Written for Prompt Party 2018!
Prompt #60. Missing Year and it's Roland's birthday.
#64. Drunk Regina accidentally admits something really embarrassing.
#174. Drinking Game with 20 Questions
She's standing in the kitchen, belly pressed against the wooden counter as she lazily fills her glass with whiskey again. It's her second one tonight, not enough to feel completely inebriated, but enough to feel loose in her joints and quick with her tongue. A deadly combination for the Queen.
They've been back at her, their, castle for a little over half a year now, working with the Charmings instead of against for once, trying to take down her wicked bitch of a sister, Zelena. They've all been so busy - the Merry Men, along with David, out canvasing the land each day, protecting the castle and searching for answers, while she's been working with Belle and Snow, trying to find any magical solution to their problem. Belle and Neal are leaving within the week to go to Rumple's castle, hoping to find a solution there, and then she'll be left to deal with an insufferable, pregnant Snow all on her own. But that's another problem for another day.
Today, she's feeling a myriad of emotions. Emotions she shouldn't be feeling so strongly, but is.
She finishes pouring her drink, dragging her feet to plop down onto the wooden bench, scooting it up so she's pressed against the table. Her hands cup her drink, twirling the glass languidly from side to side, staring at it as if it'd come to life and insulted her to her face.
Today had been Roland's birthday, and he'd oh so sweetly requested a celebration thrown by his Queen in her giant castle. When he'd asked her, his big, brown eyes peering up at her from beneath that mop of tousled brown curls, she'd been unable to refuse.
"Why are you asking me and not your Papa?" She asks the young boy as he takes her hand in his, leading her out toward their secret hiding place. Not so secret, actually, it's just her apple tree that sits in the middle of a semi-secluded part of her castle, but to him, it's their secret. So, she plays along, never wanting to hurt the boy's delicate heart.
She's come to enjoy his company, as much as his presence pained her in the first few weeks. It always felt like someone was squeezing the life out of her lungs each time she saw him, breath hitching and a pain settling in the center of her chest as if one of Zelena's flying monkeys had clawed their way through her flesh, pressing on her organs. Seeing a little boy, brown eyes and brown hair with chubby cheeks to go along with them, so much like her Henry when he was that age, had been too much. As the weeks went on, however, she'd found Roland sneaking into the library and sitting with her while she did her research, never bothering her, only politely asking, with those dimples peeking out on his cheeks, if they could play when she took a break. She couldn't refuse those dimples; they were her downfall.
"Because he said I needed to ask you, Gina!" he giggles, looking behind him, assumedly trying to see if his father has yet to join them. They're standing in the dining hall, a place where her and Roland's friendship had become the center of attention so many months ago. Everyone was used to Regina being surly and rude, especially now that she was without Henry, but all eyes had been on her when young Roland had bounced his way over to her, merrily humming a song as he went. He'd parked himself right up next to her, his body close enough she could feel the heat radiating from him, and smiled up at Regina, telling her he was going to eat with her that night, causing her tough demeanor to crack and a smile to form. Ever since then, they'd shared every meal together, even sometimes letting his father sit across from them.
She smiles warmly at him, glancing over his shoulder and spying Robin making his way into the dining area. He greets her with a smile when he spots her, his dimples affecting her in a whole different way that Roland's do. There was something about the thief, something she couldn't quite place a finger on. They'd become friends, as close to friends as she'd let anyone get since landing in this realm again, but when he smiled... She shakes her head, bringing her eyes back to rest on Roland.
"I think having a birthday party is a wonderful idea, sweetheart." Her smile widens when Roland's face splits into a beaming smile. He's bouncing up and down, excitedly thanking her, saying he's going to have the best birthday ever. He's letting out squeals of, "Papa will be there, and Uncle John, and my Gina, and everyone I love!" as he runs around the hall, telling anyone who will listen that his birthday is in a few days and The Queen herself is throwing him a party.
The party had been nice. Everyone showed up, showering Roland with gifts and hugs and kisses. There was no denying that this boy was beyond loved. He's the youngest child in their company by several years, most others already Henry's age or older, so his innocent disposition tends to draw people in.
She'd organized the party, just like she promised she would. Had decorated the main dining hall herself with the help of Ruby, Belle, and Snow. When that was nearly complete, she'd left the other women in charge of finishing while she went to help Granny with the cake. Helping the old woman, she couldn't help but smile to herself as she listened to Roland's boyish giggles float in from the window where he was playing outside with Little John. She'd told Roland about cake a few months prior, his interests for the dessert never quite fading. So when his birthday rolled around, she just knew she needed to make the best cake possible with the ingredients they had in the Enchanted Forest. Cakes and other decadent desserts had usually only been for royalty back when they originally inhabited this land, so he'd never had the luxury of tasting one before.
