LilyJames addict: well, apparently you aren't familiar with the same version of the story that I am familiar with, but I won't give anything away. But trust me it's a good story. Oh, and Robin just joined the merry men, and appointed himself leader.
Enchantedwriter72: did I ever say you didn't like it? Hmmm, can't remember, oh well, no big. And the whole herb thing? Whatever, most people can't anyhow. Oh and poison ivy? I recognize it, but I am one of those people that doesn't get a reaction from it, soooo anyhow… yeah…
Chittychat: thank you. I'm glad you're enjoying it so far.
Hope and Love: thanks!
Erebwen: as I have told my readers, this story is on hiatus until I finish my other. Why I thought I could take on two at the same time is beyond me. I see from your profile that you haven't written anything yourself, perhaps you do not fully grasp how awful a writers' block can be and that discouraging reviews do nothing to help the author in speeding up the process. Though I do admire your skill at so eloquently insulting in so few words.
I have not yet finished my other fic as of yet, but I am currently at an impasse. So I do not know when this will once again be updated, but I plan on finishing my other one before I concentrate on this one.
Ariana followed Will's tracks through the woods, it wasn't too hard, he seemed to be in a little bit of a hurry and quite frequently dragged his feet, making lines in the old leaves covering most of the ground. The tracks led her to the river, where Will was examining his hand. Ariana sat down next to him on the riverbank, placing the bundle she had gathered next to her.
"What do you want?" he growled out.
"I wanted to make sure you were alright, I mean besides the arrow." She quickly amended when she saw him sneer. "Here." She said after a moment, reaching for his hand, which he quickly pulled back, protectively cradling it next to his chest. "I won't hurt it, I just want a look." She coaxed. Slowly, Will relaxed his defensive behavior allowed her to inspect his injured hand. Ariana silently ran over what she had learned of first aide in health class. "I can help." She said slowly. "But it will hurt, badly." She looked up into Will's pain-filled eyes. He studied her for a moment, then nodded.
"Do it." He said through clenched teeth. Ariana nodded and turned back to her bundle, which turned out to be a clean shirt wrapped up in her cloak. "Where did you get that?" Will asked, still gritting his teeth against the pain. Ariana shrugged.
"It just happened to be hanging from a branch." She sounded nonchalant as she sliced it to strips with the knife from her wrist sheath.
Will stared at her for a moment before letting out a laugh. "You stole it? I do think you found the right camp, Ariana."
"More like stumbled upon it." She mumbled with a blush, as dipped one of the strips into the cold water and gently cleaned as much blood as she could from the hand without actually touching the shaft of the arrow. "I'll have to cut the arrow." Ariana explained as she wrapped more strips around the arrow to steady it, then she took her knife and as gently as possible sawed through the arrow shaft, tossing the end to the side. Folding two strips she handed one to Will. "Once I pull this out, press this to the back of your hand." She instructed to Will.
"How do you know so much about healing?" Will asked her.
"This is going to hurt." She said in lieu of an answer, grabbing the arrow shaft and carefully, so not to further aggravate the wound, pulled it out of his hand.
"AH!" Will yelled, grabbing his wrist, Ariana, quickly caught his folded strip, and pressed to the back of his hand as she pressed her own into his palm.
"Will, hold this!" Ariana commanded, taking his hand and placing it on the back of his hand then took the remaining strips and proceeded to tightly wrap his hand. "There, that is the best I can do." She said, tying off the last strip.
Will stared at his bandaged hand, then tried to wiggle his fingers.
"Try not to move it too much." Ariana said as he winced. Will looked up.
"A little late, don't you think?" he sneered.
Ariana stared at him for a moment, affronted, then stiffly nodded and stood up, swinging her cloak around her shoulders.
"Wait!" Will called. Ariana stopped and turned to look at him, crossing her arms and raising an eyebrow. Will looked down with a sigh. "Thank you, Ariana." He said softly.
"I'll see you back at camp, Will." She said a little tersely before heading for the outlaws' encampment.
The next weeks were filled with making weapons, and improving the camp. More permanent buildings were built on the ground and high in the trees with ladders up to them and bridges connecting them. The refugees quickly became integrated into the life at the outlaw camp and Robin's leadership continued undisputed. Even Will was found helping out from time to time, though he still would quite often be found at river 'keeping an eye on his post' as he explained it.
