|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
She reigned in the animal at the crest of a hill, catching her breath and staring at the miniature encampment below. In a moment she had swung from her horse's back and was scrambling down the slope, too impatient to walk around. She landed with a muffled thump at the bottom, her dress a bit damp, but her anger unhampered. Collecting herself, she smoothed her cloak and her scowl till they were presentable. Walking among the huts, she looked for signs of habitation. "Robin?" She called out, her tone coated thickly with ice. She heard voices rising from the far edge of the clearing, and turned in that direction. Peeking around the corner of a hut, she saw Robin and his comrades standing around listening intently to another man who looked concerned, and strangely familiar.
Drawing back, she listened to his report, unseen. "I don't know why, but she was there, and was asking about a villager. More importantly, she was asking about you." Marion gasped, capping a hand to her mouth. The man was Much, the old woman's son she'd seen in Loxley only hours ago. What was he doing there? Recovering from the shock, she turned her ear back to the conversation.
"What villager?" Robin's voice sounded calm enough, but Marion recognized quite well that it was edged with displeasure. "Why did Marion want to know about something like that, and why would she come to you?"
"It was that girl who escaped from the dungeon recently, and I'm certainly not the person to ask why she was of such interest. I thought perhaps you might know."
"And what brought you to that conclusion?" Much hadn't posed his last statement as a threat, but Robin appeared to see it as such, stepping forward, his glare unwavering. Much shrank back.
"Nothing, it's just that it's rather common knowledge that you two have a history together, at least, and it seemed a reasonable explanation as to the question of her motives for inquiry. But, at the same time, it was possible that she was trying to gather knowledge for Gisborne, to aid in his attempt to capture both you and the girl."
Hearing this, Marion scoffed. How ignorant could he be to think that she would ever willingly help Guy of Gisborne with anything? She waited with an unconsciously smug grin to hear Robin rise to her defense. But the grin faded as nothing but silence served to retaliate at Much's painful slight. Robin said nothing on the subject, but only brushed past with a new question. "What did you tell her?"
"My mother answered all of Marion's questions. Things about the girl's past, things that haven't seen the light of day in a while, and for a good reason. I didn't know what to do, so I came here. I thought you at least deserved to know."
"Thank you Much, you've done well. Now, if you could—"
"Yes, Much, very well done indeed. Thank you, you've saved me ever so much time and explaining." Marion stepped out from behind the wall into their midst. At sight of her, Robin grit his teeth and Much's gaze dropped to the floor. "Now, shouldn't you be getting back to your mother?" She sent a withering glare to the surprised messenger, who mumbled his apologies and started back towards home.
"Come with me." Robin took one calculating look at the situation, grabbed the intruder by the arm, and dragged her into the forest till they were out of earshot, ignoring her outraged demands for release and the confused shouts of the gang. After a few moments, they stopped and he let go, sending her reeling into the snow, landing in a puff of white flakes. "What is wrong with you? Can't you leave anything alone?" He shouted, grimacing as he reached out a hand to help her up.
Marion slapped the offer away, straightened and set her brow. "Why didn't you ask? Obviously you have eyes and ears everywhere, so finding out anything would have taken you a matter of hours. Why didn't you want to know?" She glared at him, chest heaving with anger, aching with hurt. She dreaded his true answer.
"Because if she didn't want me to know, then I had no right to pry." He returned, staring back, shrugging off the pain at being so callously rejected.
"That is ridiculous, and you know it!" Her lips trembled, her voice rang out and was absorbed into the snow. "You help people by stealing from others, and I know for a fact that isn't the only instance where you would use bad means for a good end. You didn't ask because you didn't want to help her. You didn't ask because you already knew."
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1