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01 October 2014 @ 05:27 pm
Fic: A Poison Tree (OUaT)  
It's been a really long time since I've done this. I asked for prompts earlier today. And you guys, I wrote. It's not much. Just a little ficlet. But I wrote! Small steps.

This was the first prompt:

Regina tries to get the town to celebrate Arbor Day, but people are wary of planting saplings from her apple tree.


Fandom: Once Upon a Time
Characters: Emma, Regina, Robin, Marian, Hook, Leroy et al.
Pairings: Regina/Hook (alluded to)
Rating: Um...I forget what ratings fandom uses these days. PG?
Spoilers: Through the end of S3
Author: Rhien Elleth

Words: 2,126

 

A Poison Tree

I was angry with my friend:
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe:
I told it not, my wrath did grow.

And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.

And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright.
And my foe beheld it shine.
And he knew that it was mine,

And into my garden stole
When the night had veiled the pole;
In the morning glad I see
My foe outstretched beneath the tree.

                        ~ William Blake

 

“Are you crazy?” Leroy looked at Emma, eyebrows drawn down into his characteristic scowl. “I’m not planting those things all over town.”

With the sweep of a hand, he encompassed the entire army of bright green saplings sitting in neat rows that marched back and across, until they covered most of the parking lot behind the Storybrooke Library. It was one of the few places large enough to serve as the staging area for the town’s Arbor Day Plant-a-Tree celebration. Behind Leroy, the rest of the dwarves nodded solemnly, or folded their arms over their chests in open defiance.

Emma rubbed at her forehead; this was the third time they’d had this argument, and so far, she wasn’t making much headway. She tried to explain it again, as simply as possible.

“Leroy, they are trees. Today is Arbor Day. On Arbor Day, you plant trees. It’s what other people, in normal towns do all over the world.”

“Well, we aren’t a normal town.” He lifted his chin, daring her to argue against that.

Emma grit her teeth.

“No, we aren’t. We are a town that comes from a place called the Enchanted Forest. You would think that we, more than anywhere else, would want to plant some trees!”

“They aren’t trees!”

Emma walked over to the first row of neat saplings and picked one up. She made a big show of examining its thin, flexible trunk, and the young, barely started sprigs of green growing in shoots off of it. It smelled of the freshly turned earth it was planted in, of growing things, and the water that fed it. Resolutely, Emma thrust the tree at Leroy. Incongruously, the faint scent of apples caught in the back of her throat, but she shoved it aside as her imagination.

“Get that thing away from me!” Leroy sprang back as though the tree were a poisonous snake. “It’s an abomination, and I’m not planting it.”

“It. Is. A. Tree.” Emma spoke the words through gritted teeth.

“Yeah,” he admitted finally, and Emma felt a jolt of victory. “An apple tree. Grown from Regina’s own garden.” Victory died a quick death. “The thing might as well be poison.”

Behind Leroy, Tom sneezed, as though to emphasize Leroy’s words. Emma felt a twitch starting at her left eye.

“Nothing in this world more stubborn than a dwarf,” Hook muttered from a few paces behind her. Emma ignored him. So far, his observations had failed to help the situation.

“Got that right,” Leroy said, having clearly heard him.

Time to change tactics.

“You know what?” she said, cradling the sapling in the crook of her arm. “Fine. Don’t help. I understand why you associate evil with everything Regina does, I really do. But she planned this because Henry wanted to do it. Because our son wanted to celebrate Arbor Day and plant some damn trees. Of course the trees Regina supplied are apple trees. Is anyone really surprised by this?” She let her gaze wander past the dwarves to the other townspeople gathered to help. It snagged on Regina herself, standing towards the back of the crowd, arms crossed as she watched the drama unfold. The other woman’s face was utterly expressionless, pale, unblemished white as if carved from stone. It was the look she wore whenever someone threw her past into her face, a mask determined to keep any emotion from leaking out. But Emma could see in her stiff posture that she was both unsurprised, and hurt by Leroy’s reaction.

Beside Regina, Henry stood. As Emma watched, he reached over and took one of her hands in his and gave it a squeeze. Regina ducked her head, letting the fall of her hair hide her expression.  Because, Emma knew, that one gesture of kindness had cracked her resolve, and cracked her mask with it.

Without taking her eyes from Regina and Henry, Emma continued, “Regina has changed. We’ve all seen the evidence of that. We’ve all been saved by her, more than once, now. At some point you have to stop judging her by the actions she committed in the past, and start having a little faith in the actions she is committing today.”

A couple of people looked uncertain, but not enough.

Emma sighed, giving up.

“Forget it. If you want to help, great. If not, I guess the rest of us will just have to pick up the slack.” She swung away from the crowd and shoved her sapling into Hook’s arms, intending to get another for herself. She gave her parents a quick look, but they both held saplings already, although Snow had a worried look around her eyes.

“Swann, there have to be at least two hundred trees here,” Hook said, keeping his voice low.

“I know.” Gamely, she picked up another sapling.

“That’s…a lot of holes to dig.”

She shot him a look.

“I know.”

She picked up another leafy sapling and pitched her voice loud enough to be heard by everyone.

“If everyone would just take a tree, we’d be done in under an hour.” She swept the crowd with her gaze. “I don’t know what the big deal is, anyway. The fairies tested the apples from the main tree months ago, and found them perfectly normal. Grannie’s even been using them in the diner’s apple pie.” She glared at Leroy. “You’ve probably been eating them for weeks and not even realized it, and here you are, still standing.”

She rolled  her eyes when Leroy started making retching sounds.

