This story begins in Neverland, just after Henry's rescue. The focus of this story will be Regina and her relationships. Primarily, that will include Henry, Emma, and a new character that will be prominent throughout the whole story. Though down the line, that will be expanded. (This story includes a building and eventual romantic relationship between Regina Mills and Emma Swan as well)
Lost and Found
"Hurry!" David yelled towards his daughter as Hook was helping her back up into the ship.
"David, are you coming?" Mary Margaret held Henry against her before Emma finally reached them and dropped to pull him into a hug again.
"I'll be there in a second!" He yelled before turning back towards the forest. "Regina!" He called out as he started running back towards the barely escaped danger. "Regina, come on, we have to go, now!" He yelled louder before finally seeing the brunette come into view.
"I'm here." She bit out and David noticed her slightly limping as she jogged into view. "Thanks for leaving me behind." She didn't hide her irritation. Both at how she had received a pitiful excuse for a hug from her son before he jumped back to his birth mother and how then the whole group moved ahead of her without looking back once. Though she did accept his arm as she climbed over a fallen tree.
"We didn't know you fell behind. If you haven't noticed, things are a bit hectic." His sarcasm laced tone didn't seem to faze Regina as she was focused more on the sharp pain in her ankle. "Are you okay?"
"Yes, just a twisted ankle."
"Can't you heal it?"
"Once I've rested. I used all my energy back there." She did try to force the anger from her tone there, though she was frustrated she had expelled quite an exhausting amount of magic to keep everyone safe just to go completely un-thanked from all except surprisingly, Emma. Though their circumstances had recently taken a turn.
They took a few more steady steps before the sound of a splitting twig halted them.
"Who goes there?!" David's voice boomed through the deceptively quiet forest surrounding them. His eyes were peeled as he caught sight of movement behind a tree. "You!" He moved away from Regina and drew his sword, taking cautious steps into the darkness. "I said, who goes there?!"
"Please, I'm sorry." A small English accented voice pleaded as a young boy came into view.
He was smaller in size than Henry, both shorter and thin in a way that suggested he did not receive the proper amount of food a growing boy should. His dirty blonde hair was a little longer also and aimed in all directions. He had only a pair of worn, raggedy shorts with a belt and dagger attached as clothing. Not even shoes on his mud caked feet.
"Lost boy." David glared, his tone threatening as he lifted his sword towards the boy.
"I'm not like them, I swear it!" He had tear marks down his dirt dusted face.
"You're only saying that because the rest of them aren't here to save you." His sword touched just under the boy's trembling chin.
"David, stop it." Regina moved forward, coming next to David and pushing the weapon away with her bare hand.
"Regina, he is one of them. One of the very people that held Henry captive."
"He is just a child." She turned to glare at him before softening her look and kneeling down to eye level with the boy.
"I promise you, I am not like them. They took me too, I didn't have a choice, I swear!" The child's eyes were wet with fresh tears as he looked only at the woman showing him sympathy.
"Shh, I believe you." She said kindly, and she did. The boy was obviously scared, and there had been plenty of children taken as Pan had looked for Henry. She could see the truth in his eyes that was only confirmed in the wash of relief that covered his face at her words.
"Please don't send me back to them." He begged, more tears slipping down his cheeks. Regina felt her heart break for him. It was no secret to herself, as she had always had a soft spot for children. But this boy specifically, just touched her somehow.
"I won't." She promised. "What is your name, sweetheart?"
"They call me Luca." He sniffed and Regina gave him a soft smile. She wondered if that meant Peter Pan and his boys decided to call him what they wanted.
"Luca, I'm Regina." She reached out and he took her hand with a slightly less nervous smile forming.
"Regina, we have to go, now." David insisted as the sound of shouting was heard in the distance, both from their family and from the other side of the forest, undoubtedly the surviving and very angry group of young men coming for them.
"No, please don't leave me!" Luca lunged forward and grabbed Regina's jacket in both his small, but tight fists. "I'm scared, please take me with you."
He started crying again and that, with his tight grip on Regina, temporarily made the woman ever forget she had been a ruthless killer. She felt so empathetic for him. Since Henry, Regina could never imagine such a child left alone and scared. Despite everything Henry had done to her, she would die to know he felt this way. She couldn't help the feeling radiating to the scared little boy in front of her now.
"Regina…no." David watched the breaking expression on her face and knew exactly what she was thinking.
"Come on, sweetheart." She removed the boy's hands from her clothes, but kept a gentle and firm hold of one as she stood to walk back towards the dock.
"David, I am not asking permission. You don't have to like it, but unlike you, I won't leave a defenseless child to fend for himself." She stopped to look back at the boy. "Come now Luca, we must move quickly, okay?"
