When Regina had visited Robin the next morning, Will and Arthur didn't want to let her pass. They told her that Robin was sleeping - resting from all the commotion he had lived in the past days. The Queen, however, didn't believe them and demanded to see her True Love. She had always been stubborn, and the Merry Men posing as King's Guards knew that - they reluctantly let her enter into the dungeons after the persistent Queen said she wouldn't leave until she talked to Robin.
The Queen found Robin laying in one of his sides, his back towards her. At first she thought that Will Scarlet had been telling the truth when he said Robin was resting. She decided to kiss Robin's forehead and come back later, but when Regina was close to Robin she realised that the man was not resting - he was suffering in silence.
Leopold had inflicted all types of injury on Robin's body. The Outlaw was burnt, cut and hit in different places - his skin damaged, probably beyond repair. Regina didn't step forward; she didn't touch Robin, afraid that she'd hurt him further. She clenched her fists tightly, as hate and frustration grew inside of her and filled every inch of her body. No one deserved the treatment that Robin had received in the past days, and this was the last thing she would accept.
Regina stormed out of the dungeons with a regal pose, and didn't stop to speak to the two men who had let her in minutes ago. She wore determination in her face: she would make Leopold pay for this.
On her way towards the throne room, she was intercepted by Tinkerbell. The fairy looked at Regina with a worried face.
"Not now, Tink," the Queen didn't even stop to speak to the pixie.
"Regina, please listen to me!" the fairy demanded, flying at a high speed to keep up with the Queen's pace, "I don't know what is running through your mind right but I can see it's nothing good. If you give in to darkness, Regina, you'll lose yourself,"
"I already lost myself to darkness, Moth," Regina stopped abruptly and Tinkerbell flew against Regina, "I threw my mother through a mirror, I exiled her without fair trail!"
"And did that make you happy?" Tink tried to reason with her, "Because you were bitter long after that. Darkness is never the solution, Regina,"
Regina looked down, her face softening - anger turning into sorrow. "You didn't see him, Tink," she let out, almost in a whisper, "You didn't see what Leopold did to him,"
"And whatever you had planned for Leopold won't fix Robin, or make him feel better,"
"I - I don't know what to do,"
"Pick love over hate, Regina!"
"I'm not sure I can do that, Tink,"
"Yes, you can - I believe in you!" the fairy replied.
Regina took a deep breath, "I can do this," she repeated to herself a couple of times. Tinkerbell didn't add anything as Regina tried to calm herself, instead she grew herself into a human-sized creature and made her wings disappear.
"Yes, you can," Tink repeated and placed a hand on Regina's shoulder.
"I'm sorry for my behavior,"
"You are human," Tinkerbell shrugged as she pushed one of Regina's locks of hair behind her ear, "It is normal to have those moments of self-doubt, but the important thing is to make the right choice in the end,"
"I wouldn't have, had you given up on me,"
"What matters is that you don't give up on yourself," the Fairy replied with a smile. "I got the potion!" she added, producing a small vial from under her sleeve. "Did you tell Robin?"
"I didn't have a chance," Regina replied. "We were interrupted by the King," she explained, "I don't know what to do,"
"Be brave," the Fairy replied, "That's the last ingredient for this plan to work. That is, if you still want this,"
"I do," Regina nodded, "If I ever dreamed a dream, or wished a wish, or search for fortune; they would lead me to Robin."
Tinkerbell smiled at the Queen. She had always loved to see hopeless romantics, they were what kept her going in this dark world. "Very well," the Fairy nodded, "Are you ready to fake your death?"
"But Robin -,"
"I'll cure his wounds, help him escape and tell him our plan," the Fairy interrupted the Queen, "If you trust me with those tasks,"
"I trust you, Tinkerbell," Regina stated, "You are the only real friend I've ever had,"
Tinkerbell had to fight back the tears that were threatening to escape from her eyes when Regina said that. Emotions were not something that happened often to fairies, but Tinkerbell had been living for far too long among humans and had started behaving like them. No one had trusted the Fairy ever since the Rome and Juliet event; but Regina did, even after she had heard the story, even if she knew how this could end - how it had ended last time.
"I will meet you in my chambers," Regina broke the moment, "I want to hug Snow White one last time," the fairy smirked at the comment and her question when unasked, "I have to admit that she has grown on me, she's far more tolerable now,"
"That's because your heart forgave her, Regina,"
Regina rolled her eyes, even if deep inside, she knew it was true. The Queen knew that ever since Robin had fixed her heart, she had found peace - and that peace had extended and healed her relationship with the Princess. Besides, Regina couldn't help but to feel a little bit guilty about leaving Snow alone; the girl had already endured losing a mother. But, she needed to do this, otherwise she'd never be happy, and only the Gods know what would happen to Robin.
