The poison dripped from the tube for an hour. Robin held it in place against her abdomen; his hand barely shook as he held it. David left, took the information she had given them and rushed it to Belle, to Blue, to anyone who might know anything, David took the knowledge that Regina had been poisoned once before, and if Robin understood correctly, it was the fire flower that they gave her, a fire flower from a burning tree, gobblygook as far as Robin knew, but it had saved her once.
"Take it out," she whispers, heavy hand over Robin's around the clear tube, her fingers cold, the drip of the poison slowed to nothing, the image of it disturbing and forever in his nightmares, "gently," she says.
"Will you bleed?" Robin asks, just as quietly.
She shakes her head minutely, "it's magic," she says again, like a prayer.
There is no mark on her skin after he slides it out, a hole in her nightgown, but no mark on her skin.
"You can breathe?" Robin questions her, hand in her hair again, he can't seem to stop, now that he has felt the softness, her hair is like silk, as wonderful as ever imagining he'd indulged in. "Will the poison return?"
Robin can see that her breath comes easier now; she stays curled over on her side, "I'm okay, Daniel," she whispers before she falls asleep, out in moments, she doesn't see the surprise and confusion that twists Robin's face. The first time she has not recognized him. The mistake burns more than he thought it might, to be mistaken for some other kindness in her life. She is breathing easier, but still hallucinates, skin still spider webbed, the poison still there, and what a strange poison, to affect so much. The poison drained from her lungs stains the bed linen. A huge puddle of black ooze, it smells rancid.
"Robin?" the name is called tentatively from the door some time later, John's voice unused to whispering, but he does now.
"I'm here," Robin calls, relief washing over his features at John, he wanted news, but was terribly afraid to leave her alone. And when he called Granny's name, she must have gone, because she did not answer.
David is on a heroic quest already, it is still dark outside but he had saddled a horse and raced off, John tells him, Belle had found something in her books, something that fit with what Regina had told them, a fire flower, a cure all in desperate measures, the more John speaks the more Robin is hopeful. Regina, she has given them the answer. David left with the young wolf, with Belle, and two of the dwarves, a raggedy team, but they must succeed. They will succeed.
The ugly stain on the bed, the black ooze, smells more and more as time goes by, Robin has John pick her up, he would not have the strength to do it himself, and the three of them shamble down the hall, down the stairs, they lay her on her father's old bed.
She's sleeping, fidgets, squirms, mumbles in her sleep, but she sleeps.
"I'll bring breakfast," John says before he goes to his own bed, a hand clutched at Robin's shoulder, "come morning, Robin."
Robin sleeps too, propped up in a chair next to the bed, his hurt leg extended in front of him, he'd looked at it by candle light, looked at it for the first time. There is scaring, terrible, deep, ugly scaring, not just from the blade, but from whatever magic of hers must have sucked out the poison, the scarring is deep pink purple, the skin stretches in unnatural ways, it truly is a hideous sight. But he has a leg to walk on, he remembers her voice, 'he's not losing the leg,' she'd said vehemently, and whatever she had done to save his leg had doomed her.
Guilt and gratefulness fight inside him. He holds her hand in his own.
John brings a plate, enough for two, but Regina doesn't eat, hardly wakes really, she mumbles, her eyes closed. Robin helps her sit and holds a glass of water to her lips, entreating her to drink, she finishes the portion, but cannot eat.
The morning doesn't bring any new hope, any new news of David, Robin isn't even sure how long this trek is meant to take, the trek to the burning tree, it grows in cold and in ice, but it's only newly fall, chilly in the day, chillier in the night, but it is not cold, there is no snow, least of all ice is on the ground, how long will David and his group be?
Already it looks like it will take too long.
The day passes, she cannot eat.
She does not eat the next day, and when Robin holds the water glass to her lips it's as if she can't swallow, the liquid spills over her, she splutters it up over herself.
Robin kisses her brow and feels the fever there, he feels like he will cry.
She is still hallucinating, she calls him Daniel, she whimpers from phantom touches, she cries herself to sleep, she cries in her sleep.
"Henry?" she says, a whisper, her eyes barely open, her lips chapped. Meat melting off her bones.
Robin gulps, fingers weaving deeper into her hair, caressing each knot he finds in the gentlest way he can, she doesn't seem to notice. It's a painful conundrum, allow her to hope for her son's arrival, or remind her that the boy is gone?