Luca nodded his head furiously as he clung desperately to Regina's hand. The brunette pushed past the incredulous looking man and walked tall and steady. She suddenly found her energy again, letting her body heal the injured ankle.
The child may be small and malnourished, but he knew how to get himself moving when the time came. He didn't know this woman, but for reasons he didn't understand, he just felt safe with her and wasn't going to waste an opportunity. Since he got here, he had been desperate to find a way out and away from the scary boys. This woman was taking him away and he couldn't be more ready.
"Whoa." Luca looked up as the ship came into view. Regina couldn't help the small smile at his eyes lit up seeing his ride out of here.
"I didn't realize we were taking guests upon the Jolly Roger." Hook narrowed his eyes as Regina walked the new child up towards the poor excuse for a dock they were using.
"Well we are." She said shortly before moving Luca in front of her. "Reach for his hand, okay?" She said gently and moved behind him, missing the nervous expression that settled again. He didn't argue though and when Regina started lifting him, he reached out and took the offered hand above him. Once the child was safely on board, Hook leaned back to help Regina up and then the scowling David as well.
Luca took one look at the confused and startled looking group that was already waiting on board and automatically took a cautionary step back. He hadn't been around real adults in a very long time and his nerves were climbing quickly. He took another step back until soft hands gently grasped his shoulders and stopped him. He looked up to see his personal savior smiling comfortingly back at him.
"It's okay, honey." She spoke softly and felt herself warmed at the smile he gave her. He gave her his trust already and Regina almost didn't know how to handle the gift. She did know though, that would continue to do whatever she could to make him feel safe.
She looked up to see her son, feeling the need to reassure he was still safe after the dramatic rescue only hours earlier. Henry looked confused as he glanced between his brunette mother to the child leaning back into her now. He recognized the boy, though he hadn't really spoken to him before. His expression said he was most certainly confused at what was happening now. And he wasn't the only one.
"Um, Regina. You can't- you can't just take a child." Mary Margaret stepped forward, her expression slightly frazzled. They have all been through an ordeal today and it showed in all their demeanors. Hook and Gold were the only ones being productive as the pirate with the aid of the others man's magic, got the ship moving again, away from the threats of the island.
"That's what I told her." David looked angrily at Regina as he moved to join the rest of his family. Luca tensed at the harsh tone and his worries were evident as he moved to tuck himself slightly behind Regina.
Regina blinked a bit in her surprise at the child's behavior more than anyone else's. She expects the others to go against anything she does or says. It's the fact that Luca is looking to her for protection from the Charmings' that startled her. She let her hand squeeze his shoulder again in an attempt to reassure him before moving her glare to the couple again.
"I didn't steal him away. He isn't safe here. I'm trying to help."
"And while that is very kind of you, he is one of them." Mary Margaret protested, just as her husband had, though she was forcing her tone to be just slightly kinder. "He is a lost boy." She said seriously but Regina just lifted her chin.
"His name is Luca, and he is no longer lost." She paused to look down and catch the frightened child's gaze. "He is found and he is safe." She spoke softly and again, felt such a rush of warmth at the hopeful and bright smile aimed only at her.
"Still, this isn't okay. You can't simply claim him, Regina." Mary Margaret couldn't help herself from protesting further and looked to her family for support. While she got a nod in agreement from her husband, her daughter was less than convinced. "Emma?"
"I…well…" She shrugged.
"Emma, we're not just taking a small trip here. We're crossing worlds." Her eyes widened as her daughter still didn't seem to understand. Emma sighed as she looked over to Regina and the boy using her as a shield.
"Kid, do you have a family?" She addressed him kindly with her own arms still around Henry, but Luca looked up to Regina. The brunette brushed his slightly matted hair out of his face before speaking softly.
"Sweetie, do you have parents and a family where you're from?" Although she wished no pain for this child, inexplicably, she was hoping for an answer to the negative. She knew her attachment to him is new but somehow already strong. She didn't like the thought of having to give him up already.
"No." He shook his head sadly. Regina breathed out a sigh but then she held him closer to her side. "I lived with a bunch of other boys and girls before they took me one night."
Regina looked up to see an expression understanding on Emma's face. No one should have to guess as to why, though she still got looks of surprise when she gave her reply.
"Okay, I don't see what the problem is."
"Emma, he is a child-"
"And Regina's not." Emma immediately cut off her mother, earning a surprised, yet appreciative look from Regina. Henry though, looked up at his birth mother with confusion. "I don't think we have child custody laws out here. I don't think it's kidnapping if she's saving him from kidnappers." Emma shrugged and both parents let out puffs of air in their irritation. Regina locked eyes on the blonde for a second and gave her a slight nod.
