We Can Love Again

A Stumble in the Path

Her whole world was black and white as she awoke- her stomach ached, her head was basically a pound of lead... It was like someone ran over her with a truck multiple times.

It took a while for her to actually open her eyes, and when she did, she saw a ceiling laced with straw and covered with mildew. Regina could hear voices around her; they boomed and echoed through her head in a nonstop motion. She let out a groan as she forced herself to sit up on the bed, not even wanting to think about what had happened the night before. At least she knew she was back with the others.

"What did you do last night, you look absolutely terrible," she heard Emma say to her.

Regina managed to muster up another famously sarcastic smile. "Have you ever had beer before?"

"Everyone has," Emma replied, as if it were obvious.

"Well it... Was a mistake." She muttered, suddenly standing up to bolt to the bathroom. Before she could make it, though, David stood up to stop her.

"No no, not in here you aren't!" He said, spinning her around towards the window. She bent herself over so she was halfway outside the window, the air soon filled with the sound of the queen retching. Everyone in the room made faces as they stood and listened to her puke.

After a few seconds, Regina pulled herself up and wiped over her mouth.

"The first time is the worst, promise," Emma said as she suppressed an amused grin.

"Can't you just use magic to make yourself feel better?" Snow asked, trying to be supportive.

Regina gave her a cold look. "No, it doesn't work that way." She muttered, then turning to Tinkerbell. "Can you conjure me up some pills or something?"

The blonde gave her a look. "How do we ask for things nicely?"

Regina rolled her eyes. "Can you please give me some pills so I can not die today?"

"Okay, fine. Try these," she said, handing her three small pills and a glass of water.

"Oh come on love, if you're going to be a drinker you have to be able to handle the mornings," Hook told her, watching her swallow.

"I don't think I'm drinking that stuff ever again." Regina said bitterly, beginning to pace the room. "What did I do last night, I don't remember a thing!"

Tinkerbell laughed. "I have no idea. When you two came back you looked practically dead. He carried you all the way back from the pub."

Her eyes widened. "He carried me home? Oh God..."

"You'll have to ask him the rest of it," Tinkerbell said, "hopefully you didn't say anything too stupid."

This was not good. She knew it was a mistake to try that stuff.

"I'm gonna go talk to him," Regina finally sighed, "I'll see what he has to say... If he even wants to see me again."

Though she was still weak, she was able to disappear in purple smoke. She needed answers.

"Are you sure I didn't say anything insanely stupid last night?"

Robin laughed at her. "You didn't, I promise." He replied, thinking in the back of his mind how she could hardly breathe because of her laughter. He wouldn't tell her about it, no, it would be his little secret on her. And because it was a secret, he didn't have to tell anyone else how badly he wanted to hear her laughter again.

"We just talked about stuff." He said with recurrence, making her slightly less frazzled.

"How come you didn't wake me up?" Roland pouted, looking up at her with sad round eyes. Regina hugged him tighter in her lap.

"I would have, but you were fast asleep when I got there." She said to him, turning back to Robin, who was giving her a concerned look.

"Are you feeling okay? You look kind of pale," he asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm just a tad under the weather, that's all."

"Us merry men have gotten pretty used to hangovers," Robin said, "they don't bother me anymore."

"I won't want you to be sick!" Roland exclaimed, "then you can't cook yummy food for us anymore!"

"Oh thanks son, love you too." Robin gave the little boy a look as Regina laughed and gave him a small tap on the nose.

"I'm fine, I promise."

He believed her, but there were one thing that still stuck in his mind- what she had said about her supposedly almost meeting at the pub before.

"...There was something you did say though," he said cautiously, watching her face fall instantly to worry, "you said something about Tinkerbell leading you to me with magic. Is this... True?"

Regina thought her heart stopped beating. She stared at him with her mouth slightly open,

completely frozen. She told him that?!

I'm never drinking again.

"Umm... Yeah... I did. It was a long time ago, when I was alone and... She found me, and told me that I needed love to be happy. She lead me to that pub, pointed to you, and told me to go to you because you would make me happy." Tears began forming in her eyes as she continued; Roland stared up at her curiously, for he didn't know what was going on.

"I couldn't do it though... I couldn't trust myself to actually be happy again. Darkness was all I had... I was stupid enough to go back to it because I thought that was what I would always have."

Robin thought it was all too far fetched to be true. But somehow he believed her, and it made him sad, but it also made a part of him excited. The fairy was telling her that he would make her happy. It was a little too much to handle all at once.

"Are... Are you mad at me?"

He looked into her dark brown eyes, seeing nothing but desperation.

"No, not at all," Robin said kindly, "I would've been scared to tell me too."

A flood of relief came over her. The man in front of her was beginning to resemble pure perfection- she told him one of her biggest secrets, and he didn't seem freaked out to the slightest bit. It was either that or he was a very good actor; in both cases, though, Regina was glad.

