We Can Love Again

Let's Ride

"Since we got time, how about I finally learn how to ride a horse?"

The look on her son's face was impenetrable, Regina knew she would end up falling for it.

"Please?" Henry knew if he pleaded, he would always get a yes from his mother. Just as planned, Regina rolled her eyes in surrender.

"Fine, I guess we could try it out... What's Roland going to do though?"

Henry gave her a look. "He's four, I think he'll figure something out."

Knowing she couldn't argue with that, she followed her son out through the back door. "Well, if you're going to ride a horse, you first have to dress right," she told him, waving her hand out in front of him. "You don't want to make the mistake of ripping your pants on your first ride- it isn't fun."

Henry stifled a laugh, admiring his new outfit. "Mom, you made me look like a mini David."

"I couldn't help it!" Regina smiled, "my son is finally learning how to ride a horse, you have to fit the bill."

They walked across the green pasture, side by side, towards the two grazing horses. As they neared them, Regina couldn't help but recall the first lesson she had with Daniel; she was fourteen, he was sixteen. He had such a passion for horses; she didn't realize how much she appreciated his lessons until he was gone forever.

"The first thing you need to know about horses is that they're just like people." Regina started, "the more you love them, the more they'll love you. They need attention, and they need to be taken care of. You think you can handle that?"

Henry took a glance over towards the pile of poop Nightshade had recently made. "I guess so, but when can ride them?"

"Soon," Regina answered, finding his enthusiasm amusing. "What did David say about taking care of horses?"

Henry dug the heel of his boot into the soft ground as he thought about the days he lived with his grandpa. "He made me muck out Isabelle's stall for about two weeks, but... I never got to ride her with all the stuff that happened."

Regina couldn't take the saddened look on his face. "Well, what do you know about saddling one up?"

The boy took no time in taking off towards the side of the house, where the bridle and saddle lay neatly in a pile. He hauled them both over across the field while Regina started off towards Nightshade, calmly holding her hands up to not startle the black mare.

The first thing a horse perceives about you is how confident and collected you are...

She stroked her fingers over Nightshade's velvet nose, smiling as she nudged closer to her as she did so.

"Did you know that horses can hear what you say?" Daniel asked, turning towards the bright eyed girl.

Her long curls blew freely in the wind as she gave him a questionable look. "How do you know that?"

"Because I've been around horses my whole life," he explained, "I know they listen. They can be the best of friends too, when you need someone to talk to."

She could still hear the sound of his voice carried in the wind, feel his comfort and his love when she stared into the innocent animal's eyes.

"Take care of my son, okay?" She whispered to the horse, just as Henry arrived with the saddle and the bridle.

"David showed me how to do the saddle," he said, heaving it over the horses back. Regina watched (and tried not to intervene too much) as Henry strapped and tied everything in place, seeming exceedingly prideful as he did so. Then, she helped him properly put the bridle and the bit in place.

"Can I get on her now?"

Regina let out a small laugh. "You sure you're ready?"

He took less than a second to answer with a fervent nod.

Taking a deep breath, Regina knelt down on the ground and instructed him to put his right foot up on the stirrup while the other was supported by her hands. She counted to three, then hoisted him up and right onto the horses back.

Henry looked around at the higher view, an excited grin on his face.

"You should ride too mom!" He said, looking down at her, "then you can teach me how to go fast and stuff!"

Regina rolled her eyes. "I'm not sure if Weston likes me." The older horse gave her an almost satisfying look as she turned to look at him- making her more determined to win the horse over.

"Give me a second. Don't do anything until I say so." She told him, giving Nightshade a stern look as she passed her.

Using magic, she created three silver sugar cubes in the palm of her hand. "Nobody can resist these..." She muttered to herself, trying to maintain her perky attitude for the horse. Weston stomped his foot impatiently as Regina neared him.

"Don't need to get fussy, it's just me."

Holding out the sugar cubes, she paused in front of him.

Horses love bribery- even the most stubborn of horses can turn into your best friend.

"I know you let Robin ride you," she started, already feeling impatient, "he trusts me, so you can too."

Weston gave her a long look over before starting towards her, stretching his neck to reach her hand.

Regina couldn't help but smile, feeling quite pleased with herself. "See, told you could trust me," she said, "how about we go on a little ride- I know you want to get out of here for a while."

Weston gave a low whinny in reply as she walked over to his side, comfortingly petting his cream colored fur as she went.

Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith. The horse will always follow.

Regina got a firm grip on his mane and jumped on his back, Weston shifting slightly under the added weight.

"You're not gonna use a saddle?" Henry shouted over to her.

"Don't need one," she told him, ushering the horse over towards Henry and the black horse. "It's more fun this way."

"Well, can we go now?" Henry asked, practically bouncing off the walls.

"Sure, let's ride." Regina smiled towards her son, wondering how on earth he had gotten so big. He was going to see how wonderful it was to let everything go and race across the open field.

"And that's pretty much all you need to know," Daniel said, "now forget everything back at the house- nothing else matters right now. Let's just ride."

The village was alive with people- it was just past noon, and the tiredness was already beginning to set in among all the merry men. But none of that mattered when they saw the glow on all the children's' faces when they received the parcels of food.

All seven of them had met up earlier that morning; they had been collecting food for about three weeks. It was a routine for them, to collect extra food and then distribute them to the less fortunate- which happened to be a fair amount of the villagers. When most of the Enchanted Forest vanished due to the curse, it left the few remaining villagers with nowhere to go and nobody to turn towards for help. The merry men had to step up for the people's sake. It was hard work, but it sure proved to be rewarding.

"How are things going with the queen?" Little John asked, slight sarcasm in his voice.

Robin gave him a sideways glance. "Pretty good, Emma and the rest of her family left a few days ago to go back to where they were cursed to."

"They actually went back there?" He asked, sounding surprised.

Robin shrugged. "Well, it's where the rest of their people are. Henry's staying though."

"And, the Dark One? What happened to him?"

"Nobody's seen him for a while," Robin explained, wondering the same for himself. "Hopefully he stays away for a while longer."

He then grabbed another load of bread and handed it to a small girl, smiling fondly towards her as she took it from him.

"So, that's all you're going to tell me? Things are going fine with Regina?"

Robin gave him a look. "Yeah, that's about it. Roland really likes her, and I think Henry's really starting to like me more."

It really wasn't something he ever thought possible. The last time he had seen the queen, she was feverishly searching every single house for Snow White. Now she was living at his house, eating his food, and hanging out with his son. It shouldn't have been right, but it just was. Out of all the people out there to fall in love with, he had to choose the evil queen. Funny how fate turned out.

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