Regina made certain to be at the door to the crypt promptly at seven thirty that evening, knowing Robin's habit of being annoyingly early for everything. Sure enough, he walked up ten minutes later., “You're early.” He observed.
“So are you. And if you'd gotten here first I wouldn't have been able to come.” Regina pointed out matter of factly.
“I forgot about that.” Robin paused. “Well, I didn't forget about that. That's why we're here after all, but-”
“You forgot what it meant.” Regina smiled.
“Well-” He sheepishly ran his hand through his hair. “Yes. What say we deal with it and make it no longer an issue?” She nodded and opened the crypt door, leading him down the stairs. He stopped in the heart chamber. “What's in here?”
“All of them?”
“Well, no. Some are empty. Most aren't.” Regina admitted.
“Whose?” “I wish I could remember. There were too many. It didn't occur to me to label them at the time.” She looked down, remorse washing over her shoulders. “Are... are you sure you still want this? With me? To break the binding? I'm the Evil Queen. How can you be certain I won't hurt you? Or Roland? I did this because I was so angry that I couldn't trust myself.”
She looked up in surprise as he rested his hands on her shoulders, meeting her gaze intently. “You aren't the Evil Queen anymore, Regina. You haven't been for a long time. You're my true love. My soul mate. Of course I want this.”
Seeing the certainty in his eyes, she nodded and motioned to the door to her workroom. “This way.”
Robin jumped slightly as the candles lit themselves, but followed her without missing a step. “Show me what I need to do.” He pulled out the binding spell from his pocket and set it on the desk.
She motioned to him to sit as she reached up, pulled the box from the shelf, and opened it to reveal the silver pen, inkwell, and knife. And then, she reached deep into her own chest and ripped out her heart. Sagging slightly against the desk, she placed the heart in front of him. Red glow mingled with mottled black as it sat on the desk. “Not pretty, is it?”
He picked it up. “It's yours. That's all that matters to me.” He examined the heart carefully, noticing golden flecks through the heart and a thin golden thread running from her heart to his own chest. “What's this?” He plucked at it carefully.
“I'm not completely sure.” Regina admitted. “I'm guessing it's got something to do with that kiss I don't remember. Or maybe the soulmate thing. It wasn't there last time I looked.”
He pointed to a thin, dark band that encircled the heart tightly several times, leaving an indent like a rubber band wrapped too tightly around a finger. “And this?”
“That's the binding. All you need to do is cut it.” She handed him the silver knife. He touched the knife to the heart, attempting to slide it under the binding. As he did, it made a small cut in the heart itself and Regina fell to the floor on her hands and knees in pain. Robin immediately dropped the knife and pulled her to him.
“I can't do this without cutting your heart. The binding's too tight.” “It's okay. I said it was simple, not that it would be easy on me. Just do it.” She caught her breath and sat flat on the floor, knowing if she stood she'd just fall down again next time he cut into her heart.
“Regina, I can't hurt you like this. I won't. There has to be another way.” Robin stated firmly, watching her carefully.
She looked away. “There isn't.”
He caught her chin in his hand and turned her face back to him. “There is. What aren't you telling me?”
“Nothing. There is no other way I would let you attempt.”
“Then there is another way.” He declared. “What is it?”
“Robin no.” Regina shook her head. “I will not cause you more pain. I've been the cause of enough suffering. Just cut the binding. It'll be over in a minute.”
Robin slammed the knife point down into the table, slicing his hand on the blade in the process. “Damn it, Regina! I will not do this. I can't hurt you. Tell me.” As he reached for her, his blood dripped from the cut onto the parchment. It shimmered and the band around the heart quivered slightly, but remained tightly wrapped. “That's it, isn't it. Written in your blood, cancelled in mine?”
“Robin, no.” She stood and reached for the knife.
“Regina, you may as well tell me how to do it right, or watch me mutilate myself trying to figure it out.” He pulled the knife from the desk and raised it to his palm.
“No! Not like that!” She tried to snatch the knife from him but he held it tightly.
“You're really set on this? Robin, please. Don't. The other way is safer, easier.”
