This story has been on the back burner for quite a long time. And the only reason this is now being updated is because one very awesome reviewer called Bonasera1 left me a lovely message reminding me that this story is not finished and it is still loved. They asked for a Christmas miracle, and whilst it has passed Christmas - I don't think I can even call this a New Year Miracle - I still wanted to put this out there to try and get back into the swing of things.
Basically; thank you if you're still here. I truly appreciate your patience with me.
I love you all.
Regina woke up with her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and a pounding in her head. Groaning, she raised her arm to rest over her face, blocking out any ray of light that dared attack her eyes.
What the hell had she done last night?
Thinking back, she couldn't even remember… There was obviously alcohol - something in the back of her mind shouted 'whiskey' - and she was sure Robin was there: either that or she had slept with someone else judging by the pleasant ache in her muscles and musky scent of sex still lingering in her room. But she was a one thief only kind of girl… So, her and Robin had definitely shared a few drinks, and indulged in each other. But she was sure she told herself she wasn't going to get that drunk…
Oh well, apparently that didn't go as planned. Probably the thief's doing, she mused with a smile.
Steeling herself, Regina pulled herself up to sit on the edge of her bed. Her stomach immediately felt queasy, and Regina closed her eyes and let out a slow exhale in an attempt to settle herself. When she dared to open her eyes again, Regina caught sight of her clothes from yesterday resting over the chair against her vanity on the other side of the room.
A confused frown appeared on her face: at the best of times, Regina was one for order and cleanliness, when drunk, all Regina cared about was getting into bed. She couldn't be certain, but Regina would put money on not being the one to have put them there last night.
The only other explanation she could think of was that Robin had tidied a little before he had left, and the thought of him pausing to fold her clothes and put them over her chair made her insides all gooey. It was little things like that which pushed her affection for him even further; he made her feel cared for, without wishing for anything in return. It was something she had seldom experienced.
She should thank him later. She had no idea what to give him, but he deserved something from her. Something that made his insides gooey for a change.
Her mouth quirked in a smile, as she allowed herself to think about the thief and just… feel, for a change.
It was nice. Having emotions, and allowing herself to have them without a sense of guilt or worry.
It wasn't something she made a habit of, but Regina had a strange feeling that something had changed within her. She couldn't put her finger on what exactly, but she had a sense that there was something she needed to do today, a change that she needed to make. And perhaps this emotion thing was a part of it.
She had to admit, she'd forgotten what this was like. The pleasant flutter in her stomach, the warmth in her heart… She used to feel like this, and then she stopped herself. At this moment in time, she couldn't quite remember why. She used to enjoy this, revel in feeling cared for, it was the way she felt whenever Henry would...
Just like that her smile dropped, the flutter in her stomach becoming twisted knots, the warmth in her heart a shard of ice, love and happiness becoming pain and loss before she could put her guards back up.
This was why she didn't let herself feel things.
Any source of joy was doomed to be ripped away from her, and leave her worse than when she started.
It wasn't worth the pain. And that was why she tried to stop these emotions.
Perhaps, it was just easier for her to feel nothing at all…
Regina's mood had been noticeably dour for the rest of the morning; to the extent where distancing herself from people was probably the best idea.
Sitting at her apple tree, Regina stared over the balcony and into the distance.
She'd made a mistake this morning in embracing those emotions. She'd let her guard down, enjoyed the feeling of - dare she say it - love, and then had been sucker punched with grief before she could blink.
But she'd enjoyed the moments of carefree feeling, perhaps too much, and now she needed to decide whether to allow her emotions to affect her like that, or whether to just lock that part of herself away again to keep some semblance of control.
Her thoughts turned back to Henry, wondering what he'd tell her to do.
But she already knew - and she knew that she knew. He wouldn't want her doing this, but she was still getting used to life without him. And it hurt. So much.
Regardless of who she let past her walls, or who she let her heart care for, Henry would always have his own space there.
Though, as much as she hated to admit, her mind had even been reminiscing upon other things too. She even felt a pang of longing for Emma's company - not that she'd admit such a thing; god knows how many of the castle's inhabitants would laugh at her if she ever divulged missing the woman, most were convinced she still hated her. But it simply wasn't true, not anymore. There were few people in the world Regina trusted, and fewer still she'd entrust care of her son to. The fact was that Emma had come to mean as much to her as the rest of the Charming family had.
