A/N: Disclaimer: I do not own any of the situations or the characters.
English is not our first language (we are Polish and Turkish girls) so sorry for all the mistakes, we are trying. It's just too hard to find beta these days. So, please, bear that in mind.
Hello everyone welcome back, or not! If you're here for the first time, don't feel obligated to read the previous part, although I do hope this one will interest you enough to do just that in the future.
There are quite a few changes in the form; I decided the separate POV for each chapter and also keep up with the timeline, cause I imagine things might be a little bit confusing, considering the fact our chapters turn out to be quite long. I hope you'll enjoy this form of writing.
The second thing is... Trigger warnings. As you well know, or not... Our ladies had gone through a lot of horrible things in the past. No, we won't keep doing that to our babes now, but the past had left their marks on them. Well, okay... they will struggle for some to come on the right path. Whenever a triggering action comes into the play, I'll add a warning. But keep in mind, that such past experience leaves a person with PTSD issues, therefore, certain things cannot be avoided here. Regina will still struggle with the subject of her sex and alcohol addiction; we will dig into the subject much more this time. And Emma... will develop an unhealthy addition of her own to cope with the hard emotions.
Another trigger warning here... As it is F/F story, know that in this part will be included straight sex scenes. A warning shall be applied before each chapter containing it as well.
I also wanted to make sure everyone know who is who, just to be clear. Malanie - of course, Maleficent (Dragon Queen vibes and all, plus Lily is her daughter), Harold is Hades (I know, I know, he never ended up to be Zelena's true love but when we first started to write this, we decided to make a good guy out of him). In this part will also appear August W. Booth and Baron Samdi, names not changed.
I will say this now; this part isn't an easy one to read. Emotionally. Our ladies will go through a lot of heartbreak, making small steps back and forth. But remember this... Swan Queen is Endgame. And if we manage... this story shall have 4 parts till its end.
SUMMARY: It's been a year since their paths turned in different ways, leaving both Emma and Regina hardly dealing with the heartbreak, changing them beyond recognition. One day though, they meet eye-to-eye again and old feelings come back to the surface. Uncertain of what the future holds, both women try to move on, develop new relationships as well as transform their old ones... Ignite what has been left out of their old flame. But will they be able to mend those differences? Accept new selves and find their way back to each other?
IN THE SHADOW OF YOUR MEMORY
Emma woke up with a gasp.
Just for a second longer she felt so warm inside; the good nervousness in her stomach, feeling of her heart as if expanding. Just then to feel it fall. As if rot... In a matter of seconds tears wetted her temples as she was lying on her back. Her hand fell over lips as she didn't even know if her roommate, Emily, has woken up just yet. She didn't want to startle her with a sob that was forming in her throat.
She had this dream again… One of many dreams. Of Regina. It was filled with light and joy. Their happy times... but as soon as she was waking up it all was replaced with darkness and cold. And heartache. It has been so long… but time wasn't healing wounds. Not those, at least…
Like many other mornings, Emma tried to calm under the stream of warm water. She wanted to swallow all that pain. No matter what she did , nothing ever helped. Nothing . And no... She wasn't living with Ruby or Belle. They wanted to, but Emma knew what they would try to do. She would gladly live on her own but money was something she had to look at. The roommate of hers, she never made any kind of relationship with her. They barely talked, therefore the girl rarely was in the room at all. Emma was fine by that.
She chose that Art School after all- Boston Arts Academy . Visual Arts was her thing, but she had also taken extracurricular. Expressing things she felt were helping just for a second- by keeping her mind busy. Transforming feelings into something else.
Today, after classes, she was going to go out on a date. Of sorts. She saw no point at that really, but... There were girls who wanted to date her or get to know her. She couldn't say ' no' forever. Just a thought that there wasn't going to be more than that one time anyway made her give in. Where they would go? She didn't know. She wished to be at least a bit excited. But no. She didn't want to leave those four walls.
