Her knees could not support her anymore, so she just let herself fall to the bathroom floor. She could not look anywhere else but at her ruined underwear, holding the edge of the bathtub so tightly, her knuckles turned white, while simultaneously shaking at the sight in front of her. Regina was not one to be scared of blood, but seeing so much come out of her managed to frighten her. She could feel the tell-tale signs of passing out, such as instantly being drenched in a cold sweat or trying to fight off the overwhelming dizziness. Although the pregnancy was not planned, the feelings of hopelessness and uselessness clouded Regina's mind. Seeing what was supposed to be her child possibly leaving her body made her stomach churn. The world around her seemed to stop, and nothing mattered as much as taking care of the small life inside of her.
Regina had just found out about her pregnancy, and everything was now falling to pieces around her. It all seemed surreal, but when an intense wave of pain hit her, the blood-curdling scream her lungs were preparing for came out just as a muffled whimper and a fall of the chin to her chest. She had been through a lot of pain during her lifetime, but nothing quite matched what she felt during that moment. She had read some articles about women going through miscarriages when she stumbled upon them, but never thought it would happen to her. However, it was what she suspected was going on, and she was not prepared for it at all.
To make matters even worse, her partner would be right there to torture her even further. She could not let Leo know about what she was going through, or else he would have hurt her again. Her thoughts were harshly interrupted when she heard him pounding on the door. Regina could only imagine his fists hitting her after he managed to get inside the bathroom. Regina tried to lift herself and get to the door, but as soon as she moved, she felt a stabbing pain in her abdomen and fell back to the floor. Tears started forming in her eyes, quickly running down her face and then falling to the cold tiles on the floor. Her head hit the ground and, weirdly enough, the coldness gave her some sort of comfort when it touched her fevered skin.
That was when Leo managed to break into the bathroom, his eyes full of rage and hate towards the woman in front of him.
"You made me destroy this door! What is wrong with you?" he barked while pushing Regina hard enough for her to slide backwards on the tiles.
"Don't hurt me.", Regina managed to mumble through the pain, "please, let me go to the hospital," she continued.
It was a reflex for her to shield her head whenever he raised his hand, but that time, Leo convinced himself that making her do whatever he wanted was better than hitting her.
"As if I actually cared about what you need. Now clean up this whole mess," Leo told her while pointing to the blood-smeared bathroom.
She was terrified by the look in his eyes and could tell there was no chance of her leaving the house. When she did not react, the man grabbed her by the arm and pulled her from the floor.
"I do not care what is wrong with you, but there is too much blood for my liking in this room, and I am expecting you to come to bed with me right after you're done cleaning up," Leo said to her while exiting the bathroom.
Although she was in an awful amount of pain, she realised there was no way she could get to a hospital if she did not do what he asked her to. Gathering all her remaining strength, Regina started to clean up the blood on the floor, only stopping when the dizziness was too much for her to handle. She understood the pattern soon enough: she would force herself to rub the floors faster, then her vision would be clouded by small black dots, she would have to stop and wait for it to pass and only then, continue.
By the time she was done, Leo was already waiting for her in the bedroom she dreaded so much, barely dressed and ready to force her to sleep with him again. Ever since he made her quit her job, Leo dominated her life more than she would have ever accepted before meeting him. She was not allowed to leave the house unless he sent her somewhere, most likely to buy the things he wanted. Her entire existence had to gravitate around his needs, no matter of what she went through. She was not allowed to meet her friends anymore, because spending time with him was by far more valuable in his opinion. Whenever he was not home, he would call just to make sure she was still in the house, dutifully completing the tasks he gave her.
Regina quickly understood that she would not be able to leave the house, unless she gave him what he wanted, so she found her way to the bed, trying to detach herself from what was to happen. At the beginning, she tried to fight it. She thought she could say no, maybe make him back off. She tried to defend herself, but he was more powerful than her and quickly made her submit to him. Regina was already in pain, so she wanted to avoid adding more bruises to her already impressive collection. Her once flawless body was now covered in cuts, scars and various marks he felt fit to give her.
Regina tried to convince herself that she wanted it, maybe it would make it a bit easier for her to take it like that. She tried to think that he loved her and this was his way of showing it. By the time his hand was pressed firmly on her throat, making her gasp for air, those thoughts had left her mind.
Regina felt numb while he forced himself on her. Each time was the same, and yet she was still not used to allowing another person to strip her of her dignity in such a way. She knew the drill: Leo would use her body until he got bored, then he would fall asleep and allow her to lick her wounds like some sort of an animal. Regina could not cry anymore, she could not fight him and did not want to annoy him any further. She closed her eyes when she felt his weight over her, crushing her probably broken ribs and pressing them further into her lungs. Regina was not sure what hurt the worst, but she certainly had a few options to pick from. Was it the lack of air she got while under his body? Was it the miscarriage she might have been going through? Or was it the friction between her legs that caused her to bleed even further?
The thoughts of her baby made her eyes water again, and no sooner were the tears running down her face, than he simply covered her face with his hand, leaving her with little air to breathe.
"Just shut up and take me," he said while he continued to thrust into her weakened body. After a couple of minutes, Regina passed out, still feeling him inside of her. Over the years, she wondered if it was easier on her when she fainted. She knew he would not stop, but at least she got a few moments of numbness before his slaps brought her back. Regina was still arguing with herself whether she wished to be unconscious while he did it, but it never crossed her mind that it should not be a problem a healthy relationship would encounter.
She woke up when he pushed her off the bed, onto the floor. Her body did not even make more noise than a silent thump when it collided with the carpet.
"I am done, I do not need you anymore," he said.
Regina felt disgusting and broken, and the fall from the bed somehow put her in more pain than she already felt. Even after all this time, she still felt ashamed and humiliated after each time he slept with her. This time, however, she realised her baby might still have a chance if she got to the hospital in time. Maybe she was not going through a miscarriage and the bleeding had some other cause.
Regina watched him fall asleep, making sure he stopped stirring, then she walked as fast as she could down the stairs and left the house. She could not steal his car, nor any money for a taxi. After a brief moment, she figured her only option was to walk to the nearest hospital, and so she did. She had less than 10 minutes to walk, but each step sent shivers of pain through her body. Every time her feet connected with the ground, the vibrations rummaged through her, making her contort in pain.
"Come on, you have to do this," she said to herself, somehow managing to get to the hospital.
Just as she entered the building and saw a bunch of doctors and nurses, she calmed down. The number of people Regina met those days could be counted on the fingers of one hand, but the uncertainty of not knowing the ones around her was not as pronounced as she was expected it to be. The most important thing for her was the baby, and the possibility of having the doctors save its fragile life. Regina vehemently refused to think of what would come next, when she had to leave the hospital and possibly return to Leo's house.
Regina let go of any power she had left and collapsed to the floor, hearing loud voices around her as the staff rushed towards her.
"I'm losing my baby", she whimpered, gazing painfully into the eyes of the man next to her stretcher. The instant care and warmth in his eyes made her strained muscles relax as much as possible, and his soothing voice managed to make her believe that something might finally turn out well for her.
"Milady, you will be alright," he answered in a low voice before looking at the nurses, "get her ready for a pelvic exam, measure her hCG and progesterone levels and book an ultrasound".
For the first time, she felt completely safe. Even though she knew the man for a solid minute, the certainty with which he divided the tasks showed a huge amount of professionalism, which soothed her fears.
Regina took one more look at her doctor before passing out again, noticing his name tag: "Dr. Locksley Robin, OB/Gyn".
After a few hours, Regina started coming back to her senses. Her eyelids were heavy and she could not feel most of her body, but she struggled to open her eyes. Regina was afraid she would wake up in his house and everything she remembered was a simple fantasy her mind had created to protect her. The steady beeping of a nearby machine was the one that encouraged her to open her eyes and see where she actually was. It took Regina a few seconds to accommodate her eyes to the light, and even then, her eyelids were only half opened.
She was in the hospital, in a dimly lit room. A faint ray of light shinning through the dark blinds could be seen, but most of the light was coming from the machines she was connected to. Even though Regina always enjoyed being in a well-lit room, the lack of direct sunlight was exactly what she needed right then. There were many machines around her, and both of her hands had IV's sticking out of them. Most of her body was covered in sterile bandages and she could see various X-Rays next to her. It was not hard to tell that none of the ribs poked through her lungs, but there was clear evidence of things inside her not being where and how they were supposed to be.
By the time she realised what was going on, Regina could feel tears forming in her eyes. She was all alone in a hospital and did not know what happened to her baby. Even worse, she did not know for how long she had been away from home, so she could not even imagine how bad the punishment was going to be. It must have been hours, so she was fairly certain Leo might as well kill her. Leaving the house for such a long period of time without his consent was something she never even dared to think of.
Her cries were quickly accompanied by convulsive gasps for air, as she grabbed her abdomen, the place where her baby was supposed to be. The worst part had to be the uncertainty of whether she actually lost the pregnancy or not. It took her a few moments to remember that she was not allowed to cry - or else she would be given a real reason to do so. Even then, Regina could not prevent the tears from running down her face. She tried to muffle the sounds she was making by covering her mouth with her hand, but anyone could hear the clear distress coming from her room.
Lost in the overwhelming sensations she was feeling, Regina did not notice the door swinging open and a doctor coming towards her.
"Hey, breathe, please. It is alright," the man said as he carefully approached her bed.
Her instincts instantly kicked in. Leo did not tolerate her crying, or else he would punish her in a horrible way. Regina did her best to stop the tears, but her entire body was still shaking as she lifted her gaze to meet his. It was not something she had not gone through before, but she never got used to the feeling. Her body would start sweating profusely, her heart would be pounding, and her lungs seemed to deny any air from entering or leaving.
"I'm sorry." she managed to mumble through her tears.
She remembered him from earlier, he was the one who assured her that everything was going to be alright. However, she still feared that he would hurt her. After all, Leo taught her that her purpose was to get hurt.
"Alright, I need you to breathe with me." Robin said while trying to catch her attention. After several minutes, Regina's breathing was matching his.
Even during her panic attack, Regina could hear Robin's voice guiding her through it. She caught fragments of what he told her, but they were more than enough.
"You can get through this."
"I am here for you, you are not alone."
"You are doing great, I am so proud of you."