Right then, Regina felt the child in question shiver. Hook and Gold had the ship beginning to sail again and the winds along with the splashes of water were chilling the young boy. He stayed put though, not a stranger to uncomfortable positions, though the woman standing with him was not going to tolerate it.
"I say both boys have been through an ordeal. Let's let them get cleaned up and have some rest before tomorrow." Regina spoke with finality, already moving before anyone could object. Emma pulled Henry along with her, stepping behind Regina and Luca to follow them below deck.
"We can get the beds ready, if you want to take Luca to the bathroom first." Emma looked over the child's very neglected state and Regina nodded immediately in her agreement. Regina lifted a hand to squeeze her son's shoulder, again, just needing the reminder he was back and safe, before leading the smaller child to their magically produced bathroom down the hall.
She walked Luca up to the mirror before conjuring a fresh hand towel and wetting it in the sink. As she looked to the boy again though, he hadn't even noticed her magic, instead staring with a startled expression at his own reflection. He lifted hands hesitantly towards his face and into the matted hairs atop his head.
"Are you alright?" She asked gently.
"Yes, I'm sorry. I haven't seen myself except in pools of water in a long time."
"There is no need to apologize, dear. Take this." She held the towel for him. "I'm going to check on the other two, just back down the hall, and I'll be right back, okay?" She saw just slight nervousness in his expression before he gave her that small smile and nod again. "Good boy." She smiled as she stood and turned, missing the surprised, turned proud grin at hearing words never before directed at himself.
Regina wanted to stay near Luca, but also had to see her son. She moved quickly and stepped right back into the cabin room she had been sharing with his other mother.
"How are you feeling, sweetie?" She asked him kindly, lifting a hand to cup his cheek.
"I'm fine." He shrugged and moved to plop down onto Emma's bed on her side on the small room.
"Are you injured anywhere? Anything you need healed?" She approached, but kept her distance, sadly noting the way she still kept closer to Emma.
"I don't want you using magic on me." He immediately protested and Regina took in a deep breath.
"She just wants to help, Henry." Emma spoke up, surprising Regina yet again at her willingness to keep with their newly formed truce.
"But not with magic. Right, Mom? You're not going to use magic anymore, right?" He asked with that almost accusatory stare and Regina felt herself repeating her deeper breaths.
"I don't know, Henry." She said truthfully, knowing honesty was the best option.
"You can't. You promised." He narrowed his eyes slightly.
"Henry, that was before out town nearly imploded, you were kidnapped, and we were all forced to perform magic to stay alive." She couldn't help looking pointedly at Emma during her answer, hating that she was the only one he was scared of. Henry noticed of course.
"Emma's magic is good. Yours is dark. Mom, you can't do your magic anymore." He said with a tone of finality that mirrored his adoptive mother's.
"I'm sorry honey, but I won't make any promises I can't keep. I want to be honest with you always now. But I can't tell you the need won't arise, or that I simply won't put the skills I've acquired to use." She smiled sadly, knowing her answer would set them back. It also hurt that he had only been back with them such a short time, and instead of wanting to know how all of this- his entire rescue- came about, he only wanted to go back right where they left off in Storybrooke.
"Yeah, plus kid, her magic has been doing a lot of good. She saved me and has been helping me with my own magic. Plus, it was her magic that held off the lost boys when we finally got in to save you." Emma gave Henry a nudge, but his features were set and his tone stubborn.
"It's dark magic, Emma. It makes everyone do evil things."
"Henry…" Emma sighed.
"I'm going to check on Luca." Regina turned away, not in the mood to hear of her "evil" again right now. She was completely exhausted, and the relief she had felt once being safe from immediate danger was already being replaced.
"Regina, wait." Emma jogged out into the hall to catch up with the brunette. "Hey, look, he'll come around."
"It's fine Miss Swan-"
"Hey." Emma lifted a hand. "I thought we had a truce. Our new beginning?" She gave a small smile and Regina might have rolled her eyes, if not for the way the blonde had been acting towards her since they made the tentative deal.
"Fine." She sighed. "Emma, I'm fine. I do appreciate the…assistance though." She didn't like thanking Emma, but she knew it was important for their newly forming "relationship", for lack of a better term.
"No problem. And thanks for saving my life…twice." Emma nodded and looked almost shyly at her feet.
"Yes, well, let's just hope you can make it home in one piece. I don't care to deal with Henry should anything happen to his…mother." She forced the sadness from her tone and was grateful when Emma decided to leave it alone.
"Alright well, I'll get Henry ready for bed. I'm very glad we'll be back in real ones tomorrow though."
"You and me both." Regina let a small smile slip before turning swiftly and heading back down the hall.
