Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: Once Upon A Time
Character/Pairing: Regina, Zelena, past Robin/Regina, past Daniel/Regina, Ensemble
Challenge/Prompt: faerie_wish13: Fall/Autumn: Afraid, Cat, Halloween, Jack O'Lantern, Magic, Moon, Party, Potion, and
Warning(s): SPOILERS for all but the current season
Word Count: 2,577
Date Written: 25 October 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to their rightful owners, not the author, and are used without permission.
This isn't the way she thought she'd spend Halloween, but her life hasn't at all been what she thought it would be this year. She finally found happiness, and like a fool, she'd thought she'd get to keep it. She's scoffed at her own foolishness countless times, telling herself that she should have known better, but tonight isn't one of those nights. Tonight, as she has many nights since Robin's death, she's keeping herself busy doing something for others.
She hears a baby's laugh and looks up to see her son playing with his cousin. Her gaze turns from the children to the woman who's been almost constantly at her side ever since she lost Robin. When she'd lost Daniel, she'd been alone with only her father for comfort, and the old man had been able to offer little consolation while he'd been quaking in his boots with fear of her mother. But Zelena has been right with her.
She still finds it odd that, after all this time, she has a sister and, despite everything they've been through, including going at each other like two wild cats in heat determined to drive her claws through the other one's jugular for the last time, they've actually become the family they were supposed to be. She chides herself for thinking her happiness with Robin could ever last, but she has no illusions where Zelena is concerned. Her sister needs her as badly as she needs her, although neither of them will admit it, and the thing or, rather, person who had caused the feud between them is long gone.
Her mother, Regina reflects, actually made things right between them before she left the Underworld. She didn't have to do it. Perhaps she'd thought, at the time, it was the only way she could ascend, but if that had been true, Regina reasons not for the first time, she would not have been able to ascend. The fires of Hell that had almost wrapped around her would have wrapped around her and yanked her into the eternal pit, but they had only licked at her once-wicked soul. As bad as her mother had been, as twisted as her mind had been and as twisted as her actions had later caused both her daughters to become, she had come to love them both.
As much as she hates to admit any time Miss Goody Two Shoes is right, Snow is right. Love isn't a weakness; it's a strength. Regina doesn't regret the time she spent with Robin; she only wishes she'd had more time with him. She wishes she'd had more time with him, of course, and with Daniel, but she even the pain of losing them doesn't make her wish she had never known them. Her lips twist into a smirk. She should look up the Fairy. Tinker Bell would love to know she was right, obnoxious Fae that she is.
"I know that look," Zelena remarks as she stirs their cauldron, her teasing voice bringing her sister out of her silent reverie. "What are you thinking?"
"That I should look up a little, winged Know-It-All."
"And do what?" It's Zelena's turn to smirk now. "Tell her she was right?"
"Well, she was," Regina returns, but she's smiling as she says the words. She has no regrets on her time with Robin except that their time wasn't longer, and as such, she has no qualms admitting that Tinker Bell was right in encouraging her to pursue the man with the lion tattoo. Although, she realizes, her gaze again turning to the children, if she had gone after him then, she would never have cast the curse and would never have found Henry. That was the one thing in her life, more than any other, that she couldn't mess up. The old dragon was right: Things had a way of turning out the way they were meant to be.
Which means she was meant to lose Robin. That stunning realization pales Regina's face for a moment and steals the joy from her smile and eyes. She quickly adverts her gaze to the cauldron's bubbling contents but looks up again as she hears branches being pushed aside. Little John is leading Roland out of the forest. The child squeals when he sees Regina and runs toward her.
Regina kneels and takes Robin's son into her arms. His smile reminds her of her father, and she smiles through the unshed tears that glisten in her dark eyes. "Uncle Little John said you have a surprise for us?"
Regina nods, swallowing her sorrow once again, and looks up to her sister. "How's the potion coming?"
Zelena swirls a big, wooden spoon through the bubbling, green liquid. "I think we're about ready, although I still don't see why we have to spend our Halloween doing this?"
"We don't have to, sister," Regina replies with a knowing smirk, "but you'll soon see why we want to. Although I don't know why you add to make it green," she adds teasingly.
