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A flourish of hope

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From the moment his pale blue eyes laid eyes on her, she knew she was the one. Those chocolate eyes that crinkled when she laughed, and the lips that twitched when she was happy. Regina had been it from day one, and now, he was going to propose, seven years later. He thought about how much they'd overcome in their life, and how they met, and why she was so special, so different, so irresistible. He brought the scene up in his minds eye, and grinned "Sidney, you know what to do, old friend,"

His best friend had been accidentally imprisoned on their second date, when he invited them over for lunch. He had been showing his house off to them, bragging at all of his possessions, before he showed them the Mirror of Darkness. Well, it had decided that he was starting a dark path, and quite literally sucked Sidney into it. They took him to his palace, and he now lived to serve him peacefully.

"Can't you let me out, sir?" He pleaded, a hint of frustration in his echoey voice.

"We talked about this, the mirror will spit you out when it wants. So just show me the memory, please."

"Fine," Sidney whined, and he found himself staring at his palace parlor.

 

"Son, this is Regina Mills. Daughter of Cora and Henry Mills." 

Wow. She was drop dead gorgeous. She was wearing a beautiful lilac dress with sleeves that looked quite impractical, as they went from thin at the shoulders, to massive at the wrists. They looked like they would drip into your gravy during a meal, if he was honest. But he ignored his tangent, and went back to studying her gown. It seemed to be encrusted with diamonds where a corset would be underneath, and the way they glittered complemented the sparkle in her dreamy chocolate eyes, the rest of the dress was patterned in gold leaf, which was impressive as that had only just been discovered, therefore very exclusive. It clung to her curved at the top, and puffed out a little at the bottom. 

She was just phenomenal. He was blown away by his suitor before she had said one word. He gave her a warm smile, and took her hand. "David," he said "A pleasure to meet you, Princess Regina." 

"Oh, the pleasure is all mine, Your Highness. Would you care for a pear pie? It was baked by me, actually." For the first time he had seen, her face crinkled into a real smile, not the slightly uncomfortable smile that was obviously forced by her mother, Queen Cora. Her monotone voice had also lifted a little, and it sounded full of life, enjoyment. Until her mother coughed slightly and all of that washed down a murky drain. "I'm more of an apple man myself, but I'm open to anything new. Father, Queen Cora, may we eat in peace, please?" His demand to be alone with Regina had obviously surprised everyone, - Regina included - as they all were at a loss for words. Yes, it wasn't exactly proper protocol, but he could see she was tense, and he wanted to resolve that. "Uh-uh-ahem well, I mean, yes, of course. If you will allow me, Queen Cora, perhaps you would like the grand tour?" His father stuttered. 

"I would be delighted," smiled Cora, a disguise for her glare that she was shooting at Regina. 

Once they'd left, he explained to Regina "I could see they were making you uncomfortable, so I thought I'd get rid them for you. Is this your first?"

"Oh, oh right," she laughed slightly, letting loose a little. "Although would it be too forward to say I was hoping you'd just wanted to get me alone?" She was trying to keep a straight face, but burst out in a fit of giggles towards the end of her sentence, and he laughed with her. 

After a lot of pear pie, he took her into the garden with a glass of cider in her hand. "This," he whispered whilst leading her by the hand "is where that cider came from." He had brought her to a thriving tree full of the reddest apples anyone had ever seen, their deep crimson skin had not a flaw. "Wow, that's not what I was expecting when you said you had a surprise!" 

He scoffed slightly "What, did you think I was gonna marry you or something?" She laughed at that, a sweet sound that rang in his ears. They stayed there in silence for a little while after that, before a confused look appeared on Regina's face. 

"When we were eating pie earlier, you asked me if this was my first. First what?" David looked a bit puzzled, before remembering their earlier conversation. "First Royal setup. I've had many, but I must say you seem the most casual and generally nice."

"Well, I'm flattered, I gotta say, this is the best experience I've ever had when my mother has tried to sell me off. So yes, I have been in a royal setup before." He nodded to her slowly, before asking

"Do you want to head inside, I have something waiting in my room that I want to show you." Regina looked shocked, then confused and then decided on a fake shocked face with a little grin below it. "I have known you for about three hours, and you use that line on me? Always knew you were a player." She winked. 

David giggled. "You got me," and they both burst out laughing. 

When they got to his room, he pulled out a book. It was hollowed out on the inside, and it contained some of the most beautiful objects she had seen in her life. "W-what are these?" She gaped at one that was pearlescent and curled up, a bit like the shell of a snail, but much larger and much more breathtaking. "These," he showed her a more flat and long one "are sea shells. They're exceptionally rare, as there are no beaches in this land, but the original Hopless Man (my great-times-a-hundred grandfather) has some in his pocket when he first arrived here." It pleased him to see Regina so amazed, so happy, and when the time came to say goodbye, he said to Cora "Thank you so much, milady, for letting me meet your incredible daughter. Perhaps we can schedule another day?" 

Cora looked thrilled "Well I'm sure me and Regina can find some time in our week to visit again, couldn't we? Regina beamed and blushed slightly, and she whispered to the Prince "I want one of your shells next time," to which he replied

"Ah, well, we'll see if you earn one." She blushed again, but didn't say anything else, just wandered out into the courtyard where her carriage awaited. He couldn't wait to see her again, that he was sure of.

 

Present day David smiled to himself, wishing Sidney a thank you before wandering over to the stables to get his horse. He would have to ask King Henry's blessing to marry Regina, so he planned in travelling over to Regina's old home. 

When he arrived there, his stableboy, Daniel, was nowhere to be seen. "Daniel?" He called. A quick squirm and hay tumbling around told him he was buried in the haystack, preseumbly with someone. "Yes sir?" Daniel replied, straw falling out of his messy brown hair. "Ohhh it appears Daniel's got himself a girlfriend, wait till I tell Regina!"

"Oh, I uh-" Daniel stuttered a bit

"No, no, it's fine, she doesn't need to get out, I just need a horse preparing for me please." 

As Daniel fetched him his steed, he heard a cough he would recognise anywhere: Regina. His heart sank. He popped his head outside of the stable doors, in case it might be that she was outside instead, and thank god; she was. "Hey," they both said, and he dipped in for a kiss. "I'm just off out, nowhere exciting, just to a personal meeting. What are you up to today?" David spoke softly. "Not much, actually. I was thinking off maybe hiring a boat that can take us to another realm for our anniversary. You know why?" Of coups he did, but he asked anyway, because it would make Regina happy.

"Why, my love?" He asked caressing her face gently

She slapped his chest jokingly. "I thought you would've remembered- sea shells!" She seemed so happy when she pulled a shell out of her pocket. He loved her so much, and he could only hope with all of his heart that Henry gave him his blessing to marry her. He has found true love. 

Until he saw a bit of straw poking out of her badly buttoned top. He knew what had happened. He prayed he was wrong.