He never became closer than necessary to his patients, but Robin felt that Regina was something special from the moment he first saw her. She looked so small, scared, and unlike her true self, Robin wanted nothing more than to cradle her in his arms and fight the one who did this to her.
Although she still feared the touch of a man, Regina took advantage of the fact that Robin was close to her, so she wrapped his arms around his middle. She could feel herself relax in his arms, as he placed his chin on top of her head and rubbed small circles on her back. Her body fit in his embrace as if they were the two pieces of a puzzle, and she instantly latched onto him. Soon after, Robin could feel her small frame grow heavier in his embrace. She fell asleep, so he carefully placed her back on her bed, covering her with the thick blanket.
The only thing on Robin's mind was how he could find the man who treated her in such a way, that he could see the fear so deep within her eyes.
After waking up, Regina shyly asked for Dr. Locksley, afraid that she might bother him. Not even a minute passed after she asked for him, that he was already in her room, aware of the fact that he still had not told her about the baby.
He could read the angst and dread in her eyes and tried to compose himself. He had to tell her the news, but she already looked so defeated, as if she was not even expecting to hear something positive.
"Will you tell me what happened with my pregnancy?"
Robin took a deep breath and closed his eyes, trying to avoid her pained gaze. The things he was yet to say were not particularly good, but nowhere near as devastating as she expected them to be.
"Regina, when you came in, there were clear signs of a threatened miscarriage. That means that you still have a significant chance of carrying the baby to term, but under proper observation and care. We could not figure out what caused it, but most women who go through this have already lost a pregnancy in the past. Is that the case?" he asked.
"No, I have never been pregnant before. However," she added, shifting in the bed, "I did fall down the stairs."
It was clearly a lie, Robin could figure out that much, but he chose not to dwell on the subject right then.
After that, she went silent. The realisation that her baby's life was put into danger creeped its way up her spine, and no other words could be spoken. Regina was listening to him and trying to assimilate his words. She felt tears starting to well up in her eyes, but she was not strong enough to hold them back. Once again, something she wanted so badly was almost denied by Leo. However, she still had a chance at carrying the baby to term, if her partner would allow her to do so. Regina Mills would do anything for a child, so she could not help but feel guilty for not being able to have a more important saying on what concerned the baby.
"There are chances of a miscarriage, but we will do our best to prevent it. You will be able to go home in a few days," Robin said.
By the time she heard his last words, the machine which displayed Regina's heart rate and blood pressure seemed to lose its mind.
"I can't... I-I can't go back there. He will hurt me again and I can't protect this baby." She managed to say.
She realised the confession left her lips when she met Robin's shocked expression, so Regina quickly covered her mouth with her hand, as if trying to prevent more words from spilling out.
It was the first time she said it out loud, and only then it truly became real. She knew what was going on was not normal or healthy, but Leo managed to reduce her self-esteem to barely anything at all, making her believe that their relationship was all she deserved.
"Talk to me. Tell me what is happening," Robin said while coming closer to her bed and wrapping his arms around her.
He rested his chin on her head and felt her nuzzle her face in the crook of his neck. Although he figured the problem involved a man, Robin never imagined the extent of his control over Regina. He felt her breathe him in to calm herself, and her eyes were closed as she began her story.
"I... I have been with him for almost 5 years" she said, letting out occasional small cries. "Everything was fine at the beginning, but he became so protective, he would not let me leave the house. Then, he started hitting and forcing me. I was not able fight back, could not leave... I was his possesion. He made a strict schedule I had to follow, or else he would punish me in various ways, such as beatings, making me spend the night on the bathroom floor and... forcing me to sleep with him," she confessed, feeling Robin's body tense against hers.
"He usually comes home late at night and I have to wait for him so we can have dinner. Well, so he can have dinner. I am not allowed to eat unless he considers I worked enough for the food. He has recently put up cameras all over the house and he watches me while he is away, I cannot do anything without him knowing. When he sends me to do the grocery shopping, he only gives me the exact amount of money for the things he wants, never enough for me to get the most insignificant thing to eat on the way home." She said.
Regina felt as if she could tell Robin everything. She trusted him in a way she did not even trust herself. It was the first time she ever confessed what she had been through, and she simply let it all pour out of her. Other than the courtesy offered by the grocery store employees, Regina did not get any social interaction, so having someone who actually took the time to listen to her was something out of the ordinary. Leo's voice was still at the back of her mind, telling her that she was not worthy of having Robin listen to her, but she still pushed through that feeling.
Robin could not find his words, so he just held her small body against his, ready to eliminate the piece of dirt who did this to her. Leaving a pregnant woman return to such an abusive partner stepped over each and every rule of his moral code, so he would not allow it to happen. Robin could see that she was a powerful woman and the possibility of a spectacular recovery was there, as long as she was far away from Leo.
"Regina, you cannot stay in the hospital for too long, there would be no reason to keep you here for more than a few days. Anyway, I do have a spare room back at home, just a small place where you could stay until everything will be worked out. I do not want to scare or rush you into anything, but you need to know there is a place where you would be safe. I am not asking if you want to come, I am telling you you are welcome. It is simply an offer coming from a concerned man who is willing to put you up for a while," he said.
Regina agreed with Robin, if he were to ask if she needed help, she would have simply said that it was too much of an effort on his side. After all, Leo had carved into her brain that she was not entitled to getting help from other people, because she did not deserve it. Regina felt it would have been a burden on his shoulders, one he was not supposed to have to carry. However, she had no other place to go and Leo's house was not an option anymore. Even though she did not have any possessions at all, Regina understood that she could not go back to the man who abused her for so long. She needed to get as far away from him as possible, and this was her shot at leaving, so she slowly nodded against Robin's chest.
"Can I really come with you?" she asked shyly.
"Of course, Regina. Leaving you with him is not something I am willing to do. I need to know you are safe, and this is the only way I can think of. I really want you to give it a thought," Robin answered sternly.
"I want to come. Thank you, Robin," she mumbled under her breath.
Robin closed his eyes and placed a gentle kiss on top of her head, feeling her melt into his embrace. He could never help the surge of joy that went through his body whenever she trusted him enough to open up.
Robin knew he would lose his job if anyone ever found out he offered a patient a place in his home, but he could not care any less. Somehow, this woman came into his life and turned it upside down in a matter of hours. What he thought would be a regular day at work, proved to be the day Robin met the most important person in his life. Even though her life had been filled with pain and events she did not deserve to be put through, Regina still managed to come out alive. The road towards recovery would be long, but he realised she was a strong woman, who could move the mountains if that was what she wanted.
Robin held her until she fell asleep, noticing how thin she was. Since Regina arrived at the hospital, Robin had not realised just how malnourished she was, so he did not even think of giving her a feeding tube. The thought of her starving herself brought chills down his spine, and the previous story about her partner not allowing her to eat may have triggered her to limit her intake of food, probably so she could live up to his expectations. Even though he had not encountered similar cases, one thing was clear in Robin's mind. Regina still wanted to be worthy of her husband, even if she realised that he had crossed every acceptable limit. Leo managed to become the voice inside her mind, telling her that the relationship they had was the best thing that could have happened to her. No other person would put up with how broken she was, and no one else would even spare her a look. He was her only shot at having someone next to her, so accepting his abuse was something Regina needed to do.
However, Robin could understand why she would do such a thing as starving herself. Her life next to that man was miserable, she was nothing but his property, and her well-being was not one of his top priorities, but it bothered him that the monster managed to destroy her self-worth and motivation to fight for herself.
Being a doctor, Robin knew that empathy was one of the most important qualities he needed to have. He often felt the need to protect his patients while helping them and, thankfully, his field often involved brighter cases than others. After all, he chose to get his degree in Obstetrics, and brought an average of 3-4 babies into the world each day. However, he never felt such a strong need to shield a patient from the evils crossing her path.
When Regina woke up, she saw Robin on the chair near her bed, the spot he would choose if he would not have enough space or time to lie down next to her. Robin's head was leaning on his hand and his beautiful blue eyes eyes were shut. After watching him for a while, Regina managed to get out of the bed and take her first steps after the intervention. Even though the nurses encouraged her to walk as soon as possible, she refused to leave her bed without Robin by her side. Somehow, Regina felt as if her safety would end the moment she left the crispy white sheets, but Robin would still be there for her. The painkillers were starting to wear off and she could feel various pains in her body, but the need to be closer to him won over. It was as if just being next to him provided Regina with enough comfort in order for her to be able to fully relax.
Regina wanted to be the first one to hug Robin, to show the slightest sign of affection towards him. Until then, it was Robin who closed the gap between them and soothed her, so she wanted to be the first one to wrap her arms around his frame that time. It sounded silly, but it felt important for her to be the first one to initiate contact. Like that, Regina was able to choose whether she wanted to be next to a person or not, which was something that never happened with Leo. By being the first one to lean into a hug, Regina felt like she was finally allowing herself to accept Robin's help. Gathering all her strenght, Regina managed to toddle to his chair before sitting down on his knees, snuggling closer to his chest.
The moment he felt her arms linking together around his neck, Robin jerked awake and tightened the grip on her body. If there was the slightest chance of him dropping Regina while he was asleep, it quickly vanished when he woke up.
"You are up! I need you to rest, Regina. Please, let me take care of you," he said, scooping her up and placing her back on her bed.
Robin saw her whimper at the loss of his body heat, so he gently sat next to her, pulling her upper body into his embrace. She felt small in his arms, but she somehow fit next to his body as if they were meant to be together. Her body was warm, welcoming his gentle touch, and her subtle scent was quickly becoming one of Robin's favourites.
"How are you still here? Don't you have any work to do?" her look was childlike, innocent.
"My shift ended a couple of hours ago, but I wanted to stay with you," he answered, threading his fingers through thick dark hair.
It felt smooth against his skin, and the way it curled around his fingers was entrancing.
Regina did not know how to respond, realising that she had never been shown any kind of affection, let alone love. She wanted to be good enough for this man, but the familiar feeling of not being worth it kept creeping behind her back. Why would a man like Robin, a man who went to medical school and had such a noble job, even look at her? She was just a damaged woman who surrendered herself to an abusive man and let him ruin her. She felt like it was her fault, everything that happened in that relationship was caused by her. She was not good enough for her partner, not as beautiful or smart as Leo said he deserved, and certainly not as capable as he wanted her to be.
"I need to talk to you about something, Regina," Robin said, and she could see how worried he was.