"Because, sis," Zelena returns with her own, teasing grin, "black may be your color, but green has always been mine."
Regina just smiles; it seems a long time since she accepted that their senses of fashion will never match. She releases Roland. "Why don't you join Henry and your sister while we finish this up?" she suggests softly. He nods and runs off.
"Is there anything I can do?" Little John asks.
"You can tell the Merry Men to come on out of the forest."
He gapes at her. "How did you -- ?"
She grins. "Sorceress."
He nods and gestures for the men to come out. They file out one by one. Regina doesn't miss the fact that each man has a weapon in obvious placement on his body, mostly swords or bows and arrows, but she also doesn't call them on the fact. She can hardly blame them for refusing to come unprotected to pass the son of their deceased leader over to two people who were once the most evil women they'd ever known. She'd think less of them, in fact, if they had.
Standing, Regina takes the spoon from her sister, raises a ladle full of the potion, and blows. She concentrates as the steam spreads from the spoon and begins to raise into the darkening night sky. The green steam that looks almost like a mist raises into the air and begins to spread. Every one is silent, the children holding their breath in expectation, the men gripping their weapons in preparation, but Regina just waits patiently as her spell begins to take effect.
The mist turns and contorts in the air, growing both larger and longer. Wings sprout as a face begins to take form. Baby Robin gurgles. Zelena's eyes focus on her child as Regina's mirage completes its shape. Robin coos, laughs, and claps her hands together as the dragon raises high into the night air. Then she squeals with delight and Henry, Roland, and every man in the small clearing before the forest's mouth gasps in awe as the dragon soars straight over their heads. He cuts upright just before he can touch their heads, flies high into the night sky, and explodes like fireworks into the stars.
Roland joins Robin in squealing with delight. The men exclaim in uttered, disbelieving oaths. Regina smirks, but her smirk becomes a genuine smile again as Henry gloats, "Wow, Mom! You get better all the time!"
"This?" Regina's smile spreads. Her dark eyes twinkle. "This is just a parlor trick."
"My turn!" Zelena exclaims eagerly.
Regina passes her the ladle without complaint and stands back as her sister breathes over the mist. Just as before, the steam rises into the night air before beginning to take shape. Whatever has sister has in mind has many more eyes than just the dragon's set of two. Regina watches as wings appear and then tails. Finally, the faces of the flying monkeys begin to appear.
With a wave of Zelena's empty hand, they seem to shriek as they fly through the sky. They dip low over the heads of children and Merry Men alike. Little John readies his knife. One of the faux monkeys even tugs at Robin's bonnet. But then, with another gesture of Zelena's hand, they monkeys race up into the sky and disappear into colorful sparks that sprinkle down onto their audience.
Zelena passes the ladle back to Regina. Regina spoons more of the potion. This time, she breathes life into a green Witch astride her broom. The Witch cackles, speeds at the men, and banks upward just before she can collide with the tallest of their party. She keeps flying higher and higher until she soars over the moon.
Applause sounds from behind Regina, startling the former Evil Queen just as her Witch becomes fireworks. She looks to where Snow has baby Neal cradled in her arms and is clapping her hands together around her child. Emma grins at Regina from Hook's arms, but as Regina passes the ladle to her sister, she realizes two things: First and foremost, she's no longer angry at Hook or even Emma. Her friend deserves her happy ending too, and if it takes a man to make her happy, then so be it.
But it doesn't take a man to make Regina happy, she realizes as she stands looking around at every one gathered around her and smiling at her. They ooh and ah over the magically glowing, green heels Zelena sends high-stepping through the sky. Regina glances at her sister's illusion, at her sister herself, and finally back to the people, to their people.
"If I'd known it was going to be this cool," Snow's remarking, "I wouldn't have been late."
"Yes, you would have," Charming speaks honestly, wrapping an arm around his wife's shoulders and kissing the back of her head. "It takes you forever to get ready these days."
Regina's eyes rest back on them, her two oldest enemies one of whom is now one of her greatest friends. She can't seem to keep from beaming with joy. "As sickening as that is, I'm glad you came."
