We Can Love Again

The Merry Men

There was a knock on his door once again. Robin got up to answer it; he was surprised Regina was back- a good kind of surprised. It had been a long night since she last came over.

When he opened the door, though, it wasn't Regina who was there.

"Hey Robin, haven't seen you for a while." A large, hefty man said with an inviting smile.

Robin smiled back, allowing him and the rest of the men in.

"What have you been up to?" One of the men asked, taking a seat among the others in his living room.

"I've been working on fixing the horse pen in the back." Robin lied with a surprising amount of smoothness to it.

"Hi guys!" Roland came in the room with a wide grin on his face, excited to see his dad's friends again.

"Nice to see you Roland," Little Jon said, moving over on the couch to allow the boy some room as he climbed up. "You're looking happy this morning."

"I am happy," Roland let out a giggle.

"Well we missed you, lad." Everyone joined in an agreement, all sending the four year old good hearted smiles.

"So what do I owe this pleasant surprise?" Robin asked, trying to backtrack in his mind where he had last left off with his merry men.

"We're going on a run tonight, don't you remember?" One of them said, "we've been planning this one for weeks."

Robin sighed. He completely forgot about that.

"Right, that's tonight," he muttered, already feeling stressed out. He would have to find someone to babysit his son, and somehow he would have to get the message to Regina.

"Now, King Author's fort will be pretty tough to get out unseen, but if we come in from the south side we have a pretty good chance at getting away."

"I scoped out the area," another one of them said, "it's not that big, the woods will be our ally in this one. The problem is, his army will have weapons near or even on them when we come."

It felt like an eternity since he last visit with his men; he did miss this, planning their escapades, feeling the rush that came with it. In all honesty, though, being caught up with Regina nearly erased his mind completely of all his duties as the head of the merry men.

"We need that crown," he told his group, "do you know how many weeks we could feed the people down at the village for?"

Everyone gave collective murmurs in agreement.

Just then, there was a knock at the door once again. Robin's face immediately froze- impeccable timing. Roland was up and running towards the door before he could even blink himself out of his in total shock.

The door swung upon and there stood Regina and Henry, both their expressions turning extremely guilty as they glanced around the room.

"Oh, sorry, didn't know you had company!" Regina said, flustered, "Henry and I can come back later."

"Mom, those are the merry men! I want to meet them!"

She shot her son a threatening look at his outburst.

"Regina, you have to stay!" Roland sided with Henry, giving her a sad look with his eyes.

"You should, it'll give you a chance to meet this group of mine." Robin said in a pretty convincing tone.

Regina still looked extremely doubtful, but she let Henry tug her through the doorway.

"I knew it was a girl! I knew it!" Little John exclaimed victoriously, "there's no way you can be this absent minded without there being a girl in the picture."

Robin's face reddened slightly as he tried keeping his composure. "Okay, fine- I admit it."

Henry was practically dragging his mom towards them now. Regina didn't want to meet a bunch of rowdy guys that were probably drunk, she didn't belong with these types of people.

Everyone's face fell when they saw who the woman really was.

"No way."

Robin braced himself for the worst.

"You're- you're dating... The evil queen?!"

"Queen, yes," Regina said hesitantly, "but the whole evil thing is kind of a thing of the past."

"She's really nice!" Roland came to her defense, not knowing what they were all talking about.

"How... How are you even here right now? Where did you send all those people with that curse you enacted?

Regina pulled up a chair from the kitchen and sat down, Henry doing the same.

"A place far away from here," she told them, "we had to travel to Neverland about a month ago to rescue my son here, Henry."

He gave a small wave to the small crowd about him, his excitement soon getting the best of him. "You guys are the merry men! Are you planning a heist or something?"

They all exchanged glances to one another. "I'm afraid that's top secret information, boy."

Robin rolled his eyes. "He can know, it's not like we're completely hidden from everyone else."

Little John exhaled deeply as he studied the boy- quite the interesting clothes he was wearing. "We're planning to take King Author's crown while they prepare for battle with Midasis's kingdom."

Instantly, the boy's eyes widened. "Cool! Can I help?"

Robin laughed at Henry's excitement. "Sorry, but this is for trained merry men only," he said, feeling bad the second the words left his mouth, "which means, one of these days, I better start training you."

Henry looked at him in surprise. "You- you'd teach me how to shoot arrows and to sneak around and stuff?"

"Well, if your mother says you can. I promise."

His pleading eyes turned to Regina, who looked pretty skeptical. "Well... If Robin will look out for you..."

Henry's surprise continued- his mother never let him do anything that would put him in harms way. It was a dream of his to fight like his grandpa did in the enchanted forest, fighting ogres, clashing swords with the enemy, in this case, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.

"Roland looks like he could use someone to play with him," Regina said, nudging him slightly, "you should let him show you his room- it's pretty neat."

Henry knew she was trying to kick him out, but in the happy state he was in, he knew he shouldn't test the waters with her.

