Hopin’ and Prayin’ and Wishin’
The shadows blanket the road this far out. They stretch from the tops of the evergreen trees and cast most of the road in darkness. Except for tonight, there are a few bright beams filtering down from the full moon in the sky. The only sounds come from the crickets and wildlife beyond the pines and it’s a solitary, lonely kind of peaceful.
She’s made a habit out of coming here; slipping out just after Henry’s gone to sleep and spending a precious few hours hoping. Hoping for what, she isn’t quite sure. Maybe for the resolute acceptance of how things have turned out. For her heart to stop aching and move on already. Sometimes even, she’s loathe to admit, she wishes for a freak accident that would take Marian away and right the universe again.
But mostly, she hopes he’ll appear out of thin air, grinning how he does, as he steps back into Storybrooke and into her life.
She knows it won’t happen, that he might as well be in another realm altogether. She understands why he’s gone, respects it even, but it doesn’t keep her from peering out down the road and wondering where on the other side he could be tonight.
The pavement is cool beneath her thin slacks but she likes sitting at the very edge where she can pretend the red line in front of her crossed legs is the only barrier keeping them apart. As if the two of them sit apart, the protection spell a curtain that only need be pulled back and they’d be face to face. She lifts the flask next to her and the moon beams off its shiny surface as she indulges in another sip. She’s not drunk, but the alcohol numbs things just enough, blurs the edges so she doesn’t actually cry. And it would be all to easy to let herself embrace her emotions and sob in self pity.
He was supposed to be her second chance; her redemption for the awful woman she’d been—and he was, for however brief a time. His integrity made her better. His morals brought her back to that seventeen year old girl she once was. Just “Regina”, not “Her Majesty” or “The Evil Queen”. He saw the real Regina under all those layers of guilt and anger and regret. And perhaps what makes her feel more despondent than anything is that she’ll never get a third chance. She got so unexpectedly lucky with Robin. She didn’t deserve him to begin with, but only he could have been her soulmate. Only he could understand every sordid detail of her past and still have the audacity to not only love her, but choose her.
Regina runs a hand through the front of her dark hair as she sighs. She misses him. She misses having another person unconditionally in her corner, misses not always feeling like the third wheel, misses the smell of damp earth and aged redwood.
She wants to scream to the heavens, or this “author”, or whatever higher power there might be that it’s so unfair! Only she knows damn well how fair her pain is; how cosmic and condemned her story has read. It’s her punishment for choosing revenge when she could have chosen forgiveness. Daniel’s death was the great catalyst of her life. And while she knows there are many who let their grief morph into hatred, there had been another way. It would have been harder, maybe taken longer, but she might have come out the other side a better person; a hero.
She won’t make that mistake again.
While it feels just as bad as it had years ago, even worse actually; she cannot tarnish what Robin stood for, just to try to ease the ache. If anyone was undeserving, it was that man. He had made mistakes the same as any of them, sure, but he worked for his redemption. Robin had found a way to do what she never could. He turned his pain into purpose. A purpose full of love and selflessness and renewal.
And now he’s been hurt once more, entangled in the web of her retribution; collateral damage for the penance she was paying. He had not known just what loving the Evil Queen would cost him, even if she had truly made a change. Yet, he had opted to accept the shit hand he was dealt and if only it weren’t for her he wouldn’t be hurting because of it. He might even be overjoyed to have his late wife back; his family reunited.
She prays for that as she slowly pushes herself to her feet now. She decides it’s the only thing she can do to wish him well, Marian too. If only she could have granted him a memory spell before he’d gone so he could forget about the wreckage she’d brought into his heart. Of course, her thief would never have taken the easy way out. And Regina can’t help but to hold on to the thought of him remembering her, remembering the true, sacred, magical connection they shared.
She suddenly has to lift her fingers to her face to brush away an errant tear. She will not feel sorry for herself, at least not anymore tonight.
Staring out down the still, vacant road out of Storybrooke, she sniffles and squares her shoulders to reign in her emotions and she hopes above all else that Robin finds the kind of happiness she knows he deserves.
This chapter of her story is closing, and she needs to let the dust settle on the pages and find a way to move on. If her heart is going to take it’s time mending, then she must stop her late night visits. She has a son at home and new, delicate friendships, and a town that seems forever under threat, and a population of people who she owes debts so great she may never repay them. But she must try.
