Night had fallen upon the Dark Palace hours ago, but I had just found my way into my bedchambers. The bright moon poured in through the balcony turning everything it touched to an eerie hue. There was a soft chill tonight as the wind carried itself through the room and I welcomed it with comfort.
Finding the pull within myself, I walked silently over to the balcony and stood out under the canopy of starlight. I didn't belong here; my heart has lost its beat to this mundane world and I'm almost certain it finished shattering the very moment I laid eyes upon Snow White, the broken and battered woman who I thought could never be defeated.
"Take my heart if that's what you want. Crush it. Because I have no use for it anymore."
She had offered me her heart and I refused to take it. I couldn't bear the thought of laying my defiled fingers upon the perfect organ, yet I did only to find that it was nowhere near as perfect as I had thought. Isn't that what made us all individually unique? The scars we bear are remnants of a past that can never be forgotten.
I slid my hands onto the railing and looked over as an overlooked memory drifted across my mind of the time I had fallen only by accident, but what if I attempted such a feat now? Would an innocent faery come to save me and tell me that love was for me? I wouldn't be missed. Then again the last way I wished to die was by being selfish. I had lived that way for too long.
Instead, I lifted my hand towards my chest, my slender fingers trembling, and did the next best thing. When my fingers disappeared inside and wrapped around my pulsing heart I gasped loudly which only grew louder when I ripped it out.
There it was, my black, scorched heart glowing a faint crimson with cracks and bruises all around. I could take this broken organ and lock it away. I had no children to hurt, no love, just me, myself, and I with a tormented mind. The memories would forever burn within me, but I wouldn't feel it.
"That doesn't seem like a smart thing to do," a soft voice said from behind me causing me to nearly drop the object within my grasp onto the ground.
That voice…I thought taking my heart out was supposed to stop my mind from hurting me? However, when I turned around I found that this wasn't a trick of my mind. There she was; the woman who had finally led me to tear out my own heart.
"How did you—?"
"I used to live here, you know," Snow remarked with a soft smile before it faded.
"What are you doing here?"
"We need to talk."
She took a step towards me and I inclined my head.
"There is nothing to talk about, Snow. You need to leave." But she didn't heed my words. Instead she took a step closer to me and pursed her lips. "I mean it. Come any closer and I will send you over this balcony."
"I'm not afraid of you."
With the moonlight, her hazel eyes radiated within the dark, but I could still see that ache within them along with something that resembled fear. Would she believe me if I said her eyes gave her away?
"Fine," I scoffed, "Then talk."
"Not until you put your heart back."
"That's not going to happen."
"Please," her hand reached out and almost touched my own, but I held my ground. The ghost of a feeling ran through me, "I need to talk to you. The actual you. The woman I grew to know."
"That woman is gone, dear, and you know that."
"No, she's not. She may look different, but she's right in front of me. All she needs is her heart back in place."
Finishing up her words, she wrapped her hands around my heart and I found that I couldn't move. She guided our hands back to the place it once resided before it slid back inside of me.
When it fell back in place a jolt of electricity coursed through my veins and I inhaled a sharp breath that accompanied the overwhelming ache. That's when her presence hit me, but before I had a chance to embrace her touch, she pulled away.
She was looking into my eyes as if they were open doors, as if she finally understood the pain that I was from this entire situation. She should have felt victorious to know that she had finally won, but it had backfired on both of us.
"Was it real?" she asked me with the sad, yet hopeful voice.
"Was what real?"
"Don't play naïve, Regina. You know what I'm asking you. Did you actually care? Was there some truth to your lies or was this charade just another execution for you?"
"I already told you—"
"No you didn't. I don't want some story that cuts around the edge. I want every detail. Why you came along with me. Why you chose to do what you did. Why you disguised yourself in the first place."
I drew my arms around my chest with a defeated sigh and looked down. I didn't want to relive those memories.
"Just tell me, Regina. No more secrets. If you wanted me dead you would have left me to the mercy of the ice wraith. You had several chances to kill me with your bare hands."
"Do you really want the full story?"
I leaned back against the railing and looked upward to the sky as if I was calling down the cosmos for support.
I took in a large breath and closed my eyes, allowing the last several months to play within my mind.
"I asked Rumpelstiltskin to turn me into a peasant so that I may better understand how everyone felt about me. I made a mistake of drawing attention to myself after hearing how much the Evil Queen was hated. I was astounded by what I heard. That's when you came in and saved my head. I must have passed out because all I remember is waking up in your tent. I was going to find out your weak points and all of your secrets to use against you, but when I realized I didn't have magic things became complicated. Rumpelstiltskin abandoned me and refused to answer my calls so I was stuck disguised as Wilma without any magic to change me back..."
I paused and looked at the brunette.
"I loathed your very existence; I wanted to burn you at the stake for all the pain you had caused me but I got to know you more and I began to have these vicious nightmares about taking your heart and betraying you. I should have come clean, but I was afraid. I was terrified out of my mind. Ever since I lost Daniel all I've felt is anger. Pain. I wanted your heart in my hand. I wanted to crush it to dust, but deep inside I knew that it was never your fault. You were only a child and I was a fool to think I could keep secrets from my mother.
"As the days passed I realized that my anger had been replaced with happiness and wonder. I was actually seeing the world in a light that had been extinguished. I had hurt you and I wanted to tell you how sorry I was, but I couldn't."
"Then what happened? Why did you let your disguise fall?"
"That wasn't me," I shook my head in confusion; I still had no idea what caused the spell to break, "I thought Rumpel did it, but I was wrong. Something broke his cloaking spell, but I don't know what."
The room fell into a deadly cadence of silence. I didn't know what else to say.
"The countless lives you've taken can never be replaced."
The shards of shattered quiet hit me and I squeezed my eyes shut.
"I can't forgive you for what you did."
"I didn't want this to happen. I was going to forget that I was ever the Evil Queen and start a new life with you."
Snow's surprise was priceless as her eyebrows raised, but then they narrowed into an angry look.
"You were going to continue to lie to me?" she laughed bitterly, "I can't believe this…"
"I was happy, Snow!" I pushed myself away from the balcony with a loud cry and towards her, "The last thing I wanted to do was hurt you. I…I didn't want to lose you."
"So you thought that living as someone else could rid away everything you had done in the past? You weren't ever going to tell me?"
"Because that would have ended just as well. Snow, I…I…"
I choked and brought a hand to my lips and tried to fight the oncoming tears.
"What? Just say it, Regina. I don't think you could hurt me any worse."
But I couldn't say it. The words were suffocating me. Instead, I pushed myself forward towards her and grabbed her face between my hands, crashing my lips into hers. I just had to taste it one last time.