A/N: So I'm still working on the next installment of The Other Outlaw, but this idea just wouldn't leave me alone. So in this story Robin is the carefree son of a Duke, and Regina has only been married to Leopold for a few months, so she hasn't been training with Rumple for very long. This is set pre 'The Doctor', before Regina has lost all hope. This story can stand alone as a one-shot, although I would love to continue it I have to finish TOO and I have school and work, so whether or not I continue is based on the feedback I get. Please review!

. . .

The King was always thought to be a healthy man.

And so when he dropped dead only three months after marrying his new bride, everyone was quite shocked.

Leopold's personal physician was quick to explain what had happen. The King had a heart condition, not debilitating, but fatal nonetheless. The doctor had discovered it only a year before, and when he told the King that his time was limited, the man seemed unbothered. He simply went about his life. Leopold told no one, not his daughter, not the Royal Council, and not his new bride.

Soon, the people began to talk. Doesn't it seem a bit unlikely that the King would die now, of all times, after marrying that girl? Pretty enough, it seems, but underneath she's a snake. She doesn't come from our land, and though she has a title, she was never going to get her own crown. She knew the King wanted a wife, and she seized the opportunity. Heart condition, my arse. Have you heard the whispers from the palace? The Queen has magic. She plotted to kill Our Beloved King. She's a usurper, a liar, a conspirer, a traitor, a seducer, a witch.

No matter how much the King's physician testified, no matter how many members of the Royal Council placated, or the accounts of the priest who blessed him on his deathbed, the stories of the Queen's supposed treachery spread throughout the kingdom like wildfire. Soon enough, the people were at the castle gates in droves, demanding the Queen's head on a spike.

It was then that the Princess got involved.

Snow White, only a girl of ten and mourning the loss of her father, called for public announcement. Two weeks after her father's death, she walked onto the steps of the palace, dressed in all black, and addressed the people of her kingdom.

She told of how much Regina had been a comfort to her in the last two weeks. She spoke of the Queen's gentleness, her kindness and grace. The Princess told them how she first met Regina and how the Queen had saved her life. After several minutes, the anger faded from the heart's of the protesters, and they listened. Snow White painted the Queen in her true image and its light burned through their fear.

At last, the Princess finished, and said, "Regina is my mother now and I love her. Though my father is gone, she remains the Queen, and she will rule."

As the girl went back into the castle, the men who had sat on the King's Royal Council followed behind her and her horde of servants and guards, muttering.

The Queen would be a fine ruler, yes, that was true. She was knowledgeable about the land, and finances, the law. In time, she would become familiar with the traditions of this kingdom. She was beautiful, smart and just and of royal descent. Even if she wasn't, they had no authority to dethrone her. Snow White was right. Regina is the Queen, and thus she will rule.

But they also knew that a few words from a child would not dispel the rumors forever. These ideas would continue to fester, perhaps come back with a vengeance and if they didn't tread lightly, the monarchy would be overthrown.

One of these shrewd men, the oldest and wisest of the bunch, stopped as they came to the end of the hall, where rested a portrait of Leopold. He stared up at it, and the rest of the men halted.

"Snow White is too young to sit on the throne. Regina is the Queen, whether people like it or not. But we would be wrong to think we can do nothing to help her secure her position."

The other men waited silently for him to continue. He looked into the face of their dead King and sighed.

"She must marry again."

The search for the new King began.

. . .

"My Lord?"

Robin groaned when the curtains were flung open. The sunlight blared in through the windows and he turned away, throwing his arm over his face.

"What time is it?" Robin said, the words muffled by his tunic. Robin could still smell firewood and ale on it from the night before.

Peter, his father's butler, walked to the windows at the far side of Robin's chambers. Peter was a shirt man, stocky in build, with a sharp, hook like nose framed by two fleshy cheeks. A loyal man, but lacking in any kind of real personality. Thinking back on his childhood, Robin could not remember a single instance when Peter did or said anything that didn't revolve around the order of the house or the wine to be had at dinner. The man pulled the curtains open and more light fled in. "It's quite early for you, My Lord. It's half past nine. Your father has requested your presence at once."

"I'll talk to him later," Robin said, already dozing again.

"I have been told not to leave the room until you are dressed and then to escort you to your father's study. There is quite an urgent matter at hand."

"It can't wait?"

"I'm afraid not."

Robin took a deep breath, wishing that he hadn't stayed out so late with Little John and Will last night, cursing the fact that they would be asleep for hours more while he dragged himself out of his warm bed to talk about what was probably some idiotic land dispute with his father.

He dressed quickly, grudgingly tucking in his shirt when Peter glared disapprovingly at him. It was true that Robin rarely woke before eleven in the morning; he much prefered the chill and mystery of the night, when he could wander the estate alone and unbothered, or go out under the cover of moonlight with his friends. If he missed breakfast most days and was subsequently lectured about his absence at lunch, then it was a price he would continue to pay.