"Oh, I understand. I will find another place to stay, don't worry," she said quietly, trying to peel herself from him.
It was another rejection, and even though Leo had told her numerous times that it would be the only treatment people would show her, it still managed to twist her heart in a painful way.
"No, Regina, that is not what I meant. Of course I still want you to come, this has nothing to do with what I wanted to ask you. Please, calm down," Robin said, easily succeeding to gather her in his arms again.
"Did you end up so thin from his rules alone?" he asked worriedly.
"Robin, you really do not want to know this story..." she said, shying away from his concerned look.
"Please, talk to me. I need to know what is going on, so I can be there for you the best I can," Robin answered.
Robin wanted to help her so badly, but he needed to know what she dealt with. He tried to convince himself it was only that bastard's schedule that made Regina lose so much weight, but Robin feared it was also coming from her side.
Regina took a moment and began the story. It would not be a happy one, but she still felt that Robin would be next to her once he found out.
"He used to starve me. I was only allowed to eat two or three times a week, and that was when he had some leftover food. The best meal I had was a burger he bought, but was way too undercooked for his taste," she smiled, actually considering that to be a proper meal.
Over the course of their relationship, Regina's mind had been tricked into believing that her partner knew what was best for her, and had no intention to harm her. At the beginning, even she believed that to be true. After all, Leo was her boyfriend, so he was supposed to only want the best for her.
"He did not want me to gain any weight because it would have disgusted him. Most of the days, I was too dizzy to see clearly and usually passed out when he forced me to sleep with him. I am still not sure if it was the worst part, or a blessing in disguise, being unconscious and not knowing what he was doing to me," she said.
Her words were cut by a small sob, announcing the beginning of all the tears she was holding back.
"I used to drink a lot of water to fill my stomach, but the hardest part of the day was when I had to sit at the table with him and watch him feast on the meal I prepared. I tried closing my eyes and imagining I had some on my plate as well, but he would hit me for not paying attention to him," she said.
Robin wanted to end the man's life. During that exact moment, Robin wanted to strangle him for what he did to Regina, to make sure he suffered for what he had put her through. Yet, he was brought back to the present by a sharp intake of air, and realised he needed to be there for her. She was hurt, afraid, and exhausted, and what happened to her pregnancy was of no help whatsoever.
"I can either get you some food or a feeding tube, if you feel too weak to eat. What would you prefer?" he asked.
He angrily wiped away his tears, before she could see them. He needed to be strong for her, even if he was not half as resilient as her. Robin was angry at himself for not being able to support her without breaking down himself, at Leo for what he had done to Regina, and at life itself for her cruel fate.
Regina looked up at him with a questioning look, as if she was trying to figure out if what he asked was some kind of a test.
"You mean... I can eat now? Today isn't one of the days I'm allowed to," she finally said.
Robin felt his heart shatter at the answer and could not resist hugging her again.
"You can do whatever you want, you are safe now. So, what should I bring you?" he asked with a weak smile.
"I would love some toast, and maybe some tea, if that is not too much to ask for. I have not had bread in years!" she answered with hope and innocence in her eyes.
If he were to compare the look on her face to something, it would have probably been to the one of a child in the middle of a candy store. After he processed what she asked for, Regina saw the way his smile vanished and a deep furrow formed between his brows.
"I am so sorry, that is too much. I should not have asked for it. I did nothing to deserve it, I will just go to the bathroom and have some water, that will have to be enough," she blurted out, making Robin bow down his head and squeeze her hands almost painfully in his, letting go of all the tears he was holding back.
Regina was terrified he would hurt her, but she took her hands out of his grip and hugged him tightly.
"Talk to me, please," she begged.
She knew she had to offer her support in moments like that one, that was what Leo trained her to do, but that time, it was different - she actually wanted the man in front of her to tell her what was wrong.
When Robin looked at her, his eyes were still drowning in unshed tears.
"You have been through so much, you got nothing of what you deserved and now, when you were given the opportunity to eat whatever you wanted, you asked for bread and then you cursed yourself for it. Regina, you need to see your value, you need to understand you are worth it. You have to realise he treated you horribly, he made you feel worthless. He tried to ruin you, but trust me to be the one to help you put the pieces back together," Robin said.
As soon as he finished talking, Regina pressed her lips against his, bringing her body as close to his as she could.
Robin wanted to respond, he wanted to spoil her with all his attention and care, but he did not want to rush her into something she was not ready for. He understood what she had been through and could not imagine how he managed to get her to trust him so much in such short time. However, Robin gently kissed her back and when Regina finally pulled away, her head was guided towards his chest. Robin was hugging her tightly and placing small kisses on top of her head, just like he had done countless time before. He could feel Regina relax in his embrace and wanted nothing more than to protect her.
Thousands of thoughts were racing through Regina's mind. How could she risk her chance of having a safe home to live in for a kiss? Why did she trust him so much? Wasn't he a man, and weren't all men just like Leo? For the past 5 years, she had never gotten what she wanted and rarely felt safe in her own home, but right then, she set all of her worries aside and reveled in Robin's soothing presence.
"Regina..." Robin started.
"I am so sorry, I do not know what is wrong with me," she said, with tears starting to form in her eyes.
Robin cut her off with another kiss, which felt just as right as their first. She quickly understood that he was not going to push her away or leave her, so Regina allowed herself to kiss him back. It felt weird, having someone want her as much as she did, but it was definitely a feeling she could get used to.
Was not he supposed to have butterflies in his stomach or at least feel a bit different? Kissing Regina gave him a sense of security, of warmth. He did not need to touch her to feel the chemistry between them, he just felt the obvious connection when he looked into her eyes. Regina's mere presence around him was something that felt so right, so natural.
Regina felt the same way towards Robin. She was not able to fully express it, but just being close to him made her feel that nothing bad would ever happen to her again. She felt as if she had known him forever, and them meeting right then was just fate bringing them back together.
"Regina," Robin said more sternly. "I can let you go tomorrow and I will take a few days off. We can go home," he finished, feeling her smile against his chest. He did not need to see her, he just knew she was happy.
"I would love that," she said through a wet smile.
For once, she felt what it was like for someone to care about her, and she could not let go of something so special, not after living through all the hardships of an abusive relationship.
The next morning, Robin was wheeling Regina through the hospital halls, towards his car. He decided to lay her down on the back seat because she had not really walked since her intervention and the seat next to him would have put her in an uncomfortable position. As much as Robin wanted her next to him, making her sit upright on the passenger's seat would have put too much pressure on her body.
"Everything alright?" Robin asked, adjusting the rear view mirror so he could see her better. Reguna nodded shyly and smiled. She was going to have a home. A home where she would not be afraid of a man beating her or forcing her to sleep with him after he had starved her for days. A home where she would finally be able to sleep through the night, in an actual bed. A house which would actually feel like a home.
When they reached his place, Robin rushed towards her door, not letting her take a single step alone. He knew she was still weak and would probably collapse, so he wanted to avoid putting her in danger. Robin wrapped his arm around her waist and steadied her, also providing the sense of security she needed.
By the time they got to the door, Regina was exhausted. The lack of food, the persistent pain and the fear that would not leave her alone left their mark on her. Feeling her knees giving in, she clung to Robin's shoulder and closed her eyes.
He quickly understood and scooped her up. She was light as a feather and he could feel her cuddle closer to his chest.
"I am going to give you my bedroom and I will take the couch. The living room is right next to your bedroom, so I will be close if you need anything," Robin told her.
Robin put her on the bed, but thought her clothes could not be the most comfortable. After all, they were the ones she wore the day she arrived at the hospital, covered in sweat. He did not have any women's clothes she could wear, so he picked out one of his shirts and went ahead to ask her if she wanted to change. When he reached the side of the bed, he noticed she was fast asleep. Her body had relaxed between the soft pillows, and nothing seemed capable of waking her up.
He decided to change her anyway, mostly because he saw that the clothes she was wearing were worn out and dirty. Robin had already seen Regina without her clothes on, and she never seemed to have a problem with it. Robin slowly lifted her, making sure not to wake her up, and removed her T-shirt. He felt Regina fuss, so he stood in silence until she calmed down again and dressed her in his shirt.
Next, Robin did his best to slide off her jeans and tuck her in underneath the thick blankets. For once, Robin was glad he kept so many blankets and pillows on his bed. After he was done, Robin leaned over her and lovingly kissed her forehead.
"Sleep tight, milady."
A few weeks passed since Robin had brought Regina home and he was content with the way her body had recovered after everything it had been through. She could walk without his help or having to stop and rest every few minutes, and was eating enough for her and her baby. Regina was 10 weeks pregnant and everything was going as good as Robin could have expected. Even though Robin still worried about her state of health, Regina kept on showing signs of improvement with each passing day.
Each night, they stayed together and talked about their lives. Regina opened up more than she ever did before, telling Robin everything about her life. He listened carefully, not letting his mind drift away to what he would do to Leo if he caught him. She used to fall asleep in his arms and he would carry her to his bed, where she still slept alone. Every night, he had to fight the urge of climbing next to her and holding her close. Robin knew she would get there, but she needed time to completely understand that nothing bad was going to happen while he was there.
Robin was already used to her nightmares. Regina would wake him up with her sobs and he would rush into the bedroom, only to find her asleep and struggling to wake up. She would always be drenched in cold sweat and her body would be violently shaking, but she would calm down as soon as his hand touched her. Each time, he would grab her in a tight embrace and gently wake her up, not letting go until the last tear disappeared from her face. One night, while she was crying in his arms, she looked up at him and spoke quietly.
"I need you here. Please stay with me."
For Robin, that was more than enough, he climbed next to Regina and pulled her small body close to him.
"I am here, you will be alright," he said soothingly.
A few days later, it was time for Robin to return to his job, as much as he dreaded leaving Regina alone.
"I have to go back to work today, but I will leave you a couple of numbers you can call if I do not answer. I have a C-Section scheduled, so I will not have my phone on me," Robin told her worriedly, "if you need me, I can call in sick and they will have another doctor take over for me."
"I will be alright," she smiled, "I can even prepare some dinner if you would like. My lasagna is to die for!"
Once again, her childlike enthusiasm captivated Robin and made him fall in love even further. Regina was so proud of herself, she made him laugh.
