Prompt: Bread & Games verse Roland/Regina "Why are you alone most of the time?"
Here we go, finally! Thanks again for the prompt, Marie - I loved filling it. This little Dimples Queen piece is set before Bread and Games proper. TW for mentions of abuse.
She’s hunkered down in the darkest, most remote corner of the garden, nursing a goblet of wine and a sprained wrist as the afternoon sun beats down on her.
Pathetic. She’s pathetic. Her life’s–no life at all.
Not with Leopold around.
If it weren’t for Henry…well, she’d have escaped this miserable existence long ago.
Was it worth it? I said, was a few trinkets worth disobeying me, wife?!
Regina rubs her tender, bruised hand–the only result of her unscheduled, unapproved, unannounced morning outing. She sips on the rich Falernian, the delicacy bitter on her tongue.
Trinkets have little value to her; freedom is the rare commodity she seeks.
Her pining seems entirely one-sided.
A dry, choking sob scratches her throat mid-swallow, has her coughing and sputtering, staining the cream linen of her stola with blotches of dark brown as tears–of anger, pain, frustration–spring to her eyes.
“R’gina?” pipes up a small voice, and a mop of dark curls pokes out from the foliage.
She wipes at her eyes furiously, trying to hide the obvious as the goblet slips from her grasp and clatters against the marble bench, spilling its contents on the grass and rolling away.
“What’s wrong?” Roland says, rushing to her just as she makes one last frantic effort to clean herself up and gasps as sharp pain slices into her damn wrist. “You’re hurt!”
“No, honey, I’m fine,” she croaks, mustering a tense smile.
“It’s okay,” he soothes as he climbs up beside her. He looks up with those wide, brown eyes, and offers with all the sincere innocence of a child: “I can kiss it better if you want.”
This time her chuckle is genuine. Tear-filled, but genuine. There’s so much wrong in her world and his, things much graver than sprained wrists, and she can’t help but be charmed by this little man. He nestles into her side, satisfied with the change in her mood, and swings his legs.
“Shouldn’t you be in your lessons, Roland?” she chides mildly, not unamused. It’s new to him after all. Roland is a bright little boy and in many ways precocious, ever eager to explore; but his attention span sometimes leaves something to be desired. He’s just not used to this structured approach quite yet.
“We were playing hide and go seek,” he answers easily with a carefree shrug she should perhaps not find this adorable. “I’m winning.”
“Clearly,” she chuckles, and the child’s face splits into a toothy smile. “And do you like playing with Henry?”
“Yeah, it’s the best! Henry’s my best friend,” he puffs out his chest. “Do you have friends, Regina?”
The innocent question stings viciously.
“Well, I–I suppose so. A few.” Is it the truth or has she just told him a lie? Regina isn’t sure.
Roland just looks up at her quizzically, and his next inquiry stabs her straight through the heart.
“Then why are you alone most of the time?”
Because Leopold is a dog, a pig, a possessive bastard who likes to know of and control her every move for fear she might sully his name or reputation or pride by finding even a speck of happiness in this life, happiness that isn’t–couldn’t–be bestowed by him. Because her mother used to be the same way before him. Because Regina’s been burnt and betrayed before.
Because she no longer opens herself up to the possibility of new friendships under such circumstances, and the old ones are rare, and few, and a challenge to maintain.
Because she’s resigned herself to a life where it’s mostly just she and Henry–even if that means lonesome hours when her little prince is otherwise occupied.
How does one explain all that to a four-year-old?
But said four-year-old seems to have come to a conclusion of his own.
“Don’t be sad,” he says, arms circling and hands reaching and fingers curling as he hugs her middle and squeezes. “I will be your friend.”
Regina sniffs, blinking rapidly and ineffectually, as she pulls the precious little boy into her side and presses a kiss into his hair.
“You’re already my friend, Roland.”