His father was always a pensive man, always over thinking and strategizing, so when Robin entered his study to find the older man's brow pinched, it was not surprising. What did alarm the young man, however, was the look his father gave him when he glanced up from the paper's on his bureau. His eyes were serious, but there was an almost delirious elation there that Robin had never seen before.

"Peter," his father said, holding out a letter, "see this is delivered immediately."

"Yes, Your Grace," Peter said, taking the letter, then closing the door behind him.

Robin opened his mouth to speak, but his father stood up suddenly and moved to the window.

"Do you feel that you have been well trained to take my place as the Duke of Sherwood?"

Robin almost wanted to laugh. He'd been going to lessons everyday since he was a boy, learning about everything from taxes and divvying up land, to the running of a household and being a good host. He even knew how the damn squash crop would affect the economy on all the surrounding estates. He'd bloody well be prepared for it.

"I think I have been, Father. Someday when I'm Duke I don't think I'm going to muck everything up, if that's what your-"

"That's not what I'm asking, you foolish boy." His father snapped. Robin was far past the age where he jumped at his father's tone, but the harshness of his words still stung.

"Then what do you mean?"

"I mean do you think you can be a good ruler?"

"I'm hardly going to be a ruler. It's just the surrounding villages and farms, and they govern themselves for the most part. Why have you called me in here?"

"I've called you in here because I received a letter early this morning, from Lord Aaron Grey. Do you recognize the name, son?"

Robin thought for a moment. "No."

"Well, then, perhaps you'll recall your mother's fifth cousin, Leopold."

That name Robin recognized. "King Leopold? The one who just died? He and mother were related?"

"Barely," his father said, his body restless and jumpy as he stood at the window. People always said that Robin was the spitting image of his father, although he got his blue eyes and light hair from his mother. "But they were. Quite sad, really."

Robin's father still smiled when he said this, and Robin had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"He was just married, you know? To a girl only two years younger than you. I hear she's beautiful, truly the fairest of them all."

"Father, what's going on?"

His father's mind seemed to be wandering, rushing wildly, far beyond the room where they stood and something in Robin's voice brought him back.

"You're going to be King, Robin."

"I...I'm what?"

"Lord Aaron Grey sits on the Royal Council, he was one of Leopold's advisors. Leopold has a daughter, but she's still too young to rule. Their people are growing restless because the new Queen is not from their kingdom and there are rumors of foul play about his death. They want her to remarry to secure the line of succession. You are apparently the perfect candidate. You know how to rule, your mother is from their kingdom and you spent much time there as a child before we build this house. Of course in time we'll have to figure out who will replace me as Duke, but no matter-"

"I don't want to be King."

His father stared at him, his gaze growing hard. "You don't have a choice in the matter."

"Of course I do! I can't be King, I barely want to be Duke! And even if I did, I don't want to marry either, or be a stepfather. I'm not ready, I'm only twenty years old. You didn't even become Duke until you were almost twice my age. Tell them no," Robin pleaded, his heart pounding like a drum.

"You don't have to be ready. You think a King makes all his decisions alone? You think he attends to every detail that affects his people? You'll have advisors and squires and guards and lords to do most of the work. You are the only option they have. People are threatening to kill the Queen because they think she caused the King's death. If she doesn't marry soon she'll be killed."

"You want me to marry someone who people think killed her husband?"

"Oh, who gives a damn. Marry her and then lock her in a tower if you like. You'll be King. You'll have the power to do whatever you want."

"I won't do this," he said, desperation bleeding into his voice now.

"I've already accepted, Robin. It's done."

"You what?!"

"That letter I gave to Peter? I'd wager it's halfway through the wood by now. The Royal Council will be toasting your name by dinner, I imagine. We leave for the palace in three days."

Robin stood and watched as his father sat back down at his desk and continued on with his daily work. He thought back to last night, sitting around a fire in the woods with Little John, Will and some girls from the village. He can't remember what they spoke of now, only that it made him laugh until his belly ached. For a moment he considered all the nights they had done that, all the similar nights that waking up this morning he thought would follow. Now he felt his life as he knew it slipping through his fingers, all the warmth rushing out of him, and he felt paralyzed by the emptiness left behind. In those few moments, Robin could have sworn his heart stopped beating as a thousand questions and emotions collided inside of him.

Nothing will ever be the same.

. . .

They left three days later as planned.

Robin felt numb the entire ride.

Royal guards had been send the day before to escort them to his new home. No one but a select few knew about this arrangement, but the Royal Council wanted to ensure the new King's safety nonetheless.

The journey was lasted from daybreak until almost dinner time. His father complained the entire time, going on about how there were dozens of faster routes, but to Robin it felt like he blinked and suddenly they were at the castle gates.

A footman opened the door to the carriage, and when he saw Robin, he bowed. "Your Majesty."

"Not yet," Robin snapped, anger rising hot and fast in his blood. His father grabbed his arm and led him forward.

"Do not make a reputation for yourself before you've even begun," he hissed in Robin's ear before releasing him.

Robin clenched his fists."I thought you said only a few people knew."

