"Will you stop fidgeting please, I need to zip this up."
Regina scoffed and held her hands together, squeezing tightly to fight the desire to bunch up her dress. Her stomach hadn't stopped rolling since she'd woken up, and she was certain she might vomit if another person asked her if she was okay. She felt the zipper at her back slide up to rest between her shoulder blades, and Snow's hands slipped across Regina's hips once to smooth out the fabric that she had creased.
"There, you're perfect." Regina turned towards the mirror that hung on the back of her bedroom door to take herself in. The dress really was incredible, a milky white silk that fell from her shoulders, hugging all of her curves the right way. It pooled around her feet, leaving a slight train behind her. Snow and Emma had pulled her hair back loosely, tucking it into a small bun behind one of her ears. Everything about her was soft and elegant; no one would see the Evil Queen tonight, not even Regina.
"You're frowning," Snow chided, "And you're white as a ghost."
"I'm not frowning," Regina insisted, "I'm just fighting against my breakfast." She turned away from the mirror and sat on her bed, focusing on steadying her breathing. Concern laced Snow's face, and she kneeled in front of Regina.
"You know, no one would blame you if you couldn't do this," She took Regina's hand as watery brown eyes met green. "After everything you've been through, it's understandable to not want to get married again." She smiled up at her former stepmother, squeezing her shaking hands. Regina took in the younger woman, eyes dancing from her face to her bridesmaid's dress, a red wine colour that brought out the green in her eyes, to finally settle on her hands resting on her lap.
"No," she sighed, "No, I don't want to run from him again. It's just, something doesn't feel right. Something's… off."
Her thoughts wandered to Robin, who was probably standing in their backyard mingling with the guests as he waited for her. She knew he had helped Henry and Roland to get dressed, but that wouldn't have taken much time. She wondered if he was worried she would run too, as everyone else seemed to be. Was his stomach also in knots? Or was he confident in her, when no one else was? She knew she wanted this, had wanted it since the moment he had got down on his knee in front of their children to confess his love for her, making all three kids stick their tongues out at the display of affection. And still, she couldn't stop her mind from falling back to the moment she ran from him, when she could have started her life with him. How different her life would have been had she walked into the tavern, perhaps they would have been married decades ago.
The thoughts flying through her mind were interrupted as a loud knock startled her and Snow. The door popped open as a blonde head peaked in, followed by a smaller head covered with strawberry blonde curls.
"It looks like somebody's ready to go," Emma giggled as Ellie burst through the door, running into Regina's arms. "Mommy! You look beautiful!"
Regina laughed as she scooped Ellie onto her lap, "Thank you, baby." She peppered the top of her daughter's head with kisses and tickled her sides, covered with the dark red lace of her flower girl dress, making the toddler wiggle and squeal in delight. "Daddy is excited to see you!" She exclaimed, "He told me so."
"He told everyone so," Emma added with a smile. Regina looked up at her, resting her eyes on the blonde also wearing in a deep red dress, and an idea clicked in her mind as she thought of Robin waiting for her.
"Oh god, that's it…" She whispered, sliding Ellie off her lap as she stood up. "Snow I need to go get something, can you stall for me?"
"Wait what?" Snow grabbed Regina's arm as she headed for the door, pulling her back. "What do I tell everyone? What do I tell Robin?" She looked at her incredulously, and Regina took her hand and squeezed it.
"Tell him not to move." She smiled, bent down to quickly kiss Ellie again, and ran out the door.
As Snow stepped outside she scanned the crowd for Robin. There were more people here that she would have guessed; almost the whole town now sat in Regina's backyard. She assumed Robin would be standing near the altar that had been set up this morning, and found him kneeling next to where Roland sat in the front row. His suit was fitted, his whole outfit black except for the blood red tie around his neck. For a brief moment Snow appreciated how lucky Regina was to have him, he really was something else.
She ran up the aisle, Emma close on her heels, trying to look as calm as she could. Robin noticed the women and stood up quickly, fear flashing across his eyes.
"She's running," he cut in, exhaling loudly. Sadness flickered in his eyes, but was quickly washed away by determination as he looked between Snow and Emma. "No, I won't let her. I'm not going to lose her again."
He quickly darted around the woman as Snow fumbled to stop him. "No Robin wait! Please just…"
Her words fell on deaf ears as he sprinted down the aisle, the crowd turning to watch as he left, then shifting to Snow and Emma waiting for direction.
"We should have expected this from them," Emma muttered.
