A/N: Hello readers! Yes I'm back for good this time! A shorter chapter, kind of a filler too, though next chapetr will definitely be longer aaaaand will have much more fluffy moments between maaaaany of our characters. ;)
Keep asking questions too, always liking to answer them!
Many people asked: "When is Robin going to find out about the baby?"
*cough* Thursday *cough*
Julie asked, on a more personal matter: "What will you teach?"
Well, French is my mother tongue, so French, although I can also teach it as a Foreign Language. My dream is to, eventually, go to Great-Britain and teach over there. (Preferably in Cardiff, where I can peak on Dr Who and Sherlock's sets). ;)
Also, thank you for the kind words regarding my new degreed situation! I send you all kisses!
29. Eighty-third sunset
The group was a little shaken as they left the woods back towards town.
Rumpelstiltskin had been quickly hailed by the others who wanted to know if he knew anything about this Thea, to which he had shaken his head gravely, adding 'I fear this is a whole new and unknown territory we are marching on' to a worried Snow.
Regina was walking side-to-side with Jefferson, checking now and then on Elsa's still unconscious form. The Frozen Queen was cold as death, more so than usual, her silver hair somewhat matted with whatever their new foe had done to her. Her heart was beating slowly, as if she had been put under some sort of comatose spell.
Jefferson, whose eyes were darting to the woman in his arms on a regular basis, didn't fail to shoot a soft elbow to Regina's side, his eyes pointedly going to her belly, then to Robin, still walking behind them.
Regina didn't understand at first, but when her eyes fell to her stomach and saw her swollen belly showing a little under her loose coat, she nodded her thanks and muttered the glamour spell quietly under her breath.
She was awfully lucky that Robin hadn't looked up and down at her during their confrontation of the new witch, for he would have certainly seen, rendered visible by the lack of magic in the place, the proof of his offspring growing inside the woman he still cared about.
She was lucky Jefferson had noticed.
The water wall surrounding the town looked even more threatening now that they knew its true purpose, and as they passed close to it on their way to the hospital, Snow walked to Regina and eyed the water, her brow furrowed. "Do you think there is a way to defeat her?"
Regina shook her head. "I don't know. But Kida and her people will probably give us hints on that tomorrow. Apparently, their weapons can wound her."
Snow nodded. A pause formed, then the princess's fingers wrapped around Regina's wrist. "Why did they abduct you if they weren't the bad ones?"
"They didn't speak the language at that time. Somehow, Kida has learnt it. From whom, I don't know."
Snow nodded again, then added in a whisper: "I hope they're not after the baby."
Regina felt her blood freeze and her hand went to her stomach without thought, catching the curious glance of Robin nearby, one she neglected to see. "I hope not."
Dr Whale was mildly surprised to hear that Elsa had been hurt during her captivity. Ruby had told him she had smelled something odd in the forest, something to do with ice, and they had both guessed it had to do with the Frozen Queen.
"And why haven't you told any of us that exactly?" Tinkerbell might have been short in height, but the glare she sent the doctor's way could have set a house on fire.
He had the decency to cower a little. "We thought...you knew..."
"Well you were wrong." The fairy held her chin high, and Regina felt somehow proud of her little pesky friend. She had some character, and it suited her impulsive temper quite perfectly.
Marian arrived soon after Whale called for a nurse, and she walked to her husband, asking quietly what had happened.
With a glance Regina's way, he explained.
The maid then walked to the Queen, to her surprise and that of most people present.
"Have you been harmed?"
Regina knew she was referring to the blow to the head that was meant to still hurt her, and she shook her head softly, a small smile forming on her lips. "No, I haven't, thank you."
The nurse nodded back, mirroring her smile. Some kind of mutual respect was slowly forming between the two. "Roland tells me he offered you a bouquet too."
"Yes, he did. I was...pleasantly surprised."
"He likes you a lot."
"It is mutual."
Marian smiled again then moved back to the matter at hand, Elsa, still unconscious.
Whale and Marian took several measures: the heartbeat, the blood-pressure, the dilating of the pupils, so on.
Then, after a while, Whale called for another nurse to help move the patient to an empty room, and he turned to the group that had remained, meaning all except for Rumpelstiltskin, who had gone back to the library to ask Belle to search her books about a certain Thea.
"Elsa isn't in good shape, I'm afraid. She is dehydrated, and I doubt she has been fed enough during her captivity. She surely passed out of extreme fatigue, but I think she has somehow been...tortured."