The girl, Lucy, met her in front of the academy building. Emma hid her hands in the pockets, glad it wasn't all warm today and that might be her excuse. In greeting she just smiled slightly. How people yearned to her, she had no idea. In the past, she was unwanted and even bullied either for being gay or not having a family. But now girls kept talking to her, no matter how quiet she was.
Lucy tried to make small talk and Emma responded shortly each time. She didn't feel like talking most of the time. Only her friends could understand, in some way at least. Maybe they just wanted sex? Emma really didn't know. But right now she wasn't going to go there either. No now, no later. And not just because she tried and only felt worse after that. It didn't feel good at all. She didn't feel safe and had to swallow down her fears and disgust.
Emma saw they headed to a cafe where she hasn't ever been to before. She wasn't visiting cafes too much… It reminded her of Regina. She bought coffee at Starbucks only.
The girl took her hand and guided her to a free table. She glanced at the counter and almost froze. She saw a woman who clearly was Lily's mother. Kissing shorter… a black-haired woman…
Emma looked away quickly and dropped on the seat. Her heart sank so deep. She didn't even hear what Lucy saying. Regina is here… It was Regina's cafe. The one she was supposed to finally see on that fateful night...
"Coffee or cocoa?" Lucy had to repeat it twice and Emma shook from this paralyzing feeling.
"Cocoa..." she whispered and looked back again…
The woman was gone. Emma swallowed and turned back around. She tried not to feel; it was the safest. Her chest moved fast, though, and she tried not to break. It's been so long…
"Hello, Lucy," Emma heard the familiar voice of the older woman. She was looking down at them and the blonde…quite rudely kept her head down.
"Hello, Melanie," Lucy greeted, sounding quite playful. "No part-timers today?"
"Yes, today it's just the two of us. So what will it be?"
"Um, I'll have a caramel cappuccino and cocoa for Emma."
"Will be right up. It was nice to see you both."
Emma could feel those eyes on her. She wasn't going to look up or say a word… Only when she was long gone behind the counter did the blonde slowly look up again to see Regina busy, preparing the order. She could see soft shadows underneath her eyes. Why did she keep looking, Emma didn't know… it made it hurt even more. She knew that tonight she will be a complete mess. If she would manage to last that long…
"Emma, dear, are you okay?" Lucy murmured, touching her hand, but it looked like she wasn't there at all. The girl turned around and followed her eyes to see Regina looking at them. "You know her?"
Emma swallowed hard. It seemed like it was the only movement she could control. If she had any power over her own body she would probably just run away from there… How her lips didn't start to tremble and eyes didn't fill with tears, she had no idea either. The blonde just stared straight into those deep, dark eyes. Like each time she just couldn't look away and drowned in the sea of them. There was chaos inside of her but she could find a common thing she felt to what she saw in there- pain .
If not for Lucy, she wouldn't be dragged back to face her. The question sounded in her mind again as she wasn't able to focus on sounds, on anything around her.
"No. Yes ... It- it doesn't matter," Emma said and looked down at the nice mug and Lucy nodded slowly, then sipped her coffee.
When did Melanie come with the order?
Emma's hands gently wrapped around the cup. She saw the cinnamon on top and corners of her lips moved once, but never formed any expression. It almost felt like one of her dreams. Only different because it showed the presence, not the past.
"She is really nice. She stays late at night when we have midterms and she actually has really wide knowledge about art and literature, and geography."
Emma listened as she brought cocoa to her lips to take a sip. It was one of the kind… She could taste Regina all over it. New memories were appearing from the box she hid them in, deep in her mind. She slowly nodded to let the girl know she was listening.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you, they serve cocoa with cinnamon. It's kinda their specialty. I can ask for one without it if you like."
"Oh no…" the blonde shook her head. "No need. It's perfect.."
Their specialty? Regina didn't like to drink cocoa with cinnamon. Only she did… Was it something that… made Regina think of her or something? But why? There was nothing more painful than that. She glanced again to see Regina disappear in a bathroom. She didn't know why but her legs just guided her off the seat.
