.Many thanks to ninzied for her invaluable help on this. And for the awesome title.
"That Locksley boy is staring at you again, sis," Zelena says haughtily. She throws red curls behind her shoulders, smooths her green vest, and cuts daintily into the eggs and kippers on her plate, glancing down the Slytherin table and across the nearly empty Great Hall to the much rowdier Gryffindors.
Regina swallows her pumpkin juice carefully, turns the spoon in her porridge. "Is he?" she remarks, her voice disinterested, "I hadn't noticed."
"Well, make sure you embarrass him as thoroughly in potions today as you did last week," Evelyn chuckles darkly, shooting Zelena a grin. She has always had an ugly laugh, Regina thinks, and an ugly grin.
"That hasn't been a problem yet," Regina notes.
"It's horrid, isn't it, Regina, that Mudbloods like him can sneak their way into this place and steal what is rightfully ours."
"Yes, horrid," Evelyn answers for her, giggling. Zelena sends her sister a disappointed look, but lets it go.
Their mother had sent her second daughter to school with a sinister and smiling threat on her life if she were to be sorted into any house but Slytherin, and the sorting hat had known, had made the choice for her safety, but Regina is not meant for this, she has never wanted this.
"I left an assignment in my room," Regina says suddenly, standing.
"Oh, do forget about it, dear."
"It's for Professor Aurum," she says quickly, their Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who has been known to cackle openly at students who attempt to turn in assignments late before taking away some absurd number of house points and placing them in week's worth of detention. Zelena follows her sister's gaze towards the Gryffindor table curiously.
"He's in that class as well," she says by way of explanation, "I've just remembered, he sits just behind me, and I wouldn't want him to think—"
"Ah, yes, very well!" Zelena remarks, amused. "You must retrieve it then, of course."
Regina nods, and forces herself to walk away calmly, her head held high, staring at nothing.
Zelena is a Seventh Year, eighteen months older than Regina, but Evelyn is a year younger and promptly sits with Regina when the Potions Master asks them to form groups of two. She begins to mock Robin of Locksley and his friends right away, and Regina joins in with a start, agrees that they are horrid, laughs dutifully with her.
The Gryffindors mutter behind them, and Regina fears it, Evelyn may be terrible but she is not stupid, and neither are many of the other Slytherins in the room, this will not do.
She raises her hand.
"Yes, Ms. Mills," the Professer calls; he has a well-known preference for students from Slytherin House.
"Would you mind if I retrieved a few more ingredients from your cabinet?"
"Of course, My Dear, help yourself."
She keeps her plan from Evelyn, and once the rest of the class has busied themselves with their potions, she sneaks over to the table, and drops a pinch of green powder and a dash of a shimmering purple liquid into Robin of Locksley's cauldron.
"Professor, Locksley has put the ingredients in his cauldron in the wrong order, again. He is wasting materials with his incompetence," she observes, as his cauldron begins to bubble over and turns a putrid green.
"You are quite right, Ms. Mills. Twenty points from Gryffindor."
The Gryffindors send her glares, all except for John, who sits beside Robin quietly and considers her.
"Mudbloods," Evelyn scoffs.
"Yes," she agrees, turning to their potion, trying to avoid John's gaze—does he know?.
A startled scream echoes against the dungeon walls. Slytherins are laughing.
She turns, feigning nonchalance. The boys' cauldron of liquid has exploded into Robin of Locksley's face, sickly yellow and bubbling, his cauldron burned through and ruined.
Amidst the mayhem as the professor hurries to their table and cleans them off, she finds the opportunity to whisper in Evelyn's ear that it was her.
By the time they leave their classroom and Evelyn is babbling on about how they will tell Zelena about her treatment of the boy who might have dared look at her at breakfast, Regina bites her lip with a quiet smile. That did it.
Regina excuses herself at the door and allows the Slytherins to walk ahead. She makes it barely twenty feet down the corridor in the opposite direction before a warm and calloused hand tugs at hers, and she finds herself suddenly hidden behind a large statue, warm lips on hers and a tender hand at her neck.
She melts for a moment, opens her mouth to him and soaks in his quiet whimpers greedily before a sob catches in her throat, and he's pulling back. Robin of Locksley tilts his forehead against hers, their noses brushing, meets her eyes as best he can while this close and buries fingers in the hair just behind her ear. "What's going on today? What's wrong?", his voice just above a whisper.