The thought brought a wry chuckle to the Queen: seemingly everyone she had come to hold most dear had stood toe to toe with her at some point.
But the truth was she missed their company, missed their adventures, missed sitting with her son and Emma and the Charmings, throwing barbs that everyone knew she didn't truly mean over home cooked meals.
She missed her family.
And as if the Princess could sense it, there was the sound of Snow's soft footsteps from behind her.
Though she looked alarmed upon spotting Regina, apologising and turning around as if to immediately leave again.
She had threatened her, Regina supposed. But she didn't know whether to be happy that the Princess was finally following her orders, or frustrated that the one time she would have let her break the rules she was finally obeying Regina's wishes.
Regardless, the Queen was feeling too lonely and weary to keep pushing her away - and the Princess had the same forlorn look in her eyes too.
"Snow… Stay." Regina sighed, turning back to stare straight ahead. "I'm tired of fighting."
"Me too…" Snow walked towards where the Queen was sitting, pausing a few steps away and twisting her hands in front of her. "Regina, I…"
"Don't," she interrupted. "Just because I'm not close to throwing fireballs at you anymore, it does not mean that I'm still not upset and angry with you, because I am. You know me, Snow: that won't go away for a long time yet."
Snow bowed her head, her voice turning quiet and timid as she admitted: "I know."
Regina clenched her jaw, pressing her lips together. "I'm just done isolating myself."
Snow nodded, pausing before gesturing to the stone bench Regina wasperching on. "May I sit?"
Regina inclined her head in permission, then returned to staring straight ahead.
"Regina…" Snow started, and despite not being eager to converse with the girl, Regina 'hmm'd in encouragement. "What if I'm… I mean, obviously- I don't… oh, forget it."
The thought of the princess stumbling over her words had Regina turning her head. "Now I'm intrigued: what's got you so tongue tied?"
Regina hardened her gaze, raising an eyebrow and making it clear that she was expecting a decent answer.
"I'm just…" Snow started, wringing her hands. "Nervous, I guess."
Regina frowned, "about what?"
Snow paused, pressing her lips together. Her voice was quiet and timid when she finally admitted: "being a mother."
"But you're already a mother," Regina pointed out, not quite understanding.
"I know," Snow hastily explained. "I know I'm a mother, but I didn't have the experience of being a mother."
It was as if a cold bucket of water washed over Regina, along with the realisation of why that was. "Snow…"
"I'm not bringing this up to spite you, Regina; I've forgiven you, we're past it," Snow smiled. "I just wish I knew what I was doing. I don't know how to bottle feed, I don't know how to change a diaper, I don't know what to do if my baby starts crying. I don't know anything."
"And you think I did with Henry?"
"Well, no, but-"
"But what?" When there was no response from Snow, Regina turned to face her. "No mother knows what's coming, and you can do all you can to prepare, but the moment that baby gets put in your arms, it's a whole new life for you to take care of."
"But what if I can't..? What if I'm not enough-?"
"Listen to me," Regina started, grasping Snow's hands between her own. "You will be a great mother. You will have doubts, you'll have moments where you wonder if it's all worth it, you'll have times where you feel like the worst mother in the world. But you're not. And you never will be…"
"Shh, I'm not done yet," Regina interrupted. "If I – the Evil Queen, of all things – can raise a child to turn out as well as Henry has… You, Princess Snow White, have nothing to worry about."
Regina paused, maintaining Snow's gaze as she tried to make her words sink in.
"Now you may speak."
There were tears in both of their eyes. Snow blamed it on hormones, Regina blamed it on the wind, but they both knew that it wasn't quite the truth.
Although at times, Regina looked at Snow and saw nothing of the girl she raised for ten years - and then proceeded to try and destroy - there were times like this when her features schooled into something childlike and innocent, where their complicated history faded away and Regina felt like her step-mother all over again.
Snow took her hands from where they were held between Regina's, leaned forwards, and enveloped her in a tight hug.
Regina's hands hovered for a moment before she rested them on Snow's back. She spread her fingers, automatically moved her hands up and down the girl's back, and let herself feel part of a family again.
For all the time Regina spent by her apple tree that morning, she seemed to spend just as much in the afternoon too.
She'd gone with Snow back out into people , and had managed to deal with everything going on inside her rather well. Until…
Regina closed her eyes, fingers clenching around the stone bench she was sat on.