“Will doing it this way hurt you?” He asked directly, his eyes demanding an answer.
“No.” She admitted reluctantly.
“Then we do it this way. How?” His tone was low, anger creeping into his voice.
“Robin, please!” Regina was begging but she didn't care. “I don't want you to do this.”
“Tell me how. Let's be done with this.”
Regina knew her soulmate well enough to know this was an argument she not could win. Her shoulders slumped in defeat and she reached for his hand. She turned it palm up and pointed out a spot on his forearm. “Cut. From here to here.” She touched the knife, pointing out a spot on the blade. “This deeply.”
He did without hesitation, without even a flinch. “What now?” He asked as blood welled from the cut, dripping to the desk below.
She handed him the inkwell. “Fill it with blood.”
He held the inkwell to his arm. It filled quickly, as the cut was deep, and the blood inside shimmered with magic. “And now?”
“The pen. Dip it in the ink and draw an X across the binding.”
As the pen scratched the parchment, the dark bands fell loosely from her heart, disintegrating into the ether as they touched the desk. He lifted the pen and the page itself crumbled away. “That's it?”
“That's it. It's done.” She reached for his arm. “Healing magic isn't exactly my forte so I can't guarantee this won't scar, but I'm not going to let you bleed to death in my workroom.”
He stretched out his arm, giving her free access to the wound. She held her hand over the cut, feeling magic flow through her, the cut closing to a faint white line under the golden glow of her energy. The pain gone, Robin flexed his arm. “Good as new. And certainly not my first scar.”
“I'm not.” He said firmly. “If I have a choice, and one of those choices is to spare you pain, I will choose it. Always.”
She looked away again. “I've never had anyone willing to do that for me.”
“Get used to it. I'm not going anywhere.”
“Somehow, I'm starting to believe that.” She whispered softly.
“Look at the evidence in your own heart. We are bound, Regina. You can see it.” He held up her heart, the golden thread shimmering in the candlelight. “I assume mine looks the same.”
“Can I see it?” He asked curiously.
“What?” She looked at him in shock. “Robin, that's insane. I'm not taking your heart just so you can have a look at it!”
“Why not?” He stood to face her. “Because taking a heart is dark magic! And it probably wouldn't even work!”
“Because dark magic requires dark emotions to work. Hatred. Anger. Resentment. What I feel for you is... not that. I'm not even mad at you for what you just did. I should be but I'm not!” Regina protested.
“If taking a heart requires hatred toward your target, it worries me that you could take your own so easily.”
She shrugged. “It is what it is. I'm well aware of who I am and what I've done.”
He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead. “I will then be spending the foreseeable future convincing you that you are someone who deserves to be loved.”
She leaned into him for a moment, resting her head on his chest. “I don't deserve you, Robin.”
“Yes. You do. You deserve love and happiness and everything that goes along with it.” He whispered into her hair, holding her tightly. “But as for my own heart, if you're not taking it for a dark purpose, why would you need dark magic to do it?” He asked curiously.
“Because I don't know any other way.”
He caught her hand in his, raising it to his chest. “Yes. You do.”
“You really want to try this? Robin, getting your heart ripped from your chest isn't exactly comfortable.”
He loosened his shirt, pressing her hand to his naked chest. “Yes. I trust you.”
“You're not going to let this go, are you? Fine. I'll try, it won't work, and we'll be done with this discussion.” She snapped.
“Fine.” She pressed her fingers into his chest, unsurprised when her hand failed to penetrate his skin. “See. It didn't work.”
“Are you still trying to do it the same way as before?”
“I told you. I don't know any other way. I don't hate you. I don't resent you. I love you! I can't take your heart out, Robin!” She tried to yank her hand away and he caught her by the wrist.
His hand rested on top of hers, holding it over his heart. “My heart is already yours, Regina. Think about that. Think about what you feel for me. Don't try to rip out my heart. Just reach for me using that love. You're not taking my heart, Regina. I'm giving it to you.”
She closed her eyes and reached again, gasping in shock as her fingers slipped in with no resistance whatsoever, her hand glowing with golden light. “What-”
“Go on. Grab it. It's yours anyway.” He smiled.