Regina had, of course, conjured up a few more modern-day items needed, like small, skinny, multicolored candles, her best whisk, and the cake plate she'd used at all of Henry's birthdays growing up. The cake plate was green, and the handle had ceramic yellow spikes sticking out from it to make it look like a dinosaur's back. Henry always loved it, no matter how old he got. Of course, it had gotten to the point in the last few years where he didn't want anyone to see the cake plate, claiming it was too baby-ish, but she'd still woken him up on his birthday the past two years with a cake just for the two of them to share resting on the dinosaur stand. His sleepy smiles of thanks were all it took to let her know that no matter how old her little prince may be, he still enjoyed some things from his childhood.
"Happy birthday to you!" everyone sings, clapping at the end of their song as Roland looks to Robin and Regina, questioning what he's to do.
"Make a wish and blow out the candles," she tells him kindly, pressing her hand to Robin's back and urging him to step forward, leaning in closer to Roland to show him what to do. She'd explained to him last night that all they needed to do was blow their breath over the flame to extinguish it.
Roland's eyes widen in excitement right before he closes them, squeezing them so tight she's afraid he might hurt himself. He takes a deep breath, slowly opening his eyes to peer at the candles, and breathes out, putting out the flames of most of them. He looks dejected, realizing he hadn't gotten them all, and looks to her with a pout. She smiles sympathetically, whispering to Robin that he might need to help.
He nods, exclaiming to his son, "Let's do it together, my boy!" and crouching down next to his son, wrapping an arm around his shoulders. "On the count of three… One, two, three!"
With that, both father and son close their eyes, blowing out the last of the candles, Roland's last attempts coming out more as tiny huffs.
She congratulates him, leaning down to press a kiss to his forehead as he sits back, clapping his hands in excitement. She looks to Robin then, catching his glance and sharing a smirk with him.
They all stand around Roland and his cake as Snow cuts pieces for everyone. There's bound to be just shy of a hundred people here, what, with all the Storybrooke residents that hadn't wanted to venture back to their old homes (or didn't have a home anymore, thanks to the Evil Queen), the Merry Men with their wives and children, as well as the dwarves. It's a full house to say the least.
They weren't all, technically, invited to the party, that honor only being extended to a handful of people. Regina had only wanted Roland to be surrounded by the people that love him most and spend time with him each day to be there, but they'd made enough cake, so, who was she to deny them all? (She tried earlier, actually, but Snow had stopped her from lashing out at the intruders with a stern look, saying there was plenty to go around). Regina makes sure the original party guests were all served first though. She may be a redeemed villainous queen, but she's still a queen with rules.
Once the cake has been eaten, Roland proclaiming to Robin and Regina that it was the best thing he'd ever tasted, they all cleaned up and headed out to the large courtyard to open his gifts.
He'd loved all his presents and got up to hug each and every person who stayed around for this part of the celebration, reminding Regina, once again, of how Henry would do the same thing at his parties - always so thankful for the gifts he'd been given.
She sighs, replaying the events of the day in her mind isn't going to help pull her from this funk. She's essentially traded her whisk for the whiskey now that everyone has gone to bed, leaving her in the old servant's kitchen to stew in her lingering emotions.
Regina loves Roland, she knows she does, but seeing him today, surrounded by so many people who care about him, celebrating his birthday… it breaks her heart. She and Henry always loved his birthday. They'd spend the day together every year, just the two of them for the whole day, whether that was playing video games in his later years, swimming in the pool or playing in the park all day when he was younger. He'd even invite friends over from school to have a party every year - cakes, balloons, streamers, the whole works. It all stopped when he brought Emma to town, though, and she broke the curse. He'd been mad at her for a while, crushing her soul in the process, but he'd eventually come around, saying you're not a villain, you're my mom. She thinks back to that moment, just before she sent him over the townline with his other mother, erasing his memories of her all together and giving them to Emma. Now, thanks to her own magic, when Henry thinks of his fifth birthday and the ponies that were brought to his house for he and all his friends to ride on, he'll see Emma as the one taking his picture and teaching him how to pet the horse so he didn't hurt it. He'll see Emma as the one who gave him his first set of comic books, she'll be the one who, in his mind, gave him videos games, and home cooked meals, and more love than she ever thought was possible to give one person. She'll be remembered as the one who gave him everything, while Regina will simply be a villain in a fairy tale.
It's that thought that kills Regina bit by bit, each time she thinks of it. It's the reason she'd wanted so desperately to rip her own heart out and bury it in the woods. Plans had changed when Snow caught her and convinced her, in a moment of weakness, to put in back inside. It had hurt, plunging her beating organ back into her chest cavity, every emotion she'd so quickly dulled by pulling it out rushing back to her all at once. A sensation so strong she'd almost forgotten how to breathe.