Then, to her surprise a tall figure stepped out of the crowd and bent to pick up a tree. It was Robin. He cradled it in one hand, and nodded to Emma.

“We’ll take one,” he said quietly. Marian stood at the edge of the crowd, wearing an uneasy frown.

Out of the corner of her eye, Emma saw Regina go still. For a second, Robin’s eyes met the Queen’s over the crowd, something flickering over his face too fast to catch. Their gazes held for a second too long, and then he was rejoining Marian. Inside, Emma winced with guilt. She had done that, saving Marion. She still didn’t see how saving a life was ever a bad thing. If she had it to do over again, she’d make the same choice. But she did regret, deeply, that her choice had robbed Regina and Robin of…something.

After Robin’s move, a few more people stepped forward, and a few more. Not enough for all of the trees, but enough that Emma breathed a sigh of relief that she wouldn’t be spending her entire day digging holes.

She stayed where she was until Regina and Henry made their way to the front. Emma watched as Henry chose just the right tree. Regina stood stiffly beside her; she had not yet forgiven Emma for the crime of saving Marian’s life.

“The apples aren’t poisonous,” Regina said finally. “In case you had more doubts than you were showing to the rest of them. I’ve always used them as a magical focus for various spells, but in and of themselves…they’re just apples.” She shrugged.

Emma tried not to think too hard about the fact that she was spreading apples that Regina could use as a magical focus all over town. If Regina really wanted to do that, she told herself, she’d have done it before you ever came to Storybrooke. Back when she held this town in an iron, vengeful grip.

Emma forced a smile.

“I know,” she said. “The fairies really did test them.” Unspoken went the words, and I trust them. An uneasy trust did exist between herself and Regina, but it was a trust lately tested by the return of Marian. Emma wasn’t certain, any longer, where she stood with her son’s adoptive mother.

Regina gave Emma her own forced smile.

“I know,” she said, the words sharp enough to cut. She turned her attention away from Emma, and focused on Henry. “Do you know where you want to plant it?” she asked.

“Yep,” he said, smiling. “Right outside my window.”

Regina’s smile grew, became genuine.

“Great,” she said, “let’s go find a shovel.”

“Great,” Emma echoed with much less enthusiasm as the pair walked away. Just what she wanted; one of Regina’s apple trees right outside her apartment. Now who’s being a hypocrite? “Let’s get this over with,” she muttered to Hook, and set off to find her own shovel.

 

*          *          *

It was late, and Regina was filthy from spending the day messing about in the dirt. But Henry had loved it, and if she was honest with herself, so had she. First she showered, washing the dirt from her skin and from beneath her nails. Then she slipped on a black silk robe that was a ripple of water against her skin. Truth be told, she’d have enjoyed herself even without Henry. There was something about gardening that had always been soothing to her, though she indulged it rarely now. Only to grow what she needed for spells, and of course cultivating the starts from her apple tree into those saplings. It had taken painstaking patience, watering them all with the required amount of tears and mothering them with smiles so they would grow just right.

Having them positioned around town would be a strategic advantage anyway you looked at it, anchors for her magic, vessels for power, a focus for whatever she wanted or needed to cast. Truth be told, she’d been worried when the dwarves had proven so stubborn. What if everyone followed their lead?

But she needn’t have. She should have known that his very nature would ensure that the most important tree would be planted. Something within her softened, thinking about Robin, and for a moment her breath caught in her throat and her heart gave a stutter beneath her breast, remembering the way he’d looked at her for a moment as if no one existed but the two of them.

But then he’d gone back to Marian, just like every other time since Emma had changed the past so thoughtlessly.

Clearing her throat, Regina swept out of the bedroom and into her office. She waved a hand to wake up her mirror.

“Yes, My Queen?” He sounded sleepy. She didn’t care.

“Did it work?” she asked.

He blinked the sleep from his eyes.

“Give me a moment, My Queen…”

“Did. It. Work?”

Regina punctuated each word with the imperious tap of a nail polished apple red against his casing. He jolted, wincing as it reverberated through his prison.

“Yes, My Queen. I can feel the tendrils of their roots spreading even now, awaiting your direction.”

Regina sat back, wearing a pleased smile.

“Show me,” she commanded.

The surface of the mirror rippled, and Robin’s face swam into focus. It hit her like a punch in the gut. He seemed to be looking right at her, his face wearing the soft expression he’d shown her in their most private moments. She almost reached out to stroke his cheek, and then she heard a voice say his name.

“Robin?”

It was Marian. Robin turned his face away from the mirror, and Regina realized he’d been looking down at the apple sapling. Thinking of her. An unwelcome warmth suffused her chest, spreading to fill her as though she’d taken a shot of strong drink. She turned away.

“Enough. I don’t wish to see anymore.”

“As you wish.”

Regina struggled to regain control, focusing on the positive. She would now have access to Robin or Marian whenever she wanted. More than simply scrying them. If she wished to poison someone, she needn’t use the apples; she could direct the poison of her pain and hate into the very ground itself, using the tree’s roots as a delivery system. But that could backfire and kill Robin, the last thing she wanted. It would take considerable planning, but she had time, while the tree grew and spread its roots.

Eventually, she knew. She would see her foe, spread out beneath the very branches of her tree.

 


Cross-posted from Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there. Comments welcome on either post.
 
 
Current Mood: pleasedpleased
 
 
 
L.A.frenchroast on October 2nd, 2014 01:54 am (UTC)
Looooove this so much. Awesome treatment of the prompt. Now I'm wishing this is what the show would do.

I freaking love evil Regina.
"Connoisseurs of Difficulty"kistha on October 2nd, 2014 03:03 am (UTC)
Excellent job!