"Well, the Council obviously knows, and the Queen and the Princess. The knights probably knew. It was a tightly kept secret, but people often say things they don't want heard in front of people they don't even notice. Servants may seem loyal, but your darkest desire is just gossip to them. Remember that."

They were brought to the doors of the Great Hall, where a man stood waiting.

"Lord Grey?" Robin's father called out, and the man nodded, smiling.

"Indeed," he said. He was older than Robin's father by at least a decade, but he was broad shouldered and his blue eyes were still sharp. "You must be Lord Locksley," then his eyes fell on Robin. "And you must be-"

"Please, call me Robin." Robin could feel his father's scathing gaze, but he hardly cared.

Lord Grey smiled. "I suppose that can be managed for now, but I'm afraid once you are coronated that will have to change. I know that you've had a long day, but there are some matters we must attend to right away."

Robin sighed, the numbness settling further in his bones. He had said goodbye to Little John and Will not even twenty four hours ago, and now he was about to discuss his kingly duties. There was no turning back now.

"Very well," Robin said.

"It will be announced tomorrow that you will be the new King, and there will be a great many tasks to deal with. Your wedding to the Queen has been planned for one week from today, and the coronation is the day after. It will be a very busy time, as I'm sure you're aware. Tonight after dinner you have a meeting with the Royal Council to discuss the status of the kingdom."

Robin nodded, watching as servants walked past them, carrying his trunks towards a grandiose staircase at the end of the hallway. "Alright. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to be shown to my rooms. As you said it's been a long day."

"Of course, Robin," Grey said, "but first you must meet the Queen and the Princess."

Robin's eyes widened and he stared at the man. Somehow, despite all the ways he imagined this going, and all the ways he could get out of it, he hadn't thought about this.

"Surely that can wait."

"I'm afraid not. The Queen and the Princess are in the Great Hall awaiting your arrival."

Robin said nothing. No matter how much he thought about it, the reality of this kept crashing down on his anew, and this...he wasn't sure he could do it.

"Come, Robin, you mustn't keep your future wife waiting. Don't want to get off on the wrong foot," his father said, and Lord Grey chuckled as he motioned for the doors to be opened.

He was in a daze, stuck in a daydream as the doors swung open. His eyes fell on the far end of the room, where the Queen and the Princess sat at a high table. The room itself was beautiful, with long dining tables and high stained glass windows that flooded the room with light and marvelous color. On the walls hung intricate tapestries, woven with the utmost precision and fit for a monarch. Guards were stationed at their feet and maids stood at attention against the wall.

Robin saw none of it.

The only thing that filled his vision was the woman who sat next to the Princess.

And in the span of a second, he was no longer in a dream. Reality rained down upon him, and for the first time in four days, he felt no fear and had no anger. The world around him burst back with vibrancy and color and warmth as he looked upon her face.

The Queen wore a light blue, and her raven hair was twisted back atop her head, which was adorned with a golden crown. Her lips were the color of wine, her eyes the color of chocolate and as his gaze tripped over her olive kissed skin, he had the fleeting thought that he never believed someone so stunning could ever have walked the earth.

Suddenly, he was in front of them, his future wife and step-daughter, and for a moment, he just stood as they stared down at him.

Then, he gained enough sense to bow, and though he was loathe to tear his gaze from the Queen, he lowered his eyes to the floor.

"I am honored and humbled to stand in your presence, Your Majesties," he said, just as his father had taught him.

"So," Snow White said, "you're to be the King now?"

Robin could feel the eyes of everyone in the room on him, but he didn't care. All that mattered was the little girl in front of him, who had lost both parents and who was about to watch another man become King less than a month after her father's passing.

He smiled. "It seems so, Your Highness."

"You're to be my step-father as well," she said, and it was then he noticed that while the Queen wore blue, the Princess still wore black.

"Only if you want me to be, My Princess. First, I thought we could be friends."

The girl tilted her head. "Friends?"

"Yes," he replied. "I have no desire to replace your father."

"But you are replacing him," she said, her voice trembling a bit.

"Only on the throne, My Princess. Not in your heart."

Her eyes filled with tears at that, but she grinned through her grief. "You may call me Snow."

He walked up to the high table and held his hand out to the little girl. When she gave him her hand, he placed a kiss on it. "It's nice to meet you, Snow. My name is Robin."

"It's nice to meet you, too, Robin." He released her hand and turned to the Queen, whose beauty shone even brighter now that he stood less than two feet from her. He felt her dark eyes not only on his face but touching the edges of his soul. She looked stoic and regal on the outside, but he could see the nervousness barely concealed in her eyes that was surely reflecting in his. In his chest his heart began to thud, and he wondered if she could hear it.

"Your Majesty," he said, holding out his hand again. She hesitated, her chest rising and falling as she looked from his face to his hand and back up again. Raising her hand, she slid her fingers over his. When he kissed her hand, he let his lips linger for a moment longer than necessary.

Then, the Queen's lips parted, and when she spoke, her voice was like fire and water, cleansing him and setting him aflame.

"I prefer Regina."

. . .

Please review! Your feedback will help me decide to continue or not. Hope you enjoyed.