She takes another sip of her whiskey, the second glass almost empty. So she stands, making her way over to the counter, wiping a tear off her cheek as she goes. She's cried so much already, wonders most nights if the tears, as silent as they may be, will ever cease. Without Henry in her life, she doesn't think they will.
Regina takes the bottle back to the table with her, knowing she's going to need another after this one after today. She didn't think a birthday party for a six year old would be so hard, but, boy, had she been wrong.
She's taking another long drink of her freshly poured liquid when she hears an all too smug, "Good evening, m'lady."
Rolling her eyes, she looks over in the direction of his smooth timbre, that voice that always sounds like butter but also has a rasp to it that she can't quite place. She's always found his voice sexy, the accent not doing anything to help, and tonight, be it the drinks or something else, she can't help but think she wants to hear that voice every day for the rest of her life.
Furrowing her eyebrows at herself, wondering just where in the hell that thought came from, she reverts back to what she does best and snaps at him. "What are you doing here?"
He smirks, that damn smirk, and says, "Figured everyone else was asleep. I was coming down to see if there was anymore cake left." He moves from where he's been leaning one shoulder against the doorway, walking over to the nearest shelf and grabbing a glass for himself. "Though your late night snack seems like a better idea."
Robin holds out his cup, raising his eyebrows pointedly and glancing between her face and his cup. She sighs, lifting the bottle to fill his. They sit for a few moments, both enjoying the silence of the night. Everyone else is sleeping peacefully a story above, while his men sleep on the same floor as the kitchen but on the other side of the castle.
"What are you doing down here so late?" he inquires, breaking their blissful moment of peace.
She won't admit why she's here, could never actually tell anyone how much Roland's party had felt like a knife stabbing her heart repeatedly. How it dredged up too many memories for her brain to handle in one day.
Regina holds her latest sip in her mouth, twisting her lips and holding up her cup, giving him a look that says isn't it obvious?, but instead says, "The party was nice," deflecting her real emotions about today and why she's ended up here so late tonight, drinking alone… well, not so alone anymore.
He ahhs at that, agreeing. "Roland had a great time."
She smiles, glad that amidst her pain, she was able to help put together a party the young boy will not soon forget. Robin had told her a few weeks ago, when they first planned to have a soirée, that he and his men had never been able to properly pull off a full blown party. They'd celebrated, sure, but by having a big dinner and singing to the lad, nothing to the grandeur that Regina had pulled off for his son, with the food, decorations, cake, and a scavenger hunt throughout the castle that Robin claims Roland will carry on about for at least another month or so. Granted, they'd been frozen in the forest for twenty-eight years, never really having much of a means to provide anything more. She assured him that day, when they were walking through her rose garden together, that she was positive Roland had loved each and every one of his birthdays thus far.
"I'm glad," she sighs, taking another sip of her drink. Robin mirrors her, taking a long swill of his. His first glass already over half finished, she smirks, making a comment about him trying to catch up to her. His eyebrows raise at that, asking how many she's had. She can feel the blush creep lightly onto her cheeks when she holds up her cup, saying, "This is number three."
He laughs, heartier than she thinks he means to, as he places a hand over his stomach and slaps the table with the other. "Who knew a queen could hold her liquor so well!"
She breathes out a sigh, almost a chuckle, as she grins at him, saying he'd be surprised by a lot of things about her.
He's clearly intrigued, his face turning to look at her more directly and his eyebrows hitching up closer to his hairline. "And what else, pray tell, do I not know about you, your majesty?
Later she'll blame the three glasses of whiskey flowing through her on an almost empty stomach as she ducks her head, looking back up, and confessing, "I sometimes talk in my sleep."
Robin chuckles at her, opening his mouth to speak when she continues with a loose-lipped, "Which no man alive would know seeing as I haven't had one in my bed in over two ye -" Her eyes bulge out in surprise, confused where the hell that confession came from. Sure, she hadn't had sex since Graham, and he rarely spent the night, so she's not even sure he knew about her habit of talking out in her sleep. She'd never let any of her black knights that she slept with stay for longer than it took them to find their clothes, and she and Leopold had always slept in separate beds, only going to him when summoned. So, no man probably did know that secret of hers… except for him now.
She closes her eyes in embarrassment, scrunching her eyebrows together and hoping that when she opens them again, this will all be a dream. She will be in her bed, talking to herself about how ridiculous this all is, and Robin will most definitely not be sitting in her castle's kitchen with her as she admits she hasn't fucked anyone in over two years.
Opening her eyes slowly, she's met with nothing but blue eyes and dimples smiling back at her. She groans, rubbing her forehead and finishing off that glass all in one large gulp. She reaches for the bottle while still swallowing her last sip, cheeks puffed out in an uncharacteristic fashion to make room for the mouthful, when his hand touches hers, wrapping his fingers around the neck of the bottle as his palm rests on top of hers.