"I'll show you!" Roland grinned, taking Henry's hand and pulling him out of his chair. Regina watched them both take off towards his room; it created such a happy feeling inside of her to see them together.

Once they both vanished out of sight, it was just her and a room full of men.

"I still think this is impossible," Little John told Regina, "you're saying you aren't evil anymore? No offense, but how can you trust her Robin?"

Robin stiffened his composure slightly. "Because she changed. She has her son now, and more importantly, she saved Roland from being stuck in Neverland."

Nobody could believe what they were hearing- the idea was absolute insanity.

"Okay, so you're not evil anymore. You're still a queen!" He then turned to Robin.

"Aren't we supposed to despise people like her? People that get everything they ask for without having do anything?"

Ironically, Regina had gotten almost nothing she asked for in the past.

"She's different," Robin replied simply and confidently back to his friend.

Though it was an effortless thing to say, Regina couldn't help but feel touched by the way he was standing up for her.

"Personally, I hated being related to royalty," Regina told them, "it's way too much work. Everything you do has to be perfect; you have to be perfect... It's like being forced into a mold you're not supposed to fit into."

She could still sense the distrust in his eyes, though at least now the man wasn't staring at her like he was biting her head off.

"I guess if I had to pick a side, I'd pick yours. I think it's a very noble thing for you to do." She stole a quick glance towards Robin.

Little John sighed, knowing he wouldn't argue with Robin- he was his leader, after all.

"Alright then, let's get planning."

Henry swiped his eyes across the room, seeing just about a thousand toys littered on the walls and small shelves. Roland instantly started running his mouth excitedly about who knew what; the twelve year old wasn't really paying attention.

"This is Freddy, he's my favorite teddy bear." Roland smiled, shoving a fuzzy brown bear in his face.

Henry took the bear from him and examined it for a few seconds. Sure, this boy was a sweet kid. He was just so... Young.

"I used to have an elephant that I slept with at night," Henry admitted, setting the teddy bear down gently.

Roland cocked his head to the side. "What's an elephant?"

"It's an animal, back were I'm from."

Roland grinned widely. "I wanna see where you live one day."

Henry couldn't help but smile back. "Yeah. It would be fun."

"You wanna play a game?" Roland asked, climbing on his bed and reaching for one of the shelves overhead. Henry didn't even have to respond, for the game was placed in his lap within seconds.

"It's called shoots and ladders. It's really fun!"

Henry shrugged. "I guess so, how do you play?"

Roland dropped to his stomach on the floor and began taking the wooden pieces out of the box. The other boy followed, trying to pay attention to his loose directions.

Maybe he wasn't so bad after all.

Little John and the rest of the merry men had cleared out of the house after about twenty minutes of planning. Regina knew they didn't really want to talk in front of her; they had all seemed pretty uncomfortable with her being there. But Regina had to admit, they were all respectful towards Robin.

Turning towards her, Robin gave her an uneasy look. "Sorry they were all hard on you. They're just not used to change."

"I don't blame them, I wouldn't trust me either," Regina admitted dryly.

"Well I trust you," he rebutted, making Regina smile.

"Now, I apologize for not telling you about our plan for tonight."

"That's okay, it's your job- you have nothing to be sorry for."

Robin still looked apologetic. "Could... Could I ask you to babysit Roland tonight? It would only be for tonight, we should be back in the morning."

Her smile broadened, a surge of excitement running through her as she thought about all the things she and the four year old could do.

"Of course I'll do it. Do you want me to take him to our little hotel room with everyone else?"

"Well, Roland doesn't really like sleeping anywhere else- I think it's just a phase. You can sleep in my bed; there really isn't any other place in this small house."

Regina found it amusing how he seemed so nervous to ask her. "Yeah, that works," she then paused for a moment, thinking about Henry. "Can Emma and Henry stay over too? Henry so I won't be too lonely, and Emma because she probably wouldn't like the idea Henry of staying over here."

Robin sent her a grateful smile. "Sounds like a plan. Thank you so much Regina, you're saving me having to ask the lady closest to us to look after him- Roland absolutely hates her."

She let out a quiet laugh. "How are Henry and Roland doing? They've been really quiet."

The both of them set out for Roland's closed door, curious to see what they could be doing. When they entered the room, they stumbled upon something unexpected- Henry and Roland were both laying on the floor, playing a seemingly intense board game. They both looked up at the adults as they walked in, surprised looks on their faces.

"What's this?"

"I showed Henry how to play daddy!" Roland exclaimed happily, "he's good at playing it."

Regina smiled warmly towards the excited little boy, loving the look of love in his eyes.

"Would you mind if we joined in?" She asked, realizing she didn't really have anything else to do.

"I don't know if you can beat Roland at shoots and ladders, though. He's pretty skilled." Robin countered playfully.

They both sat down on the dirt floor and listened to Roland explain the game again, running his mouth like a motor due to his excitement. Regina leaned over and gave her son a comforting rub on the back, whispering the words "thank you" towards him.

Things were finally looking up.

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