We Can Love Again

The Doorkeeper

There was a strange feel to the air when he entered the thick forest. He didn't know what it was, but it raised his suspicion. The sunlight was almost completely vanished overhead. It had now been nine weeks since he had seen his family.

He was used to walking from sunrise to sunset, every day, with little food and only his thoughts to keep him company. But this time, he was fueled by the determination to get back home. Roland's little laugh, Henry's apple targets, Regina's hopeful light to her eyes...

For a traveling man, this was an area Robin wasn't familiar with at all. He didn't even know the Enchanted Forest went this far to the east. The trees were starting to blend in one another, making the pathway seem narrower and narrower. He really wished he had a horse.

"Let's hope this works, Regina," Robin muttered to himself, taking out the list from his pocket and unfolding it again. It was still glowing strong, making him more nervous inside. Why would a magical item be hidden in a place like this? The real question was, why wouldn't it?

He couldn't put his finger on it, but something about the forest felt extremely off putting; maybe it was him that didn't belong.

Green leaves fluttered down to the ground due to a soft wind. The silence was starting to really get on Robin's nerves- it shouldn't be this way, he thought to himself.

There was a rustling noise behind him. Stopping his tracks, Robin waited a second to gather his thoughts before turning around. When he did, Robin swore inwardly. His eyes slowly drifted upward to meet the face of the largest man he had ever seen; and that was saying a lot considering the fact that Little John used to be his traveling companion.

"What is that?" The man asked in a rough voice, his eyes narrowing fiercely towards him.

"What is... What?" Robin asked, his voice full of confusion.

The man had a long, thick beard and tattered robes, making him look like he had been through hell and back. He pointed a bony finger in the direction of the paper Robin had clutched in his hands.

Robin raised his eyebrows. "Oh- well you see, this is mine, I didn't know it could become magical but apparently-"

"There is no magic in this region!" He interrupted, seeming irritated with himself, "how is that working right now as we speak?"

All he could do was shrug. He was about to mention Rumplestiltskin and the fact that he was the one telling him what to do, but he quickly decided against it. If the Dark One wasn't allowed in this part of the Enchanted Forest, there must be a dark reason as to why. "I don't know, I made this for the woman I love. I didn't think it would ever come back to me, but... it did. Who are you, anyways?"

The man still seemed obscene with the list clutched in his hand.

"I'm the Doorkeeper of the Cedar Woods- I keep track of everyone who enters. So, what are you doing here, stranger?"

Robin scowled at the indented sarcasm to his words. "I'm searching for something... Something... Magical?"

He knew it sounded pathetic, but Rumple really didn't give him a further description.

The man laughed. "You don't even know what you search for? Not many men are able to make it this far, but the ones that do always have a set plan in mind."

"The last few weeks have been... Interesting." That was one way to put it- Robin figured he was getting a full workout by walking that far. "But you must know of a powerful item that lies somewhere around here."

A few seconds ticked by before the doorkeeper spoke up again. "These woods are full of... Many things. Some people end up finding things they're looking for, others find just the opposite. The item you seek is located here, yes, all you have to do is look."

Robin furrowed his brow. "That's it? That's all you have for me?"

The doorkeeper wanted to laugh at him. The poor man; journeying all that way for nothing. Many men have tried for it in the past... None of them ever made it out.

"That's all I can give. I don't even know where it is to tell you the truth; I've never tried looking for it myself."

Sighing, Robin gave Regina's list another glance. At least he had that to help. "I just want to get back to my family," he told him, "and I can't do that without this magical item."

"Well you better start looking then."

Never before had the man seen someone use such magic in a place that was supposed to exile the use of it completely. But he was determined, he would give him that.

They always were.

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