"I find that rather hard to believe," he quips with a smile, pulling the bottle away from his and topping his glass off. She looks from him to the whiskey bottle, wishing she could drown in that amber liquid instead of having this conversation. As he takes a swig, she watches his Adam's apple bob up and down as he swallows. He pulls the cup away from his mouth, setting it down smoothly as he continues with a cheeky, "Not unless every man in this Storybrooke is blind."
Oh, well, she wasn't expecting that reaction.
His words send a bubble of tipsy laughter spilling from her lips. She tilts her head to the side, letting the melodious sounds of her amusement echo out into the empty room. She looks back at him, a wary smile playing on her lips as she narrows her eyes in confusion.
She's always found Robin attractive, she's not blind, but she was never quite sure if he felt the same way. They'd bonded over her relationship with Roland, often took strolls through one of her many gardens or sat beneath her apple tree together, talking about the woes of raising a young boy. She's been the most open with him out of anyone when it comes to talking about Henry, isn't even sure if some of the other Merry Men and new guests know she has a son at all. She'd trusted him, though, from the moment he so willingly volunteered to follow her into her boobytrapped castle, convincing her to not put herself under a sleeping curse.
She bites her lip, then let's it slip out between her teeth as she tells him, "After the curse broke, I think the evil part of my name really deterred some men from pursuing me."
He grunts in dissatisfaction in the back of his throat, almost to himself. She thinks if it wasn't so quiet in here, she would've missed it all together. "Evil seems a bit of an overstatement," he muses, running a hand through his hair as his eyes rake down her form, fluttering back up almost as quickly as it takes her brain to register that he's checking her out. "Bold and audacious, perhaps, but not evil."
He brings his hand up to push her hair behind her back on one side, letting it rest on her shoulder and give it a small squeeze. The angle is awkward, sitting side by side, so she turns her body, facing him more directly. He moves then too, swinging one leg over the other side of the bench, straddling the wooden piece of furniture so that he can be completely open to her. She blushes at his compliment, letting her eyes drop down as she tries to tamper a flattered smile while he's distracted situating himself in the new position.
She takes a breath, her now three full glasses of whiskey having her feel brave, and runs her foot along his calf. His breath hitches, and she tells herself that is a good sign.
She used to have no problem seducing men back in the enchanted forest when she was at the height of her reign of terror. Now, however, her edges have softened a bit. She's become a mother, and a friend to some, and she knows she's not the same person she was two decades ago when all she thought about was how to kill Snow White. She's unsure how to go about this, but as if being seductive was second nature, like muscle memory, her body starts acting before her mind can fully think.
Regina raises her hand, bringing it to enclose upon his that still rests on her shoulder. Leaning into his touch, she lets her hand trail down his arm, taking her time to feel the muscles in his forearm before stopping on his bicep and giving it a light squeeze.
"You're gorgeous, Regina," he says lowly, almost as if he doesn't want to disturb the bubble of silence around them. Her name falling from his lips like a reverent prayer that makes her stomach feel fuzzy; she's normally your majesty or m'lady, but more and more lately, he's been letting her namesake slip from his lips in their quieter, more secluded, times together. His hand comes down, taking his cup and having an imbibe of the liquor. She does the same, letting her other hand fall to the table. "I'm not sure how often you get called that with all those blind men walking around, but," he smirks flirtatiously, "it's true."
She smiles, looking into his eyes. She's never noticed just how open his eyes are. They seem to tell a great story, one that she wants to know all about. "Thank you," she answers back, trying her best to keep the blush at bay. She's been called many a thing, but hearing Robin, in this moment, just the two of them, admit that he thinks she's beautiful sends a jolt of electricity straight through her, landing and finding it's home in her heart.
The shame she'd felt letting her confession slip is suddenly gone. She doesn't feel judged, feels like he's forgotten her embarrassing admission altogether. Just to be safe, though, she clears her throat, sitting up a bit straighter as he takes another sip of his alcohol. She starts with a, "Well…" turning a bit more, wishing she was in one of her pant suits so she could straddle the bench as well, bringing her body closer to his. The velvet of her navy dress swishes against the stone floor as she reorients herself and says with a coy grin, "If I'm going to stay here and finish this drink, I think it's only fair that you confess something that no one else knows about you."
He smirks, huffing out a light scoff and lifting his eyes to the ceiling as if in deep thought. "Let's see…" he trails off, crossing his arms over his chest, bringing one hand up to rub his chin.
Rolling her eyes in annoyance, she shakes her head, demanding he hurry the hell up. "You're a thief, and you lived in the forest with thirty other men, surely you have at least one embarrassing story."
"Well," he chuckles, placing a hand on her knee. The heat from his hand is warm, and comforting, and the degree to which she likes it is confusing. He's touching her so freely, as if he's always had permission and they are just two long-time lovers sharing a nightcap before bed. "There was this one time, God, Roland must've been but a tiny little lad at the time…" he trails off, smiling to himself.