"My house is your house, as long as you do not set it on fire. Please, do not overwork yourself. We can order some pizza if you want to rest," Robin told her before pulling her into a hug.
Having said that, Robin gathered his phone, wallet and keys and headed towards the door: "See you tonight! Make sure to call if you need me."
Around 20 minutes had passed since Robin left the house, when Regina heard a loud knock on the door. Thinking he forgot something, she rushed towards the door and looked through the peephole. What she saw made her blood freeze and his name came out as a small gasp.
He had found her. He had found her inside another man's house, after she ran away from him. As his knocks got louder, she managed to reach her phone and call Robin.
"Pick up, pick up, pick up!" she hopelessly begged as he barged in.
Regina dropped her phone, which shattered at her feet, and froze in terror when she saw the anger in Leo's eyes. She would have usually tried to calm him down, but right then, she could not even speak. Regina was overwhelmed with fear, thinking about her unborn baby and Robin.
"You think you can get away like this?" he barked at Regina, making her tremble with fear. "That you can just leave me and hook up with some guy you just met? I am going to end you now," he said, pushing Regina into a wall and beginning to hit her. She could feel the pain everywhere: her chest, her face, her arms, and where she feared it the most - her still unnoticeable bump.
Hearing her cry out in pain, Leo feared Robin's neighbours would call the police. He threw her around the kitchen a few more times, using all of his force to push her into the sharp counter corner. He saw Regina double over in pain, gasping for air before cumbling on the cold floor. When he was proud enough of the harm he did to her, Leo quickly ran out of the house, leaving her alone. Regina could not lift herself up right away, but when she managed to drag herself next to a wall, the woman noticed what she feared most. She saw blood on her legs and began to feel the sharp pain she was already familiar with. Regina lifted Robin's long shirt which she was wearing and saw how her lower body was beginning to soak in blood.
It suddenly felt too much for her to handle. Regina simply could not take losing a child, so she dragged herself to the bathroom and let the cold water fill the tub. She took a long look at herself in the mirror. Her face was covered in blood and bruises, her upper body had huge marks and nail traces, and her lip was slit open, again. Having destroyed the phone Robin gave her, Regina had no other way of calling him. Even worse, the half-crawling, half-walking she had to do to get to the bathroom drained her of any last bit of energy. Even though Regina's brain was beginning to cloud and she could not think clearly anymore, being submerged in cold water seemed a possibility for her to soothe a bit of the pain.
What Regina did not expect, was to pass out once she stepped into the tub.
It was not long until Robin came back home, but instead of Regina's presence, only silence greeted him.
"Regina? You did not answer when I called back. Where are you?" Robin shouted as he unlocked the door.
When he got no response, he picked up the pace and began frantically looking for her around the house. Robin could feel his heart plummeting in his chest, his hands got clammy and a deep frown settled between his brows. He noticed the bathroom door was closed and instantly imagined the worst scenario.
He did not take the time to knock or ask for permission to enter, instead he threw himself upon the door and swung it open. He saw a bottle of painkillers on the floor first, and only then noticed Regina's body in the tub. She was fully submerged and did not move. The water was mixed with blood and he could see the proeminent vein on her forehead, instantly understanding that she had fought for air.
Robin rushed towards her and scooped her up, feeling the cold water dripping on his body, soaking his clothes. Even through the layers of clothing, Robin could feel the way her body was greedily taking his own warmth.
"Regina, come back to me! Come on!" Robin begged.
He placed her as gently as possible on the floor, desperately trying to find a pulse. It took him a few seconds, but the feeling of a faint heartbeat underneath his fingertips was probably the one he would forever remember. She was not breathing, so he hastily placed her entire body on the floor and grabbed his phone, called 911 and put it on speaker.
"911, what is your emergency?"
"My name is Robin Locksley, I have a drowned 30-year-old female, pregnant, she is unconscious and not breathing. I am starting CPR," he said, before giving them the adress.
"Come on, Regina. You cannot leave me. Stay with me," he begged, feeling her ribs crack under the pressure he applied during CPR.
Soon after, two paramedics pushed Robin aside and carried Regina into the ambulance.
"Are you her husband?" one of them asked Robin.
"Not yet, but I am a doctor. I am coming along," he quickly answered and climbed into the car.
"We need to dry her body a little bit so we can set up the defibrillator," one of the paramedics said. Without hesitation, Robin pushed aside the soaked towel he covered her with, then wiped away the water from her body, and placed the paddles under her right collarbone and on her left side.
"Clear," he managed to say.
Letting the machine analyze her heart, the two paramedics took turns doing the compressions, while Robin breathed his own air into her lungs, until they heard the little box say a robotic "Shock adviced". When one of the men pressed the button, the defibrillator continued "Shock delivered. Continue compressions."
Robin had seen this scenario a million times in med school, but looking at her body arch from the shocks sent shivers down his spine. He could not afford losing her. What happened to her, and how did her battered body end up in the tub? Was it his fault, maybe he could have prevented it?
He was quickly snapped out of his thoughts when one of the paramedics sighted in relief "We have a strong pulse!"
Robin collapsed on the seat next to Regina, brushing his hands through his hair.
"You did good, doctor! You saved her. A few more minutes under the water and she would have passed," the paramedic told Robin.
Regina woke up in a dimly lit room, hooked up to various machines. She looked at her hands, they were covered in bruises and full of IV's. Regina closed her eyes when she realised what happened, she was not capable of facing Robin right then. He gave her everything, he saved her, and this is how she chose to thank him. Deep within, she knew it was not her fault that Leo had come to their house. Regina knew she was not responsible for the beating she got from her ex-partner, but trying to soothe the pain with the help of a warm bath had been entirely her choice.
She tried to move, figuring she might as well leave before Robin came. He probably did not want to see her again and she did not want to make things more difficult than they had to be. However, a wave of pain surrounded her body and she fell back, letting out a small cry.
A few hours prior
A whole team of doctors whisked Regina into an empty room, leaving Robin alone in the waiting area. He could simply grab the lanyard with his ID and work on Regina, but the overwhelming guilt was making him unable to think of a way to help her. What happened to her? How did she get all those wounds and where was the person who did that to her?
Robin opened the CCTV app on his phone, thinking she may have gone out and something could have happened, but saw him instead. The man who made Regina cry herself to sleep each night since he met her broke into his house and caused her all the damage he saw.
Robin could not wait for Regina to wake up, so he quickly took the recording on his phone, called his closest friends for help and began the hunt for Leo.
"Ms. Mills, I need you to calm down and tell me what happened," the doctor told her, but she could not stop crying.
Her whole body was shaking and her breaths were shallow, making the woman place an oxigen mask over Regina's mouth and nose. She followed the breathing pattern the doctor instructed and looked at her in fear, removing the mask from her face.
"I slipped in the tub and hit my head." she lied, hoping the doctor would leave her alone.
"And how can hitting your head make you miscarry and cover your body in bruises?" she snapped at Regina, realising what she did when she saw tears starting to well up in her eyes.
"Ms. Mills, I am so sorry! That was unprofessional and I should not have done it, but I need to know what happened in order to take care of you," the doctor said.
"That will not be necessary, I will take over from here," Robin said while entering the room.
"Robin," Regina exhaled, breathing his name like a prayer.
It took both of them a few moments to get over the shock of seeing the other, after what had happened. When Robin saw that she was about to start crying, the questions he wanted to ask were forgotten, and he instantly went next to her bed. His hands were on Regina's shoulders, as if trying to make sure that she was really there, alive.
"Robin, I am so sorry," she managed to say before he grabbed her into a tight grip, resting his face in the crook of her neck. Her scent was soothing, and feeling the warmth of her skin was slowly washing away Robin's fear of losing her. Regina could feel him hugging her even tighter than before and his tears were running down her chest, quickly dampening the hospital gown she was wearing.
"Don't you ever scare me like that again," he said, not letting her go.
Regina wrapped her arms around him and pulled him closer, breathing in the scent she had grown to love.
"He was there," she managed to mumble, hiding her face from him.
"I know, love. I was not there for you and this happened. I took care of him, you will never have to see him again," Robin assured her, and she did not feel the need to ask for more details.
If Robin said that everything had been handled, she would simply choose to trust him. She was safe, but the pain overwhelmed her body once the fear of upsetting Robin disappeared.
"Did I lose the baby?" she asked, hoping he would tell her otherwise, but he grabbed her even tighter and apologised.
Regina then started to feel disgusted with her own body, the one her baby trusted with its life, and she was not capable of keeping it safe.
Regina felt like she was going to throw up, so she quickly pulled back from Robin's embrace and covered her mouth with her hand. She could not leave her bed because of all the wires on her hands, so he had to rush back to her with a trash can, holding her hair and soothingly massaging her back while she emptied her stomach.
A few weeks later
It was almost time Robin took Regina back home, so he made sure to tell his coworkers he was not going to come in for a few weeks. Robin knew how hard the recovery was going to be for her, but he never imagined she was going to harm herself even further by not eating a single bite for days in a row.
Her bruises were fading and Robin was going to remove the stitches in a few more days. The miscarriage was not as harsh on her body as he expected it to be, but her refusal to eat made her lose weight, strenght and the willingness to move on.
"Regina, please. There is no way I can let you leave this hospital if you do not try this at least," he begged her while holding a bowl of clear soup.
"Why should I eat it? I am not worth it, I could not even protect my baby. It was the only thing I had to do, and I failed. You should just give up on me," she said with tears in her eyes.
"Hey. I am never going to give up on you, do you understand me? From the moment I met you, I saw my future in you. I saw a powerful woman, who was strong enough to save herself from a terrible faith. You are the most humble person I have ever met and I want to be the one who gets to spoil you the way you deserve. I want you to become the fierce woman I know you once were, and I need to be the one who will be next to you every step of the way. Regina, I know we only met months ago, but I want you to understand how important you are to me and how much I need you. Now, Regina, I do not want to rush you, but I do want to see you bloom into the person I know you once were, and hopefully spend my life next to you. Whenever you feel ready to give me an answer, I will be right next to you," he said.
Regina listened to Robin's words while she felt her lungs refuse taking in any more air. The love she felt for him grew more and more with each word he said, but him asking her to marry him was something she never expected. Why would he want her? He could find someone way better than her, someone who was not so broken as she was.
"I want to marry you," she heard herself blurt out, watching Robin's eyes grow wider.