Snow sits on the other side of the bed, looking haggard, with bags under her eyes, she'd told Robin more of David's quest, more of the burning tree, she wears the same heart broken and angry, and disbelieving face that she has been wearing for hours. Her jaw a tense thing, a solid line, her eyes welling with tears, but those green eyes simmer in so much rage, emotion, years of it, churning. She stares at the back of Regina's head, Regina is turned towards Robin.
"My baby," Regina breathes, eyes closing fully, her body curling further, knees drawing toward her chest, curling around where Robin is leaning across the bed to reach her, she moves as if to cuddle a child, but she finds nothing there, "Henry?" she calls again.
"He's coming," Robin chokes out, rubbing tears from his face with his free hand, an agitated swipe of his fingers over his cheeks, "Your boy is coming," he can't look at her as he lies to her, his gaze strays to her hair, watches as his fingers loose themselves at the crown of her head over and over, "he is coming as fast as he can," he tells her.
Snow makes a sound, then his name comes reprimandingly from her mouth, "Robin," she admonishes.
He glares at her, tears escaping his control, his mouth a grim line. She quiets with a shake of her head, eyes closing, mouth opening, the very picture of heartbreak.
"Thank you, Daniel" Regina whispers, Snow flinches every time the name leaves Regina's mouth, Regina's lips tip up, a sob of relief exits those chapped lips, those smiling lips, such a soft, pretty smile, it looks so peaceful, she looks at peace with just the knowledge that her son is coming for her, but it's all only lies, it's lies, and Robin sobs and tries to muffle the sound, crashing his palm against his mouth, covering half his face with his hand.
"Papa," a tiny voice from the door, the door opened only enough for Roland to squeeze through, Roland looks frightened. Robin had told John to take care of the boy, had told him to keep the boy away, the boy adores the Queen, he shouldn't see the ruin the poison is turning her into.
Robin keens out a sound, before he pulls himself together as much as he can, detangling himself from the Queen, turning from her aches, he straightens, moves the weight of his torso from the bed, "Roland, you shouldn't be here," Robin chides gently, but stern, this is nothing a boy should see, this cruelty isn't something Roland must learn for years yet.
Roland's big eyes widen further, he sinks into himself, his mouth screwing up, fighting tears.
Robin opens his arms, what else is there to do, the boy is already here, already upset, Roland runs into Robin's arms, his soft shoes making a soft scuffle sound against the stone floor before he reaches the rug around the bed and his footfalls are silent. He leaps into Robin's arms, sniffling, "Papa, I'm scared," he says into Robin's neck, snot leaking out his nose and onto Robin's neck and collar.
"Don't be scared, Roland, I'm right here," Robin shushes him, rocking him gently, fighting tears himself. I'm scared too, he almost says, but can't imagine that will help the child at all.
"Is Regina still sick? Sick like you were?" Roland questions, soothed by the warm hand Robin rubs in circles across his back, he turns his head away from Robin's neck, lays it instead on Robin's shoulder, gazing at the woman disfigured by poison, her face covered in spider webs of black. Roland does not seem frightened, not of Regina, not of what is happening to her.
"She is very sick," Robin nods, tucks his nose against Roland's curls for a moment, breathes in the smell of babyhood that still clings to Roland stubbornly, a smell unlike any Robin can describe, warm, comforting.
"I could hug her," Roland whispers, leaning away to look Robin in the face, "and tell her a story, like when I'm sick and you carry me. Uncle John wouldn't let me try when you were sick."
Robin smiles, the smile is sad, tears still cling in his eyes, but his boy is so sweet, he has to smile for him.
"She might like that," Robin concedes, wondering if she'll smell the baby smell of Roland's hair and be soothed the way Robin is, it's a baby she wants so desperately, a different baby, her baby, but this comfort is all Robin has, a small part of him wonders if she'll think this child hers in her delirium, he wonders if it is right to do this. "Be extra careful," Robin helps Roland gently climb over onto the bed, the boy on all fours on the soft surface.
"Robin," Snow says again, tone hardening, Robin shrugs when he looks to her, a helpless gesture, what do you want from me, he thinks, says it with his eyes, and she just shakes her head again. "Be very gentle, Roland," she says, watching like a hawk as the boy crawls to Regina, Regina sweating above the covers, poisoned, he crawls under her arm, snuggles against her chest and wraps his arms around her waist.
