A/N: Alright, don't be mad. I know I have to update The Other Outlaw. And Powerful. I'm almost done with the next chapter of Powerful and I've started the next part of TOO, but it's still got a long way to go. This story is based on a prompt I got on tumblr. It's rated M just to be safe. There's some language a mildly sexual situations. Hope you enjoy, I would love a review! Even if it's just to bother me about my other stories. P.S. All this speculation about Robin is giving me heart palpitations, but I've decided to just ignore all the hysteria and hope that everything will work out. Sending hugs to everyone who is as nervous as I am.
. . .
"Majesty, what's a treehouse?"
Her mind had been whirling, trying to think of a way to reinforce the protection spell around the castle. That witch is doing everything in her power to weaken it, Regina's sure. Every few days the patrol that the thief and his men have (rather insistently) organized comes back reporting flying monkeys prodding and lunging at the barrier. One had even managed to get through before being shot down.
People are getting nervous, and she has to do something.
But she's not just going to ignore this sweet little boy, not when he has so firmly entrenched himself in her heart. She thought being around him would be painful, and it is in a way, but he makes her smile when she thought she would never again have a reason to. He takes her hand without fear, speaks to her without groveling and without greed. Most days she is drowning in her own grief, but when her demons don't roar so loudly, Roland helps to prolong the silence.
"A treehouse?" She asks. "Where did you hear about those?"
"I heard Princess Snow talking about them. She told Prince David they should build one for the baby when it gets old enough."
Regina almost chuckles as she pictures David and that motley band of dwarves trying to assemble such a thing. Roland reaches over to her untouched plate of food and steals a grape.
"Roland, what did I say about taking food off of people's plates without asking?"
Regina looks up to see Robin walking towards them eyeing his son, who freezes and halts mid chew.
Swallowing, he turns to Regina, and mumbles, "Sorry, majesty."
"It's alright, dear, just ask next time." Robin is carrying his bow, and some of his men are trickling in behind him for a late breakfast. They're coming in from their morning patrol, she knows, and she'll find out if they saw anything at the council meeting that's due to start soon. Her eyes sweep over him-he appears uninjured, so it couldn't have been too bad. When her gaze reaches his face, their eyes meet. Her heart pounds, those blue orbs setting her immediately on edge. She can always feel when he's looking at her, ever since he helped her break into the palace. Regina hates it, the way her heart clenches, how a shiver rushes across her skin. He looks at her like...like he can see her. Like he can see everything about her.
And she can't do a damn thing about it.
So she talks to him as little as possible, throwing biting words his way when she must. She barely even looks at him even when she talks with his son and dismisses all his ideas in council meetings, even if they are reasonable. She responds to him only with fire and steely vexation and still he seems undeterred.
"Are you bothering the Queen, my boy?" He asks, finally looking at something other than her.
Roland shakes his head. "No, Papa, I was just asking her about treewhuz-tree...treehoses."
"Treehouses," Regina corrects.
"Yes," Roland nods, his dark brown curls flopping down over his head. "Those." Regina wonders fleetingly if she got his hair from his mother. He certainly didn't get it from Robin.
"Anyway, Roland, a treehouse is a little fort that you can build high up in the trees."
"Like a bird's nest?"
"It's a little bit like a bird's nest, but it's much bigger, and it's for people."
Roland's nose scrunches up. "How do you get into it if it's so high up?"
Robin sits down across from them, setting his bow on the bench beside him. He's curious now too, it seems.
She turns back to Roland. "You make a ladder, like the one in the library, so that you can climb up."
"Oh," Roland murmurs. "What's it made of?"
"Wood, usually. Sometimes metal."
"These are from the other land, are they not?" Robin says.
"Yes, they are." Regina glances over just in time to see him put a grape in his mouth. For a moment, she forgets everything about pretending to hate him and she smirks. "It seems Roland is not the only one who needs to learn how to ask permission."
Roland looks over and giggles. "Papa!" He squeals. "You can't steal majesty's food! You have to ask!"
"I am sorry, milady," he says, bowing his head. "I am a thief at heart, and you know us thieves and our manners-"
"Or your lack of manners," she quips.
"Yes, we are quite unruly." He smiles, his dimples on full display and his eyes burning her. Those dimples. They're infuriating. Suddenly he leans forward, not close enough that anyone would notice, but close enough that she's breathing a little faster.
"I guess I'll just have to make it up to you," he says, his voice low.
She opens her mouth, and she sees his eyes flicker down to her lips before returning to her eyes. "I guess you will."
He stands then, picking up his bow. "Come along, Roland, we have to get you to Little John."
Roland shifts like he's going to get up, but then his face becomes adorably pensive, and he turns back to her.
"We should built treehouses here," he says. "They'd be fun, I think. And way better than sleeping on the ground."
