Filey Manor, Filey, East Riding of Yorkshire
As Allan slammed out of the room, Roana turned to face her family, anger and disappointment evident in her ocean-blue eyes. She longed to go after him, but this needed to be sorted first. She had every intention of leaving in the morning, but didn't want it to be on such bad terms.
"Uncle Robert, that was rude and unnecessary."
To her great surprise, Robert seemed to deflate before her eyes. He gave a deep sigh and rubbed his hand over his face. "I'm sorry, Roana. I've not been myself recently. I've been so worried about the house and the farm, William's repercussions, your safety. I'm afraid it must have got on top of me."
Roana softened immediately. "I'm sorry too. I fear I have been the cause of all of this, but you don't understand how difficult it was in Nottingham Castle. William is an abusive drunk. If it hadn't been for Allan, he would have taken me by force without waiting for a wedding, and left me in disgrace."
"Oh, Roana. That's terrible!" Eleanor exclaimed, moving to take her hand. "We feel responsible too. We both knew the type of man William was, but Devereux forced our hand - you most remember. We didn't know what to do after the barn fire; we were scared, and the only option seemed to be your betrothal to William."
With a stifled sob, Roana hugged her, fiercely, before looping an arm around Robert to pull him in too. When she pulled back, Eleanor kissed her cheek, her lips warm. Robert's eyes were red-rimmed, tired.
"When we took you in, Roana, we promised your father that we would do the very best for you. We would treat you as our own." Robert gave a wry smile. "Being with an outlaw is not the best for you. I would feel like I'm betraying your father's memory by allowing it."
Roana's heart, which had lifted very slightly, sank again. She dropped her arms and stepped back. "I'm not asking for permission, Uncle Robert. I've made my decision, and I'm leaving with Allan, no matter what."
Robert let out a sharp exhalation through gritted teeth, angry again. "He's not to be trusted. I would worry for you. You saw how he reacted just then! He's a loose cannon."
Robin stepped in, quickly. "Robert," he said, patiently, "I can vouch for Allan. He's not a bad person, and Roana brings out the best in him. Maybe he doesn't have money and land and a title, and he overreacts at times about the things and the people he cares about, but he makes her happy, and she makes him happy. I think they are good for each other."
Robert shook his head, once. "Be that as it may, but, as her guardian, I just can't allow it."
Marian, who had so far been standing to the side, listening yet reluctant to intervene, stepped forward. "Sir Robert, I do apologise for interrupting. However, I feel I need to speak up on behalf of both Roana and Allan. They are my friends, and I care about Roana in particular a great deal." She glanced at Robin then back to Robert. "I understand that you raised Roana, and that Malcolm left her in your care, and it looks like you have done an admirable job. But, surely Robin is her legal guardian, as her elder brother. Which means he has final say on any important decisions in her life."
Roana, Robert, and Eleanor all looked at Robin, who shrugged and raised his eyebrows, giving an apologetic grin. "It's true," he said, simply.
Robert sighed, his expression suddenly drained of energy. "I'm sorry, Robin. I didn't think. Roana is like a daughter to us and I just assumed she would continue under my guardianship." He looked at Roana and there was weary despair in his eyes. "I'm sorry, my dear. I have no say in your life, and it was wrong of me to assume that I did."
"Of course you have a say in my life," Roana said with feeling. "I love you both and you'll always be my family. But I love Allan, too. I'd like you to give him a chance. That's if," she glanced at Robin, wide-eyed, "my legal guardian approves of Allan and I."
Robin smiled. "I'd trust Allan with my life," he said to Robert and Eleanor. "He may be an outlaw, but he's a good man. Would you turn your back on a good man just because he has been outlawed by an unfair and unjust ruler? Because I am an outlaw, too."
"And so am I," Roana added, and Robin indicated towards her to supplement his point.
"Robert," Eleanor said to her husband in a gently pleading tone. "I don't want to lose Roana. Please relent."
Robert reached out to squeeze her hand and then nodded. "Fine. I will accept Allan." He looked at Roana. "If he makes you happy, my dear."
"Oh, he does. He really does!" Roana threw her arms around her uncle in delight, and he hugged her back, his smile rueful. "I've missed you," she whispered, close to his ear, and he hugged her tighter before she drew back. "Now, I must find Allan and tell him the amazing news. Thank you, all."