"I'm sorry, I need to head to the bathroom..."
Emma put the mug down and followed. In spirit she cursed herself. What the hell was she doing..? Emma entered and the lights were out. Before she knew it she was pressed against the closed door and heard the lock click closed. Emma gasped in surprise.
A pair off full lips closed on her own and hands roamed over her hips. Emma was frozen. Her heart could just jump out, it beat so fast and hard. It has been almost a year. And as much as physical things were easy to wash away from memory, this… Those lips and this touch was something she could never forget. But–what the hell was happening?
It didn't take longer than a few seconds- which actually felt like months for her- when she sensed a hesitation. Emma heard a gasp then and the woman took a step back. Regina had to realise it was her, not Melanie .
The only light there was coming through the slit underneath the door. In the dark Emma could see the small form, hands were grasping on the edge of the counter of the washbasin. Her chest seemed to be moving heavily up and down.
"So you are in Boston." Emma heard.
Emma couldn't find her voice. It all was just… too much…
"Yes..." she finally whispered.
A single tear rolled down her cheek, but Regina could not see it. She came here without even knowing what to say. It was stupid and unwise… She was starting to panic.
"I shouldn't have been–" she started turning around to unlock the door with the intention to leave.
"Yeah, you shouldn't have… You just left without a word," she heard Regina murmur.
Emma glanced back to see her hands grasping on something on her neck. A necklace. A ring? The ring Regina was given by Emma on Christmas Eve...
Senior Year, 14th April
The moment Regina told her she would go to the prom with her was a moment the inner child of hers came out with a full force. She jumped in happiness, hugged and kissed Regina so much. Her mother couldn't have been happier to help her find a dress. God, that was the most difficult task in the universe. She never really got to wear dresses. Later on, it was just a habit of her plus she didn't really think it suited her. But eventually she found one that was really nice. Maybe not exactly a gown, but just black, half leather dress. With high heels and curled hair it looked just perfect.
It had been a few tiring weeks and she and Regina had no time to spend with each other. With all the things going on with cafe Regina needed to stay there even for a few nights. She had moved to the apartment up over the cafe and she was actually planning to take Emma to her new home as soon as they would leave the prom. Maybe when the school was over she could just move in with her beloved so they would have all the time in the world. Her lips curled up with the idea.
Emma was so nervous, waiting. It was going to be the first day in two weeks to finally see her beloved. They had so little time that it broke Emma's heart… Hearing the doorbell, Emma instantly rushed to open the door before her parents could. They already waited with camera to take photos.
"Hey..." Regina blushed a little.
Emma smiled bright and moved to kiss Regina hello, moving one arm around her neck. Ah, how she missed this… Regina placed a hand on the taller woman's waist as they kissed so deeply that everything was worth it. This kiss was worth it all. It probably was too long because a cough interrupted them, making both of them blush so deep. Regina moving away from Emma, just a little bit, before giving her father a sheepish smile, earning a genuine one in return.
"You look so stunning…" Emma whispered with that blush and lovingly touched the soft hair, eyeing a tight, deep red dress that hugged her every curve so perfectly, making Emma's mouth water.
"Nah, you are just so in love with me," Regina purred close to Emma's ear. The brunette had lost her advantage of heels now and again Emma was taller than her. Not that she minded… "And you look like flung out of space…"
"And you must have watched 'Carol' again lately. Or read…" Emma giggled softly, caressing the back of Regina's neck as the other rested over her waist; reading seemed more like Regina.
The brunette tugged a lock behind Emma's ear, smiling so wide. She had never seen Emma wearing anything but jeans and trousers and Emma could see what it did to her to see her wearing something to asset everything all her baggy hoodies hid all the time. Regina's hand moved to her lower back and ran on her ass for a moment before getting right back up, making Emma bit her lower lip hard. The night would be long and agonizing… Did Regina could feel she wasn't wearing much underneath at all?