He'd wanted to show her a drawing. And she couldn't handle it.
He'd bounced on his feet the way Henry used to, tugged on her hand the way Henry used to, looked up at her with love in his eyes like Henry used to…
It had been too much.
She'd tried to leave with a quiet 'excuse me', but Roland had followed her out into the hall. His footsteps had resembled the pitter patter of Henry's on the hardwood floor of her mansion as he'd chased after her, and she'd lost her control.
He'd insisted she'd look at his drawing 'right now', and out of emotion she'd snapped, told him she 'didn't want to look at some silly drawing', and broken the poor boy's heart.
His bottom lip had quivered as he took a step back from her, letting his drawing float to the floor and not caring about the dirty footprints that scrunched his drawing as he ran back to get his father.
She'd disappeared in a puff of smoke before Robin could see her, she didn't think she could meet his eye anyway.
The morning was a write-off, she might as well write off the afternoon too.
She'd learned to have a firm handle on her emotions from a young age; she could let herself feel a little and then rein it back in before she felt too much. But today she couldn't seem to get a hold of anything. She'd tried too hard to let in just a little bit more, and now she was caught between too much and not enough.
A tear of frustration ran down her cheek, her anger at not being able to find that equilibrium overflowing. Her mother had always said love was weakness, and at moments like these she could see why.
Of course, that was the moment that Robin had come across her. She hadn't noticed at first, too busy wallowing in self-pity and furiously wiping away any tears that dare fall from her eyes to hear his soft footfalls. And so he'd stood there for a moment as he tried to work out what to do.
His heart ached, as if someone had reached into his chest and squeezed. No loving parent should ever have to lose their child. And from what he'd heard from whispers, and the desperation in Regina to not feel anything when they first met, her son was her whole world. He knew the feeling well; if he ever lost Roland…
He couldn't bear thinking about it.
Walking around so he was a bit closer to Regina, Robin was trying to work out if it was a wise idea to stay. He knew Regina thought of showing emotion to others as vulnerability, and he was probably the last person that she'd want to see – having his child safe and well, and to be able to hold him in his arms whenever he desired - but Roland had made him promise to try and make his Queen feel better, and he always kept his promises.
She gasped and sat up straighter, trying to surreptitiously wipe away any trace of her having been crying before she saw Robin sit down next to her out of the corner of her eye and her posture became just that little bit less hostile.
"Are you ok?" It was clear she wasn't. But Robin asked the question anyway, giving Regina the opportunity to talk about it if she wished, or shut him out if she didn't.
"I…" she started, fully prepared to dismiss him. But she couldn't quite bring herself to lie, and so simply stated; "I'll be fine."
Robin nodded, not quite believing her, but trying to give her some semblance of confidence: "Of course you will."
"I didn't mean to upset Roland. I just…"
"Roland will be fine. Don't worry," Robin assured her. "He told me to come and find you, make sure you were okay."
The look of hopeful disbelief on Regina's face caused Robin's stomach to flip. How could she doubt that she was cared for? As if one slight mishap was going to ruin their relationship forever. "He's worried about you."
It was the wrong thing to say; he could see that the moment she withdrew into herself again. She should not have the responsibility of his son worrying about her. Robin mentally gave himself a slap. Idiot .
"He'll forget about this by tomorrow. Don't worry."
He leaned towards her, giving her shoulder a slight nudge.
She didn't even acknowledge him.
He needed to get her back, draw her out from wherever her mind had taken her. And so he took a bit of a risk, requesting something that had been on his mind for a while; "tell me about him. Your son."
Regina's breath hitched, and she pressed her lips together to stop them trembling.
There was silence for a while, and Regina's mouth opened and closed several times as if she wanted to say something but couldn't quite find the words.
"He's… Henry," she finally said as if the name encompassed him, and he supposed those who knew him would chuckle, but he hadn't had that pleasure. But he still wanted to know something – anything – about the boy who had managed to steal the heart of the Evil Queen.
Fortunately Regina continued: "He's bright; he loves school, brilliant at English… Math not so much, but it was never really my forte either. He's brave, quite a little hero, and he's been through more than any child should. He's loyal. So loyal. And if he believes in you, he believes with all his heart and it's like… walking in sunshine; with his support nothing can go wrong, and you can do anything you want to…"
Robin reached over and took her hand in his, lacing their fingers together. "He sounds like a great kid."