She reached forward, slowly curling her fingers around his heart with a feather-light touch. His breath caught in his throat. “I'm sorry.” She whispered. “I'm trying not to hurt you.”
“It doesn't hurt. Not at all. It's-” He fumbled for the words. “It's incredible. You feel incredible. Take it.”
She did. Ever so gently, she tugged forward, pulling his heart from his chest. The golden thread shining in the candlelight clearly connected their two hearts, hers still dark, his shining bright red with gold shimmers. “Robin, it's beautiful!” She held the heart in awe, gently running her fingertips over the red glow.
Robin gasped and she looked up quickly. “I'm sorry!”
“It's okay. It didn't hurt. That was not pain. Not at all. It was just-” He shook his head. “I lack the words.”
Unable to stop herself, she touched his heart again, more firmly this time, marveling at the sheer beauty of it. His eyes closed and he leaned his back against the wall, shuddering under her touch. As her fingers left his heart, he looked down at her. “I assure you. That was most definitely not pain.”
“Oh.” She paused, and then realized his meaning. “Oh!” She smirked slightly and gently touched the heart again, longer this time, watching his head fall back in ecstasy.
The moment she lifted her fingers from his heart, in two quick strides his arms were around her, pressing her close against him and pinning her between his body and her desk. “Woman, that is the most intimately erotic thing I have ever felt.” His teeth nipped at her neck and she instinctually tilted her head to give him more access,. “I had hoped that I could spend all night making love to you tonight, but if you would prefer our first time together to be hard and fast with you bent over your desk and your skirt hiked around your waist, by all means, continue.”
She trembled slightly at the image and turned in his arms, resting her head on his chest. “Then let's put this back where it belongs, and perhaps explore that thought a little later.” She pressed the heart into his chest, unable to resist giving it a final caress as she pulled her hand back, feeling his heartbeat quicken.
“You like playing with fire, don't you?” He whispered into her hair as he shivered in her arms. Reaching toward the desk, he scooped her own heart up into his hand. “Turnabout is fair play, my dear.”
She shrugged and tipped her head toward her heart. “It's not pretty, but it's yours. Do what you will with it.”
“It's beautiful.” He brushed his thumb softly over the darkly glowing heart and her knees buckled in response. He caught her and lifted her to sit on the edge of her desk. “Is this okay?”
She nodded into his neck. “Yes. I've never- Nothing has ever-” Unable to find the words to describe the sensation, she burrowed into his shoulder, her hands grasping at his back.
He chuckled softly. “I know what you mean. I couldn't describe it either.”
He reached around her to caress her heart again while still keeping her close in his arms, feeling her shiver in his arms. “My God, Robin!” She whispered, her breath heavy on his chest. “It feels like you're touching my soul.”
He leaned in to kiss her as he stroked her heart lightly, then more firmly, watching her reactions carefully. Her legs clenched around him, pulling him to her as she broke the kiss, her skirt riding up to her hips, head thrown back with pleasure, her breath ragged.
“By the stars... You're beautiful!” He breathed in awe, watching her respond to his soft touch. He leaned in and nipped at her earlobe. “You look like I could make you come right now, just by doing this.” He stroked her heart softly and her legs tightened around his hips. He pulled her closer to him, feeling the heat of her center through their clothing. “Do you want me to stop?”
She shook her head, hair brushing against his chest. “Only if you want to.”
“Oh no... I love seeing you like this. Walls down, completely open to me...” He whispered into her hair, firmly caressing her heart as she trembled in response, not stopping until he felt her shudder against him, coming apart in his arms.
He held her close as her breathing slowed, caressing her hair and back with his free hand. “Robin- That was-” She shook her head, her face streaked with tears. “I can't even begin to find words-”
“You don't need to.” His hand rubbed circles on her back as he lifted her heart into her view. “We should probably put this back where it belongs.”
“It's in your hands. That's where it belongs.”
He pressed the heart gently into her chest. “Keep it safe for me.” She nodded. “Thank you for trusting me. I love you, Regina.”
“I love you, Robin.”