|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
The rain was going to be hard on the peasants. The land was already full to bursting with water, and the increasingly cold air would bring an early, deadly, icy frost. They barely had enough food in good conditions, but if ever there was a time she would be grateful for Robin again, it was now. He was an idiot, but at least he was a kind-hearted one. They would need all his help to survive another winter without their king.
She was jarred from her musings by a soft, nervous knock on the heavy oaken door. Her father was currently in a meeting at the castle, leaving her alone in the large, empty lodge.She sat up with a jerk, clearing her throat and smoothing the silken folds of her dark red dress. She crept to the door, opened it a hair, and peeked out. What she saw standing on the stoop made her slam it again in immediate disgust.
"Marion, wait!" Robin thrust a hand between the door at the risk of breaking his wrist, keeping it open. "Please, I want to talk to you."
"You've had years to do that, why wait till now?" She asked coldly, staring out at Will and Adam who stood a few feet behind him, their faces hooded like his, shivering in the downpour.
"Please let me in?" Robin implored, clearly looking uncomfortable, glancing over his shoulder every few seconds to see if anyone had noticed him.
With a sigh, she opened wide the door and gestured. "Quickly. If anyone finds out that I am harboring criminals in my home..."
With a look of almost smug gratitude, Robin and the others tumbled in, the door slammed shut behind them, and they stood awkwardly in the wide, warm room, dripping onto the wood floor. "Thank you." Robin bowed, Will copying as Adam looked rapturously about him at all the finery and lavish furniture, mouth gaping.
"What do you want?" Marion's words were crisp and precise, her black eyes steely and cold, but inside she was trembling, wondering why he was back here, hoping against hope that he wanted the same thing she did: another chance.
"Marion, I came to..." Robin looked exasperatedly at Will, his confidence shaken by the unbending, thin line of her mouth. His cousin urged him on. "I came to apologize."
Marion raised a suspicious eyebrow, trying to conceal the fact that her heart was thudding in her chest faster and louder than ever before. "Well, I can't wait to hear this." She sat herself down and looked up expectantly, arms and legs crossed, bracing herself.
"You see, um, yes, um.." Robin rubbed the back of his neck and battled with himself to make eye contact. Gads, but that woman was terrifying. Beads of anxious sweat were gathering along his hairline, he was finding it difficult to breathe. "Adam, Will, could you give us a moment, please?" He turned in annoyance on his young companions. Will was watching him with great amusement and Adam was greatly intrigued, hoping Robin's speech would prove successful so that he could use it on Alexis when the time came.
"Sure thing, mate." Will grinned, grabbing a reluctant Adam by the arm and leading him towards the door.
Robin shot them one last glare and turned back to the task at hand, looking past Marion's rigid frame into her glowing, ebony eyes which were already beginning to melt. When this happened, he knew he had won. With a surge of renewed bravery, he continued, "I came to apologize for–"
"No time for that now! Hide, hide, hide, hide!" Before he knew what was happening, Robin was being shoved away by a frantic Will and Adam who had suddenly burst back through the door with terrified looks on their faces.
"What on earth are you doing?" Robin sputtered, planting his feet and facing them.
"No time to explain, just hide!" Will shoved, but to no avail. Robin wanted answers.
"Robin, it's Gisborne, oh, upstairs, no, there isn't time for that, he's at the doorstep. Quick, behind the curtain!" Marion called out from the window, where she had flown to see Guy dismounting his horse and striding smugly towards her home.
"What is he doing at your house?" Robin asked indignantly.
"We're going to get caught..." muttered Will, stuffing his cousin behind the thick green drapes with one last forceful shove, before jumping in next to him with Adam. The rustling fabric stilled and silence fell over the room just as Guy of Gisborne stepped across the threshold.