Regina smiles. "Maybe someday."
"Did your son have one?"
The question surprises her and tears through her like a knife. She's never spoken about Henry to Roland, but she knows that people talk. The Queen has lost her son, she isn't a mother anymore. The Savior has the boy now. I hear she tried to crush her own heart, but it was too dark, too hard to break.
She knows what they say, but she doesn't listen. It shouldn't shock her this much to know that Roland knows about Henry, especially because Robin knows. She wonders if the thief takes part in the gossip.
No, her brain immediately supplies. He wouldn't. She doesn't know how she knows, but she does. He wouldn't say a word.
"No. My son never had one. Maybe he does now, though."
Roland smiles. "Yeah, maybe. Bye majesty," he says, and then he's running off after his father.
. . .
"I hope I'm not intruding."
The council meeting ended hours ago, and she's been in the library ever since. There's a stack of books half her height piled on the table, and her eyes have started to hurt from translating spell after spell.
His voice, after so many hours of silence, makes her jump.
"You're always intruding," she says, sitting back in her chair. The room has gotten darker as the sun sets. With a wave of her hand, the candles scattered over the table are lit.
"I can come back later, milady."
Regina smirks. She can tease him all she wants about being undignified, but he's always unfailingly polite, despite her frequent attempts to deter him.
"No, it's alright. I could use a break anyway."
For now, she decides, she will ignore that fact that he's incorrectly addressed her. Again.
"What's all this?" He asks, motioning to all the books as he sits down across from her.
Regina sighs, suppressing a yawn. "The barrier keeping the castle safe isn't enough to keep the witch and her flying minions out forever. I need something to reinforce it."
"We haven't seen any flying monkeys in days," Robin says. His gaze is gentle, and it makes her feel like she is fraying at the seams.
"It doesn't matter, it's only a matter of days before we see them again, and I'm sure the witch is planning something. If I don't do something soon, we'll be defenseless. And I don't care how good you think you are with that bow, it won't be able to stop her. Somewhere in these books-,"
He lays a hand over hers on the table, his thumb stroking over her skin. The touch extinguishes whatever she was about to say, and she stares over at him, slack-jawed and wide-eyed.
"I only meant that you don't have to kill yourself trying to find an answer. You don't have to do this alone either. I'm sure Belle would help, and while I have limited knowledge of the magical arts, I am willing to help you, too. The protection spell is still up, and at the moment everyone is safe."
He's right. She won't admit it, but he is. This problem will still be here in the morning, and she's no use with bleary eyes and a headache.
"I suppose I can stop for the night. The rest of the spellbooks are in another library, anyway."
Regina places her elbow on the table and puts her chin in her palm. Her intricate updo has partially come undone and she's slouching; it's rather un-queenly position, definitely not the way she was trained to sit, but she finds herself not caring. She doesn't feel very much like a queen anymore, especially not now as she sits here with this man who disarms her at every turn. Her dark eyes drop down to where his hand still rests atop hers. She moves her fingers experimentally, her pinky peeking out to rub over one of his knuckles.
Robin stiffens, his posture rigid, and his gaze has gone from gentle and reasoning to surprised. Blue eyes dart nervously from her's to where their hands and back up again. Her mouth, painted red today, turns up at the corners.
It seems he has been disarmed, too.
"Is there something you wanted?"
"I'm assuming you didn't come in here just to calm my nerves."
"Oh," he says, "The Princess was wondering if you were coming to dinner."
Ah, that. Snow has been forcing her to eat dinner with her and Charming at the high table at the front of the grand hall. It's a show of unity, the girl had argued. So every night Regina has found herself being dragged to dinner to sit under the everyone's scrutiny, all for the sake of hope.
"And," Robin, continues,"I was wondering if Roland is ever a bother to you."
Regina's brow furrows. Roland could never bother her. "Robin-,"
"I could tell him that you're busy, or if he's ever too much you could just ask any one of my men to take him off your hands."
"Robin," she says, more firmly this time, her hand shifting to clutch at his. "I love Roland's company. You never have to worry about that."
He's staring at her again now, and a grin spreads slowly across his face. He bites his lip, his teeth dragging across it, and the surge of pure, unbridled want that it calls up in her is almost pathetic.
"What?" She asks, and even she can tell by the softness in her voice how much of an idiot she's being, how much he's affecting her.
His eyes look even brighter than normal in the candlelight, practically molten. "Nothing. It's just...I never thought I'd be jealous of a four-year old."
She barely has time to be surprised before Robin stands, releasing her hand from his hold, and heads toward the door.
"I'll see you at dinner?" He calls.