She beamed at Robert, Eleanor, and Marian in turn, before taking Robin's hand and planting a kiss of his knuckles. "Thank you, brother."
Leaving them in the solar, she hurried out of the manor into the courtyard at the front of the house. The atmosphere on the farm had lifted inexorably since their victory over William and the Sheriff, and there was a bustle of activity as preparations for the evening's festivities went ahead. Spotting Djaq, Much, and Will helping to decorate the area, Roana crossed the yard to speak to them.
"Has anybody seen Allan?"
"I saw him earlier but it was only a glimpse," Much said, bunting in hand. "He came out of there."
Much pointed to the side entrance to the house, that lead into the kitchen.
"That's right, I saw him too," Will confirmed. "He didn't stop to talk, though. He seemed.. preoccupied about something."
"And you haven't seen him since?" Roana asked, looking around in the hope of glimpsing him.
"I haven't seen him since he was with you, earlier," Djaq said. "Is everything alright?"
Roana sighed. "Well, it is now. But there was a... disagreement earlier. I need to speak to him."
The outlaws exchanged glances.
"When I saw him, he had wine," Will confessed. "If he's angry, he'll have gone to cool off somewhere and probably drink. I wouldn't worry. After a whole flagon of wine, he'll fall asleep in a barn somewhere. He can't really handle wine."
Much and Djaq laughed, and Djaq dug Will in the ribs. "Oh, and you can?" she said, jokingly.
Roana's mood deflated. She had been so excited to share the news with Allan, but he had disappeared. Of course, she couldn't blame him. Robert's words had been extremely harsh. "I'll have a quick look in the guest barn then. If you do come across him, please tell him I'm looking for him."
But he wasn't in the guest barn, and a quick circuit of the farm did not reveal his whereabouts. Deciding to leave him to his wine for the time being, as Much and Djaq had suggested, Roana returned to the house to join her family in the solar.
Allan was dreaming of Roana. It was so vivid; he knew he was asleep, but the depth of his need for her manifested in the idea of her beside him. He curled his arm around her and she placed a hand on his chest and slid it downwards, slowly. He felt a rush of desire and love for her, and then she was kissing him and touching him at the same time, and he kissed her back, but something was different about her; something wasn't right.
Allan's eyes flew open and he found himself looking into the face of the maid, Laney, who he had been drinking with earlier. She had her tongue in his mouth and her hand in his trousers.
Pushing her off him, forcefully, Allan scrambled backwards and stood up, unsteadily, backing away from her as he fumbled with the fastening to his trousers.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Laney had fallen into the hay and lounged back, unconcerned, regarding him through heavy-lidded brown eyes. She laughed. "Come on, you were enjoyin' it. I could feel it."
"I was asleep!" There was a sinking feeling in Allan's stomach as the full realisation of his predicament began to permeate the fog of sleep in his brain. "I thought you were Roana!"
She gave a one-shouldered shrug and sat up, her breasts spilling out of the bodice of her dress. "We might as well finish what we started. Nobody will know."
Allan had already averted his eyes, and shook his head, vehemently. "I wouldn't touch you if you were the last woman on earth. You took advantage of me while I was asleep!"
Laney laughed again, and he turned away, stumbling out of the hay barn into the fading light. His head hurt and he felt terrible, both physically and emotionally. He had let Roana down. He had let himself down.
He could hear the sound of voices and revelry coming from the main courtyard, but didn't want to see anyone. Sticking to the shadows of the outbuildings until he arrived at the guest barn, he deliberately kept his head lowered to avoid catching anyone's eye, and slunk into the barn, closing the door quietly behind him. He stood in the dim light, his head hanging. Then, he climbed into the loft, his step heavy, and lay down, staring into the darkness above him.
Down below, the barn door opened and, for a moment, the hum of voices and activity outside were louder. Then, the door closed again, and there was a moment of silence. Allan closed his eyes, wishing to be left alone, but he sensed Djaq's presence before he heard her.
She sat down beside him, and placed something on the floor.
"Allan, we saw you return. Where have you been? Roana and Robin have been looking for you."