This better be good after her admission, she thinks darkly.
She crosses her arms on top of each other on the table, pushing her drink to the side. He glances to her hands, then back to her eyes, saying, "Little John and I were on a mission, taking a bit of gold that Nottingham had stolen from the villagers."
"You were stealing stolen money," she deadpans bluntly, looking him square in the eye with a disapproving gaze and a purse to her lips.
He smiles, raises his eyebrows and flippantly says, "You knew I was a thief when you met me." Her raised eyebrows settle back to their rightful place as her mouth rises into a sly smile. He's right, she's known he was a thief even before she knew him here. She'd had wanted posters with his face on them hanging adjacent to Snow's posters so many years ago. Seems like more than a lifetime now.
He gets them back on track, saying he and Little John had successfully acquired the stolen gold and were making their way back to camp when they heard horses behind them. Thinking it was Nottingham's guards, he climbed up the nearest tree, while Little John, who always claimed he would break a tree before he could successfully climb it, hid behind a giant bush.
"I leaned down to get a better look as the horses got closer," he tells her, as if recalling the most fascinating of bedtime stories to Roland. "But I must've leaned too far, or on too skinny of a branch, because the next thing I knew, I was tumbling down into the bush below." He chuckles at the memory, rubbing the back of his neck and adding, "Landed right smack on top of John."
She smiles. Not a totally embarrassing story, but it's… something, at least.
Regina looks at him, joining in his soft laughter as if she'd been there to witness it. "So what happened?"
He leans back, stretching his back before sitting right again. Robin picks up his glass, taking another gulp of the hard liquid before placing it down on the table with an ah, "You see, that's where it gets interesting."
Her eyebrows quirk up, intrigued. He tells her that when he looked up from out of the bush, he wasn't met with Nottingham's men, but her black guards instead.
"Really?" she questions, assuming if he'd ever been caught by her royal guard that they would've brought him in per her order.
He sighs, looking past her shoulder, seemingly lost in his memory. "Your guards had a great time making fun of John and mine's misfortune of finding such terrible hiding spots."
She snorts, taking a sip of her drink before chuckling out, "Well a bush for such a big man really is a bad idea."
Robin agrees and brings his hand to her knee again, giving it a light squeeze before putting it back on the table top. She tries to ignore the voice in her head that wishes his hand would stay there. So she lets her knee rest against his under the table, but places her hand on the table too, inching it closer to his all the while.
"Your men had a bit of fun with us, claiming since we were so terrible at concealing ourselves, they'd put us on full display for all our camp to see."
She eyebrows knit together, shaking her head and silently asking him what he means. His pinky slides over, coming to rest against hers. Pinky to pinky contact shouldn't turn her body to a pile of quivering goo like it is currently doing, so she tells herself that it's all the whiskey she's had.
"They made us strip stark naked and walk all the way home just like that."
Her eyes widen, raising from their not-yet-entwined pinkies to his blue eyes. She chortles, clamping a hand over her mouth as her head falls back, deciding all this whiskey has definitely gone to her head if she's laughing so loudly at his story - though the mental image of his and John's bare asses traveling back to camp is rather amusing. "Guess my men got your gold too, huh? Unless you, uh…" her eyes roam down his body slowly, pointedly, then back up to his face, "found a nice hiding spot for it."
His laughter barks out at that, assuring her he did not, in fact, have to hide the gold in any particular crevice of his body. Her guards gave them each a sack of the gold to cover themselves with as they walked shamefully back to camp.
"That is pretty embarrassing," she giggles, and since when does she giggle? "At least my insubordinate men had some fun at your expense." She grins over at him, lifting the liquor's bottle, now almost empty, to pour just a bit more.
He shakes his head, saying it was definitely one of his more awkward encounters he'd had over the years. He's moved his hand to encircle around all her fingers now, she notices, a faint smile playing on her lips. She squeezes his hand, moving it from under his to interdigitalize with his fingers. Regina looks over at him, thinking that she's going to have a crick in her neck come morning with how long she's had to keep her head turned to see him. She shifts her body, determined to get a better view of him no matter how constricting this damn dress may be. She sighs, letting her shoulders drop when she's finally able to get her dress' material out from under her feet so she can turn as much as possible. They're still not face to face, but this way she doesn't have to keep turning her neck. She's half turned, bringing her left elbow to rest on the tabletop as she lays her head in the palm.
Robin picks up the bottle, topping off their glasses and emptying the contents of the whiskey's container. He tilts his head, raising his eyebrows and congratulating her, saying he's never seen a woman put away so much alcohol in one sitting, and he's impressed.
She puffs out a laugh, rolling her eyes in mock offense and taking another taste of her now fourth glass of the alcohol. She really should have eaten more today, the contents in her stomach not doing much to soak up all she's had to drink thus far.
