Can't Live Without You
Rated M for sexual content, dark adult themes, graphic description
Please read and er... maybe not enjoy ...
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Marian was not sleeping. Instead, she gazed up at the ceiling wondering how her life had gone so wrong. It was not most typical thought of a bride-to-be on the eve of her wedding, but then most brides did not have a murderer and a traitor waiting for them at the altar. Most brides' grooms had not attempted to kill them two days ago. Then she sighed softly and admitted the truth – those reasons were not the true cause of her atypical thoughts. Most brides' hearts were not aching with love for another.
A slight shift in the air flow of the room caught her attention. She sat up in the bed and peered about, but it was impossible to see anything in the pitch dark blackness of the room. There was a faint scrabbling noise at the window as the shutter was prised open. She blinked as moonlight flooded the room. When her eyes adjusted to the light, the faint silhouette of a man was outlined in the window frame.
"Marian," he acknowledged.
Robin leant against the window, a tiny bit afraid to approach her and say what he had come here to say. Even after all this time, he still did not know quite where he stood with her. He was sure she cared for him, but she did not love him enough to abandon her father and the life she was used to. Did she love him at all? He did not know. All he knew was that she had never looked as beautiful as she did now, with her rumpled hair in her light nightgown. His heart twinged as he realised she had never looked so sad either.
Rising from the bed, Marian walked over to him and broke the silence. "Why have you come, Robin?"
"I did not want to part with angry words."
"And yet it seems we always do," she said sadly. "We will only fight again this time."
"Not this time," he shook his head vehemently. "I did not come to tell you that you shouldn't be marrying him. I came to – to tell you that I love you. I have always loved you, and when I thought I'd lost you the thing I most regretted was that I never told you."
He saw her eyes go bright with unshed tears. Suddenly she was in his arms, burying her face in his chest. "Why must it be so hard for us?" she sighed softly.
"I do not know," he replied, his breath catching in his throat. It felt so right holding her close against him, but it hurt intensely to know he would never be able to do this again. He could hardly believe that it was possible to feel such love and such pain at the same time. They stood embracing for an age, and he closed his eyes, breathing in the sweet scent of her hair and the softness of her body.
"I'm scared, Robin," she whispered almost inaudibly. He tightened his arms around her, his heart bleeding for her. But she had made her decision, however hard it was, and there was nothing he could to say or do to change that.
"Will you stay with me tonight? I – I don't want to be alone."
"Of course," he replied at once. He was glad there was one small thing he could do for her.
"Robin … I mean …" she struggled to find the words. "I don't want Gisbourne to be the first …"
He looked down at her and held her at arms length as he realised what she was asking. "Marian … no. I don't want you to do this just because you are marrying him tomorrow – it should be about us, not him … We should only do this if you feel … if you … if you love me."
Marian took a deep breath and prepared to say what she had not said for five years. It felt unfamiliar – she had spent too long keeping the words firmly in head, not letting them slip out to her tongue where they could be voiced – but she said it. "I do love you."
He drew her back into arms and hugged her tightly, kissing the top of her head. "I am glad to hear you say that, but –"
He wanted to ask her if she know what this would do to him. To know what it was like to be with her, fully and completely, and then never be able to again. To imagine her with Gisbourne tomorrow night and every night after that, while he would be cold and alone in the forest. Did she know it would be killing him?
Oblivious to his thoughts, she reached up and ran her finger down his cheek. "Please…"
He looked into her eyes, then, sinking into their depths. God, she looked so young, so vulnerable clad only in her flimsy nightgown, staring up at him as if he was the only thing standing between her and the harsh wide world. Which, he realised heartbrokenly, he was. Usually, she was so strong and determined to be independent, but now she turned to him, begging for security. For love. For one night to remember him by, to hold to in the dark times to come. How could he deny her? The simple answer was that he could not.
Softly, he brushed his lips against hers. "Anything for you," he whispered against her mouth. She responded by kissing him back with a passion borne of desperation. With his lips still joined to hers, he lifted her easily and carried her to the bed.
He made love to her with infinite care and tenderness. How much he loved her was evident in every touch, every caress, every kiss. His hands and lips skittered over her skin, evoking sensations she had never known existed, much less experienced. When he finally entered her, it felt like coming home. It was as though the feeling of completeness and unity had always belonged to them, just as surely as they had always belonged to each other. There were no barriers between them now, no more unspoken words. He looked into her eyes and saw straight into her soul; and knew she saw into his. He rocked gently against her, and for a few blissful moments he took them away from the worries and troubles of the world.
Afterwards she cried. Not because he had been rough or the pain of her first time, but because she knew she would never feel this way again. She cried at the cruelty of the world that made it so hard for them, that would force them apart. Their love was such a simple, natural thing; yet it was forbidden, outlawed. It shouldn't have to hurt anyone, but it would, and themselves most of all. She cried, and he tried to kiss her tears away, but they kept on falling until his mouth became so salty he almost gagged. It was then he too gave into the futility of their situation, and he allowed his repressed tears to trickle silently down his cheeks. Eventually she fell into an exhausted sleep, curled up tightly against him. Robin lay flat on his back, staring up at the ceiling just as she had done earlier, wondering at the irony that he could have just declared and consummated his love with her, and yet feel so utterly miserable.
Robin sat on the hill overlooking Locksley. It had always been his favourite place for contemplation, and he wanted to be somewhere he would be found, but not by Marian. He would spare her that. He took out the dagger he kept at his belt and stared at it a long moment, twisting it so that the manor house of Locksley was reflected dully in the blade. It could barely be made out in the predawn greyness, but it was enough to contemplate what might have been. The populace, content, and not suffering under unjust taxes and punishments. Himself, lord of Locksley, with Marian by his side. Marian would be happy, still in love with him after five years of marriage. Perhaps there would have been children to dote over. Even after he had returned from the Holy Land, he had held out for the faint possibility that his fantasy might one day become reality.
But after today, they would all be impossible dreams. They were being taken away from him, and he did not want to see it happen. He did not want to watch Marian become the wife of another man. Marian … How could he live knowing she could never be his? True, he had given her up when her left for the Holy Land, but he had always hoped to return to her. And he had not known her then as he did now. Now, the simple answer was that he could not face a life without her.
Slowly, deliberately, he set the knife to his left arm and opened up the vein from his elbow to his wrist. Pain, sharp and insistent, tugged at his senses. It felt good, distracting him from hollow emptiness in his chest where his heart should have been. That, he had left with Marian. Robin forced himself to transfer the blade to his left hand and cut open his other arm. He gasped at the pain this time. The sun rose over Locksley as he watched his life seep out from the wounds in his arms. The blood glittered strangely in the light of the first rays of dawn. The reflected specks of light grew in his vision until all he could see was white. It faded slowly to black.
The dawn light filtered through the open window. The first thing Marian's sleep-fogged mind registered was absence. Absence? she thought, bewildered. Of what? Then the bittersweet memories of the night before came flooding back. Not what, but who. Robin. The absence of his arms around her, holding her secure in his embrace was what she felt so acutely. She swallowed painfully, hurt that he had not said goodbye, and turned over to regard the place where he had lain. A scrap of parchment lay on the covers. Hesitantly, she picked it up.
Marian, he wrote. I love you. Her eyes travelled over the words, but she did not comprehend them. Her attention was already fixed on the next line; on the simple words that ripped out her already broken heart. I can't live without you. Forgive me.