I watched from across the room as my mother struggled with the chains that bound her to the wall. I wanted to plead with her to stop, to stay where she was. But it took every ounce of strength I had to fight against the cries that swelled in my throat and threatened to spill out if I opened my mouth. I refused to allow him the pleasure of hearing me cry out. He could hurt me but I refused to appear weak in front of him and my mother. However, my resolve vanished as his blows became more forceful and the pain unbearable. I let small cries escape my lips, and I watched the satisfaction on his face, and I hated it.
“I have missed this.” His voice, deep with the pleasure of watching me squirm under his continual blows. I couldn’t speak, knowing that if I opened my mouth my true pain would be known. I looked to my mother. Her eyes were closed and she was crying. I couldn’t imagine how much this must be hurting her knowing that her daughter is only a few feet away from her and yet she is powerless. I knew she would have used her magic before now if she could. Something must be wrong, and that thought worried me. And then, while I was buried in my thoughts, the blows stopped. I looked around and realized that we were no longer in the castle room with my mother but instead traveling down a corridor.
“Where are you taking me?”
“And why should I tell you?” Silence settled. I had no answer.
“Away from your mother.” He paused and pulled me into another room.
“But first,” he reached for my throat and unbearable pain gripped my body.
“Your voice.” He laughed as I screamed and then watched in amusement as I had once again lost the ability to speak.
“I like you better this way. Speechless looks good on you dear.” I shot him a death glare. The only weapon I possessed had been stripped away from me. My thoughts traveled back to my mother as the fish dragged me out of the room and back down another hall. I wondered if she would ever be free, or if she would make it back to dad and my brothers. And for one selfish second I wondered if she might try and rescue me, but as soon as it was thought I pushed it aside. I had come to rescue mom not the other way around. Beside I had rescued her in a way. She was free from this man’s harmful blows.
“Now where did it go?” I looked at him confused. What was he looking for? If I wasn’t so concerned about what he was about to do I might have been amused at his complete lack of direction. We had just been in this room several minutes before. The chains that held my mother were hanging empty on the wall and…wait mom was gone! She had escaped! Relief flooded my body, however it was short lived as a bright orange glow filled the room. I looked at the wall from which the glow was originating and saw a swirling of magic. I cringed knowing what was about to transpire. Please no, I thought. Don’t take me away from her, I just found her.
“I know dear, that’s what makes this so enjoyable.” My head snapped in the direction of his voice. He heard me, how?
“You have forgotten that I am holding your voice Grace. I can hear the words that can’t leave your lips.” This frightened me and I tried to rid my mind of every thought of my mother, at least for now. I wanted to keep her safe. I wanted….but all of a sudden I felt extremely weak. I looked around and noticed a small bottle clasped in the fish’s hand. It was filling with a light blue mist that traveled through the air.
“Your energy dear. I don’t want you trying to escape on our journey back to the kingdom.” His smile was sick. I could only watch as he placed a stopper in the bottle and fastened it to his belt, and then tucked my voice away into another small pouch.
“Alright.” He looked at me and laughed.
“What a pitiful sight you are dear. If your mother could see you she would be so disappointed. But then I suppose she never wanted you in the first place.” Rage bubbled up in my heart and I wanted nothing more than to see this fish fried and garnished with lemon and rosemary. My mother did want me! She loved me!
“I know how to push your buttons, but you know I’m right. The truth may be deep down, but you know it.” He laughed and grabbed my wrist. I wanted to cry out for my mother, to tell her I loved her one more time before I was taken back to the darkness of the castle under the sea. My heart shattered into a million pieces when he said she never wanted me, because part of me wondered if it was true. No! How could I think like that? Mom did want me. It wasn’t her choice to give me up and I could never forget all the time we had spent together in the last two weeks, those two glorious weeks. She loved me with all her heart, and no matter where I was she would never stop loving me.
I relaxed in his grip and allowed him to pull me towards the glowing portal, holding fast to that last thought. My mother did love me. I closed my eyes and waited for the gut wrenching feeling of traveling worlds and waited for the tears to cover my cheeks. This was goodbye.
“Crying are we? Like I said she would be disappointed. When did the daughter of the Evil Queen become so weak? ”
The moment I was free I was running or rather swimming desperately to follow Grace and her captor. I was able to follow their trail easily, but I was slower than the fish. I swam around in a circle before realizing that they were back where we had started. I creped to the stone door, and listened intently.
“I know how to push your buttons.” It was that fish. Hatred sprung up in my heart as he spoke to my daughter. There was a short silence before he spoke again, and pain filled my heart.
“Crying are we? Like I said she would be disappointed. When did the daughter of the Evil Queen become so weak?”
“No I’m not!” I burst through the door, never stopping to think of a plan or strategy. My only thought was to save Grace and get out of here.
“Oh look. Mommy made it just in time to say goodbye.” He laughed and looked at me.
“Grace, why don’t you say goodbye to your mother?” He waited in the tension filled silence. Grace gave me a pitiful look and I could see tears shimmering on her face, even under the sea, and the dim light of this sunken castle.
“Oh that’s right, I forgot you can’t. Too bad.” He tugged Grace towards the spinning portal.
“Stop!” I sent my magic flying at him and to my surprise he didn’t even try to stop it. But before I realized what he planned it was too late. He flicked his tale and the magic I had intended for him bounced off his scales and straight into my daughter.
“No.” I cried as Grace’s body absorbed the shock.
“You!” I turned on him and gripped his throat with an invisible hand.
“Grace come here sweetheart. Get away from him!” I offered my free hand to her and even though she was free of the fish her body hung in the water, unmoving. She just gave me a pleading look with those stormy grey eyes.
“What have you done to her?” I was visibly shaking with rage.
“Not…tel…ling.” He choked out the words but managed a smile at the end. I shoved him towards the portal and with one final burst of magic I sent him back to his slimy hole. I watched as the spinning portal slowed and then disappeared, leaving the stone wall unharmed. My attention was immediately drawn to my daughter, who was still floating limply in the water.
“Grace? Grace, are you alright?” It was a stupid question because I knew she wasn’t. I scooped her into my arms and tucked her close to me.
“I’m sorry I let him hurt you. I promised that I wouldn’t let that happen again and I…I failed. I’m so sorry Grace.” She managed a weak smile and took my hand.
“I love you.” A sob escaped my lips and I closed my eyes.
“I love you too.” I didn’t move for a long time, just kept Grace pressed to me. However when I felt a small jab in my abdomen I was reminded that we had a family waiting for us to return.
“Grace, are you ready to go home?” She answered with a slow nod, her eyes still closed. I pulled both of us out of the castle and then enchanted my legs to transform into a tail. I swam quickly to the surface and then to the shore. I smiled when I felt a strong pair of arms wrap around my body and lift me from the water.
“Robin.” His name came out as a sigh of relief. I looked instantly for Grace and found that Henry was mirroring his father. I smiled and let my head rest against his chest, exhausted.
“Please don’t EVER do that again Regina. I almost lost you…” he paused and took a shaky breath, “I can’t live without you.”
“I know, because I can’t live without you.” I reached for Grace as Henry stepped closer to me and Robin.
“We’re home sweet girl and we are safe.” Grace smiled, but didn’t say a word.