The boy has always been so free with his affection, with his hugs, but this isn't just hugs, this is snuggling and cuddling, something he's only ever done with Robin, right before bedtime, he doesn't look strange or awkward or unwilling as he lays against her, smushing his face against her chest.
She accepts the child into her embrace, her arm tightening, she mumbles and wakes a bit, groggy, unclear, looks with those black in black eyes, looks down at the dark head of curls cocooned against her breast, and not once does she mistake him for anyone but himself, "Roland," she sighs into his hair, "sweetheart," she murmurs, "it's only a nightmare, go back to sleep," she urges, still confused then, but she doesn't mistake Roland for her boy, and for that Robin finds himself immeasurably grateful and immeasurably sad.
"Do you wanna hear a story, Regina?" Roland whispers against her.
Her face doesn't move, a groan of indecision leaves her mouth, before she encourages him kindly, "of course I do," she says to him, breath soft, already almost back to sleeping.
"There was a mouse," Roland's story starts, a story that makes no sense, told by a four year old the thing is confusing and wandering, and nearly ten words in she is sleeping, loose and heavy, after more than twenty minutes, it's Robin whose eyelids are drooping, Roland's voice soothing and so incredibly comforting, the mouse has just fallen in love with a Queen when Roland starts to squirm, his voice lilting away.
Robin blinks his eyes open, sees Snow slumped over her side of the bed, head resting on her arms, in a position that will do no good to her already stressed spine, Robin's eyes drift from her, down to Roland. He's squirming.
He'll wake the Queen, Robin doesn't want that, he wants her comfortable, he rests a hand on Roland's back, leans over the bed again to reach, "My boy," he says softly, and Roland turns his head to look at him, his story left hanging, a frown on his tiny face.
"Papa, she's too hot," Roland complains, not whining, but sad, sounding as if he's failed.
"You want to get down?" Robin asks, moving forward, hoping that moving her arms from the child won't wake her.
"No," Roland declares, "no, I don't wanna leave her," he insists, but is still unhappy in her fever ridden embrace.
Exactly how Robin ended up on the bed, a buffer between the woman and the child, he can't recall when he wakes again several hours later. She's an inferno against his side as he blinks his eyes open and finds sunlight, weak light, streaming through the windows, it's a new day then, he turns to where Snow had been, and finds the chair empty. Regina is lightly panting while she still sleeps, sweat beading at her brow, staining the nightgown she wears at neck and back and arm pit, makes the gauzy material cling in ways that would incredibly distracting and tempting if she weren't dying.
But she is dying.
Robin begins to think of what life would be without her presence, he is not a fool, not blind, though she sleeps beside him, one of his arms around her, he can feel the despair already growing in him. She has been alternatingly politely indifferent or coldly vindictive since he has known her, but for the handful of times when that mask of hers has slipped down and Robin was able to see the woman he knew to be underneath, soft curves and soft voice, kind and vivacious, beautiful and witfully cutting with her quick words, a woman he feels very much for, never mind her outright refusal to admit anything in return.
"Please don't leave me," Robin asks her sleeping form, whispering, he lands a gentle kiss to her brow.
She is still alive when David comes back two days later, though alive is a perilous description, she'd been unwakable for those days, shitting and pissing in that bed, Robin and Snow and Granny cleaning her and the sheets with solemn expressions, as if it was a corpse they were readying for the funeral pyre.
The trumpets from the watch tower announce his arrival.
He is returned, returned victorious, a quest surely worth songs and tributes written across his weary features.
David's hands are burned, skin bright red and peeling, cupped in his burned hands is the fire flower, or what must be, it's petals licks of fire, orange with bright blue base, flickering and wisping out only to regrow, each petal on a different rhythm, it is a shifting thing of beauty, a blooming little fire that looks as solid as any more mundane bloom and yet somehow as volatile as any flame would. David wears a grimace on his face, his breathing deep and controlled, each breath grunted out, but his hold does not waver.
"Snow," David says as his wife grunts and stands, her hands held against her lower back, she climbs to her feet with much trouble, sleep still in her face, her eyes puffy and red.
