Bittersweet Destiny

Chapter 2

They had been walking for what felt like hours. Robin's men had passed them a long time ago, riding the horses they had just stolen from the King and carrying her carriage and gold with them. Why hadn't they taken her with them? Or why hadn't they left her at least a horse? Had her carriage been too heavy for three horses? She doubted it.

Regina couldn't help but wonder if Robin was making her walk in circles to confuse her about the camp's location - as if she would go and tell her dear husband the whereabouts of his major problem. No, she would never. Not because she wanted to protect Robin of Locksley and his filthy thieves, but because she liked when Leopold struggled, trying to catch the bandits.

The Queen remembered the countless times that the King had invited her to the council meetings, and she had to sit and listen how the Merry Men had evaded the King's Guard. It never failed to amuse her. Maybe her life was not peachy, but the thieves were making Leopold's harder than a King's life was supposed to be. And for that, she was thankful.

Regina then noticed a tree with a flyer that she had seen a while ago, it was a flyer that stated that a reward of 100 golden coins would be given to whoever caught Robin of Locksley or any other member of the Merry Men. She knew it was the same flyer because someone had written 'We will never betray the Prince of Thieves' on top of the picture and had drawn a moustache over Robin's sketch - which didn't looked nothing alike to the real Robin. Unconsciously, she moaned in discomfort, her feet her killing her, her back ached and who knew how much longer Robin would have her walk.

"What's wrong, your majesty? Not used to the fresh air?" Robin asked in a mocking tone.

"More like not used to walking in circles with a moron who thinks I haven't noticed." she snapped.

He looked surprised that she had noticed that they were walking in circles, as if it took a higher level of intelligence to realise that. Regina rolled her eyes at the thief. Did he seriously think she was a dumb and helpless Queen?

"Do you want to rest for a while?" he offered.

"Why can't we just get to your stupid camp already?"

"It's far away."

"I bet, if we keep walking in circles..."

"It is still a long walk, even if we walk in a straight line."

Regina exhaled annoyed and sat on a tree's root that had arched outside the earth. Robin sat in front of her and studied the Queen with curiosity. She looked so different from what he had imagined. Yes, her beauty lived up to the expectations he had after hearing tales about her, but there was something different about Regina, something that other Queens didn't have. It was as if her lips wanted to sing a sad song and her eyes had held too many tears - more than any woman should ever hold in a life time.

The Queen was studying the thief as well; past his more-than-alright body and face, there was something that intrigued her: his past. What was Robin of Locksley before he became the Prince of thieves? Where had he come from? Locksley was not even part of King Leopold's kingdom.

"What were you? Before you turned into a thief?" Regina asked, breaking the silence between them.

"Why do you care?" he replied with another question. He wasn't angry, just confused at her sudden interest.

"I've heard all the tales about Robin of Locksley, the hero," the Queen said, "But I've never heard anything about Robin of Locksley, the man."

"I was just a man,"

"I don't believe that," Regina raised an eyebrow "Where is Locksley? What are you doing here?" she asked. After seeing that he wouldn't answer her questions she added, "Your Queen asked you a question, Robin of Locksley."

Robin sighed, he hated talking about his past. It opened scars and reminded him of betrayals; somethings should stay in the past, and never be mentioned again, but he knew that she wouldn't drop the topic, so it was better to get over with it "You are not my Queen. But if you must know, I was a knight once," the thief said.

Regina's eyebrows almost disappeared into her hair-line. The Prince of Thieves had a title once? One that was legit? Well, this was a big shocker. Then again, that explained his impeccable appearance, and his gentle way of treating her and speaking - even if sarcasm and mockery got the best of him most of the times.

"What happened?"

"I refused to collect more taxes," he explained, "The people were starving and the King wanted more and more money, his greed was limitless."

"So, you just ran away? Into my husband's kingdom?" she asked disappointed; she hadn't expected that, as the hero that people claimed him to be, he would have stayed and fight.

"No," Robin said after a while and took off the leather wristbands he had and uncovered a set of marks around his wrist, "First, they hung me and starved me, for days," he explained, "Then, they asked me if I still thought that the King was greedy. That's how I got these." the bandit took his shirt off and turned around so that Regina could appreciate the scars that had stayed as a result of the lashes he had received.

Regina felt tempted to lean in and touch the scars on his toned back, and it took all the force she had in to restrain herself of doing so. "And then you ran away?" she asked after clearing her throat.

"No." the thief said dryly and his eyes went dark.

"What happened?" this time, Regina's question didn't come out of curiosity, but out of concern - even if she couldn't bring herself to admit it, the way that his happy-self had turned into a cold and distant-self had shocked her.

"That's a story for another time," he replied putting his shirt back on and standing up, "We should get going." Robin added, offering her a hand to help her and then, started walking.

Regina followed him close behind, silence surrounded once again. The Queen looked at the Prince of Thieves as they walked, as the sun went down and the darkness of the night started to wrap them, but she didn't spoke another word. She couldn't help but going back to the moment when Robin's face had changed, cheerfulness being replaced by sorrowfulness. It only made her more interested in the man. Why would have he endured all the torture and then leave for something else? Had he been hurt? Had someone hurt him? Would he ever open to her? She doubted it, after all, she wouldn't open to him about her past, so it was only fair not to pry on his.

The stars were already shining in the sky above them when she heard music and laughs, her eyes were directed to a bonfire that burned few yards away from them. She prayed to the Gods that the bonfire was the Merry Men's camp, she didn't know how much longer her feet would endure this torturous walk. To her relief, Robin guided her towards the bonfire.

"Well, your majesty," he said once they were in front of the burning flames, "Welcome to the Merry Camp."

The Queen hoped her facial expressions didn't betray her. But she was awed by the camp, the way some men sang to cheer the environment, while another group of men cooked dinner. Peace and happiness reigned the place, in a way that she had never felt before.

"You must be tired," Robin commented after a while, "I'll walk you to your tent so you can get some rest before dinner." he said and extended an arm in the direction he wanted her to walk.

Robin walked behind her, his hand close to her lower back, never touching the Queen's skin. But Regina knew it was there, she could feel the warmth of his palm against her back and she felt safe. It was the first time, since Daniel's death, that she felt safe. And it relaxed her and scared her at the same time.

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