She turns her head to answer him, but then her neck twinges painfully, a product of leaning over a workbench all day, no doubt, and her response turns into a groan of displeasure. The pain is sharp, ricocheting around the tendons of her neck. She reaches a hand back and gently rubs at the base of her skull.
Robin frowns. "Are you alright?"
She tries to nod, but all it does is elicit another gasp of pain.
"I'm fine," she says, gingerly shifting her body so that she can look over at him.
"No, you're not."
"I am!" she replies petulantly. "My neck just hurts a little from being at this desk all day, that's all. It will go away in a few minutes."
"Perhaps, but when you're back in here tomorrow doing the exact same thing, it's only going to get worse."
She doesn't dignify his comment with a response, only rolls her eyes and carefully rubs her neck again. She reaches over and starts shutting a few of the books she had been tearing through earlier, but she can feel him behind her now. He's closer, and she his eyes on her, as always, just as tangible as any touch.
"You're still here," she says.
"That I am." He starts rolling up his sleeves then, revealing toned forearms and drawing her attention to his hands. She can't help but let her gaze wander further up, admiring the outlines of muscle she can see under his white cotton shirt. Those arms could lift her easy, and she's seen the way he handles a bow. She knows he's good with his hands. If he would just-
"May I?" He asks. Robin is holding his hands out in front of him, a silent question in his eyes. Can I touch you?
She murmurs an affirmative, lowering her own hand, and he moves to stand behind her.
"Lean back," he instructs. She obeys, her body buzzing with awareness. She takes measured breaths as his nearness electrifies the air around her.
The moment he touches her, the pain becomes secondary to the feeling of his hands on her skin. She is wearing one of her velvet dresses-a dark blue one with a high neckline, but her upper back is exposed and she is so thankful that she bypassed her dress with the dramatic collar this morning. His thumbs gently dig into the space between her shoulder blades, his fingers pressing into the skin of her collarbone. His hold steadily grows firmer and and when he starts kneading at the juncture where her shoulder arches into her neck, she can't suppress the moan that slips past her lips.
He chuckles lowly, trailing a dizzying path up the nape of her neck, and the sound goes straight to her core.
She grips the arm of the chair and takes a steadying breath. "Where did you-," she gasps as his hands move lower, his hands setting fire to her skin as they trail down her spine and massage at delicate skin and the tense muscles underneath. "-Learn that," she finishes.
"A thief mustn't reveal all of his tricks."
For a moment she considers arguing with him, getting the upper hand back by forcing him to tell her, but then he's softly pressing the pads of his fingers into the grooves of her spine.
"Oh-okay," she murmurs, her mouth falling open. Regina can feel herself relaxing. A minute ago she had been tense at the prospect of his touch, but now he's getting acquainted with her shoulders, his scent enveloping the air around her, and she feels as though she is liquefying under his hands. The places where his fingers have met her skin burn, arousal turning her blood into lava and melting her insides.
(He does smell like forest, like pine and new grass and the trees after it rains, and she is quickly becoming addicted.)
Regina hums when he pushes past her hair and starts rubbing at her scalp, crossing her legs to alleviate the growing ache at the juncture of her thighs. His touch is gentle, but then he scrapes his nails lightly over the nape of her neck, and she wonders what it would feel like to have him clutch at her hair, his mouth replacing his hands on her neck while the digits in question travel down, down and into her and-
"Does this feel alright?"
"Amazing," she responds before she can think better of it, the word sounding more like a moan than anything else. Fuck.
She expects some smart ass comment from him, but it never comes. He just continues doing wonderful, blissful things to her neck. Desperately trying to ignore the pounding of her heart and its echo low in her belly, the tingling of her skin, Regina closes her eyes and focuses on the feeling of it, of being touched.
A few minutes later, his fingers relax and stroke over the skin her back, lingering for a moment before he retreats. She moves her neck from side to side, and finds not even the remnants of discomfort. She's now faced with the fact that she's uncomfortably aroused, perhaps, but her neck no longer hurts thanks to his ministrations.
The dark haired queen turns around-she must be a picture now, with her cheeks flushed and her hair half undone-and looks up at him.
"Thank you," Regina says, no hint of anything other than gratitude in her voice.
"Anytime, Your Majesty," he says, and he winks at her. His eyes are darkened, practically twinkling, and he's smiling at her like he knows exactly what he's done to her.
"I'll tell Princess Snow that you'll be along soon," he continues, and then he starts towards the door.
He stops. "What?"
She smiles. "You may call me Regina."
He grins back at her. "Does that mean you'll call me Robin?"
"Perhaps," she says. "'Thief' does have a nice ring to it, after all. I guess you'll just have to wait and see."
"I suppose I will," he says, and even though she turns back to her books, she can feel his eyes on her all the way out the door.
. . .
So the prompt was "OQ+treehouse". Hope you liked it.