David's voice a gasping entreaty for his wife, desperate eyes looking at her, not even glancing at Regina, or Robin, nothing in the room holds his gaze but Snow. "I got it," he says, extending his arms, a beaming grin growing on his face, boyish and proud, holding out the thing he cradles like a prize for her, "see? It's gonna be okay."
Snow White's hands cover her mouth, cover her smile, "Oh, David," she sighs.
"What do we do with the flower? How is it administered" Robin says, and both turn to look at him, their smiles shifting slowly. There is very little inflection in Robin's voice, he's too tired, tired, sitting beside Regina's sick bed, cradling her hand in his. He's tired. And so, so angry. Snow and David look to each other, Snow biting her bottom lip.
"How is it administered?" Robin asks again as he stands, his wounded leg barely aching now, it does more than hold his weight, it is as strong as it had ever been. He approaches the pair until he can look at the bloom of fire burning David's hands up close.
"It's," Snow hesitates, hands rubbing at her midsection, at the bump that grows there, "complicated," she finally decides on.
"Well, we must hurry," Robin turns away from the flame, turns to look back at Regina. She is dying.
"Robin," David grunts out, the pain his hands must be in written in his face, "you should check on your men, or Roland maybe?"
Robin shakes his head, eyebrows drawn together in confusion, he splutters, "Pardon?"
Snow lays a gentle hand on Robin's forearm, "Could you send someone to find Red and Belle on your way out, please?"
Belligerence looks good on no one, least of all Robin, but he can't stop the way his face shows his displeasure at being thrown out. "I am not leaving her, how dare you ask it," he says.
Snow and David share another look, infuriating in the way they can speak with no words, Snow's gentle hand drops away. "Robin, I promise you she would not want you here to see," again she falters, swallows shallowly, "to see what's going to happen next. Please go."
There's an argument against her wishes, he's sure he could worm his way into staying, but he takes a breath, stops and thinks, and knows in his heart of hearts that the woman laying feverish and dying on the bed, once she is of right mind, will be endlessly embarrassed by what Robin has already seen. "But," Robin mutters, the word escaping him, hanging there, nothing to add.
"I'll take care of her," Snow want to throw how well she'd cared for her in the past comes from the back of Robin's mind, followed just as quickly with the knowledge that Snow had not wielded the poisoned blade, Snow was not the one to stab Regina through, but Snow and David were both the one's that would not listen to Regina when she said 'there is no compromise with men like these'.
There is no time to waste, but it is not a waste when he asks again, "How is it administered?"
"Robin, please, trust us." Snow looks behind Robin's shoulder, at Regina on the bed, "I'm not letting her die."
He can see that for the truth, but how much agony will she endure to live? He doesn't ask.
He stumbles down the tower stairs, awash with horror at leaving, leaving her, but he is not abandoning her, she will be saved, but walking away is painful. He tells a passing dwarf to gather the women he'd been told to summon. Robin makes it to the hall the Merry Men have claimed, sees his men, their eyes following him, sympathy in their gazes.
"Is she gone then?" John inquires, concerned gaze on Robin.
"No," Robin says harshly, rubbing at the bridge of his nose, "no, David returned with the bloom and they sent me away." John nods his head, and watches without surprise as Robin stumbles back out of the hall with a quiet, "I'll return," thrown over his shoulder.
He's been sent away from the room, but he will not be far from her, he stumbles back up the stairs. He goes straight back up to the Queen's chamber doors and sits right on the stone, his back against the wall.
Screams come from the other side of the door, her screams, the urge to go to her, to comfort her, is strong, but Snow is perhaps right, that he should not see what's on the other side of the door.
"This isn't really what Snow meant," David grunts out as he slides to the floor next to Robin.
"I won't be moved," Robin declares, rubbing at his upper thigh, feeling the dent in his skin, the mark of her healing him, the mark of what damned her.
David sends him a smile, his burnt hands resting gingerly in his lap, he exudes exhaustion, "I'm not trying," he says with a shrug.
"Your hands need to be seen to," Robin says, observing with a grimace the ugly wounds adorning David's fingers and palms. David's hands shake, tremble, the skin is peeled away.
"I'm headed to a healer now."
"You seem to be resting against the wall actually," Robin says.
David snorts, "I just needed a minute."
They sit in silence.
Until, "You know she'll be alright?" David questions, eyebrows raised, turning his head to look at Robin, "She's stubborn, like a bull."