Azeem assumed the task of teaching the peasants swordsmanship while Robin was the obvious candidate for the teaching of archery. Eager to be able to continue practice, Ariana lined up with the trainees, Robin had a doubtful look on his face and Will had the audacity to laugh, lightly fingering his scar. With a glare, Ariana fired, in quick succession, three arrows at the nearest target dummy, hitting it square in the center of the chest each time. She turned to Will with a smug smile on her face as she turned back to the target Ariana caught the surprised look on Robin's face and the downright stunned look on the faces of the other trainees. "This is a good bow." Ariana said, slinging it across the quiver she had strapped to her back and walked off.
Ariana stored her bow and arrows in her quarters, which was a room just large enough for sleeping and storing of a few objects and one wall was shared with the Little's cottage, it could get a little noisy with all the children, but most times they were well behaved. After quickly tying off a braid, Ariana made her way next door to the Little's. Ever since she had arrived in camp, Fanny, John's wife had decided that it was her job to mother Ariana. She was constantly fussing over Ariana, making sure she had enough food or blankets or some other such thing. She, in fact, reminded Ariana of Aunt Livia. And Ariana, in return, ran the odd favor or chore for Mrs. Little, goodness knew she had her hands full and enough to do, looking after her large brood of seven (with another on the way) children. The eldest being Wulf, already an outlaw at a young age.
Upon entering, Ariana found a bowl of stew and a chunk of bread shoved in her direction. "Eat, you are too small." Fanny insisted, to which Ariana smiled. She found it ironic that a family with the last name 'Little' was anything but. "When you are done eating, the wood pile is getting low." Fanny commented, already turning back to ladle more stew. Ariana devoured the delicious stew and munched contentedly on the still warm bread, then followed the gently dictated directions and headed into the woods to gather more firewood.
Ariana was enjoying herself, walking through a sunlit forest, trying to guess the names of the birds she heard, all the while gathering dry dead wood from the forest's floor. When she heard a shuffling noise coming from the bushes to her left. She whirled towards the noise, silently cursing herself for leaving her bow and arrows back at the camp, leaning against the wall just past the doorway to her room. Carefully, Ariana set down her burden, never taking her eyes off of the bushes, removed her wrist dagger and picked up a sturdy piece of wood from her accumulated pile of firewood. Crouching slightly, Ariana waited, but when nothing came from the underbrush she slowly crept forward, parting the branches with her firewood.
What she saw surprised her. With a smile, she sheathed her dagger. "Hey, you alright there?" she asked kindly to the little girl hugging her knees. The little girl's head lifted, her eyes red and tears streaming down her face.
She sniffed. "Mama won't get her berries," the little girl displayed a small basket filled to overflowing with fresh red berries. "they were supposed to be a surprise!" she had a slight lisp and her 'r's tended to be pronounced more like a 'w'.
"And where is mama?" Ariana asked, crouching down next to the girl.
"Back at camp. She told me not to leave. But I wanted to surprise her. Now I can't find my way back." She sniffed again and looked up at Ariana. "Do you think she'll be mad at me?"
Ariana looked at the wide green eyes brimming with tears and a face framed by nearly black ringlets. "No. She won't be." She rubbed the back of the little girl. "What's your name, sweetie?"
"Arielle, and I'm this old!" she proudly held up one hand, now smiling through her tears.
"Well, Arielle, I happen to know the way back to camp. If you can carry that basket all by yourself, you can come with me, alright?"
"I'm not supposed to go anywhere with strangers." The small girl frowned.
"Well, my name is Ariana, and you already told me your name, so we are no longer strangers, are we?" Arielle thought for a moment then nodded her head vigorously, her curls bouncing at the movement. "OK, let me just get my firewood." Arielle waited, bouncing from one foot to the other while Ariana struggled to pick up her load and balance it on one arm without dropping any of it. She finally succeeded, Arielle happily grabbed the free hand that Ariana held out to her and they made their way back to camp.
It was hard to miss Arielle's mother. The woman was hurrying about camp. Though her hair fell in waves instead of bouncing ringlets, it was the exact same shade of black as Arielle's and they shared the same intense green eyes. As soon as she spotted her daughter, she rushed up.
