow nodded and, as she passed her, she squeezed Regina's shoulder in comfort.

So much for a peaceful morning...

Next chapter: Thea strikes

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