She turns on her heel and heads back to her silver benz parked just off the shoulder, opens the door and gives one last, longing gaze down the vacant road.
In her mind, the protected barrier shimmers and parts and her handsome thief appears, Roland at his side, tiny hand clutched in his. Regina abandons the door, unconsciously letting her feet carry her forward a few paces. She let’s her eyes slip closed and smiles wide with the image of them behind her lids.
“Regina”, he says.
And it’s not until she reopens her eyes that it occurs to her the tone of his voice had not been quite right.
As if awaking from a dream, her focus snaps back to reality and he’s still in front of her, rushing towards her more accurately, his arms outstretched. The the next moment she can feel him against her chest, can smell his woodsy scent right under her nose.
“Oh thank God, Regina!”, he nearly cries in relief and it’s all she can do to catch her brain up to what’s happening. Maybe she’d had more to drink than she thought? He pulls out of the embrace, but doesn’t completely withdraw his touch. He must have sensed her shock, perhaps too overwhelmed to see her to notice she didn’t hug back.
Her eyes scan over his body, willing herself to believe it’s really him, but they land instead on the dimple faced child grinning up at her.
“Gina! We come to visit you!”, his little voice hits her ears and she raises her eyes back to Robin’s anxious gaze. The acceptance breaks around her and she throws her arms around his neck, afraid he might disappear.
It’s the only thing she manages to say while she’s this overcome with emotions. He holds her back, just as tight and whispers her name quietly against her head and she finally finds her voice.
“Wha—why—what are you doing here?”, she breathes in disbelief. Her hand falls to Roland’s head below and caresses his locks to finally acknowledge him, but she needs to grasp her current reality before she makes a fool of herself.
“It’s Zelena”, he tells her with a bit of disdain, “We’re all in danger. I had to come back to warn you all, to help fight”
He glances down at his now frightened son and lifts him into his right hip for a soothing hug while Regina blinks in confusion.
“What are you talking about? Where is Mari—“
“We can’t talk about it now”, he cuts her off urgently, gesturing with a discreet nod to the boy in his arms. “Listen, I promise I will explain everything later. But we don’t have a lot of time to gather the others and make a plan”.
He slides a gentle hand down her arm as if to assure her it’ll be alright despite his ominous warning. Roland wiggles in his grasp and his father sets him on his feet a moment before he bounds off a yard or two and squats down to examine a rock on the pavement.
“I’m just so happy to see you, Regina”, Robin cups her cheek in his chilled palm, “didn’t think I would again”.
His words rush off his tongue before his lips are pressed to hers, desperate and needy, fueled by the current perils only he knows they face and his all consuming love for her. It is a reunion kiss that can only come from resolutely believing they’d be separated permanently.
Regina responds with all the heart she can muster, their lips moving fluidly together as if the last few weeks had not eclipsed. When they finally break for air they are both grinning like fools, foreheads resting together as their breathing falls in sync, and she swears she suddenly feels whole again, as if her arm had been missing and has just now been returned. She lets the feeling wash over her, soaks it in selfishly for a minute because she knows how fleeting this absolute contentment is now.
There are still a thousand questions running through her head, a dark cloud churning and billowing over their little town and every life in it, but with Robin’s hand in her own things feel possible.
She tightens her grip and they start toward her car, ushering Roland away from his picture in the dirt as they go. They let their hands slip apart to round the car and Robin opens the back so Roland can hop inside excitedly, insisting that he’s mastered belting himself in. Once he’s safely buckled and shut in, Robin pulls his handle but catches Regina’s eyes over the hood.
They both have a flurry of emotions hidden in their expressions, but one sticks out above them all and Regina knows this one to be the only true importance in the world.
“I love you”, Robin declares, the lines around his eyes wrinkled from the joy on his face.
Her chest swells with such happiness that her dark eyes moisten with tears and she doesn’t care that her voice cracks when she finally speaks the words herself.
“I love you”.
FIC REC! FIC REC!
I wish things had worked out like this during that whole S4 debacle for Regina and Robin. I love the way it glides through to the end and the hope. So nicely done!