Pressing his lips together and his eyes closed, refusing to look at her, Allan shook his head. He knew that Djaq would understand the words he didn't say. Hopefully, she would leave him alone.
"Allan." She placed a small hand on his arm. "What is it? We are all worried. You know you can talk to me."
Allan said nothing for a long moment. He could feel tears pricking at his eyes, but willed himself not to cry. He just wanted to sleep, and hopefully wake up to the knowledge that everything had been a bad dream.
"Allan." Djaq settled beside him. "I will not leave until you speak to me. Do you want me to bring Roana?"
Allan shook his head, vehemently.
Djaq paused. "Much saw— we saw you with a girl."
Allan reluctantly nodded, his eyes still closed.
"Oh, no, Allan." Djaq's voice was distraught. "You didn't..?"
"I didn't do anything!" Allan said, loudly, sitting up quickly and then wishing he hadn't as pain shot through his head. He put a hand to his temple and rubbed. "I woke up and she was... she was on me."
"On you?" Djaq looked aghast.
Allan shrugged. "She was kissing me and.. she had her hand on me." Djaq stared at him. "I pushed her away as soon as I realised it wasn't Roana. I thought I was dreaming at first..."
He petered off, feeling hopeless. Djaq lowered her eyes and he imagined he saw disappointment in her expression.
"I know I've ruined everything," he said, bitterly. "I'll lose Roana because of this."
Djaq looked up at him, quickly, her brown eyes stormy. "You haven't ruined anything. It was that girl. That bitch. I knew she was trouble when I first saw her. She was all over Will.." She broke off, angrily.
"But I kissed her, Djaq." He ran his fingers through his hair in despair. "Roana's gonna kill me. Robin's gonna kill me."
"But you were asleep? Then she kissed you. How were you to know, if you were asleep?" Djaq picked up a flask and handed it to him. "Here. Drink this. It is water. There is some bread, too. Once you have eaten, get some sleep. In the morning, you must speak to Roana. Tell her the truth."
Allan nodded and obeyed, drinking deeply and then demolishing a bread roll while Djaq watched over him. He felt woozy and out-of-it and definitely needed sleep. He gave Djaq a weak smile and lay down again, closing his eyes. After a moment, he heard her get up and leave. Then, he slept.
The evening's celebration was a success, with plenty of food and wine, and music courtesy of four farm hands, a fiddle, and some makeshift drums. Little John and Averey, now firm friends, had an arm wrestle, of which John won by the skin of his teeth, and, after a number of goblets of wine, Robin allowed various members of the group of party goers to challenge him in an archery contest. He won, of course, even though his aim was seriously impaired, and Roana pulled out midway through the competition, removing his biggest rival. She had only managed one mug of wine, and was sober. She was far too worried about Allan, who still hadn't reappeared. However, after night had fallen properly, draping the farm in a deep, velvety darkness, which was illuminated by small bonfires in metal buckets scattered about the place, Djaq and Much approached her.
"He is back," Djaq told her, and Roana felt a surge of relief.
"Is he alright? I must go to him." Roana looked at her, keenly, but Djaq shook her head.
"He is asleep," she explained. "He is very drunk and not making much sense. Let him sleep it off for now. He will find you in the morning."
Roana was disappointed, but nodded in agreement.
"He's not a big drinker," Much said, succinctly. "He won't be much use to anyone until he has sobered up. But at least he's here."
"I guess so," Roana replied. "Did he seem alright, though, apart from being drunk?"
Much and Djaq exchanged a quick glance. "Honestly, he is fine," Djaq reassured her. "He could barely walk though. He will be back on form tomorrow, I'm sure."
Much pushed Roana's refilled mug into her hands. "Drink up. You can relax now and enjoy the celebrations. Cheers."
Roana rallied briefly, and even managed a dance with Auden to the fiddle music played by the hastily-formed band, alongside Robin and Marian, Much and Eve, Djaq and Will, Robert and Eleanor, and various other party goers. But the day had been long and filled with many emotional ups and downs, and, before long, she made her excuses and turned in. Tomorrow was the beginning of a new life, now that her relationship with Allan had been accepted, and she couldn't wait to share the news with him and start planning for their future together. She climbed into bed with relief and fell asleep straight away.