Maybe, she reasoned with herself, maybe one day, after the King dies, she'll come back and tell Snow the truth. The Princess was many things, but resentful was not one of them. Regina just hoped that the girl would understand her reasons.
As soon as she walked into the girl's room, small arms were wrapping her waist. She looked down, to see Snow White hugging her tightly. A single tear ran down Regina's cheek and landed on Snow's arm.
"Did I hug you too tightly? Did I hurt you?" she asked worried.
Regina cleaned the wet trail that the tear had left behind, "No, Snow, you didn't hurt me - quite the opposite,"
"Then, why are you crying?"
"Sometimes, we cry because we are happy," the Queen lied. She lied because she knew that her fake death would hurt Snow. She lied because she knew that she'd miss the princess.
"Did I make you happy?"
"Yes, Snow," Regina replied, and this time it was the truth, "You make me happy," she knelt to the Princess height, "Promise me something, Snow," the Queen said in a pleading tone, her eyes looking straight into Snow's.
"Anything," the girl whispered back. And Regina realised this was the first time they were really behaving like mother and daughter.
"Promise me you'll grow up to be a fair ruler and a good queen,"
"Why does this sound like a goodbye?"
The question hit Regina in the gut like a punch. It sounded like a goodbye, because that was what it was. "Time will pass faster now, Snow, specially with a baby coming," she kept lying to the princess, in an attempt of not revealing her plan, "I'm afraid that in a blink you'll be a grown up woman. So, please promise me, that no matter what, you won't let darkness fill your heart,"
"And promise that when you find true love, you'll fight for it, and you'll protect it," she added,
"Now, go to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day," Regina said, kissing Snow White's forehead and walking towards the room's entrance.
"Good night, Regina," the Queen heard the Princess say as she closed the door behind her.
"Goodbye, Snow," she whispered to herself and leaned against the door. She stayed there for a while, allowing herself to mourn her relationship with the Princess whom she'll not see again, at least for a few years. This time, it was not a single tear the one that escaped from her eyes; this time, tears came pouring like a storm.
Slowly, she made her way back to her chambers. The trip seemed longer than usual, she couldn't believe this would be the last time that she would walk through these hallways. She tried to remember every single detail. Everything would be different the next time she would wake up. She wouldn't be a queen anymore, but she would be free, and she'd be with the man who truly she loves.
"Alright, Tinkerbell," she said, with more optimism, "Let's do this,"
The Fairy handled her the vial. The glass container was filled with a shiny, glowing, purple potion. Regina couldn't believe she was using magic willingly, after everything she had endured while she lived under Cora's claws - if it had taught her something, was that magic always had a catch: it always came with a price.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" the Queen asked, now skeptical of the magical properties that the liquid inside the vial had.
"Do you love Robin?"
"Of course I do," Regina replied, "More than anything in this or any world,"
"Then trust your love is pure enough to break the curse,"
"What about the price to pay? For using this magic?"
"Theoretically, there's no price," the Fairy replied, "However, some people who had awakened do tell some horrifying stories while they were under the curse. Nightmares after the curse have been reported," the blonde fairy notified her.
Regina nodded, understanding that the price would be hers to pay, not Robin's, not anyone else's. She raised the vial and said "To second chances," before she drowned the liquid in one sip.
The Queen's world started spinning as the bittersweet juice travelled from her mouth to her stomach. She faintly heard Tinkerbell calling her name, and then she started to fall. Fall towards the flooring. Fall towards the darkness. She vaguely registered that the fairy had caught her before her head hit the stone floor, and had gently placed her on the stone cold ground. Regina knew the fairy was talking to her, but she couldn't understand the words that were being said.
The world around her started to darken and get cold, and she wondered if this is how dying felt like - if Daniel had felt this way when Cora killed him. The air around her started to thicken, and dark red flames started to lighten the corners of the room where she now was. The flames were bright but did not warm the place, and Regina felt the urge to rub her hands to keep them from freezing.
It was a nightmare and she wanted to wake up; but she couldn't. Regina tried to yell, to make someone acknowledge her presence. But nothing came out of her mouth. And she started to wonder if this had been a good idea after all. She couldn't move, not even open her eyes. Her body was so heavy, even breathing had become an arduous work.
She couldn't lose hope, now. She had to believe in Robin and in their love. And that he would come and save her. She had to wait for him. After all, darkness and loneliness were not foreign to her.