"He is." Looking down at their joined hands, Regina spent a few seconds entranced by the way his thumb stroked over hers. "He's thirteen soon. My little boy: a teenager. He'll wake up to presents, he'll have a few friends round for a party, he'll have chocolate cake for breakfast, and a movie and popcorn before he goes to bed - and he'll stay up until precisely one minute past midnight because that's when his birthday officially ends."
Robin hated how Regina's voice shook more with each passing word recounting his birthday routine. He couldn't imagine what this was like for her.
"And I'll be stuck here. Without him. And he doesn't have a clue." Regina paused and let out a wry scoff. "And to think that today started out as one of the easier days."
"Is there anything I can do?"
Regina shook her head as a tear rolled down her cheek. "I just want my Little Prince back."
"I have every faith you'll see him again, Regina."
"After everything I've been through, faith doesn't come easy to me."
He lifted their joined hands to his lips, pressed a soothing kiss to her knuckles and waited until she was looking at him before offering; "then use mine for the both of us."
Her eyes looked at their hands before they met his, shining with tears that refused to fall and an emotion she could not define.
She leaned forward and rested her head on Robin's shoulder, taking the comfort he so willingly offered as he transferred her hand from his right to his left so he could put his arm around her.
There were no words he could say to help her, not right now, and so they sat in silence. Robin's fingers trailed over the velvet covering Regina's arm in soothing patterns, and Regina tried her hardest to piece her fractured heart back together.
Obviously, she couldn't do that completely; with everything that she'd been through, there was no way she'd ever be completely whole. But with her thief's arm wrapped around her, his hand holding hers as he provided the support she needed, it wasn't too long before she was feeling a bit more put together. Not alright by any stretch of the imagination, but not broken anymore.
Of course, that's when she realised she'd let herself be vulnerable in front of him - again - and slight awkwardness creeped in. She allowed herself a moment to just be with him, and then she started to extricate herself from his embrace.
He seemed to linger when letting her go, and the thought he wanted to be with her a little longer had a small smile tugging at her lips. But as much as she wanted to stay here with Robin, she couldn't.
"I told Snow I'd help her plan ideas for an event," Regina excused as she got to her feet.
Robin sighed, standing up in front of her. "You don't have to do that."
"I know. But… I need to have something to do."
Robin nodded, understanding her desire to not be left alone with her thoughts. "Well, if you need anything else you know where I am," Robin offered. "I'm sure my Merry Men can find something for you to do."
Robin scoffed. "Don't thank me; they'll probably ask you to redecorate their room or something."
Shaking her head, Regina corrected his misunderstanding. "No, I mean… Thank you, for being here."
Robin watched as Regina averted her gaze, wondering why she found it so difficult to believe he'd stay with her when she needed him.
He took her hand, waiting until she looked up at him before he told her; "There's nowhere else I'd rather be."
Her lips pressed together, and her fingers wrapped more tightly around his, unspoken gratitude flowing from her.
With a slight nod of her head she turned to leave, making it a few steps before Robin decided that this just wouldn't do. Regrasping the hand she'd just let slip through his, Robin halted her movement and came to stand before her. Slowly - allowing her time to back away if she wanted to - Robin leaned forwards and pressed his lips to hers, threading his free hand through the long hair tumbling over Regina's shoulder. She pressed back, keeping their kiss chaste but affectionate, drawing comfort and unable to resist a soft smile as she pulled away.
That was more like it. If nothing else, he'd been able to draw out one of her elusive smiles. The curve of her lips was something he couldn't get enough of, and it seemed as if today was one of those days where they were few and far between.
"I'll be seeing you later, Milady?" Robin asked, bending at the waist and bringing their joined hands to his lips so he could kiss her in the true regal greeting.
It drew out another of those smiles, and a soft huff of amusement. Her smile turned coy, and she gave him a noncommittal; "perhaps."
Robin watched as she turned away, letting her hand fall from his grasp at the last possible second before she made her way through the stone archway leading back into the castle.
He half hoped she didn't need to seek him out later; he'd much rather she manage fine without him. But nevertheless, he'd take every opportunity to draw that smile from her again whenever she was near.