"I have a question," he starts, making her heart stop. After her confession earlier, she's not sure a round of drunk questioning is what she needs. "What was your favorite part of living in the other realm?"
Oh, well, that's not nearly as bad as she was expecting.
She thinks for a moment, reliving all her most important times of the past twenty-eight years. Adopting Henry, of course, had been the most significant. There were moments at Granny's, and the park, school functions… she realizes all her best moments involve her son in some type of way, a realization that slams reality back into her. She can feel the tears prick the back of her eyes, and she lifts her cup, taking another hearty sip.
Regina blinks quickly, hoping to quell the tears before Robin notices them. She doesn't think she's done a very good job if his concerned eyes are anything to go by. She lets out a small cough before finally admitting, "My favorite part was having my son with me."
He smiles sympathetically, brings their still joined hands to his mouth and places a comforting kiss to her knuckles. The action makes her heart ache. She doesn't want all this attention on her, or the lack of Henry in her life, so she does what she does best and makes a deflecting comment with a shrug. "The indoor plumbing was nice, too."
She'd explained toilets and showers to him and Roland their first month there when she'd given up bathing from a basin and had used her magic to install a proper, running bathroom in her chambers.
He smirks, huffing out am amused breath. He'd been so impressed by the running water that he'd finally convinced her, for Roland's sake of course, to install one for he and his Merry Men on their end of the castle a while back.
"What about you?" she asks, "What's been your favorite part of living in the castle?"
It doesn't take him but a split second, just long enough to draw a breath, as he says, "Getting to spend time with you."
She bites her lips, thinking how his shameless flirting has caused her to blush more tonight than she did all twenty-eight years of her curse. This time, though, instead of looking down or away, she continues staring him directly in the eyes. She likes this side of him, this flirtatious side that he lets slip every now and then, but never this heavily. They're normally surrounded by village idiots or spending time with Roland, so he keeps his banter to a minimum, usually just giving her compliments or letting his hand slide against hers on the way to council meetings or while they're spending time together under her apple tree. Innocent touches, despite how they've planted themselves in her mind like seeds in a garden, that have made the last eight months bearable. Tonight, however, he's more audacious with his words, his compliments, his touches, and she can't find room to complain. Likes it, enjoys it, realizes that she wants his touches to be even bolder, in fact.
He smirks at her, looking down at her lips more pointedly, then languidly bringing his eyes back to rest on hers. "Next question, then," he says, tapping his fingertips on the table. "What is your favorite color?"
"Black," she smirks, scrunching her nose up. "Or red."
He grins, running his hand down the velvet sleeve of her dress, effectively sending a shiver down her spine. "I like this blue on you, too."
She smiles, silently thanking him as he tells her it's her turn to ask a question. And, alright then, she supposes they are really doing this - a weird, slightly drunk version of twenty questions. She wonders if this game even existed in the forest or if he's simply using her tipsy state as a chance to get to know her. She silently hopes that it's the later, wanting to know more about him as well.
Regina lazily brings a hand to her chin, knocking on it gently with her finger while she thinks. Wonders what exactly she wants to ask him, there's so much she doesn't know, and too many things she wants to know. They're all jumbled in her alcohol addled brain, making it harder for her to decipher between each one.
Humming, she slants her head side to side, watching him take another sip of his drink. He's almost finished with his, his third one now, she thinks, picking her own up to bring to her lips. They've no more whiskey at the table, there's a bottle stashed in the cupboard on the other side of the kitchen, but after four, fairly generous, servings, she doesn't think she needs anymore. She's feeling the effects now, she'd been warm and loose limbed before, but now she can feel it going to her head, making her guarded walls come down a bit more than they already have with him.
She muddles through the liquor induced haze in her mind, wondering what exactly to ask someone who has lived in the woods his whole life. Her eyebrows scrunch then, wondering if he has lived in them his whole life, so, well, she supposes now's her chance to find out.
It's taken her longer than need be to come up with, but his hand strumming up and down her bicep hasn't helped either. "Have you lived in the forest your whole life?"
His head goes to one side before righting itself again as he tells her that no, he'd grown up in a small cottage on the outskirts of town with his mother. Robin says his father had been an abusive drunk, always taking out his anger on his mother. He'd died when Robin was ten, and he'd never been so happy to see someone perish. "My mum died five years later, leaving me on my own." He says he had an older brother, one whom had run off when Robin was just eight, trying to escape their father. He'd given the house to an elderly lady of his village after his mom's passing, saying the woman had lost her home to Nottingham's father, who was sheriff at the time, and he couldn't stand to see her go without a roof over her head. His house held too many demons for him, but he'd always hoped that it gave the old woman plenty of good memories. "I suppose that's why I started stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. I never wanted to see another old woman, alone and out on the streets, all because some wanker sheriff wanted too much tax on her house."
