Emma shivers under her touch, pinned against the damp wood of their Cabin. Wide, hazel eyes shining with tears she's too stubborn to shed. Regina has never seen Emma so vulnerable, so open. She finds herself mesmerised despite her throbbing rage.
A stray tear manages to escape the corner of Emma's eyelid. Regina follows its slow trickle down to quivering lips. Succumbing to the pull of forces beyond its control, it finally falls, a whisper of moisture against the wrist wrapped around Emma's neck. Regina blinks.
Emma doesn't fight, doesn't struggle, she simply breathes Regina's name. Regina stares at Emma until she finally sees. A small part of her remembers loving someone with that same look in their eyes that Emma has now. Everything tilts. Regina feels the blood drain from her face. It can't be. Her denial is barely audible.
The hand around Emma's throat falls slack. Regina only realises she's retreating when she feels damp wood against her back. She wraps her arms around herself protectively.
It can't be.
Regina shakes her head, but it's too late. There is no denying the passion in Emma's voice, the caress of her lips as they form her name, but say so much more. Soft palms cradle her face. Again, her name falls from Emma's lips, calling her gaze back to those beautiful hazel eyes.
That small, small part of her almost remembers that she loves Emma too. That, somehow, she always has.
Until the old fear clenches around her heart and suddenly she feels too raw, too exposed. Regina recoils as if Emma's skin is the deadliest poison.
Regina looks deep into those eyes that promise anything, everything. For her.
It can't be. No. It must not be.
She can see the moment Emma understands. Regina trembles under the naked heartbreak that screams from the flow of silent tears that Emma is no longer able to control. She only realises she's holding Emma when she feels the quiet whisper of tears against her neck. Regina tries to explain, but soft fingers press against her lips.
"Don't...Don't make it real."
The soft gasp of a stifled sob tears through the silence and Regina feels that small part of her break under the unbearable weight of it, while it screams.
I love you too, Emma Swan. I don't want to, but Gods help me, I do.