Robin's lips mouth moves in a mockery of a smile, "That I know true. But you hold too much faith."
David tilts his head, questioning.
Robin shrugs, rubs still at his thigh, thinking of the ugly scarring underneath, of how this injury will impact the rest of his days, "People die every day, though they wish desperately to stay. Her stubbornness, her strength of will, it means nothing if the body can no longer endure."
"Don't talk like that," David begins, "we got the flower," he holds up his damaged hands as proof of the statement.
Robin nods, looks away from David, looks away from David's blind faith, and while Robin holds hope, he does not hold unrealistic thoughts. He'd thought of a life without the Queen beside him, thought of it as she lay slumbering next to him, feverish and panting, thought of a life without her snapping at him, a life without her laugh goading him, thought of never seeing the rare softness of her beautiful brown eyes, and those thoughts are hard to unthink.
"Would you tell me what is happening beyond that door?" Robin asks.
David blows out a heavy breath. His answer only hesitant silence. Robin does not press. He will ask Belle later and she will tell him. Tell him why Regina was screaming so.
"You care for her," David hesitates again, observing Robin and then looking to the door.
"Of course I do," Robin answers immediately, defensive at David's skepticism, rankled by it. "But even if I did not, my kindness would be offered to her. It's not some heroic deed to treat her as I would others."
David is silent. His mouth snapping shut, looking surprised and offput.
"She deserves better than constant doubt and jabs at her intent," often has Robin seen David throw a snide remark the Queen's way, and he seems to be the only one that sees her look away hurt, before returning with her own snappish retort.
"I better go," David says not long after, awkwardly trying to stand without the aid of his hands, on trembling legs.
Robin watches him traverse down the hall until his gaze goes back to the door.
The three women, Red, Snow, and Belle, all file out of the room about an hour is blood on their hands. It stains their clothes, their expressions are grim.
Robin flings himself up, "What is this?" he cries, gesturing, not waiting for an answer as he tries to sidestep them and enter the room.
Red's hand on his arm stops him in his tracks, the strength in her slender fingers is bruising, "Hold on," she orders.
"Is she alright?" Robin asks, fighting weakly against the wolf, his desperate eyes find Snow, "Tell me."
Snow's smile is tired, her cheeks are puffy, her eyes bloodshot, tear tracks on her blotchy face, "She's alive," is her answer.
"Is she alright?!" Robin repeats, horror growing on his features as Red's bloodied hand tightens on him.
Belle steps up, smiling that very lovely and earnest smile, "Robin, she's going to be right as rain, I promise."
Robin blinks at that, takes in a breath, and sags against Red's grip.
"You're exhausted," Snow says, "we all are, let's all-"
"I need to see her," and he does, the need a wild and churning thing in his gut, their mere words will not appease him, he needs desperately to see her, to look upon her face and know that she is well.
Snow shares a look with Red, and then she nods, "Only for a minute, Robin, when she wakes up tomorrow she won't be happy to see you there. Look in and then go to your own room."
"She'll wake up though? Are you certain?"
"She will," Snow promises, she reaches out and touches his shoulder, "she'll gain back the weight she's lost, she'll regain her strength, she'll be alright."
Red lets her grip relax, and without it Robin finds himself staggering to the door, nodding absentmindedly at Snow. The women walk away, and Robin turns the knob.
The room is dark, candles blown out already. But he sees her on the bed. Her form still, laying on her side, in a clean shirt that was probably grabbed from her father's old closet, laying upon clean linen, and she looks clean too, the sweat and tears that covered her skin gone. He walks closer and closer, unable to tear his gaze from her, from her slowly rising and falling ribs. He can breath easily for the first time in ages.
"Oh thank god," he whispers, collapsing to his knees beside the bed, elbows on the surface of the blue blanket, his hands rubbing over his haggard face. He reaches out to touch her hand, her skin soft against his calloused fingers, "Oh thank god," he says again, relieved tears gathering in his eyes, her face is clear of the poison black that had spread and spread up her cheeks, her beautiful skin unmarred.
Why were the women covered in blood? But Robin is loathe to lift the blanket, an act that respects not an ounce of her privacy. What he can see is uncut, nor torn, there is no wound on her face or neck, nor where the nightgown has slipped down her shoulder, revealing soft smooth skin of clavicle and the hinting of cleavage. Her arms are similarly without wounds.