"Arielle, there you are. I thought I told you not to leave! What did you think you were doing? And all alone too!" the woman scolded.
"But I wasn't alone, mommy." Arielle protested, lower lip trembling. "Ana was with me."
"Ana? Who is Ana?" the woman asked and Arielle pointed to Ariana who was coming back from dropping off the wood to the Little's. "That's Ana, mommy."
"It's Ariana, sweetie." She smiled at the little girl.
"You can call me Elle and I'll call you Ana, since our names start the same way!" Arielle beamed at this point, proud to show her observational skills.
"I guess I didn't think of it that way." Ariana smiled again, becoming enchanted by the little girl. Ariana then looked up at Arielle's mom. "Why don't you show mommy why you were in the woods, sweetie?"
"I got you berries, mommy!" Arielle proudly held up her basket, showing off the result of her morning excursion.
"You still should have not left camp." the young mother scolded and Arielle's eyes brimmed with tears.
"It's alright, Elle." Ariana soothed. "Mommy was just worried."
The mother rounded on Ariana. "Stay away from us. My daughter does not need the influence of a gypsy." She spat the last word out with venom, turning and walking away, towing her daughter behind herself, a few berries falling out of the girl's basket in her haste. Ariana, stunned, watched the two, Arielle kept glancing back with a mournful look until they turned a corner in what Ariana assumed was the way to their own house.
With a deep sigh, Ariana turned and bumped right into a chest, making her fall. "Ow." She complained with a wince before looking up.
"Not very coordinated today?" Will asked her with his trademark smirk.
"Help me up, you big buffoon." Will laughed and offered her a hand up. "How's your hand, Will?" Ariana asked, noticing that he was careful to offer her his left hand.
"It itches." He complained with a grimace and reached to scratch it. But Ariana grabbed his hand before he could.
"Don't." She commanded. "It's good it itches, means it's healing, but I don't want you to scratch it open. Now, come, sit and let me check it, it's been two days." She ordered leading him over to a log. He watched as she unwrapped it and examined the wound for a moment before speaking.
"It's not you, you know." He stated.
"What?" she asked glancing up at him.
"It's not you that Adele hates. She's hated gypsies since her husband ran off with one four years ago. She's had a hard time raising a baby on her own and any gypsy she comes across, especially a female one, becomes the one that stole her husband."
"Well that's just stupid. I'm not even a gypsy." Ariana said off handedly. "Try and make a fist."
"You're not?" Will asked, doing as she asked. "But I thought… well, we all thought…"
"My great grandpa was a Spaniard. I have been told I have his coloring." She shrugged and wrapped up his hand. "That looks good, I'll check it again in a couple of days. You'll probably be able to go without bandages then as long as you promise to keep it clean, and don't scratch at it. Right?" Will nodded as she picked up the dirty bandages. "I'll see what Fanny can do with these."
"Ariana!" Fanny greeted her with a smile when she walked into the Little's.
"Hi, Fanny. I have some old bandages." She held up the strips of cloth. "Though what you do with these dirty old things is beyond me." she sat down at the roughly hewn table.
"Why, I boil 'em!" Fanny exclaimed, accepting the bandages and adding then to a basket with other dirty rags.
"Boil?" Ariana wrinkled her nose. And eyed the pot over the fire, currently containing stew.
"Sure, cleans 'em right up, it does. No sense in 'em goin' ta waste, deary."
"True." Ariana agreed, letting her gaze roam over the inside of the little cottage. "Where's Wulf? I promised I'd help him with his archery."
"John took him on a raid."
"On a raid! Fanny!" Ariana jumped up from her seat.
"'E's old enough. John told me 'e'd 'ardly be a part of it a'tall."
"I still don't like it." Ariana passed a hand over her face before sinking back down onto the bench.
"Why, you look plumb tuckered out, deary. Why don' ya take some of the little ones and go to th' river?"
"You know, that does sound nice." Ariana smiled. "I'll go get them out of whatever trouble I'm sure they've gotten themselves into by now."
Fanny laughed. "Out you get, I'll finally get some work done 'round 'ere." Ariana laughed as Fanny nearly chased her out of the little dwelling.
Well, now. That's it for now. Let me know what you think!