She takes a deep breath, never having wondered why he started being a thief but glad to know the backstory anyway. "That was very noble of you," she tells him sincerely, squeezing his arm before capturing his other hand in an embrace.
They sit there, both hands held together, whiskey currently forgotten. They stare into each other's eyes, and she sees him glance down to her lips again. Thinking he's going to kiss her, she licks her lips, parting them in anticipation. She blows out a defeated sigh when he disentangles one of his hands from hers to take a swallow of liquor, then asks, "Where did you get that scar from?"
She raises a hand to her top lip, letting her fingertip skim over the scar that's marred her face for longer than she can remember. "My mother," she tells him flatly, causing his eyebrows to raise. She goes on, shaking her head and telling him how her mother was an awful person. "She would use her magic to trap me, making sure I couldn't go anywhere. She always wanted me to be perfect." Regina takes a quaff, sighing as she swallows and confesses how she'd fallen in love with the stable boy, Daniel, and how she would sneak out during the day when she was supposed to be studying to see him. "I never wanted the life she desired for me. I didn't care about being queen or having magic like she did. I just wanted to live a simple life with Daniel… and away from her."
Robin scoots closer, bringing their joined hands to rest over his heart before he drops them, letting them rest on his thigh. "So what happened?"
Taking a steadying breath, she tells him how her mother caught her one day in the stables. "She didn't know I was there for Daniel, luckily, just thought I was sneaking out of the castle for an afternoon ride." She tells him how mother never approved of her horseback riding, saying a true queen would be carried in a carriage and that she didn't need to concern herself with such peasant acts. Her father loved riding, though, and would often sneak out with her, saddling up his own horse and riding through the meadows of their estate together. "We had some important guests coming for dinner that night, and she didn't want me smelling like horses and hay. She got angry when I told her I wanted to go for a ride before bathing."
"She hit you?" he asks, creasing his brows in disbelief. He lifts his hand, bringing one digit out to trace the scar.
Regina nods, blinking back the tears that have suddenly surfaced at his tenderness. "She was wearing a ring and it caught my lip just right." She brings her hand up to join his above her lip, grazing over his hand. She wraps her hand around his wrist and brings it back down, settling against her knee. "She could've healed it with her magic, but she always said she wanted me to remember what going against her wishes would do to me."
He asks why she never healed it once she learned enough magic, but she simply tells him that by then, it was a part of her, a part of her story, and she found she didn't mind it so much. What she doesn't tell him is that soon after getting that scar, Daniel had been killed and she'd been forced to marry Leopold. He hated her scar, telling her it made her so ugly that he didn't want to look at her for too long. That was fine by her, it meant less time she had to spend in his bed chambers, so, the scar stayed.
Feeling the weight of this moment, Regina sighs, pushing her hair back behind her shoulders before twinning her fingers with his again. He rubs his thumb along the back of her hand, and she smiles.
"So," she says, chuckling slightly, attempting to cut the tensioned air around them. "What other embarrassing stories do you have?"
They both laugh, taking twin sips of their whiskey. Their glasses are almost empty, so she knows this night will end soon. She drinks just a bit slower at that realization. They go on for the next twenty or so minutes, flirting and asking each other questions back and forth, hands mingled or lightly roaming the other's arms and knees pressed together all the while. Their conversation had started out heavy, but they've moved into lighter topics now like favorite animal, best way to spend an afternoon, favorite food, and other simple questions to get to know each other.
It hits Regina around question number sixteen, that if this was a date, she'd call it the best date she's ever been on. She wonders for a second if this is technically a date. Minus the being asked out part, it sure feels like one.
They'd finished their drinks a few minutes ago, simply sitting and enjoying each other's company and roaming hands. She's loose in the joints now, her carefully guarded walls that she keeps up at all times have crumbled in his presence, admitting more to him tonight than she's ever done to anyone. It feels nice though, talking to someone, not having to calculate every word she speaks. She likes being with him, and she just hopes that come morning, when their drunken states have worn off, she won't regret this night.
"It's getting late," she mumbles, leaning closer to his body. His hands have somehow tangled in the back of her hair, pulling her closer than she realized. Her eyes are hooded as she leans in, enjoying the way his fingers scratch lightly at the back of her head. "We should get some sleep. You have to go check the castle parameters tomorrow and I'll have to spend the whole day with Snow and Belle."
He chuckles at that, leaning in to kiss her hairline, stunning her for a second. He says that doesn't sound so bad, but she snickers at that, saying, "I'm going to have a massive hangover, I'm sure, and spending the day with the two perkiest people in this entire castle does not sound like a pleasant day."