"What do you mean?" Snow was gripping her husband's arm as if it was a life-line.
"I have examined Elsa twice before, and both times, her body temperature was around 30°C. Colder than any human I know." He paused. "Today, it is of 35°C."
"What does that mean?" Regina stepped forward. "Has her magic been altered?"
"I have no means of knowing that, as you well know. Science is not magic. But we will know when she awakes." He paused again. "I would advise some of you to remain by her side if she wakes today, although I doubt she will."
Regina nodded and exchanged a quick glance with Jefferson. "We will stay."
Whale nodded. "Good. Has any of you been wounded?" There was a general 'No' and he nodded, satisfied. "Then I bid all of you the good-day."
"Thank you, Viktor." Whale sent Snow an uneasy glance. Regina was reminded of a time when the princess had told her that, in a moment of...weakness, her cursed self, Mary Margaret, had slept with the man. And if at the time she had laughed at the irony of it all, David's look at that moment was quite sobering.
All left the hospital: Tink told Regina she'd go to Elsa's room at Granny's to fetch some clothes, while Emma offered to have Henry for the night so she didn't worry.
Jefferson would have enquired the same about Grace, but Snow beat him to it. "I think she'll like the company." she added, quite playfully at that.
Robin remained though, saying he'd wait for his wife's shift to be over so they went home together, when in truth he shadowed Regina's path and waited with her and the Hatter in Elsa's room.
The sun started setting outside, while Regina sat at Elsa's side, Jefferson pacing around the room restlessly, while Robin watched the other man with curiosity painted all over his face.
When it became certain that none would speak, the archer sighed deeply and pinched the bridge of his nose. "Can I ask you something?"
Regina's eyes met his, as if there was an invisible magnet in his gaze that would always capture her own. "Ask away."
"How did you two meet?" The question could have posed problem if he hadn't pointed at her then Jefferson rather than her and the currently sleeping queen.
Regina exchanged a glance with Jefferson who met hers with a smirk and an amused look. It was he who spoke first. "Why? Do you wonder how a woman like her managed to catch the eye of a wonder like me?"
Regina rolled her eyes and gestured him to shut up, as she could see Robin's blood starting to boil in his veins from afar. "Don't listen to him. But he is right. Why do you want to know?"
Robin shrugged. "I don't recall seeing him in the Enchanted Forest, and when Zelena was defeated, there he was, as if popping out of thin air..."
Jefferson made a face proving the archer a point. "If I may speak up, that's not a wrong assumption. I was rather absent of this whole ordeal. But with good reason." Regina looked at him curiously, as she too had wondered more than once. "After being reunited, Grace and I lived for a while on our own in the mansion. Then, when your curse was reverted, we appeared right back at our old shack and not with everyone else. Grace wanted to go and find you all, but...I thought it not safe. So we remained there..."
"For a year? You missed all the fun..." Regina chuckled quietly.
Jefferson mirrored her laugh. "Now I know... Well... How can I put it? I was rather concerned I would not be able to have my daughter for myself after being parted for so long..." Regina nodded her understatement. She too, had Henry gone to the Enchanted Forest with them, would have wanted him for herself and not for anyone else's. "Then...when we came back minus our memories, it was as if we had never left the mansion. Except Grace became restless. When words spread Henry had come back from New-York, she pushed me to go back to town. So we did. But we fell onto quite the company first..." he winced.
Regina's eyes widened. "You were...transformed? Into flying monkeys?"
Jefferson nodded and shuddered. "That was awful. As if you were conscious of what you did but unable to do anything you want... As if looking out a train window and not being able to stop its course."
"I'm sorry, I was not aware..."
"I did not exactly want to tell anyone either..." He chuckled darkly.
Robin cleared his throat, bringing the other two's attention back at him. "Well...that doesn't tell me how you have met."
Jefferson smirked again. "You're really not going to let this go, are you, archer?
Robin shook his head. "I am not. Hatter."
It didn't go amiss to Regina that the title sounded awfully like an insult in Robin's mouth, but she didn't say anything. It wasn't her place to tell.
"Well..." she spoked up, "it's quite the story..."
She nodded Jefferson to start the story, and it unveiled again, except this time, it wasn't Grace and Henry's excited gazes that met their talk, but Robin's obvious jealousy.
She knew what he felt. When she looked at Marian, she too felt that pang of jealousy upon thinking that the other woman had known parts of Robin and Roland's life that she would never know about...
Yes, it hurt...