"It's Your Majesty."
The woman. The Queen. The monster wasn't ever someone he expected to see. Not that he'd never faced a monster before. He had faced many. He had robbed Maleficent and stolen from the Dark One and the Witch who ruled over the Emerald City in Oz. Monsters no matter how powerful didn't scare him. And particularly not rich monsters. Here was this woman dripping with jewels and draped in that ridiculous cape that made her seem like some sort of vulture rather than a person. But here he was, walking not twenty paces behind her watching the Evil Queen and Snow White share an intimate conversation as if hundreds of people hadn't died in the name of saving one from the other. Of saving Snow White from the mad Queen.
But she didn't seem quite so mad now and he couldn't put his finger on what it was but he wanted to know. And his honor insisted that he and his men stay with the party at least until he found out what the woman's plan was for the Prince and the Princess.
He owed it to Marian. She would not want him to become an assassin, cloaked in darkness and stain his arrows in the despots' blood in her name. But she'd want him to protect Snow White.
She'd want him to understand. And in her memory he'd try.
Even if he didn't know what to make of the furtive looks over her shoulder when the Queen seemed younger, more unsure, not at all the Great and Terrible but more the sad and vulnerable. And he didn't understand why or how he had those thoughts. And why they weren't as unwelcome as he wanted them to be.
Roland was walking ahead. He knew the rules of traveling with the Merry Men. There always had to be an adult ahead of him and an adult behind him. The traveling party was bigger now though and that meant he was further from Robin than his father realized when they heard the first terrible shriek. He was fighting through the crowd still when Show White drew her bow but could not fire, and Prince Charming's sword gleamed in the morning sun. But it was a cloaked and be jeweled figure in black that reached him before anyone else, and before the creature could get his claws into Roland.
And before Robin could even understand what was happening there was this beautiful angry monster full of fury protecting his son. Perhaps even monsters had hearts. Perhaps even this monster. Except it wasn't fire and death, but a stuffed toy that landed on the ground and she came up to Robin, his son in his arms, "See, not so scary. Now you have a new toy."
With those words and a smile Robin couldn't even describe, the horror of the moment was gone and perhaps the monster who had taken everything from him so many wasn't all darkness and death. And that was the thought he found most unwelcome. This sympathy for the demon in jewels, and so clutching his boy and watching the rest discuss the enemy he determined that he wouldn't stay in her debt for long.
The last thing he wanted was to owe Marian's killer anything. The last thing he wanted was to see the Queen as a woman, and the longer he was around her that was all he could see. A sad, broken, dangerous woman.