Emma was blushing hard again as she knew her parents always watched closely. God, she couldn't believe they were really doing this! She would be able to hold Regina and dance with her all night. And then after they would go to Regina's place, it would be so passionate… She chose what to wear underneath carefully as the dress was so tight. For the first time ever she wore a thong… Very very soft one.
"You will have a whole night for yourselves, ladies. Let's take pictures of you," David said with a soft smile.
Mary Margaret proposed then, "How about outside?"
Emma nodded as in spring the garden looked very beautiful. She took Regina's hand and guided her back outside.
"Finally we will have a session of both of us," Emma giggled as she did photos of Regina any chance she got.
Regina pulled Emma closer as David photo-shooted them. Emma wasn't one for posing. She tried not to look at the camera too often as it turned her so sheepish. Her eyes were all for Regina and a bright smile lightened her face. Her father even took pictures as they shared a sweet kiss.
"We're gonna be late, babygirl..." Regina whispered after the kiss but not moving to get going anyway. Their foreheads pressed together and she inhaled her sweet perfume. "I am taking you to my new apartment tonight."
Emma's eyes were shining so bright from all that happiness. Everything was just perfect when she was with Regina. Nothing else mattered. She closed eyes for a second.
"Yea? I must admit I was hoping so. 'Cause I don't wanna let you out of my arms 'till the sun will rise," she whispered the last sentence into Regina's ear before kissing it softly. She pecked her lips then again and moved hands from her waist and tangled their fingers together. "Let's go then..."
Emma smiled brightly at her parents and waved to them as they headed to the black Mercedes.
"Are you nervous?" Emma asked then as they weren't ever really public right in the school.
"Yes, maybe a bit..." Regina smiled, turning on the engine and started driving to school. "But Zelena is there. She will save us from any uncomfortable situation."
Regina was smiling wide. This was it. They were highly public couple now. The brunette's phone started to ring, then though. It was Melanie's ringtone...
"Babygirl, hand me the phone? It's Mal, it can be something serious."
Emma's face fell a little as she reached for the mobile without a single word. Regina took it and held to her ear.
"Yes... Oh my God, you are kidding right?... You can handle that?... Okay, let me know if you need me. God, it will postpone the opening... Okay, good luck."
Emma just looked ahead at the road as Regina took the phone. She had every right to be jealous by then. It seemed that Melanie got to spend time with Regina perhaps twice or even much more than Emma has. And even when they were together, she had to come into the picture one way or another…
Regina gave her the phone then so she could place it back into the purse.
"It's the cafe, floating it seems, and the wooden floor is swollen…"
Emma looked at Regina with saddened look. Today? Did it have to happen today? But Melanie could handle it, right? She knew how this all meant so much for Regina, but couldn't they have a few hours? Was it too much to ask?
"I'll stay with you for a while, dance with you and all, then I really need to go to the cafe. I'll come back to get you later."
They were already at the school's parking lot. The blonde didn't say anything as it actually hurt her deep… It was one night she waited so long and now Regina would be gone. Had she began to really matter this little? There were always more important things… She wasn't going to get it out now, it would only ruin the evening. Wasn't it sick to just grasp on the little remaining moments and try to make them count?
"Hey, look at me," Regina said then. "Don't you frown."
The brunette tried to pull Emma in for a kiss but instead ended up pressing her lips on her girlfriend's cheek as the blonde tilted her head. They got out in silence. Her friends spotted her fast and rushed to them.
"Woah, you two look so good," Ruby said looking at them up and down.
Belle giggled and added, "And cute. It's so sweet you came together! We were all hoping so!"
What amused Emma was that Graham and Jefferson seemed more timid.
"Hi, Miss Mills..." they said, not really sure how to behave around her now.
"Please, it's Regina. I am not your teacher anymore nor any of you are my students."
Jefferson smiled more and nodded, moving arm around Belle's waist. Graham gave Emma a sheepish smile. It was quite sad because it seemed like he still had a little crush on her. But things seemed to be going well between him and Ruby now. They truly looked good together .