"So am I." Snow leads the way for them to all sit around the Merry Men. As they file pass her, Regina realizes their group even includes Granny, the Dwarfs, Gepetto, and Archie.
Archie catches her eye and nods humbly. "Madam Mayor." He grins, and for the first time, she doesn't want to wipe the wide, shy grin off of the former cricket's face.
Instead she finds herself smiling in response. "Cricket." But she doesn't say his name with any of the hate and fury with which she used to fume.
She's not angry. She's no longer full of hate. She is actually happy tonight, and she can think of many, many worse ways she could spend Halloween. She won't be visited tonight by spirits -- all those she's loved who have died have passed on and won't be returning --, but she is visited by friends and family who are very much alive. Last to the group, sneaking in just as she's accepting the ladle again from Zelena is Rumplestiltskin and his lovely bride.
Her eyes meet his as he stays to the rear of the crowd and lets Belle slip up to grab a spot on the grass in between Granny and Leroy. She notices there's no hate in his eyes tonight or derision in his gaze. He isn't condemning for using her gifts for something as weak as entertaining the masses. He's only here to let his wife enjoy the festivities.
Regina nods and blows on the potion. A great cat leaps forward this time, her tail splashing stardust and her claws reaching for the moon. To her surprise, Rumplestiltskin looks suitably impressed as the cat sends fireworks from her claws and tail spiraling through the sky, but she wasn't trying to impress him. She wasn't trying to impress any one. She was simply trying to survive another night without Robin.
But she's done much more than that, she thinks again, her eyes watching the faces of her audience. Somewhere along the way, she's gone from grieving and barely surviving to being genuinely happy. Somewhere along her journey, she's gone from having a town full of people who neither liked nor trusted her to actually having people willing to join her, people who, though they might still fear her, respected her, and even a few actual friends.
Her cat explodes into the stars. Regina passes the ladle back to her sister and sees joy not just in her face but in her eyes as well. "You're right," Zelena whispers, taking the spoon, "there are far worse ways to spend Halloween."
As her sister prepares her next display, Regina feels familiar arms wrap around her waist and hug her tightly. She returns her son's hug and beams as she looks down into her son's happy face. "Enjoying the show?" she asks, holding him close.
Henry nods. "You're the best, Mom, and this is the best Halloween ever!"
She keeps hugging him as she watches Zelena's display of soldiers marching to the moon and back begin. She nods, once more looking over their gathered friends and family. "I think you're right, Henry," she whispers where only he can hear her, her eyes once more meeting Archie's in the crowd. "This is the best Halloween ever."
A part of her wishes Robin could see their show, but then, as she watches the soldiers climbing high into the night sky and sees the stars twinkling almost as though they're smiling too, she knows. He is watching over them. He, her mother, her father, and Daniel too . . . They're all watching them. They're all smiling down upon them. They're all smiling down upon her, and she's not only happy tonight. She's loved to, and surely there's no better way to start the new year or the next chapter in her life than being so completely loved.
Regina keeps one arm around her son as she accepts the ladle from Zelena with her other hand. Henry continues to hug her as she blows on the steam, sending smiling jack o'lanterns hopping in the air above their audience's heads. They sweep down together, exclaiming "Boo!", right before the faces of those watching them. Robin and Roland again squeal with glee as the Merry Men, Hook, and a few of the others look sheepish for grabbing their weapons.
The jack o'lanterns swirl together into one giant pumpkin, then explode into sparkling, orange lights. Regina's and Zelena's eyes meet. Zelena's gaze goes to Regina's son, and Regina nods once with a smile of thanks. "Why don't you try?" she offers softly.
"Me?" Henry asks in surprise. At his mother's nod, he bursts into an even wider grin and takes the ladle.
"Just focus on what you want to appear and what you want it to do."
He nods and blows. Images of people adorned in bright, tight clothes soar through the air.
Regina smirks. "Super heroes. I should have known."
But what she doesn't know -- what could never expect -- are the words that come to her ears next after Henry passes the ladle to his aunt. "You're my hero, Mom," he whispers so only she can hear, and Regina glows brighter than any fireworks on that bright, joyful Samhain eve.