Magic, he thinks with a shake of her head, his hand returning to hold hers. Her screams, her blood, magic he thinks.
And somehow he falls asleep there, in this rich blue room, her father's old room, the room she'd placed him in and saved his life in, falls asleep against all his best intentions to follow Snow's instructions and his own right mind, slumping down towards the floor, his hand holding hers, his head leaning against the edge of the bed.
He thinks of it as an accident, but deep down he doesn't want her to wake alone.
"What are you doing?"
Robin grunts, aching everywhere, his ass fast asleep, he blinks his eyes open.
Streaming dawn is shining through the curtains of the windows, lighting her from behind. She looks like a dark crowned angel with the sun behind her.
She's staring at him. She hasn't moved her hand. She looks so thin, her hand is bones, her cheeks hollowed, but her eyes are clear, they are bright.
A heavy moment hangs between them, peaceful, he blinks and smiles, so incredibly glad to see her face. Sleeping, is his first choice to say, but she could have seen that for herself, the truth comes tumbling out of his mouth, out into the heavy air, "I'm trying to convince myself you are well."
Her frown pouts out her bottom lip, her brows drawing together, she still has yet to move her hand.
"Do you remember what happened?" Robin asks gently, and can't get his eyes to leave her mouth.
She nods her head slowly, "Bits and pieces," she answers, she hesitates, cheek rubbing against the pillow, "I remember you were there for me," she sounds so surprised.
"Of course I was," Robin says, his other hand comes up, and her hand meets it, both their hands entwined on the blue bedspread.
When she lets it, the intimacy is easy. When she lets it, kisses come easy as well.
She leans forward slowly, he strains towards her, kissing her, losing himself in her lips and her mouth, in her. Neither of them have the best breath at the moment, but, for him at least, there is no care for that. A gentle kiss, comfort and care and incredible warmth.
This is the fourth kiss they have shared, not that she would admit to even one. But Robin remembers each kiss with indescribable fondness, and remembers the resulting frustrating distance she forces between them far less fondly.
Their foreheads rest against each other as they part, their hands still entwined.
"Tell me you are well, please," Robin asks, observing the way her eyes blink shut, the way her gnarled hair is still lit from behind by the sun. She is truly so beautiful.
She bites that wonderful bottom lip of hers, sucks it into her mouth before letting it free, "I will be. And you? Your leg?"
"It holds weight," Robin answers. Frowning as he remembers what she did for him, and how it almost took her from him. "Promise me you will never do this again," he begs.
Her eyes open at that, she moves away from him, "What?"
He keeps a stubborn grip on her hands, though she makes no move to remove them, "You healed me, knowing the consequence to yourself, I have no doubt."
"Robin," she sighs, and does pull her hands from him then.
"You endangered your life when you saved mine in the battle, you must have known how dangerous that disgusting man was, and yet-"
"Roland needs y-"
"And what? No one needs you?" Robin feels his pulse growing hot, ire and frustration bleeding into his voice, "I need you, milady," he admits.
She shies away from him, from his words, the distance that grows after their infrequent kisses coming between them more swiftly than it ever has before.
Regina's face closes off, attempting to look blank, her Queenly facade does not match her bedhead hair and borrowed night shirt. "Please leave," she tells him.
There is no arguing with her, no discussion comes after she shies away.
Trying to stand comes with much pain, sleeping makes the appendage stiff apparently, a grunt and a stumble that has him clutching at the bed to stay upright, her facade breaks then, for a second, she reaches for his arm, soft hands on his skin, "You said it held weight," she accuses, glaring, "Let me see."
"When you have your strength back," Robin stumbles from her grip, tears himself from those soft hands. He leaves the room, as she'd wished, and hates himself for it, but he won't disregard her wishes, would never do that to her.
But she is cold to him the next day. Walled off and distant.
A velvet gown, deep red, her lips deep red, she stares at him blankly and spits thief at him.
She shivers, standing there alone in her velvet gown at breakfast, still looking so thin, her dress does not fit the way it should.
How he wishes she would let him chase the chill away. Wishes she would let him wrap arms around her and warm her. The urge to touch her, to feel the softness of her, to feel her alive and warm beside him, it is growing more and more every day.
Growing more and more with every kiss they share.
Then there was Pride.