Regina pulled her hand to tangle their fingers. They walked inside in silence. Emma could feel those peering eyes on herself all this time. Her hand slipped off Regina's.
"Emma, come on..." the older woman whispered close to her ear but it seemed Ruby heard her, too.
Emma did things before thinking. She felt hurt and she didn't like to be touched by the very person who made her feel it.
"I am here, ain't I?" Regina muttered under her breath, smiling sheepishly.
Emma sighed deeply, and God, she didn't want her friends to witness that.
"Let's dance..." she muttered and then herself dragged Regina between dancing teenagers.
Luckily it was a slower song that could let them sway. Emma's cheek rested against Regina's head so she couldn't see her expression. Her right arms moved around Regina's waist and the other rested on her tanned arm.
"I start to think… what's the point?" she said after a second, it was quiet and only Regina could hear as she said it close to her ear.
"What's the point? Of me being here, Emma? What's the point of me being here?" Regina pulled her head a little back just to see Emma's face. "You really think that..."
Emma didn't respond although it was quite obvious what she thought. Yet, not exactly. She thought about many things and each and every one of them hurt her right in the heart because things never could go smooth for them… She really tried not to focus on those. But pretending her mind wasn't going wild didn't help in providing her from feeling simply shitty.
"You think I want to leave you? God, you are impossible," Regina dropped her hands and took a step back. "I need a drink."
The blonde didn't even look back at her walking away. Instead she just walked around the corner of the gym and dropped on the seat. She ran a hand through the blond locks. As if before she knew it Regina was back with her.
"Hey, I got you some punch," Regina sipped slowly.
"Thanks," Emma muttered, wishing herself there were some booze present in it.
Truth was that teens always brought something alcoholic with them. Knowing Ruby... she had some herself and she was going to find it later. She took the sip, not looking up. The woman of her dreams was all dressed up for her prom… and now it was going to be just that. For a second to it. As if there weren't people who could take care of troubles as such so a person could have a one goddamn night to enjoy!
Regina knelt in front of her trying to catch her eyes. "C'mon, Emma... talk to me," Regina sighed heavily and reached to take her hand.
Emma tried to take her hand away, and god, it was hard to control what she felt. Her own eyes began to fill with tears and she begged for them not to fall. Her eyes focused on the red cup in Regina's hand, not wanting her to see what was in her eyes.
"Look at me," Regina whispered.
"It's not like you are a freaking plumber, Regina! There are people who are here to take care of such shit stuff," Emma was breaking. She shouldn't have because all the damn thing could come out now.
"Are you really willing to spend our limited time together here like this? Unbelievable, Swan." Regina rolled her eyes then took a look at the time; they already wasted half an hour. "I will be going in half an hour and I hope you really start understanding that is my life swimming under water, Swan. My home, my work."
"Nor once not twice I thought I wanted to help you out. And then I began to wish it so hard because at least then we would be together! But no, it's Melanie that get to have you all the time long." Emma put the cup away beside her and got up. "If you wanna go..." tears blurred her vision, "then go. I don't care. There's no point. I'm going home."
The girl freed her hand from the hold and rushed between people toward the exit. Tears began to run down her cheeks. She was just hurting. She missed Regina so damn much… So much it pained her physically and watching her go each time only made the feeling grow.
"Stop! STOP, EMMA!" Regina yelled behind her as she exited the building.
They were in parking lot. Emma stopped, a few meters between them. She turned to look at Regina, whose face was as wet from tears rushing down her cheeks as her own. Emma's lips were trembling and a sob was trying to get out of her throat.
"Are you leaving me here? Are you kidding me?" the brunette held her hands up. "I am working my ass off to have myself a life which I had given up for you and this is it? Are you breaking up with me?" her voice hitched as tears never stopped rolling on her cheeks. "I-is this really it?"