He then bulldozed her with a hug and kissed her with everything he had. She was next to a man who loved her for who she was, a man who wanted nothing but to help her heal and grow. She never would have thought this could happen to her, so it all seemed surreal.
"I also want to try that soup," she smirked playfully, feeling like he gave her life a new purpose.
Robin grabbed the bowl of soup and fed her a couple of spoonfuls, looking worriedly at her. "Can you hold them down?" he asked, ready to grab the trash can she used to throw up into after each meal he tried to feed her.
Regina felt her stomach refuse the food, but she smiled at Robin and nodded.
"Give me a minute," she said, closing her eyes and doing her best to prevent herself from throwing up.
She felt the familiar wave of heat, making her drenched in sweat, and it took everything she had to fight the vomiting sensation.
A few moments later, she calmed down and felt Robin wiping off her face with a damp towel.
"I know it is difficult right now, but I am so proud of you," Robin said, making her eyes start to tear up in guilt and shame for what she had been putting her body through.
"Can I have more?" she asked hopefully, starting to enjoy the feeling of having something in her stomach.
A few weeks later
With all the stress they had been through during the previous two months, Robin realised he had not actually done anything special for Regina in a while. Although he had been staying at home with her ever since she was discharged, she refused to leave the house or take care of herself more than the necessary. Regina spent most of her day in bed, only getting out to use the bathroom or spend some time with Robin in the living room.
Losing the baby had a devastating effect on her, even more than her encounter with Leo. She actually opened up to Robin about how her biggest wish is to become a mother, which made him understand that even after a heartbreak like this one, she was strong enough to fight for what she desired the most. Robin did not bring up the subject of a new baby, he knew that it was not what Regina wanted. Regina was grieving the baby, and even if she were to get a child, she would have wanted it to be the one she lost.
Robin silently entered their bedroom, in case she was asleep, only to find Regina staring blankly at the wall in front of her. He was going to take a leap of faith and ask her out on a date, something he was pretty sure she would turn down. However, Robin was willing to take this chance, if there was the slightest possibility of her agreeing to it. He laid down next to her, draping his arm over her waist and bringing her closer to him.
"Regina, I understand everything is confusing and overwhelming right now and I cannot imagine how hard this is on you. You need to understand that I am going to be here no matter what, but you have to help me, help you. I would like for you to go out with me tomorrow. I have made a reservation at a new restaurant and I want to spend the evening with my fiancée. Let me take you out," he said hopefully.
"I... I don't have anything fancy to wear..." she answered timidly after a while.
"If that is the only thing that is holding you back, consider it solved," he said, smiling.
Robin took his laptop and sat next to her, opening the first website with dresses he could understand how to operate. He might have been a doctor, but the whole online shopping thing was harder than delivering a child.
"How about this one?" he asked, pointing to a simple, yet elegant, black dress.
"Robin, I love it, but I cannot let you spend so much money on me," she tried to argue, but he managed to order it and tick the fast delivery box before she finished her sentence.
"Robin!" she scolded with a wide grin on her face.
Seeing her smile warmed up his heart, making him fall for her for the millionth time, and it made him, yet again, want to buy her every present she deserved.
The next day
Regina carefully stepped into the new dress and finished her hair and make-up. She had enough time and energy to step up her make-up game, but chose to put her hair in a simple ponytail.
She managed to hide all of the bruises left on her body and had enough concealer to cover up the dark circles under her eyes. She actually felt... beautiful. It had been more than half a decade since she felt this way.
She took one last look in the mirror and left the bedroom, only to find Robin asleep on the couch. Regina sneaked behind him and kissed his neck, slowly kneading his shoulders.
"Do you still want to take me out?" she asked smiling when he woke up.
Robin pulled up in front of the restaurant and helped Regina in, directing her towards their table. Once the waiter gave them the manu, Regina could feel her eyes growing wider as she read the prices. He had already spent so much money on her, she felt like she could not ask for anything more without feeling incredibly guilty.
She could feel his eyes on her, clearly understanding her problem, when he gingerly stepped in.
"Actually, I have a better idea," he said as he stood up and took her hand, leaving the restaurant behind.
They walked to the car, where she watched him pull out a blanket, a bottle of wine and a corkscrew.
"I may have forgotten the glasses, but we can handle this," he laughed.
Her smile grew even bigger as they entered the park next to the restaurant and she watched him straighten the blanket over the grass.
"Now, we can either get some hot dogs from that cart or order some pizza. What would you prefer?" he asked her before taking his seat on the blanket, cuddling her closer to him.
6 months later
Robin watched her step gracefully down the aisle. Her hair was neatly pinned up, revealing her long neck and smooth shoulders. Regina did not allow him to see the dress before the wedding, so it was the first time he ever saw her wearing it, and he was baffled. Most of all, he loved the look on her face; he could see joy, strenght and love. She looked so humble, yet so fierce and ready to conquer the world, which was exactly what made Robin fall in love with her.
Regina did not realise that Robin's vow was almost over, as she was too busy gazing into his eyes and doing her absolute best not to cry at his words, so they both chuckled when the priest coughed and almost begged Regina to begin with her vow. Watching him take her hands into his, Regina started her vow. He could feel the tremble in her voice, so he gently rubbed his thumbs across her hands, soothing and encouraging her.
"Robin Locksley, during the past year, you have been the most important person in my life. You entered my life when I was at my lowest and needed someone by my side, without even realising it, and you took the time to understand me and help me open up. You took down the walls I built to protect myself, at least as much as I could. With you, I felt safe for the first time in so many years. You gave me a home where I didn't have to fear for my own life and guided me through every harsh night I had when those memories came back to me. I am grateful and honoured to be your wife and I can only hope to be worthy of your love from now on."
One year later
"Love, we will just have to wait for your blood test results and I will figure out what's going on with you. Being so sick is not normal, and fainting is not either, but you have to stop worrying. There is not much we can do right now, but my colleagues in the lab are doing their best to speed up the process. You cannot lose faith because we are going to fix whatever this is," Robin said.
He could see the tears welling up in her eyes and he heard a crack in her voice as she tried to speak.
"How could I be optimistic? Everything I have done was to be a burden on your shoulders and now I might be sick. You have not done anything wrong to deserve having to deal with such a wife," she cried.
He held his hand up in frustration, trying to get her to stop talking like this and undermine herself, but he watched her drop to the floor, shielding her head and begging him not to hurt her. Robin looked at his hand with a shocked and disgusted grimace on his face. He managed to destroy her trust in him in a blink of an eye.
"Regina," he mumbled while sitting next to her, only to have her crawl away from him.
"Regina, I did not want to hit you, I..." he said before she interrupted him.
"I would have understood. I was selfish, I am sorry. If hitting me makes you feel better, then I shall do everything in my power to make you happy," she said, looking at the floor.
He was at a loss for words as he looked at his wife, the one person who always put others before her, even if it meant for her to get hurt. "Regina, my happiness will never consist of something bad happening to you, you have to understand that. You can always count on me,
and I will always love you with every single thing I have," he said, managing to embrace her, feeling the tension melt away from her body.
A couple of days later
Regina watched Robin pace around the bedroom while talking on the phone to his colleague. They were discussing her blood test results and she could not read any emotion on his face, nor understand the complicated medical terminology they were using.
"Thank you so much for your help, I am going to bring her in to check if everything is alright," he said before ending the call.
He sat next to Regina on the bed, hugging her and turning her to face him. He kissed her and leaned his forehead on hers.
"Regina, we are going to have baby. You are pregnant."
She instantly thought of the miscarriage she had two years prior, but he seemed to read her thoughts and began talking again.
"Nothing bad is going to happen again, I will be here and I will take care of both of you. Do you... Do you want to keep this baby?"
Her eyes grew wide when she understood what he meant.
"Robin, I am not going to give up on a baby just because of what happened before. I did not think I would be so blessed to be able to get pregnant again, so you do not have any chance of escaping this situation," she smirked playfully.
The bathroom was dimly lit, with only a few scented candles and the hot bath water was covered in bubbles. Regina was sitting between Robin's legs, leaning upon his chest, while his hands were placed on her baby bump and his chin was resting on her shoulder. She was 7 months pregnant, but her bump was not showing too much, causing her to stay up late at night, feeling every movement of her baby.
"Oh, did you feel that? Your baby boy never sleeps," she turned towards Robin with a huge smile on her face. Even though the baby's kicks were starting to become increasingly uncomfortable, Regina would not have traded them for the world.
He nodded and kissed her shoulder, nibbling his way to her neck.
"I can make you feel much more than that, though," he said playfully.
Later that night
Robin came back to their bedroom with the blueberries Regina begged for. Robin also had a few pancakes cooking in the kitchen, but he figured he would just give her the fruit and come back before they burned. She did not get any unusual cravings and did not send him to the grocery store in the middle of the night, so he considered himself to be pretty lucky. As he entered the room, he saw her sitting on the edge of the bed, hunched over her knees, painfully grasping her small bump.
"R-Robin, something is wrong. I think I am having contractions," she cried in discomfort.
"How long ago did they start? How long do they last?" he quickly asked her, somehow trying to remind himself that this is what he did for a living.
"Right before you came, about half a minute," she said before clinging to him.
"Regina, calm down. You are only 27 weeks, they are most likely Braxton Hicks," he said, holding her and rubbing small circles on her back.
"I do not know what those are," she looked at him with shame in her eyes.
"Hey, listen to me. First of all, calm down, you need to breathe through them so they pass faster." she nodded and followed the breathing pattern he instructed. "Now, Braxton Hicks are false contractions, the ones your body uses to prepare for labor. You will most likely get them pretty often from now on," he explained.
"I feel so stupid for bothering you right now... I did not know you could have these and I got scared. It is way too early for him to come," she said, pursing her lips and looking straight at the floor.
"Regina, you need to tell me everything you feel. There is no such a thing as a stupid question, and pregnancy is for sure a topic I know a lot about," he said.
"Do you want to hear his heartbeat?" he asked, looking for the Doppler fetal monitor.
"Can you do that?" she asked, and he could see her entire face light up.
Robin placed the device on her bump and turned it on. In a matter of seconds, the room was filled with the powerful sound of their son's heartbeat. He looked at her and saw the tears running from her eyes as she calmed down, convinced that everything was alright with her baby. Robin turned off the monitor and placed it close to her, as he was sure she was going to try to listen to his heartbeat while he was at work.
