We Can Love Again


John Denton had always been a loyal man. He had only struck a true connection with a few people in his lifetime; being alone for the majority of his life, it was only his dog, Pippin, that he spent time with. It wasn't like he didn't like people, he just fine being alone. He had been traveling the rural dirt roads for years, searching for his next meal. That was, until he had met Robin.

They quickly made an alliance with one another, soon finding out just how much easier it was to survive with two people. Robin wasn't like everyone else- while others seemed to be deterred by his gigantic size, he didn't seem to care. In fact, Robin joked about his stature all the time; that's now he received his nickname Little John. He was always a loyal man, which meant nothing, not even all the riches he could ever dream of, could force him to betray his best friend. Even when everyone else thought just the opposite.

"So, that's it? You're just going to abandon Robin and his family so you all can expose Regina?" He was completely shocked. They all were on his side when Alan first proposed the idiotic idea, it wasn't that long ago.

"And work with Rumplestiltskin, of all people?!"

Everyone had their eyes cast downward. They had told him their reasons, there was nothing else to say.

"And you're all going to let these villagers kill them, even Roland." John said, his voice growing heavy with anger. "He's four years old for Christ's sake! And Henry is twelve! They're innocent children, and you're going to just give them up to the Dark One?!"

"We all can finally be free to live how we want, instead of foraging for our food." Christopher said softly, avoiding eye contact.

"Who will help those who are struggling now? Isn't that what we were doing for six years, helping people?"

"We're sorry, John." Mark said, "but we have to do this."

"Come on guys, let's go." Alan told them, taking a second to examine the man's face. He was a large man, but Alan knew he didn't like violence.

"We'll be seeing you again," he said in a low voice, "sooner than you think. Be ready, Little John. It's happening."

And with that, five of his trusted merry men walked away, leaving him alone in the middle of the cobblestone street.

Roland was more confused than he had ever been. His mom seemed so shaken on the way home, it was unusual. She was always happy; but now, she wasn't. Henry was outside practicing with his newly fashioned bow and arrow when they arrived home, but Regina hardly gave him a second glance.

"Wow, you got tons of food!" Robin exclaimed, seeing the two bags completely full.

Roland suddenly got even more confused as her demeanor completely changed, she was smiling again.

"We did," Regina said, "Roland and I had fun, didn't we?"

The boy nodded and began to help his parents with putting away the groceries.

"Are you okay?" Robin asked, catching the minuscule faults in her sunny attitude.

Regina looked up at him and gave him a reassuring smile- she was quite experienced in the talent of tricking people. "I'm fine, just a little tired is all. Think it's my allergies."

She decided to fall back on the excuse she always used in the past. And it worked, too, as soon as Regina finished putting away all the groceries, she gave Robin a wholehearted smile and told him she was going to take a nap.

She felt a rush of comfort come over her when she crawled under the warm covers. Multiple reasons of stress had torn her apart as the evil queen, but this one shook her like a hurricane. No matter how hard she tried getting the thought out of her head, Regina couldn't. Usually, telling herself that nothing was wrong worked for her, made her start to believe it. But not this time.

Regina curled her legs up close to her chest and squeezed her eyes shut. She honestly didn't know what bothered herself the most about the idea of being pregnant. Two kids already called her mom, what was one more?

No! It's all a lie!

She could never give Leopold a child. Having children was supposed to be impossible for her, as the castle doctor had told her years ago.

Tears stung her eyes as she forced all the thoughts out of her head again, eventually slipping into a dreamless sleep.

The dark and towering castle filled their view. It used to be terrifying to be in the presence of the huge castle; people would try to avoid coming close to it at all costs. Over the years, the queen's palace had lost its power and its predominance, leaving nothing but an empty castle and many stories to tell.

Five men stood before it, gazing up at the spires that almost seemed to rise straight into the clouds.

"Are we really going to do this?" Christopher asked, as if there was a chance they could change their minds.

"Of course we're doing this," Alan said back in a harsh tone.

Everyone knew there was no coming back from what they were about to do.

Alan turned around to face the street first, followed by the rest of the once merry men. They had rallied a group of villagers there at two in the afternoon, and many were quickly joining in to see what everything was about.

"What is all of this?" One asked, "where's Robin?"

It was obvious Alan was going to do all the talking, so everyone allowed him the spotlight in the situation.

"He couldn't be with us right now," he said calmly, "but we all have some news to share with you."

The anticipation grew with every passing second of wait.

"The Evil Queen that once plagued our land has returned."

That began an instant uproar from the crowd.

"She's back?!"

"We're not safe anymore!"

"She'll kill all of us!"

"People, calm down!" Alan had to yell over the animated crowd. "She won't be a threat if we take action."

That quieted most of them down.

"How?" Came the question, asked in unison.

Alan couldn't suppress a smile. "We'll show her she doesn't rule us anymore."

With that, the doors to the old castle flung open with the help of magic.

"Who's with me?!"

His response was received as forty angry men and woman stormed Regina's castle. Tables were turned, glass was broken, and the once kindly home of princess Snow White was blazing with the flame of an enraged town.

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