Her relationship with Emma had only changed two days ago when they realized they were about one step from killing each other and if that happened, Henry would be down yet another parent. They had forced themselves to calm and had ended up pacing the small cabin for hours, trying to talk through plans with Henry without breaking into a fight.
Their biggest problem though, was how each would bring the other's past into the fight. Whether it be a crack about abandoning Henry from Regina to Emma, or an angry retort about Regina's life as an evil queen, they just couldn't stop bring up old mistakes. It was when they both were snarling in each other's faces and each had simultaneously screamed I love my son!, that they finally came to an understanding.
At that point, both came to the realization that no matter their differences, they had one very important thing in common. They would both do anything for Henry.
They both knew they had to shove their differences aside if they had any chance. So the only thing they could do, was let go of the past. It may be something that would still affect them, but to each other, they would start over. So they did. Emma had even gone as far as reaching out a hand to introduce herself, saying Hi, my name is Emma, before continuing. Regina thought it slightly ridiculous, but in those two days, Emma had kept to her word and treated Regina as if they had just met and their first impressions were not hateful and malicious.
It was certainly an odd new development for them , one in which clearly everyone else on the ship couldn't understand. But it was working, and for that, Regina was grateful.
She walked into the bathroom again to see Luca scrubbing furiously at his legs, trying to remove all dirt and grime on his body. Regina smiled sadly at him, feeling bad that such a sweet boy had endured so much.
"Let me help you, sweetie." She approached and took the towel from him, re-wetting it in the sink before continuing to clean.
"Where are we going to?" He asked while he rested his hands on her shoulders as she lifted his foot to clean.
"We are going back to the world we came from. It's a town called Storybrooke. I think you'll like it." She smiled at him and he returned it, though he started looking away shyly. "What is it?" She asked gently.
"Well…when we get there…"
"Yes?" She encouraged, finishing up and waiting patiently, still knelt in front of him.
"Will I get to stay with you?" He asked timidly. He didn't meet her eyes to see them shining back at him.
"Is that what you want, Luca?" She didn't mean to sound so hopeful. She was trying to stay neutral so he could make the decision on his own.
"Very much so." He still didn't look up and Regina couldn't stop smiling at the shy boy.
"Well then, I should love to have you." She said confidently and that's when Luca finally jerked his head up. The only thing more surprising than such a joyful smile painted on his face, was the way he launched himself straight into her, wrapping his small arms around her neck as tight as he could.
Regina's heart swelled nearly painfully in her chest. She could count the number of hugs she'd (willingly) received in the last year on one hand and this one completely took the cake. Luca squeezed her as if he were scared none of it was truly real and Regina could disappear at any moment. She felt a small kiss on her cheek and nearly came undone. Such affection had not been shown her way in years and it was a lot to take in.
She managed to keep herself together though, for Luca's sake more than anything. She didn't need the small child confused or worrying about her emotions on top of his own. She took a few deep breaths before leaning back enough to see his face again. She couldn't quite get over the adorably shy, yet excited smile still adorning his face.
"Let me clean your hair a bit and then I'll get you some food before bed." She couldn't help worry about just how long it had been since the boy had truly eaten. She was worried further about that when Luca's eyes widened and he started nodding his head enthusiastically. She felt better though, knowing he'd never go hungry again.
Luca certainly seemed to like the extra attention as Regina gently scrubbed some soap into his hair. When she had him lean back over the sink so she could rinse it all out, he was smiling softly with his eyes closed. She took just a few extra moments than necessary, seeing how he seemed to be to really be enjoying the feeling.
Afterwards, she took a towel and dried out his hair, doing her best to tame the wild looking locks.
"There, all better." She let out a small laugh as he whipped his head around a few times, his hair falling somewhat evenly around his face.
"Thank you." He said shyly.
"You're welcome." She bopped him on the nose and he giggled in response. "Come on." She took his hand and started off again down the hall.
Regina looked down as Luca squeezed her hand tightly. She was amazed as his ability to move with the flow here. Henry was skeptical and weary of everything, yet this child just held on and trusted Regina explicitly. She was instantly attached and knew, despite all the drama of the past months, she would do whatever she had to, to keep him.
Luca didn't realize all the rising emotions in the woman beside him at the moment. He didn't know his smile created a hint of light once thought completely diminished. He didn't know his touch was mending microscopic pieces deep within the very broken woman. If he had of known the effect he was having, even at his age, he would have approached this maybe a bit slower as to not overwhelm her. However, that is exactly what happened to her as the boy tugged on her hand and uttered his next hopeful words.
"This means you'll be my mother now, right?"
This story is about the journey. I have a lot of plans down the line and I hope you hang on for the ride. If you don't mind, please take a moment to leave a review and let me know what you think. It fuels the process. (Also, Luca has an English accent because of reasons... ;)