"So, what is his name?" he asked.
"I was thinking that, since it is a boy, you get to choose," she smiled.
Robin leaned over and kissed her, wrapping his arms around her.
"How about Oliver?" he suggested before kissing her again. "Or maybe James? Or Roland?" he suddenly felt her pull back from the kiss and smile against his lips.
"Roland Locksley. This is his name," she grinned before kissing him.
"We also need to talk about the birth plan, Regina," he said cautiously. "we can go in tomorrow and fill in the paperwork," he suggested.
"Do you want to help with his delivery? I trust you more than any other doctor," she said.
"If this is what you want, of course," he smiled. "However, we need to decide on a couple more things. In case you will not need a C-Section, do you want to go to the hospital or stay at home? If you want to be in the hospital, I would suggest you opted for at least an epidural anesthetic."
Regina let out a sigh and closed her eyes for a moment. She took Robin's hands in her own and rubbed them with her thumbs.
"I really hope I will not need surgery, but I would like to be in the hospital, just in case something goes wrong with either one of us. I do not want the epidural, but I am counting on you to guide me through the whole process. I think the three of us will make a good team." Regina said before kissing him.
She suddenly pulled away and scrunched her nose.
"Can you feel that smell?" she asked as she almost held her breath.
"Love, I did wash my teeth, you know?" he joked before actually feeling the smell she pointed out.
"Oh my God, the pancakes!" he yelled before jolting to the kitchen.
When Robin entered the kitchen, with Regina hot on his heels, black smoke had already clouded the entire room, and the heat radiating from the fire on the stove made it hard to approach the extinguisher. Robin could barely see Regina behind him, coughing her lungs out while trying to call 911.
"Get out of the house!" she heard Robin scream while trying to put out the fire, which was spreading even further across the kitchen. As much as she wanted to help him, the firefighters were on their way and the smoke was choking her, bringing her closer to fainting, so she listened to him and left the house.
Regina ran out of the house and fell to her knees, coughing so hard her lungs started to hurt and her bump contracted again. Apparently, smoke coming from an open fire had a much more pronounced effect on a pregnant woman than on a normal person. As she saw the flashing lights on the ambulance coming closer to them, Regina noticed through the windows that the fire had spread even further. She tried to run back into the house, but a paramedic blocked her way and held her tightly.
"Madam, is there anyone else in the house?" he asked.
"My husband, he was right in the kitchen!" she cried once she could control the panting for a few seconds.
"They are going to get him out, but you have to come with me so we can check on you and the baby. I want to give you an oxygen mask so it can clear out your airway. How far along are you in the pregnancy?" he asked while escorting her to the stretcher next to the ambulance.
"27 weeks," Regina barked, trying to fight him and get back to Robin.
"Ok, tell me your name," he said, trying to distract her.
"Regina," she mumbled.
"Regina, calm down and look at my hand. This is roughly how big your baby is right now, you cannot risk giving birth now. Take a deep breath and let us take care of everything," he said while placing the oxygen mask over her nose and mouth.
"Deep breaths, Regina."
Moments after, two of the firefighters carried out an unconscious Robin and took him straight to the ambulance.
"Let go of me!" Regina yelled at the paramedic and rushed towards Robin, not paying attention to the other men who were trying to get her to ride to the hospital in another car and leave Robin alone, just in case something were to happen.
"He was exposed to the smoke for about 3 minutes, let's give him some oxygen in case this is why he passed out," a paramedic said before noticing the wound at the back of Robin's head. "Oh, bloody hell!" he continued as they began cleaning him up.
They got to the hospital where Robin worked in a few minutes, and Regina could only see a team of doctors rushing towards Robin, taking him away from her.
"Madam?" she turned around to see a young nurse who had enough bad luck to have to deal with her during those moments. Regina looked at her and started crying, not being able to articulate any words. She wrapped her arm around Regina and guided her away from the room Robin was in.
"I need to take you to the maternity wing so they can check on your little baby. By the time you will be done, they will probably allow you to see your husband as well," she said soothingly. "Do you know what you are having?" she continued, pointing to her bump and smiling.
"A boy, we have just decided on his name. Roland," she said, trying to breathe the way Robin taught her earlier. The nurse stopped walking, and positioned herself in front of Regina, grabbing her arms with her hands and rubbing them.
"He will be alright, ok? Right now we need to focus on keeping baby Roland inside for a few more weeks, because I am sure this is not the state your husband wants to be in when he first gets to hold his son," she said.
A few hours later
Regina was feeling as if all of her energy has been drained from her body. She had been there for hours and did not get any update on Robin, but all of her test results came back within the normal limits. They had given her a private room with a bed, so she would not have to sit on the metal chairs in the waiting room, but this hospital scent was driving her crazy. After all, she might consider having the baby at home.
The door opened and a nurse popped her head in quietly.
"Sorry to bother you, but Dr. Locksley woke up."
Before she even finished the sentence, Regina was up and ready to go.
As Regina was walking down the hospital corridors, the overwhelming guilt was eating her alive. He only left the kitchen because she asked for the stupid blueberries, so nothing would have happened if she just shut up.
"Is he... burned?" she asked the nurse while looking at her feet and nervously nibbled on her lip.
"He is actually not, but he apparently tried to avoid the fire and hit himself into the nearby counter, I was told. He hit his head and passed out, but the smoke didn't cause any permanent damage to his respiratory system," she assured Regina.
Regina watched the nurse open the door, revealing Robin, who had fallen asleep again. Regina nodded towards the nurse, assuring her that everything was alright, and watched her step out of the room. His bed was big enough to fit the both of them, so she carefully climbed next to him, still worried that she might hurt him.
Regina could feel him wrap his arms around her, slightly turning to his side so he was partially facing her, still asleep. She nuzzled her face into his neck and held him tightly, squishing her bump between them.
"You would better not scare me like this again," she said, using the words he told her over two years prior to that day.
Robin was bound to spend some time at the hospital, so Regina chose to stay by his side until he was ready to come home, no matter how long it would take. The room she was given had to be occupied by another patient, so everything she had left was the chair next to Robin's bed and a couple of pillows the nurses gave her, but she could not let that bring her down. Whenever she needed him, Robin was right next to her, so she had to be the strong one for once.
It was late at night when Regina found her way to the cafeteria. Robin was asleep, but their little baby wanted to make sure he had her undivided attention by kicking her with all of his strength.
"Baby, please calm down for a bit. You are bundled up in my rib cage and every one of your kicks feels as if it would break them," she said while caressing her small bump, instantly soothing his movements.
She went ahead and ordered a cup of warm tea and a sandwich, as she had not eaten all day and began to feel a little dizzy. While she was waiting for the sandwich to warm up, Regina gently grabbed the edge of the counter and leaned a part of her weight on it. She closed her eyes and tightened her grip as the dizziness took over and her vision started to blacken. She remembered this feeling and knew it would pass after she managed to take a bite out of that sandwich, but she still hated herself for letting so many hours pass without eating.
The cashier smiled sympathetically at her before realising she could not focus and did not respond to her approach. Lowering her gaze to meet her baby bump and understanding what might happen if she fell, she rushed next to Regina, wrapped her arm around her waist and guided her towards the nearest chair.
"What's wrong?" she asked with panic in her voice.
Regina started to regain her vision, so she accepted the woman's help, thanked her and explained what happened.
"I was up all day, I thought I could take better care of my husband than the nurses," she laughed. "I might have forgotten to grab a bite and it seems like this little guy did not appreciate it," she said.
"Oh, your order is on the house! I will bring it to you right away and please do not hesitate to ask for more if you wish!" she said before leaving in a hurry.
"I cannot risk you getting into trouble because of me," Regina said while walking back to the counter and sliding the money to the woman.
"At least allow me to join you while you eat. I am Mary Margaret," she said with a certain amount of concern in her voice.
Regina smiled and nodded, grabbing the cup of tea and letting the woman take the plate with her sandwich.
"Nice to meet you, Mary. I'm Regina."
"Oh, Dr. Locksley's wife! You've been his favorite topic of discussion for the past two years!" she said with a chuckle.
They walked back to the table and she placed the plate in front of Regina's seat, worriedly looking back and forth between the older woman and the food.
"I promise I am not starving myself, although it might look like it right now. I just forgot to eat today," Regina said with a slight smile as she sat down and began munching on the sandwich.
"Oh, great, because I would not have had any idea on how to deal with it and I felt really bad," she blurted out before covering her mouth, realising she said that out loud. "This is why I usually get fired within a few weeks from starting a new job," she said while rubbing her forehead.
"It is alright, you were just worried about me. Please, calm down," Regina said while leaning towards her and rubbing her arm.
"I have to bring a snack to the little girl in the pediatric ward," Mary said after a while, letting out a sigh. "Her mother abandoned her a couple of days ago and the poor child will not stop crying. She is only 2 and a half and she will be taken into the system after they discharge her. The child needs some of that motherly love as soon as possible," she said before standing up.
Her last words kept playing over and over in Regina's head, tearing her heart apart, so she dropped what was left of the sandwich, gulped down the tea and stood up.
"May I come with you?" Regina asked hopefully.
Mary smiled widely at her and nodded, probably relieved that she would not have to face the screaming toddler alone.
"I suppose we can use your husband's reputation around the hospital and get you in, but I want you to finish that sandwich before we go. I will prepare her food while you eat and we will go see her afterwards," she said.
Regina nibbled on her sandwich while thinking of the little girl they were about to meet, as she was sure she was going to get attached to her in no time.
Regina finished her food and walked up to Mary, helping her fix the toddler's tray.
"What is her name?" Regina asked.
"The few documents her mother dropped before leaving said something about her name, Ava, if I remember it correctly," Mary said before leading the way to the child's room.
As she opened the door, they saw two nurses on the verge of a breakdown, trying to calm Ava down. Regina's eyes filled with love for her and her jaw dropped, letting out a silent gasp. She was a small girl, with long brown hair and beautiful dark eyes. Her little arms were desperately trying to cling to the pillow and her cries were shattering her.
"May I?" Regina asked, taking a step closer to her.
The nurses threw their hands in the air and she could see the despair on their faces.
"You will need magic to calm her down." one of them said.
Regina sat next to Ava and saw her calm down a little bit before throwing herself in her arms, hugging the woman tightly and continuing to cry.