Robin raced all over town, running to anywhere he thought Regina might have gone. She wouldn't be in the house, not with all those people there. First he ran to her vault, crashing through the door to find it empty yet raked over, books thrown about and boxes left open. Maybe she had been there this morning, but she certainly wasn't there now. Next he ran to the Charmings', thinking she might have held herself up in their loft until the crowd left her own house. His final idea had been Granny's, even though it had been closed for the wedding. The door had been locked, though he knew that wouldn't stop Regina, and he made quick work of getting inside. He ran around the diner, loss weighing him down as he searched for her. She was nowhere, and he was out of options, dread pulling at his stomach.
He blamed himself. How could he have been so stupid to think she wouldn't run? He knew how terrible her marriage to the King had been, how she'd loathed every minute that she was connected to that sad excuse of a man. And yet he'd still asked her to be his, still asked her to give up her freedom and link herself to another again. He was selfish, he had wanted her in every way humanly possible, he had wanted to share everything with her, their home, their children, their souls, his name. And it was his desire for her that had ruined everything.
He should have gone to her today, checked to see if she was okay. He had wanted to, but was reminded again and again by Charming and Emma that she was fine, that Snow was helping her get dressed. They had helped to calm him down, but he couldn't stop the guilt that tugged at him. He should have been there, tradition be damned, to comfort her, to remind her that this was only because she wanted it as much as he did. He never wanted to force her into anything. And yet here he was, running around town after his runaway bride.
What a fool I am, he mumbled to no one.
Shame and sadness filled Robin as he walked back into Regina's house, trying to muster the courage to talk to whoever was left waiting for the wedding. What would he say? Gods help me, he thought.
Stepping into the back yard he noticed everyone still in their seats, the room as full as when he had run out. Snow and Emma stood at the altar next to Tink, Charming and Hook, shooting daggers from their eyes at Robin. He approached slowly, completely confused.
"Glad you could join us," Snow scolded, motioning to his place at the front of the ceremony. The crowd laughed quietly as he stepped into his spot, noticing Roland standing next to him.
"I – I don't understand," Robin stuttered, looking around the room. Everyone simply smiled at him, and Roland tugged at his hand. "You were supposed to stay!" Roland whispered harshly, only increasing Robin's bewilderment.
He looked across the crowd and found Henry standing by the doors, a grin spreading from ear to ear. Before Robin could ask any more questions, a sparkling purple fog began to trickle from the sky, encasing the backyard in magic. As it cleared, Robin looked down at himself to see his suit had been transformed into an off white tunic and brown pants, an outfit he owned many years ago. He looked around, seeing that everyone's clothes had changed too, as had the backyard itself.
Magical walls encased the yard, made to look like a very large tavern, tables pushed against the walls to make room for the people in the center of the room. As he took in the new room he heard the quiet creak of the doors being push open, and looked down the aisle to see Regina, her hair substantially longer than usual, hanging in curls around her shoulders. Her dress was white, floor length with long puffy sleeves, something made for the Enchanted Forest, not here. She looked young, so young, and full of hope. His heart jumped in his chest. He couldn't believe he'd never seen her like this all those years ago.
She was radiant, and he wordlessly thanked the gods that she was there. She stepped forward and reached for Henry's extended arm, slowly gliding down the aisle towards him. Every eye was on her, and Robin felt wetness sting his own, his heart nearly bursting as she stepped in front of him. Henry took his mother's hand and placed it in Robin's, nodding to him before taking his place next to Roland and Ellie, who had trailed behind Regina. Snow and Emma were glowing behind Regina, and Tink bounced on the spot in anticipation.
"And here I thought you were leaving me," Robin chuckled, tension releasing from his chest.
"No, never." Regina smiled, "I just… I decided I didn't want to ever have run from you, not then, and not now." She squeezed his hands, her eyes flooding with tears that threatened to ruin her make up. She lifted the hand not holding Robin's to reveal a heavily creased and folded piece of paper. As she opened it, they both looked down on Page 23, their inspiration for hope for the past 5 years. "I thought I'd better correct my mistake before we started our new life together."
He beamed back at her as she quickly closed her eyes, releasing another cloud of purple to cover the room, melting away to reveal the yard as it was before, Regina now wearing a form fitting dress that was clearly made for this land, and Robin back in his suit. A stray tear slipped down her cheek, and he gently reached up to catch it before it could fall on her dress.
"You look incredible, your Majesty," he whispered for her ears only, and she cocked an eyebrow, grinning at him.
"You're not too bad yourself, thief."