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The Heart of Redemption

By AsgardianBlade

Adventure / Drama

Prologue

December 11, 2011.  It was very late or very early depending on one's definition. But the pounding on her door and the ringing of her doorbell was insistent. Stumbling out of bed, the mayor reached for her silken robe draped loosely over the chair by her bed. Slipping into the garment, she moved quickly towards her bedroom door. Upon entering the hall, she saw Henry standing wide-eyed at the foot of the curved staircase.

"Henry," Regina says softly, coming down the stairs. Upon reaching the landing, she could see their late night "guest" through the front door sidelite, illuminated in the bright moonlight. "It's just the sheriff. Why don't you go back to bed while I see what's so urgent that Graham felt the need to wake us at this hour."

Henry nodded, appearing a little dazed from having been jolted out of his sleep so abruptly. The distance that had grown between them didn't exist in that moment, he was just her little boy again. He looked up at her, innocence personified and smiled. It had been so long since his smiles had been for her. She could feel the tears coming as she ran her hand through his hair. "Ok, Mom. Umm... just yell if you need backup or, you know... anything."

Regina's low chuckle set her son at ease. For that moment, the strain between them disappeared and he didn't pull away from her. "I'll keep that in mind. You have school tomorrow so try and go back to sleep." Kissing Henry on the forehead, she quickly hugged him. He hugged her back, then turned, headed up the stairs and into his room. Satisfied he was obeying her, she sedately descended the foyer stairs to the front door.

Her eyes narrowed upon opening it to indeed discover the town sheriff, her onetime lover, standing there wide-eyed and upset.

"I know what you did, Madame Mayor. I know who you are... I remember." Graham spoke as soon as she had the door cracked.

"Sheriff. I'm at a loss to understand what you are talking about and I'm not in the greatest of moods after having had my sleep so rudely interrupted. So unless you start explaining yourself—"

"I remember, Your Majesty. All of it. I'm just…having trouble reconciling it with who you are now. Or at least who I think you are, " Graham's face had a pained and confused look, his eyes darting around Regina, but never looking directly at her. He continued in that same intense tone. "I mean, I remember you sending me after Snow White, I remember you taking my heart… I remember ... us. Was all of it a lie?"

Regina stood there with no expression on her face, her dark eyes unreadable in the dim light that spread ominously across the foyer. "Come into the living room, Graham. You obviously need to sit and calm down. I don't know what you mean or why you're saying these things, but clearly, you need to get it off your chest... whatever 'it' is."

She turned and moved into the living room, knowing the man would follow her, he couldn't help it. "Can I get you something to drink?" she asked innocently enough.

"No, but, thank you." Graham was breathing heavily. "Wait, on second thought, can I have some water please?"

Regina nodded, motioned to the sofa and exited briefly to return with a glass of cold water. Handing it to Graham, she sat down besides him and angled herself so she could better observe the handsome man. Graham greedily downed the glass and set it on a coaster sitting on the sofa table.

"You're addled enough to come barging into my home at this unholy hour, won't look me in the eye while accusing me of being some 'evil queen' by sending you after 'Snow White', but you have the presence of mind and manners to put your empty glass on a coaster?" Regina stated amused. Her calm demeanor belied the fear forming in the pit of her stomach. She had to try to change his mind. She poured on the sensual charm, hoping to convince him he was just having a bad dream ... or psychotic breakdown.

"Graham, whatever has put you into this state? You know you can talk to me." Regina leaned forward and put her hand on the distraught man's arm. "You know, it sounds very much like you've been listening to Henry and his obsession with that book of his. He's only a child and it's a child's prerogative to believe in fairy tales... to believe in magic. But you Graham?"

Graham jerked back as if her touch and her words had physically shocked him. "I'm sorry, Regina," as he finally looked into her dark eyes. "These images are so confusing but yet feel... so real. I followed a white wolf, it showed me things, it looked into my mind, my soul..." His voice trailed off, but his eyes never left Regina's.

To her credit, Regina didn't let any of her roiling emotion touch her eyes, but she was conflicted as what to do about Graham's accusations. She had actually grown fond of him, in her own way, since their arrival in Storybrooke. There was only one other person she trusted more, one that her decision concerning Graham would greatly affect.

It didn't hurt that she controlled his heart. Still, it would pain her greatly to destroy him. She just couldn't risk him exposing her. She had too much at stake and had worked too hard to get where she was.

Then there was Henry. She could feel him slipping away from her as well. All because Emma Swan had come to town. Piece by piece that woman seemed intent on taking everything from her. Now it seemed Graham was slipping through her fingers. Torn on what to do, she decided to gamble on their friendship and the feelings she knew her former Huntsman had for her.

"Graham, do you trust me?" Regina asked, holding his gaze with her eyes.

"I don't know... I want to... I want to believe that I can, but…" Graham broke off, looking down at his hands which were loosely clasped on his knees.

Regina made a decision in that instance, one she hoped she wouldn't regret. She had come too far, and if she couldn't control Graham, she would have to kill him. The only other path was if he chose to say nothing of his own free will… or for a price.

She placed her hand over both of Graham's. "Let me ask you to do something that may clear this up. Will you meet me at my vault tomorrow around nine o'clock? I have to drop Henry off at school and then I'll make myself available to you for as long as you need until you feel better about whatever this is that you think you remember."

Staring at her hand on his, Graham smirked and gave a half-hearted smile. "If these are memories, and they are true, I'm going to be placing myself at the mercy of the Evil Queen." He swallowed and looked back up at her. "But since we've been here, in Storybrooke, from the time you adopted your son, you've been different from the image of you I have in my head. You've been happy. Please Regina, for the love you have for Henry… I need the truth. I just don't want to have to die to get it."

Regina was actually speechless, which for her was saying something. She stared at him surprised before she could formulate a response. She decided to take a chance, after all, when she had him alone in the vault, she could always change her mind.

"All right, I'll help you get your answers… on the condition that you don't betray me. If you do Graham, it won't end well," she stated in a soft voice. She wasn't threatening, just stating the facts. "Since Ms. Swan arrived in town, people are turning against me. I've done nothing to deserve it. My own son believes I'm this 'Evil Queen'. So, I would very much like to believe I can trust you. It would … actually mean a lot to me to be able to do so."

Graham continued to hold her gaze, then closing his eyes, he let out the breath he was holding and nodded. "Ok, I will meet you at your vault in the morning. I'm really sorry for waking you. I'll go now."

He put one hand on Regina's then stood up and let himself out the door.

Regina wouldn't sleep the rest of the night. She had a fondness for her Huntsman, she genuinely hoped he wouldn't let her down. What surprised her most, was that her heart ached at the very thought of crushing his.

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