"Hey, baby," Regina said softly, rubbing small circles on her back and bringing her closer to her.
"Not baby," she said with an upset look.
"That is right, you are the big girl here," Regina said while pointing to her bump, trying to distract her. She gave Regina a confused look, so the woman continued talking.
"There is a small baby in here, a little boy."
The child placed her hands on her bump and Roland responded with a kick, making her squeal.
"Now, how can I bring the smile back on your pretty face?" Regina asked before cradling her to her chest.
"Mommy is gone," she said with a gleam of hope that maybe Regina would at least be her friend.
Robin spent two more days in the hospital, as all of his colleagues wanted to make sure nothing was wrong before they discharged him. During those days, Regina managed to gain Ava's trust and became her favourite person in the entire hospital. If Regina was next to her, the nurses could sigh in relief and carry on with their day. The brunette took up all the tasks regarding Ava, including feeding her and making her take a shower at night. However, the child only had a few more days before the social workers had to pick her up and find her a foster home.
Robin lifted himself from the hospital bed and decided to take a couple of steps, mostly because his entire body was stiff from spending so much time lying down. He walked all the way to the nurses station, not being able to find Regina anywhere. She had not left the hospital since they arrived, so he doubted she did now.
"Has anyone seen my wife?" he asked the nurses.
One of them stood up, smiled and came to his side.
"Come along," she said before walking off.
He followed her until we arrived in front of a private room in the pediatric ward and she signaled for him to look through the wide window.
Robin peeked inside and saw Regina on the bed, with a small toddler cuddled up next to her. The kid seemed to be gently applying pressure on various points of Regina's bump, patiently waiting for Roland's reply. Whenever she felt the baby move, she squealed in delight and clapped her tiny hands.
"And who might that be?" he asked the nurse, who was entranced by his wife bonding with the child.
"Your future daughter, I suppose," she laughed. "her mother left her here and your wife was pretty much chosen by her. She has been glued to her and her world seemed to collapse whenever Mrs. Locksley came to see you and left her alone," she continued.
Robin could feel his jaw drop and his eyes widen as he understood what the nurse suggested.
"Did she say anything about wanting to adopt her?" he asked worriedly.
"Hmm, she did not use those words, but they are definitely close and she got really attached to the baby," she answered.
"What... What would we have to do? You know, if we... If we were to take her in," Robin stuttered.
The nurse gave him a wide smile and began enlisting the steps of the process.
"Both of you will have to pass a psychological exam, a social worker will have to assess the living conditions you could offer and then fill in a bunch of paperwork," she said.
Robin stepped inside the room and watched Regina's facial expressions change from shock, to love mixed with a little bit of fear. The toddler crawled closer to her, wrapping herself in Regina's arm.
"Hello there, princess," he said quietly, sitting next to his wife, placing his hand on her lap. "I am Robin, her husband," he said, pointing to Regina.
"Da-da? You daddy?" she asked in an adorable voice. "Me? Ava," she said proudly, while pointing at herself.
"I am honoured to meet you, little Ava. You know, I thought I would be the only one to steal mommy's heart," Robin said with a smirk.
He turned to Regina, who was nervously nibbling on her bottom lip and fidgeting with her thumbs. Robin took her hand in his and lovingly looked her in the eyes.
"Whatever you think is best, I will agree with you. I cannot leave her behind, not after seeing how much she charmed you," he said.
Her traits softened and her eyes welled up with tears.
"Do you think we can do this?" she asked.
"I think you can do whatever you set your mind on. You will be an amazing mother to her and I will be next to you. However, you will need to teach me a bit about being a parent, I thought I still had a few months left before I got to take a child home," he said.
"What if these are only my hormones messing with me? The baby I lost would have been around her age now..." Regina whispered while watching Ava colour a drawing in her book.
"Hey, listen to me. The hormones are messing with you when they suggest that a tasty combination would consist of pasta and pickles or when they make you cry each time you see that puppy commercial on TV. This is just you being an amazing person, as usual," he said, pulling her into a hug.
After a while, Regina pulled back and wiped away her tears. Grabbing his hand, she took a deep breath and caught Ava's attention.
"Baby, what would you think if I said you could come home with us? Would you like that?" she asked.
Robin watched the toddler's eyes grow wide in amazement, before throwing herself on both of them with her arms wide open, squishing Regina's bump and making her gasp. Even with Ava's leg pressed against her baby bump in a clearly uncomfortable way, Regina reached out to her and hugged her, lovingly caressing her back.
"Pink room?" Ava asked cutely.
"Do you want your room to be pink, baby?" Regina asked while lacing her fingers through Ava's hair.
Robin watched them bond and create a connection he had not seen in many mothers with their own children, yet they somehow managed to have it so soon. He could see the happiness on Regina's face, which made him fall in love with her all over again. She was willing to take an abandoned child into her home and help her adapt to the new surroundings the best she could, even though she was so close to her due date.
He was snapped out of his thoughts when I heard Ava's thin voice calling for him.
"Dada? Here," she said, motioning towards Regina's empty arm. Robin scooted over and cradled both of the girls close to him, kissing each of their heads.
"Welcome to the family, Princess," he said.
Regina and Robin had been at home for over one month, trying to fix the damage caused by the fire, putting together a room for Ava and helping her adjust to the new life. Regina was now 32 weeks pregnant, bringing her closer to the due date with each day. After their hospital adventure, they agreed to have the baby at home, even though Robin brought all of his equipment and pretty much created better conditions than his OR offered.
Ava was doing remarkably well, opening up to both of them and thriving in every way. She learned more words and could easily put together simple sentences, which made Regina and Robin melt with love. The child insisted on calling them "mama" and "dada", but was still well aware that her mother gave up on her. During her bedtime story one night, Ava looked up at Regina and asked about her biological mother.
"Why mom leave? You love me, yes? You going to leave?" the toddler asked with a frown.
"Oh, baby, we are never going to leave you. I'm sure your mother had a reason for leaving you at the hospital, but this gave us the chance of having you here. We will always be here for you, Ava, we love you so much," Regina answered.
After putting Ava to sleep, Regina went to their bedroom and cuddled up next to Robin. Her baby bump was still fairly small, allowing her to move without the discomfort she expected. Regina sat against the headboard, allowing Robin to place his head on her chest, wrap an arm around her lower back and caress her bump with the other. Whenever he touched her, Roland seemed to calm down and soften his kicks, making her sigh in relief. She tangled her fingers in his hair, playing with it as he checked out what movies were on TV. After a while, she realised Robin dozed off, still partially on top of her, but she was too captivated by the movie to go to sleep, so she chased away the yawns and struggled to keep her eyes open.
Regina realised she must have fallen asleep when she jolted awake because of the loud screaming in the movie.
"You are worthless, do you understand me? You will never be enough!" the man in the movie yelled before hitting the woman in front of him, making her fall backwards.
Regina could feel her heart racing, as a wave of dizziness took over. This has happened to her as well. She tried to clutch at her chest, as the pain she felt kept her from breathing. The moment she touched her own skin, Regina realised she was drenched in sweat, even though she felt extremely cold.
"Ro-bin," she gasped, waking the man next to her. The moment he saw her, he brushed the tiredness away and tried to hide his terror.
"Is he coming? Regina, are you in labor?" he asked, only to have her shake her head and begin taking shallow breaths.
She managed to lift her shaky arm and point to the TV, where the man was still overpowering the woman.
Robin quickly understood that the movie must have triggered a panic attack, so he placed himself between the screen and his wife, making her look into his eyes.
"Look at me, ok?" he said, making her nod frantically.
He gently took her hands in his and soothingly brushed his thumbs against hers.
"Robin... What's going - What's going on with me?" she asked between sobs.
"It will be over soon, you will be alright. Try to breathe with me, Regina," he said before helping her regain some steadiness.
"Robin? Am I... Am I going to die?" she asked with tears still streaming down her face.
"Oh, love," Robin breathed before wrapping his arms around her. He did not know if she would accept him this close to her right then, but he hugged her even tighter when he felt her body relax into his.
"Nothing is going to happen, you don't have to be afraid. I'm here for you," he said.
He held her for a while, rubbing his hands up and down her back, maintaining the silence between them. After a while, Robin figured the exhaustion forced her to sleep, so he gently laid her down, wrapped his arms around her as tightly as he could and remained awake next to her.
The next morning, Regina woke up alone. Robin's side of the bed was cold, making her understand it had been a while since he left. As her hand felt his pillow, she was hit by the sudden realisation that he might have left her. Letting him see her so vulnerable, so scared... How could she be so inconsiderate? Why did she always have to be a burden on his shoulders? She dragged herself out of the bed, groaning at the pain that shot through her body each morning, and walked to Ava's room. As she entered the bedroom, she saw Robin sleeping on the nursing armchair they kept in there until the baby's room was finished.
She leaned upon the door frame and brought a hand to her mouth, trying to muffle her soft cries. Robin was sleeping peacefully with Ava on top of his chest; she held onto her stuffed bunny and Robin had a colourful story book in his grip. His other hand was wrapped around the toddler, making sure she would not fall and hurt herself.
Regina quietly walked back to their bedroom and sat on the bed, placing a loving hand over her bump.
"Once upon a time, there was a woman who was living with a bad, bad man. She did not have any family of her own, so he was everything she knew. She never felt safe around him and the man always hurt her, but the woman could not bring herself to leave him. She did not think she was worth more than what he told her, but she learned she had a baby to protect, so she left. Then, this woman met her soulmate, the only person who managed to break down her walls and teach her what love truly meant. He was the only man she ever trusted, the only one who constantly wanted to spoil her with attention. This is how you were created, baby boy, out of true love. And now, look at us! We have a little girl as well, and I could not imagine my life getting better than this," Regina said with happy tears running down her cheeks.
"I believe it is my turn to tell him how honoured I am to be the man you are talking about, my love," Robin said, stepping into their bedroom with a sleeping Ava in his arms.
After Regina's panic attack, Robin suggested she saw her therapist again and tried to work things out with herself. Seeing the sheer fear in her eyes sent chills down his spine, but he understood the panic he experienced during those moments wasn't even half of the one she felt. Even though her relationship with Leo ended almost 3 years prior, Robin realised she could not fully move on and certain fears still haunted her.