Just then, a shadow brushed over them through the window as someone walked past, averting her attention from Roland and Robin. She saw a man wearing a dark cloak walking in the fields; and for one brief moment, she saw his face- Rumplestiltskin.

Her eyes remained frozen on him, paralyzed, a million thoughts running through her head at once as she wondered why he was there.

"Are you sure you're okay?"

She most certainly wasn't.

"Yeah, everything's fine," she said, realizing her breathing was extremely shallow. "Just... Let me get some air. I'll be right back."

Regina then sat Roland down in his father's lap and headed for the door, feeling on the verge of passing out again. She was already dreading talking to the man- he absolutely infuriated her.

The air outside was nice and cool, a pleasant spring morning. The colors were very dignified; bright green grass against a baby blue sky. It seemed to mock her as she marched across the field towards him, wanting nothing more than for him to leave and to quit disturbing the peace.

"Hello, dearie," there it was, his usual annoyingly accented tone. "Fancy seeing you here."

Regina folded her arms across her chest crossly. "You knew I'd be here. Why?"

Rumple simply flashed her a grin. "Surprised to see me not stuck in Neverland?"

"I knew you'd eventually get out," she said, "you can't be mad at me about that- we saw our chance and we took it. I killed Pan, you should be thanking me."

"And how'd you manage to do that?"

Her gaze hardened. "Wouldn't you like to know,"

Rumple turned his attention back to the window, where Robin and Roland could be faintly seen in conversation with each other.

"Now who are they?" He asked in a taunting tone, already triggering a sensitive spot in the former queen. "Did you already give up on the son you already have?"

"Shut up," Regina said defensively. "I've done nothing of the sort."

"Then... Who are they?"

"Friends. It's really none of your business, is it Rumple." She grew more tense as his imaginary hold on her tightened. She hated how he always did this to her- made her feel like she was worthless. She wished with all her heart he would just go away and leave her alone; he was always looming over her like a heavy cloud.

"I just think it's amusing how you think you can fool these people into thinking you're capable of change."

There it was.

"Oh, I see what you're doing," Regina lowered her voice, sending him a dark smile as she did so, "you're jealous because I'm happy and you're not."

Rumple let out a small laugh, seeing the defiance showing in her eyes. "You'll break soon enough. They'll see who you really are."

She pointed a threatening finger towards him, her anger edging to burst from inside of her. "You don't control me, Rumplestiltskin. I can be happy if I want, and nobody's going to get in my way."

He turned his head slightly to the side, clicking his tongue. "I don't think I like that tone of yours, dearie." With a wave of his hand, a force hit the woman so hard it knocked the air right from her lungs. Her hands flew to her throat as she struggled to breathe, in a moment where her instincts took over and she forgot what she was capable of.

Regina then knocked the man down so he was laying on his back on the grass, gasping for breath as she seethed with fury.

"I can be happy if I damn well please!" She yelled towards him, raising her hand to create a ball of fire that danced in her palm, "I am so sick of you ruining my life! You're a bastard, you don't deserve to-"

"Regina!" Came a voice, one that struck her with fear immediately. Robin came running out of his house with a wild confusion in his expression, exchanging glances between the man on the ground and the woman holding a bright yellow fireball.

"What are you doing?!"

Before she could open her mouth, she noticed the small figure trailing behind Robin, mostly hidden by his legs- Roland. She quickly extinguished the fireball, feeling extremely faint.

"He- he attacked me..."

"Out of nowhere? Attacked you?" He demanded, his voice sounding uncharacteristically cold and uninviting.

"Well- sort of-" she quickly gestured to the man beneath her. "Do you know who he is?"

"...a man?"

"The dark one, Rumplestiltskin!" Regina said with frustration, "we have a past together, he's not a good person at all-"

"So you threaten to kill him." Robin cut her off, staring down at the man who looked nervously up at him.

"Oh don't tell me you're actually buying this crap," she scoffed, "he's the most powerful man in this realm, I swear!"

"Regina...?" Came a small voice with no owner, though Regina automatically knew who it belonged to. Roland peeked his head out from behind his father and locked eyes with her, her heart feeling like it was slowly being crushed when she saw his tearstained face.

"I'm scared."

Robin quickly caught his son by the arms and lifted him in his own. "Regina I think you need to go home now."

He didn't even look at her as he spoke.

"Look- this isn't my fault!"

"Just... Go home."

He cradled his son's head as he softly cried softly into his shoulder, slowly turning to walk away from the scene.

"No, wait!" Regina almost cried, her eyes never leaving them as they walked towards the small cottage house.

She watched them leave her there alone- just like Owen; just like Henry.

"I told you, dearie... You can't hide from the truth forever."

His words were but muffled echoes through her head. Regina didn't look at him, instead she focused her eyes on the rolling green fields, suddenly feeling so lost in such a perfect world.

Then she vanished in a cloud of purple smoke.

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