'The leaving'


Oneshot

Set five years before the 2006 BBC series


"Is it true?"

Robin stopped for a moment, waiting for a response, but realized the question was in fact meant for him.

Marian was alone in her room, and he was not as stealthy as he thought.

"Well?" her voice beckoned, and he moved in front of her window.

Her back was to him as she sat at her desk, looking intently upon something he could not see.

"I must be more careful, if your father had have been home..." he slipped easily inside, and sat perched upon her window sill.

Still, she did not turn to face him as she spoke, "You were careful, but I have been expecting you"

'Of course, you could feel my presence', Robin thought to himself, but did not think to say such compliments out loud; especially considering the conversation he was about to have.

"You did not answer my question" Marian looked over her shoulder for a moment, and Robin thought he saw a silver tear on her cheek, but she turned from him too quickly to be sure.

"It is" he said quietly.

Marian nodded, and lay down the object she had been thumbing. She took a deep breath and swiped at her cheeks with her sleeve before turning in her seat to face him.

Robin looked at her and his chest contorted; she was so young but tonight, she looked to have the weight of the world on her shoulders.

"When?"

"The King's men should be here in two days"

"Two days?" the words escaped Marian's lips, and with them fresh tears began to fall.

He took a step forward but she quickly raised a hand and he stopped, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room, unable to make the final few steps to stand before her.

"How long?" she managed to ask, and when Robin bowed his head in silence she felt all the air leave her body as everything she had hoped to have, began to crumble away into wishful thinking.

"What about..." she muttered underneath her breath, but could not bring herself to complete the question, and instead stood abruptly and walked to the other end of the room, perching herself on her bed.

It was then that Robin saw what Marian had been looking at. Sitting on her desk was the ring. A plain gold band he had given her along with a promise he was now breaking.

He moved forward and picked it up, looking intently at the ring Marian had worn so proudly for that past year. He knew that when she looked at it all she could think was how close the day was when they would be joined in holy matrimony. Both were waiting for her sixteenth birthday, this had been Edward's one request, that Robin wait until his only child was a maiden.

"My father told me"

Robin looked toward Marian, who was sitting stock-still on her bed.

"I didn't believe him. I said it couldn't be true, that you would never leave because..." her voice broke and she could not finish.

"I must..." Robin began.

"You must!?" Marian spat out, standing to face him. Her fists were clenched as she stared daggers, "You must? For what, Robin? King and country?"

"Yes!" he bellowed back.

Marian opened and closed her hands, releasing the tension, she sighed and shook her head. "For King and country?..." she whispered.

"I am in charge of the King's guard in Nottingham, I am one of his most loyal servants and I would not abandon him now, in his time of need..."

When she did not reply Robin continued, his voice rising as his resolve weakened, "...He fights for England's Holy Land and I will be honored to fight alongside him!"

Silence suddenly prevailed, and Marian sighed again.

"This is how my life will always be, wont it? Always the one left behind?"

Robin trained his eyes upon her, she was not crying or shaking with anger, merely stating a fact. The normalcy of her voice chilled him to the bone.

"First my mother, then your parents, Robin?" she gave a slight shake of her head and looked down at her hands, "...the people I love, will they never stay?"

"If I could stay..."

"But you won't" she said, again matter-of-factly, "and let's just say what it is that I am really terrified about, shall we?"

"Marian - " Robin tried, but she would not let him finish.

"...What if you don't come back?"

"I will" the moment the words spilled out he regretted it. It was one thing to leave Marian, but to try and shield her from a very real possibility? That really was too cruel.

"You are going to war and you think you are invincible – will you really tempt fate so?"

He shook his head, "if I do die..." he began.

"Don't say it, please"

"You must go on and..."

"Stop!" she yelled.

"...Forget about me, do not be a maiden forever..."

"I could never love anyone as I love you"

He stopped talking, and looked upon her face, masked by the darkness he had to step forward again and again, until he was standing in front of her. He reached for her hands and pulled her toward him, toward the window and the moonlight that framed her face, allowed him to look upon her.

"You are all I want in this world" he whispered, and leaned forward, laying his lips hard upon hers and dragging his hands through her hair as their kiss deepened.

When they pulled away her cheeks were wet with tears and she lay her head against his chest.

"Would you wait for me?" Robin whispered into her hair.

Marian pulled away slightly, giving the smallest shake of her head. "I have been promised to you since we were children" Marian took a step backward, out of Robin's arms, her eyes meeting his, "I would be happy to be your wife and start a family with you" Robin tried to speak, but no words formed and Marian continued, "but you and I want very different things, Robin. You have always wanted glory and adventure and now you have your chance..."

She stepped away from him, walking back toward her desk and chair, she turned to him once more, "... I am releasing you from your promise, which in all honesty was more to my father than me..."

"You know that is not true, Marian!" Robin shot back.

She shook her head and continued, a sad smile on her face, "This time I am giving permission to the person I love to leave me behind, so that hopefully the leaving will not hurt quite so much".

"Marian..."

"No, Robin. I will not wait" her words were blunt and hung thick in the air between them.

Robin took a few steps forward, and made a move to reach for her, pull her back into an embrace once more... but stopped himself, and Marian remained standing, waiting.

"Very well" he whispered, and headed toward the window.

He made a move to leave, but in a second thought, turned slightly, "I will not know what to do if I return to find you happily married with a dozen children", he said over his shoulder.

Marian took a deep breath, "And I would not know what to do if you did not return"

I want you between me and the feeling I get when I miss you
But everything here is telling me I should be fine
So why is it so, above as below,
That I'm missing you every time

It was the closest she could come to wishing him good luck, but Robin knew it was even deeper than that - she was asking him to return home safely, one day.

I got used to you whispering things to me into the evening
We followed the sun and its colours and left this world
It seems to me that I'm definitely
Hearing the best that I've heard

He gave a small nod and in a moment was gone. Vanished and engulfed by the night.

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone

Marian took another deep breath and in an instant felt herself begin to shake with sadness. Falling to the floor, she doubled over in pain and let the tears fall as they may, and outside the window, pressed against the wall Robin listened.

And whenever you go it's like holding my breath underwater
I have to admit that I kind of like it when I do
Oh but I've got to be unconditionally
Unafraid of my days without you

As he listened a deep pain began to throb in his chest, and for a moment he had the thought that if he could survive this night, he might just be able to survive the war. He might just be able to return home one day, and even if she was content with some handsome lord and had a dozen rosy-cheeked children, Robin thought that just to look upon Marian's face again would be enough. To survive the war and return to look into her eyes, and know that he was home.

So throw me a rope to hold me in place
Show me a clock for counting my days down
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Whenever I'm falling you're always behind me
Come back and find me
Cause everything's easier when you're beside me
Come back and find me
Cause I feel alone


Song: KT Tunstall, 'throw me a rope'