She hadn't come to see him that day, but Robin couldn't help himself from checking in on her anyway. Just to check that she was doing okay. He'd sneaked past castle staff to the Grand Hall, then the Council Chamber, until he'd found her at one of the smaller cabinets. True to her word, Regina was helping Snow organise some sort of event, Robin couldn't pick up much on what they were saying - something to do with music, food, and a campfire - but all he was concerned about was seeing Regina safe and sound.
She seemed to be coping well - better than earlier anyway - and Robin couldn't help but feel a swell of pride for the woman. Even after everything, she was still here, still standing, still fighting. She had to be the strongest person he had ever known.
It comforted him to know she was alright, enough that he felt comfortable retiring back to his chambers and spending the rest of the evening with his son.
Slumber was less comforting, the worry he had experienced throughout the day manifesting itself as night terrors.
Robin awoke with a start, sweat beading on his forehead and his heart pounding in his chest. His covers were clenched in his fists, knuckles white with tension and an ache in his fingers.
He thought this was past him. He believed the dreams about the day he lost his friend had subsided. But no… They had reared with a vengeance, tearing at the wounds he was trying to heal after only a hint of suggestion the people in his life weren't okay. It was a stark reminder that nobody was safe; anyone he cared about could be gone in the blink of an eye.
Robin turned to his left, his eyes falling on the small bed where his son slept soundly. Worry clenched in his chest, and he spent a moment just staring at the boy, taking note of the long hair which needed a cut, his cheeks which were losing some of their roundness as he grew older, his little fingers grasping the knitted cover which was becoming too small for him.
The thought of anything happening to his son had Robin's heart quickening.
No, this was not what he needed right now; his son was okay, Roland was fine, he was safe. That's what he needed to focus on.
But his men…
No, they were fine too. If anything had gotten into the castle it would have been detected far before it reached the floor of their chambers.
And yet despite the attempts to dispel his worries, he still felt the need to check, to see for himself that they were all fine and put his mind at ease.
He sneaked down the corridor, peeking into each room as he made his way through his team's chambers - confirming they were all safely slumbering.
He'd seen Dave, Alan, Much, Little John, Friar Tuck… They were all sleeping in their own style: some had legs hanging over the side of the bed, some had sheets twisted under their armpits, some were flat on their back and snoring louder than a foghorn. The last door at the end of the corridor was William Stutely's, and as he neared it, Robin could make out a soft glow emanating from the gap above the floor.
He'd never been so glad about William's inability to sleep before.
His knuckles rapped on the wooden door, and when he heard a soft 'come in', he entered with a small sense of relief.
William smiled at his leader the moment he stepped into the light, but when he saw the expression on his face that smile soon faded.
"Are you okay there, son?" He asked from his position on the bed, placing his book to one side.
Robin lifted a shoulder in a shrug. "I've been better."
Will shifted, sitting back against the pillows and gesturing for Robin to sit at the foot of his bed. Once Robin was situated, he asked; "What's troubling you?"
Robin paused, trying to take all of his worries and fears and place them into a few key words - god knows William couldn't stand unnecessary rambling.
"Life," he settled on, before realising that didn't quite cover everything and added: "and death."
"Nothing too complex then," William joked, before growing serious. "You're still thinking about George."
"Him and everyone else."
William sighed, shifting and placing a comforting hand on his friend's knee. "Robin…"
"I just can't help but wonder; how long have I got before I lose someone else?"
"None of us ever know that, Robin," William advised. "That's why we have to make the most of what we have."
He was right: he always was. But it was so much easier said than done. Robin couldn't just put this to one side; he'd hidden his feelings before, pushed them so far down that he'd lost himself. He didn't want to do that again. He knew he had to face this; it was the only way he could move forward. But… "How do I do that?"
"Accept the inevitable," he explained. "Death comes for us all, my boy. But in the end it doesn't matter how much gold we have, or how long we live; all that matters is that we enjoy the time we have with the people we love. That's what life is all about."
Robin took a moment to let his friends counsel seep in, realising that he was right - again. "When did you get so wise?"
"I've had numerous occasions over the past couple of months to reflect on my own life. I like to think a sense of perspective can be drawn from such experiences."
Robin nodded, feeling a pang of guilt at realising those occasions were mostly his fault. He was such a danger to be around, and sometimes it felt like caring for people was a curse he placed on them.
But Will was right; life was about spending time with loved ones, and Robin was proud to have so many marvellous people by his side.