Regina had been seeing her therapist for over a month, not wanting to cancel the sessions due to her advanced pregnancy. Even though she was to have the baby in 3 weeks, Regina still took it upon herself to care for Ava and the household. Robin had already filled in the paperwork for his requested paid leave from the hospital, as he figured the baby might come earlier than expected and did not want to have Regina on her own at any point.
Regina woke up to a delicious smell coming from the kitchen, so she peeled herself from the comfortable bed and wobbled towards Robin, standing behind him and wrapping her arms around his waist.
"Good morning, bump!" Robin giggled, earning himself a playful slap from Regina.
"You did this to me, so I don't want to hear it." Regina smirked. "I'm going to wake Ava up and bring her downstairs for breakfast," she continued.
Robin turned around, gently grabbed her arm and directed her towards the kitchen counter.
"Or you could finish this fruit salad and I'll bring her," he said.
Robin went to Ava's room and smiled when he saw the sleeping mess of his daughter. The positions she slept in resembled Robin's more than Regina's, so she did not quite have the poise and composure of her mother while she was asleep. Her long hair was covering the entire pillow, forming knots each time she turned. Her lips were slightly parted, letting out the most adorable snore Robin had ever heard. Robin sat on the edge of her bed, gently tickling her tummy.
"Time to wake up, princess. Mommy is waiting for us downstairs," he said, picking up a sleeping Ava and making his way to the kitchen.
"The little gremlin does not want to wake up." Robin laughed, placing Ava on the couch.
He walked behind Regina, wrapped his arms around her baby bump and kissed her neck, just like she did to him minutes before. After a few moments, Robin suddenly stopped and felt her bump again, realising it was incredibly contracted. Gently grabbing her arms, Robin turned her so she was facing him.
"Are you alright?" he asked with concern in his voice.
"I am fine, it has been like this since we went to bed, almost 9 hours ago," she replied.
Robin stepped back and rubbed his forehead, trying to ignore his wife's total lack of knowledge regarding pregnancy and labour.
"Regina, I do not want to scare you, but I am fairly certain the baby will be here pretty soon, he said, watching her eyes widen in shock.
"I... I thought it was going to be more painful. I have been uncomfortable for weeks, and this is not too different. I-I have been through worse, I did not realise," she said.
"Oh, love. Wait until we get to the pushing part, that is going to be when you will curse my entire existence," Robin laughed. "Come on, let's get you comfortable. I want to check your progress and see where we are," he said, guiding her towards their bedroom.
Regina laid down on the bed and Robin sat between her knees, pulling on a sterile glove.
"This is not going to be comfortable, but I need you to relax," he said before inserting his fingers to check her cervix.
After a few moments, Robin removed his hand and threw away the glove.
"Woman, you are going to kill me. You have been in labor for 9 hours before I noticed and you are now 7 cm dilated. Were you going to tell me that something was wrong before or after giving birth?" he sighed.
"I am going to take Ava over to our neighbours so we won't have to explain how babies come into this world just yet," he said.
Regina wanted to answer, but only managed to groan in pain before trying to bring Robin closer to her. The pressure she could feel during the contractions finally started to get to her. Robin could see her shifting uncomfortably, so he quickly made Regina lean into him until the contraction passed.
"How frequent are they?" he asked after her body relaxed.
"About 10 minutes, but they are getting more painful," she whimpered.
"I want you to walk a bit now, it will help speed up the process. Do you want me to start a bath? It might relax you a bit, and I need you to have enough energy for the next part," Robin asked.
Regina simply nodded, trying to muffle her whimpers. Even after having spent so many years next to Robin, away from her ex, Regina could not allow herself to complain about the pain she felt. To her, it still felt like something that completely stepped over the boundaries.
Over the next hour, Robin pampered Regina and went overboard to make her as comfortable as possible. After spending a while in the bath, Robin made her pace around for a bit. Her contractions came one after another, making Regina hold her breath to subside the pain and instilling panic in Robin, who tried to get her to breathe as they practiced many times before.
Several moments later, Robin sat her down on the bed and resumed his place between her knees.
"You made it, love. 10 cm dilated, time to start pushing. When the next contraction starts, I want you to push for as long as I tell you."
A quarter of an hour later, the baby's head started to crown. Robin made her breathe through her contractions, letting the entire head slide out, so she would not tear. After pushing her son's shoulders out, she still had to put in some effort before Robin could grab him.
"Robin, I can not do this anymore, I am not feeling well," she whimpered.
Letting a contraction pass without pushing, and collapsing on the pillows behind her, Regina almost gave in to the awful nausea.
He knew she would reach this point, but he still needed her to push for just a bit more. After all, he imagined her yelling at him and throwing fireballs if he dared to touch her. However, she was much calmer than he expected, focusing all of her energy into the birth of their child.
"I am not good enough for this," she cried.
Robin thought for a moment, as he really needed her to push a little more before he could pull the baby out.
"Here, give me your hands," he said.
Reluctantly, Regina straightened her shaky arms towards Robin.
"We are going to catch him together," he said with a smile.
His words were a breath of fresh air for Regina, making her focus again and put all of her strength in the last few pushes.
As Roland's legs slid out, he was caught by both of his parents and quickly placed on his mother's chest. Robin cut the cord after it stopped pulsing and cleaned his son's airway, without taking him away from Regina. After delivering the placenta, Robin helped Regina position the baby so he could latch onto her breast and took a few photos of them. Robin sat next to her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders and nuzzling his face into the side of her neck.
"I am incredibly proud of you." He said, looking up at her.
"I just... never thought I would have this," she said, finally letting a tear slide down her cheek.
Robin allowed Regina to spend a few more moments alone with their newborn, as he knew how important it was for her to finally meet one of her babies. Throughout her pregnancy with Roland, Regina frequently mentioned the baby she lost when she first met Robin. As hard as it was for her to move on, she managed to put her worries aside and have a healthy pregnancy with her little knight, the one whom she dreamed about for so long.
Robin leaned against the door, crossing his arms in front of his chest and smiling with love in his eyes as he watched his wife bond with their little bundle of joy.
Regina leaned Roland on her right arm, securing his small head with her other hand. During the first minutes, she could not bring herself to say anything, so she lovingly caressed his hair, his chubby cheeks and his small hands. She carefully counted his fingers and toes, making sure they were all there, sighing in relief when she finally realised her son was perfect.
Regina watched Roland drag his tiny hands to his mouth, probably signaling he was hungry. "Oh, you will have to be patient with me, I've never done this before," she said, removing the strap from her shoulder.
A few moments passed and Regina could not get the baby to latch onto her, making her groan in frustration.
Robin saw her struggling, so he decided her alone time with Roland had come to an end. Stepping towards her, he noticed the fear and disappointment in her eyes.
"I cannot do this," she said with shame in her voice.
Robin knew from all of the new mothers who gave birth with him as their doctor that the beginning of the nursing journey might not be as easy as expected, so he was prepared for this to happen to them. He sat next to her, cupped Roland's head with his hand and snuggled his other arm under his body, lifting him from Regina.
"If you are going to stress yourself over it, your body will not produce enough milk for him. Try to calm down and I will help him get a proper latch, alright? It might be uncomfortable at the beginning, but you need to tell me if it hurts, so we can try again."
The baby was starting to get a little fussy, so Robin placed him back on Regina's chest, guiding him towards her breast. Only a few seconds later, the infant found its way and began sucking, letting out the most adorable noises both of them have ever heard. Regina leaned her head on Robin's shoulder, melting into the arm he draped over her back. He placed his other hand under hers, helping her support the weight of their baby while she fed him. Robin watched them for a while, before taking out his phone and snapping a few photos of his newborn and his wife. Just as he was getting ready to peel himself from Regina and get their bags ready for a quick hospital visit, Robin noticed she was still leaning on his shoulder, her lips were slightly parted and her ravished hair covered most of her face. He let out a silent chuckle at the sight of his gorgeous lover who had fallen asleep in what had to be the most uncomfortable position, but still looked like she could sleep like that for a week.
Half an hour later, Regina woke up and noticed Robin was still next to her, snoozing away with the baby on his chest and a burping cloth tossed over his legs.
Even though she was still sore, Regina removed herself from the bed and gathered the things she would need for the short hospital stay Robin was bound to request. As much as she wanted to spend the first days with her son at home, she understood it was more important to allow Robin to bring him in for a check up, given he was a few weeks early. After she finished her and Roland's luggage, Regina called their neighbors and asked them to bring Ava over to the hospital in a few hours, so she could finally meet her baby brother. Regina was ready to start her new life alongside her wonderful husband and charming children. Even though she did not come to meet Robin in the most pleasant circumstances, she was grateful for every moment she could share with him.
One hour later, Regina has Roland attached to her chest again, while trying to help Robin figure out how that doomed car seat worked. After multiple attempts at strapping the baby in the seat, the adults high fived and burst into laughter, relieved to finally having understood how to fasten the baby in the seat, and the seat in the car.
"I would say we had a pretty good start at this parenting thing." Regina said with a grin.
"You became Ava's mother months ago, love. You are a natural." He said.
After a while, Regina was nervously turning around in the front seat of the car to see her son, yelling at Robin to slow down every 5 seconds.
"Robin, so help me God, if the baby dies, you die," She barked, earning herself a worried chuckle from Robin.
"Darling, that policeman is going to stop me if I go any slower than this. He can literally walk next to our car, maybe even pass us."
A few hours later
Robin entered Regina's room with their baby snuggled up against his chest, giving her a warm smile and informing her that everything is perfect with Roland. Ava was curled into Regina's side, patiently waiting to meet her baby brother. She even made him a little drawing, of what she claimed to be their family. As Robin placed the baby into Regina's arms, Ava shifted herself to get a better look at him.
"Small" she laughed.
"Yes, baby, he is small. You will be his big sister and protect him, right?" Robin asked.
The couple spent some more time with their children, trying to adjust to their newest addition and filling Regina up with painkillers to last for months. Even though she would not admit it, she accepted the pills faster than she ever did with anything else before.
"We trade for a girl?" Ava said after a few moments of thinking.
Regina and Robin look at each other, trying to decide whether it was appropriate to laugh or not.
"We will not trade him for a girl, baby. You get to be my only princess for now, while he is my little knight," Regina told the toddler.
"And what do I get to be?" Robin chuckled.
"The silver lining in my story." Regina said with a smile, reaching up to place a gentle kiss on Robin's lips.