Laughing, he pulls back so he can see her more clearly. "You're right," he says, swinging his leg around the bench to stand up. He reaches out a hand in her direction, playfully raising his eyebrows. He takes a dramatic bow, stretching his arm out in her direction, his alcohol induced antics seeming to come out more now that he's on his feet. "May I escort you to your chambers, m'lady?"
She giggles, twirling her legs around and placing her hand in his. She curtsies with a drunken flourish, another laugh escaping her lips and standing upright again, telling him you may.
They stumble their way up to her chambers, giggling and shushing each other all the way. It's late, later than anyone stays up in the castle. There's a few Merry Men patrolling the castle grounds, each taking shifts throughout the night, but they manage to avoid them on their journey upstairs. She doesn't, however, remember her room being this far away from the kitchen.
Stopping outside her door, she shushes him one more time as a whiskey induced giggle comes out again. "Thank you for walking me to my room."
"The pleasure was all mine," he drawls, letting go of her hand for the first time and bowing again. She laughs, bringing a hand to rest over her lips as her shoulders rise. She lets out a loud shhhh as he chuckles, saying her shushing is louder than his talking.
She straighten her shoulders, narrowing her eyes and looking around comically to see if she spies anyone coming. Shrugging her shoulders, she opens her bedroom door and leans against the door jamb.
He looks at her then, so intensely that she fears he can see to the depths of her soul. Her breath thickens when she realizes through her haze what this might look like. Might appear that she's inviting him inside, not that she'd mind that in the least bit, but Robin is a gentleman, and a man she's decided over the last few hours (months) that she wants to get to know more. He's not someone she wants to rush into bed with just for a good fuck, even though a good fuck would be nice right now seeing as it's been over two years.
She smacks her forehead at the memory of her confession earlier, a confession that led them to so much more. At least she got the mental image of him walking naked back to his camp out of this whole ordeal.
"I enjoyed getting to know you more, Regina," he breathes into the space between them, coming to stand closer to her. "You're a wonderful person."
She rolls her eyes slightly, never quite believing when people tell her that. Although no one had said those words except Henry, but, either way, she never could believe it after everything she'd done in her past.
He leans in then, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear and cupping her cheek with his palm. It's warm to the touch, and her breath hitches when she realizes they're close enough that she can smell the whiskey on his breath.
"I'd really like to kiss you goodnight," he whispers, leaning in closer but not quite meeting her lips. He's waiting for her approval, she realizes, and the sentiment makes her smile. Even while inebriated, he's more of a gentleman that any other man she's known in her lifetime.
She nods, tilting her head up closer to his, knowing tipsy or not, she'd want him to do this. He leans in fully, pressing his lips to her. It's gentle, more so than she thought a man like him capable of. It's makes her brow furrow before smoothing out again, wrapping her arms around his shoulders as his hands find purchase on her hips. He presses her more firmly against the doorframe, and she can feel every muscle in his body move against hers. She moans in the back of her throat, bringing one hand up from his shoulders to tangle in the hair at the base of his neck. Regina pulls him closer, wrapping an ankle around his calf.
He breathes out deeply through his nose, letting his tongue trace her lips, beckoning for entrance. She grants it gladly, parting her lips and tangling her tongue with his. He groans at the sensation, running one hand from her hip down to her rear and giving it a soft pat. She smirks into their kiss, breaking apart for a breath before pressing her lips to his again.
They both pull back, panting lightly and staring deeply into the other's eyes. She takes a long breath and pulls her hair to one side, letting it fall over one shoulder. He glances down, taking a piece in between his fingers and twirling it around his digit for a moment. When he looks back to her, she smiles warmly, leaning in to peck his lips again. She pulls away, but he chases her, lips pressing one, two, three more short kisses to her plump lips. She's positive they are rimmed with pink now from the force of their first kiss, can already feel that they are swollen in the best way possible.
He licks his lips as he pulls away, biting his lip to tamp down the smirk she sees blooming on his face. She purses her lips, shaking her head in delight. "Goodnight, Regina," he mumbles, ever so quietly, the aroma of their whiskey soaked breath mingling in the space between them.
"Goodnight, thief," she smirks, pulling him down to kiss him one last time. She knows tomorrow, when the alcohol has worn off and the castle if abuzz with life again, her walls will go back up, hiding her true self from him again. She doesn't want that, though, wants to be open like she has been tonight with him always, maybe not in front of other people, but certainly with him and Roland. He pecks her lips one final time, turning to leave. She grabs his arm, turning him to face her. "Robin," she breathes, stepping closer and wrapping her arms around him in a hug. He returns the gesture, pressing a kiss onto the top of her head. "We should do this again sometime."
He smiles brightly at her words, pulling back to look her in the eyes. "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea." He places another kiss to her lips, bumping his nose against hers as he pulls away.
As he turns again, making his way back down to where he and his men sleep, she finally let's go of his hand, and she can't help but think Roland's birthday turned out alright after all.