|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
"Marion?" Gisborne poked his head around the door. As usual, he had neglected to knock. But there stood his lady, a wide smile across her face, her gown looking like it was made of spun garnets. One of his many gifts to her. He liked to call on her at unexpected times to see if she wore it even when he wasn't about.
"Guy, I regret to inform you that my father is not here. You can find him at the castle, though, surely." Marion knew that he was well aware of her father's location, but she had to at least try to get him away before Robin was caught, or worse, before he started jumping to conclusions. That would ruin everything.
"Actually, it was you I came to see, and am not entirely displeased to find you alone." Gisborne strode forward to kiss his lady's hand with a grin of confidence turning the corner of his mouth. He was in an especially amiable mood that day. "I have good news."
"Oh, really? Well, please, go on then." Smiled Marion, hoping the fact that she was rushing him didn't appear obvious.
"Well, do you remember the peasant girl I told you about before? The one who broke into my home?"
"You mean the disappearing corpse?" Marion held back a shudder. She was sitting inches away from a man heartless enough to shoot down a defenseless, starving child.
"Yes. Well, it turns out that due to my men's incompetency!" Here he raised his voice so that his entourage of guards waiting outside for him might hear, "She has survived."
"And that's good news?"
"Yes, actually. We have reason to believe that after being shot, she received care at the hands of Robin Hood." Something like a muffled gasp and a kick came from behind the curtain, which caused Marion's heart to beat all the more rapidly, but Guy took no notice, continuing, "We haven't confirmed this of course, but we have her in the dungeon, and the sheriff's methods are sure to break her any day now." Gisborne smirked with his triumph, and he awaited Marion's awestruck praise.
"She hasn't told you anything?" The lady asked, silently blessing the girl's willpower.
"No, but she'll soon see reason, and once she does, it's the gallows for her. No more mistakes and walking corpses. I'll make sure she stays dead."
The curtains rustled again, and this time Guy turned to look, but Marion quickly grasped his leather-gloved hand, and, feigning excitement, asked, "How on earth did you catch her?"
"Well, she decided to interfere with one of our hangings not long ago. Can't imagine what she was thinking, she climbed up the platform expecting to take on the entire guard! I arrested her after she fell back into the crowd. No one even noticed due to some... Other occurrences."
"Do you mean when the prisoner was rescued by Robin and his men?" Marion asked innocently, a humorous twinkle in her eye.
"You seem as if you like the idea of a dangerous criminal escaping the fate he deserved!" Gisborne's spitfire temper flared, and he drew back with a look of pain. "I think it is high time I took my leave. Thank you for your hospitality. May I hope to see you again soon?" Gisborne's voice cooled to a biting iciness that rivaled even Marion's at times.
"Oh, come now, Guy." Marion laughed, following him to the door. He pecked her hand and rode off without a word, nursing his wounded pride. Marion closed the door and fell against it with a sigh of relief. "Thank the Lord."
Will tumbled out of the curtain first, followed closely by Robin. "Did you hear that? He has the girl! And he's tortured her. Robin, we have to get her out!" Will seethed to his cousin, but Robin wasn't paying any attention.
"What was that?" he demanded of Marion, who simply rolled her eyes.
"Oh, Robin, stop being so childish. He visits quite often and there's nothing I can do about it. He enjoys having someone to pet his ego, that's all."
"You mean this happens regularly?" Robin was speechless. All this time he thought Marion had been sitting alone all her days, waiting for him to apologize, not flirting with Guy of Gisborne.
"I told you before, there's nothing I can do about it. And besides, it beats sitting around all by myself, like I spent years doing for somebody else I know." Her voice rang with spite and she looked accusingly at him.
"Oh, so now this is my fault?"
"Robin, they have the girl!" Will tried again, but was only brushed away as Marion stepped closer to Robin, hands on her hips.
"Since when was I not free to entertain whom I liked? You do not own me, Robin of Loxley. You lost that privilege years ago." Her voice was rising almost to a scream, her cheeks burning crimson with rage.
"But why him, of all devils? The Marion I knew before I left England had a lot more sense than that." Robin stepped forward, throwing his shoulders back in defiance.
"Robin, the girl!" Will cried in exasperation.
Marion was so close to Robin now that she could feel his heavy breathing, and her nose scraped against his. "Well, at least Guy pays attention to me, unlike some people who hide in the woods instead of dealing with their problems." She was on the verge of tears, knowing that this would end the same way all their meetings had, with him storming off and her left alone with the idea that he would never come back, and that she had ruined her chances with him forever.
Robin searched desperately for a comeback, but he knew she was right. She was so close to him now that their foreheads pressed together, and he had to look down to keep eye contact. She was so beautiful, her scarlet lips quivering with anger and that marvelous color in her cheeks made her eyes blaze beneath their curtain of lashes.
He laughed at himself. He was still foolish enough to be hopelessly in love with her, and he knew that if he left now, she would never leave his thoughts. Without warning, he wrapped an arm around her waist and pressed his lips to hers.
Her eyes flashed open in shock, and she raised a hand to slap him, but let it lower,closing her eyes and realizing how right it felt to be in his arms again at last. Who was she kidding? That crazy man still had her heart, and she was foolish enough to give it to him. And she didn't care one jot.
Will, complaining to an engrossed Adam, stopped his ranting when he saw them. "Oh, come on!"
"We should really go finish this discussion outside." Adam whispered, shoving a raging, cursing Will out the door.