Emma couldn't form any words as it would just come out. No 'I need time.' Or 'I need to be alone right now' that she thought could be voiced. If she only knew the consequences of that. She just shook her head before turning around again to put distance between them. If only that shake hold a clear message… Last thing she wanted was for them to break up. Why Emma couldn't just cry it out on that parking lot…
"Lucy is a nice girl. I am glad that you are moving on. If you excuse me, I have a cafe to deal with," Regina stepped closer to her and unlocked the door.
Emma shook her head. "I never moved on..." she muttered but it was so quiet.
Regina cracked the door open just enough to slide outside after a short pause. Her eyes closed, tears appeared in the eyes again because it was too late now. Emma locked the door again because she couldn't hold it back any longer. She just started to cry silently. She found herself sitting on the lid of the toilet with head hid in the arms. She was a complete mess and she didn't know how to even run away from there like that.
If only she decided to talk with her more. Truly talk… Not allow the feeling of hurt speak though her... if she only tried to reach out after that day, talk to Zelena. Ask her for the address. Little did she know that would actually not work. At times she would stare at her phone. Write text she soon deleted before even managing to send it. No text came either. At school, she didn't even dare to look at Zelena…
After this event, she fell in deep shit, because it cannot be called differently. Regina wasn't a bad event in her life; she could deal with those . But Regina was her life . Her love that she could not see herself building a future without. Future that was now gone. She fell into a deep depression that made her experiment with some things… many things. But in the flashes of consciousness, she stopped just in time. But she couldn't stop with one. One she would never thought of ending up with. It was something no-one would notice if she didn't want them to. And she did not want that…
Right now it was what Emma needed so desperately… At times it would be a relief at the end of the day. She thought that was going to be much needed tonight but after this…she needed it now. She didn't even notice now her nails dug into the skin painfully until she heard that knock.
"Emma, are you alright?" the girl's voice carried all the worry.
God, what could she do? She was a complete mess and that girl couldn't see her like that… She had to get a grip to get out of there… She got up to carefully wash her eyes and wipe away ruined makeup. She dried then with paper towels and opened the door .
"I'm sorry but I will head back. I'm not feeling okay," Emma muttered and headed for her bag. She put a bill on the table and then headed towards the exit.
That evening Emma somehow got to the dormitory and ended up in the bathroom under a cold stream of shower. After thirty minutes it felt like she had thousands of needles in her skin. Or underneath it. It could seem sick but… It didn't hurt at all. It distracted her. Most of the time even felt good. Not cold water exactly... but the similar feeling. There were many ways to feel it. What she chose at the moment depended on how much she was controlling herself. And today? She wouldn't be able to control it at all. It just seemed… as the safest of options. Over the last six months, she discovered so many things. Not exactly nice ones but something that just came out after all this time.
After putting on leggings and a black t-shirt she dropped on the bed. Too tired to cry but at the same time tears just kept falling. And they were so hot it burned her ice-cold skin. As always she curled to fall asleep. Never-ending torture it was. She escaped to dreams that only increased the pain as soon as she was waking up.
The next day she went on the art classes and she put her feelings into the painting. She often found herself drawing and painting shape of a body. But never drove the face. The body was enough, painfully reminding her of the one she knew she should forget. The flashes wouldn't disappear from her mind, though. Teachers liked her works. They often said that by looking at them one could feel so much. She really poured into them all those feelings that were too big to bare inside.
After classes, Emma went to a bar. A typical drinking bar. No dances, no parties. She was really careful with that after the New Year's Eve adventure . But still… When feeling so bad she just tended to act so recklessly. And getting drunk in a big city was just that. Her head was pounding and she even felt sick. So sick… One good thing she did was to just start walking, leaving the car parked there.
It was getting dark, a twilight. At some point her head began to spin and she just leaned against the wall with closed eyes. She had no idea where she was. God, how stupid was she. She should have just bought a beer or wine, or anything really and get it to the dorm room…
A/N: Note that I don't promise to post regularly... Hopefully, the time we had been given at homes will allow us to work on new chapters.