"And speaking of people we love…" Will hinted, raising a brow with a slight smirk. "Go on. I'll keep an eye on your boy."
Robin frowned, not quite understanding at first. But then it clicked. Of course. He'd checked on everyone he cared about except the one person most at risk.
With a small smile, Robin stood, patting Will on the shoulder with a heartfelt 'thank you' before making his way out into the castle corridor.
His walk to Regina's chambers was a long one, his mind racing with every soft step on the stone floors. Realistically, he knew she was strong, he knew she had fought so many battles and survived. But there was always that 'what if?'. There was always that doubt that one day her luck would run out.
He still remembered her skin marred with green lightning from the last battle. And even though that faded, he could still trace the patterns with his fingers from memory.
And so as he pushed the heavy door to her chambers, he wasn't entirely sure she would be there, unharmed.
Her room was darker than the hallways; there were no torches on the walls or moonlight filtering through her window. And so it took his eyes a moment to adjust.
But there she was, covered in sheets and slumbering peacefully: her black hair splayed across her pillow and only a thin, silk strap on her shoulder giving any indication she was wearing anything.
Robin let out a soft sigh. He should go; he had seen that she was safe, alive, and in her bed, but he just didn't feel quite content yet. Panic still lingered throughout his entire being, and so he stepped closer, letting the door softly fall shut behind him.
He watched the expansion and contraction of her ribs as she breathed, looking at the perfect skin left above the covers, unmarked and in tact.
She was safe, he told himself. She was perfectly safe.
He didn't want to disturb her - she looked so peaceful when she was sleeping and god knew she'd had a difficult day - and so he turned to leave her to her slumber.
But his foot landed on a loose pebble, and the sound of it grating on the stone floor roused Regina with a start. When he turned back, she was propped up on one elbow, her other hand outstretched with a large flame emanating from its centre, already preparing to defend herself.
She blinked blearily, focussing on the intruder in her room and relaxing when she saw it was none other than Robin Locksley.
"Robin?" Regina frowned, using the flame in her hand to light the bedside candle - and then extinguishing it altogether. "What are you doing here?"
"Couldn't sleep," he mumbled, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Regina recognised that tone, and when he apologised and went to leave, she called out to him. "Robin… stay."
He looked over his shoulder to see her pulling back the covers next to her, tilting her head in invite. "Are you sure?"
"Wouldn't offer if I wasn't," she responded.
That was good enough for him.
After toeing off his shoes when he reached the side of her bed, Robin removed his shirt and worked himself under the sheets, lying on his back and staring at the ceiling aglow with the candle's flickering flame.
Neither said anything for a moment, but Robin could feel Regina's eyes on him.
"Are you alright?" She finally asked.
Robin sighed, puffing out his cheeks, offering a simple explanation of: "bad dream."
"Ah…" Regina lay back down, mirroring his position and bringing her hands to rest over her stomach. She wasn't entirely sure what to do now; her usual method of distracting him until he couldn't think anymore didn't seem enough. And he'd done so much for her today… For him to come and seek her out, in the middle of the night, his dream had obviously shook him, and a quick fuck in the sheets would only take his mind off of things at present; he needed something to dispel whatever his conscience was worrying about for good.
"You know, someone once told me that it can be easier to let go of troubles by talking it out with someone," Regina stated, remembering when he had sat with her outside and encouraged her to talk about her worries - and back then she didn't even want him there. She pursed her lips together, awkwardly pausing before asking a tentative: "Do you want to talk about it?"
If she was being entirely honest with herself, the thought of talking through everything worrying Robin - whilst her mind and emotions were still running amok, and when she had just been startled from sleep - didn't exactly fill her with joy. If that was what he needed, then she would be that for him, but she was already exhausted at the thought of maintaining a conversation at this point. And so when Robin shook his head, mumbling "no," she couldn't help but give a little sigh as she muttered 'thank god' under her breath.
He shouldn't have found it funny - talking it through with her probably would help - but Robin couldn't help chuckling at Regina being… well, Regina. Somehow she was exactly what he needed, without her even realising.
"Thank you," he started, chuckles still subsiding. At Regina's puzzled frown, he elaborated: "for being you."
Regina didn't know what to say to that; she'd never been thanked for just being her before. There had usually been something that had been asked of her: 'act coy with the nobility, Regina', 'dress nice for the ball, your majesty', 'give me space, mom'… The fact that Robin didn't ask her to change made her heart swell with feelings she couldn't describe.