She strokes a hand across his face. It had been an angry red after the heat of the potion, but nothing a careful wash had not removed in half an hour. She has enough skill with potions to make sure of that.
"Did it hurt?"
He shakes his head, his skin catching beneath her fingertips. "You knew it wouldn't."
How can he be so certain, when she is so cruel to him, how can he always know she doesn't mean it? And yet he does.
"Zelena noticed you staring at breakfast this morning," she whispers harshly, pulling away to glance around the corner, though her hand remains in his.
Peeves floats out of the brick at the end of the hallway, and she slips back behind the statue. They both freeze, hold their breath.
Ickle Locksley cannot brew
Split his cauldron right in two
the ghoul croons, over and over.
Nearly Headless Nick drifts by, "Oh, do shut up, Peeves."
Regina buries her face in his chest to silence her sudden laughter, the tension between them broken.
Nick whooshes past the statue as Peeves heads in the other direction, his rhyme growing faint.
Ickle Locksley brewed goo
Lost points for his housemates too
He's laughing, too, silently, his stomach shaking against hers. They smile at each other, but she glances around the statue again, afraid they'll be interrupted.
He sighs heavily, pointing his wand just past her. "Muffliato," he calls.
Robin turns back to her. "I was not staring at—" he begins.
"You were," she bites back, temperamental, she easily grows fearful of them being found out.
He rests his hands on her upper arms. When she does not pull back, his tense muscles ease, and he steals another kiss, a gentle press of lips to her forehead.
"Would it really be so horrible if—"
"Robin," she sighs as his lips reach her jaw and her hands splay across his chest, "you know it would. My mother—"
He frowns and rests his forehead back against hers, stops kissing her.
She pulls him back in with a surrendering groan and fistfuls of his jacket collar, a heady kiss of tangling tongues as his hands curl around her waist and he eliminates the last inches of space between their bodies. Her apology.
"I don't like keeping us a secret," he tells her, gasping when her fingers drag through his hair.
"I know," she returns, forcing herself to pull away, "I'm sorry, I never meant to—" His hands scrabble to hold onto her.
"It's not your fault," he argues as he drags her back, and she goes willingly.
"They'll notice we're both missing," she worries, a firm hand at his chest keeping him from pulling her into a hug.
"I'll have a second year Gryffindor spread a rumor that I ran back to my bed, drew the curtains, and had a good cry after the beating I took from you."
She shakes her head stubbornly, but laughs softly despite herself. "And me?" she wonders.
"You were heading back to your common room when the Professor took you aside to congratulate you on your excellent work in potions today."
He rubs a hand up and down her back. "Nobody will suspect," he reassures, "especially after that display."
"You did," she argues, watching her hands on his chest.
"I know you too well." He smooths a hand through her hair, and smiles as she lets him.
"Come on, please, spend an hour with me. You need a break."
"All right," she relents. She raises an eyebrow. "Do you need to run to your bed and have a quick cry?" she quips.
"No, but I can think of other things we could do instead," he suggests, waggling his eyebrows.
She throws a palm against his chest, meant to be reprimanding. Once they reach him, her fingers curl into him, and the touch grows tender.
His hand comes to cover hers. "Regina Mills—"
Blue eyes search hers, and she is helpless to their pull. "I am so in love with you," he rasps, running his thumb along the back of her hand.
She looks down and tugs his red and gold tie, plays with the knot until his fingers lift her chin and she has to meet his eyes.
He smiles at her, and she can't resist, she's smiling too.
"I love when you wear your hair down," he says, lifting handfuls of soft curls and dropping them against her back, thinking of the tight and heavy braids and fastenings she wears it in most days, he knows she hates them.
"Clearly," she gripes, teasing, she could not be mad at him long for this, "as, this morning, you could not look away."
She gathers her hair in one hand, sweeping it over her shoulder, as she checks once more that the hallway is still deserted.
"What do you see in me?" he wonders as she turns to him, sweeping the back of his hand down her hair.
"What do you see in me?" she repeats with a scoff, "a Slytherin with halfway decent hair?"
He mocks outrage and cups her jaw with both hands. "You know it's much more than that. I'd find you absolutely stunning even if you looked like your sister's hideous pet toad."
"Robin," she sighs, half a groan.
"I would," he insists, grinning. He sweeps his thumb back and forth across her cheek. "I'll meet you at the edge of the Forbidden Forest in ten minutes?"
She falls into him, tucking her face into his neck. "Can we stay here for a minute, first?"
His arms hold her to him. "Of course."