She couldn't help the urge to rise onto her elbow and lean over to kiss him. She didn't let it deepen past the press of her lips to his, but it was the only way she could think of acknowledging his comment without fumbling through words.
After a moment, she withdrew, smiling down at Robin before consciously tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She lay back down and turned to face him, her smile fading as she watched him start to get wrapped up in his thoughts again.
Robin brought his hands to rest behind his head, slowly exhaling as he tried to dispel his worries, but there was still a nagging thought in the back of his mind that something bad was going to happen. And he couldn't shake it.
Perhaps he'd feel better in the morning, when the sun was out and he wasn't surrounded by darkness. But then Regina shifted and tucked into his side, and as he wrapped his arms around her, he suddenly felt a little lighter.
Maybe he didn't need the sunshine; maybe he just needed Regina.
As if she could sense it, Regina moved even closer, laying her head on his chest as her hand came to rest over his heart.
Months ago he might have been afraid at the motion. Well… perhaps not afraid, but concerned at the least. He knew the tales, had heard what she kept in her vault. But now? Now he wasn't worried, not even in the slightest. He knew she'd never hurt him. Besides, she could have his heart if she wanted it.
A part of him mused that she had it already...
Robin brought his right hand to rest atop Regina's left one, his thumb brushing over her knuckles. There were a few moments of quiet where Robin had thought she had fallen back to sleep, but then there was a quiet mumble of: "wake me if you need me."
"I will," Robin responded. "Thank you."
He gave her a gentle squeeze in gratitude, letting her shift to get more comfortable, and then closing his eyes.
As it turned out, sleep wasn't that far out of reach after all.
His nightmares, however, still plagued him. And it wasn't long before he was waking with a start again, sitting up and pushing the covers off of his chest.
Regina was awoken by the strong jostle, and she opened her eyes to see the vague outline of Robin sat next to her, his hand rubbing over his face as he tried to take in deep, calm breaths.
"Sorry Regina, I didn't mean to wake you."
"It's fine," she comforted, before she sat up too, raising a hand to smooth through his tousled hair, pressing a kiss to the skin of his shoulder before resting her forehead against his temple.
"Are you okay?"
Robin wanted to scoff. Of course he wasn't. But he didn't feel like going into this right now. "If I say 'yes' will you believe me?"
"No," she admitted. "But I won't push."
"I just… I feel as if something bad is going to happen," Robin confessed.
"I don't know," he griped, and Regina could feel the frustration radiating off him. "I can't explain it."
"You know that the castle is on high alert," Regina stated. "Zelena can't get into here, not anymore. The moment she puts her feet on the ground she's ours."
From what Robin had heard about the Wicked Witch's powers, that still wasn't much of a comfort. "Is that enough to stop her?"
"It won't stop her from making an attempt," Regina answered honestly. "But if I knew that I'd be walking into a trap, I'd certainly think twice about doing anything."
Robin nodded in acceptance. "But what if it's not her?" He asked. "What if it's something else entirely?"
"I don't know. Some other place you're all going to get sent to? Some other foe that wants your blood? Some other being that destroys everything-?"
"Hey…" Regina interrupted, placing a hand on his jaw and turning his face to meet hers. "We'll be okay."
Her eyes were soothing, comforting, and Robin started to feel some of his worry dissipate. Some of it. "Are you sure?"
He wasn't convinced. And he knew that Regina could see that. "Robin… once upon a time, I was feared throughout the whole kingdom: I was one of the most powerful sorceresses who ever lived. Just because I'm not ruining everyone's lives anymore, doesn't mean I'm any less powerful." Normally Regina was not one for discussing her past, but if Robin was worried they were defenceless he needn't be. Regardless of what came after them she would not give in without a fight. "I can still ruin anyone who comes after me, and I will destroy anyone who dares to come after you."
It shouldn't really comfort him - knowing the power once wielded by the Evil Queen was now extended to him - but somehow the thought of having Regina fighting by his side made Robin feel calmer.
He nodded, lying back down and bringing Regina with him, holding her to his chest as he buried his nose in her hair.
The worrying feeling inside was still there, still twisting at his insides, but it was lessened now, and lessening still - now that he had Regina with him.
Now that he knew they would be okay.