Allan laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. His quality of life had technically improved since he had joined Gisborne. He had a soft bed in a warm house. He had food everyday, food that wasn't potentially squirrel meat. He had money that he didn't have to give away to the poor. He frowned. He'd lost things, too. He didn't have his friends. He didn't have his freedom. He was tethered to a fate that he didn't want. He was a traitor, a liar, a Judas Iscariot.
He turned onto his stomach, putting his face into his pillow. God, what had he done? He'd sold out, that's what he'd done. Why did Morgan care? Why didn't she turn her back on him, just like the others? Why did she have to defend him at every turn? Couldn't she see that he was no good? Hadn't the countless times that he'd stolen, the countless times he'd lied shown her anything?
Of course, he didn't want her to abandon him. He didn't want to be alone, but he didn't want his traitorous ways to put her in danger. Tom had tried to follow him in his life as an outlaw, and he'd gotten hanged for it. Allan closed his eyes. So many things going wrong, and they were all his fault. He hadn't been brave enough. Much had been wrong about him. He was weak. He was weak all along. He couldn't stand up to Gisborne. He couldn't take the step that Roy had taken.
He clutched the pillow, looking up at the simple, wooden headboard. He knew the carving, the patterns in the wood. Will had made this headboard. He suddenly felt sick. His best friend. He'd put his best friend in danger. He sat up, staring out of the window of the small cottage. He'd put them all in danger. Will, his best friend. Little John, who always laughed at his jokes. Djaq, who had known the whole time and tried to help him. Much, who had kept him fed. Robin, who had saved his life.
It wasn't really about the gold. Sure, he wasn't going to complain about it, but it wasn't really the point. It was because he had been afraid. He had felt scared and betrayed.
"Hood was here. Did you know? He didn't try to rescue you." He had told himself that Gisborne was lying, but a part of him couldn't deal with the possibility that it was true. Could Robin have left him to suffer and die? A part of him railed against the thought. But a part of him whispered in a low voice. If your own brother could stab you in the back… Allan stood, pacing around the cottage, stopping in front of the washing bin, looking into the water. He hadn't slept properly since Robin had thrown him out of the gang. Dark circles were starting to form around his eyes, some of the color draining from his face. It certainly made him look more evil.
"Allan A Dale, what a fool you are," he muttered to himself.
"You've seen Allan, then?" Much asked, watching Morgan smiling contentedly as she climbed into the loft. Everyone else had fallen asleep, but Much wouldn't allow himself to. Not until everyone had safely returned to the camp. The girl didn't answer, but her smile told Much all he needed to know. She fell asleep quickly, the smile still curving her lips, one hand resting on her cheek.
Much watched her, shaking his head. How could Allan, who had caused so much trouble, make someone act like that? Morgan had told him that there was a side to Allan that the former outlaw didn't show. Much openly admitted that he couldn't fathom it. He had never been as close to Allan as he had been to the others. Allan picked on him all the time, even when Much had tried to compliment him. He considered the girl that was sleeping in the loft in front of him, shaking his head again. She was so odd.
Allan was in Nettlestone early the next morning, riding his horse slowly through the village. Everyone was buzzing with the latest bit of gossip.
"A message from King, that's right." Allan pulled his horse to a stop, listening. "The messenger met with Robin Hood late last night. Said that the kind is going to land in Hastings!" Allan paused. Should he deliver this message to the Sheriff? Endanger the King's life? The pragmatic part of him took over. It didn't matter if he told or not. News would get to Nottingham, anyway. But if he delivered the news, it'd make him look better. There was no harm in telling the Sheriff what he would inevitably find out, right? He was about to ride back to the castle, but another thought stopped him.
Didn't Gisborne say that the rumors about Robin and Morgan came from Nettlestone? The rumor was decidedly not true, so it followed that this news of King Richard could very well be just another rumor. He did not want to be the one to tell the Sheriff something like this if it wasn't true.
He decided to do what he was supposed to be doing, or at least pretend to do what he was supposed to be doing. So he kept his ears open. It proved to be more difficult than he thought, the nights of staying up starting to catch up with him. He rubbed his eyes, riding out of the village. This was ridiculous. He had to get some sleep. God, he missed being able to sleep when he wanted.
The Sheriff sat in the Great Hall, eating grapes. Gisborne had just burst in, breathless. He was waving frantically, a manic grin twisting his lips. Honestly, the Sheriff was a little scared. The last time he'd seen Gisborne smile like that… Well, Gisborne never smiled like that. Gisborne scowled and grumbled and occasionally whined like a girl.
"Hastings!" The younger man was saying, "We should send funds to Hastings immediately!" The Sheriff hoped that Gisborne wouldn't wet himself. He certainly looked like he was going to. The Sheriff wrinkled his nose. Why couldn't he have a normal henchman?
"Hastings?" the Sheriff asked in relative monotone when compared with Gisborne's frenetic announcement. Gisborne nodded.
"News has arrived from the Holy Lands. A messenger confirmed that King Richard will arrive in Hastings." The Sheriff felt the grin dancing across his face as he stood, joining Gisborne in his bizarre, flailing dance.
"Hastings!" he shouted. "This calls for a feast, Gisborne! Assemble the Black Knights!" Gisborne started to move, but the Sheriff promptly stopped the bizarre, flailing dance and gave him a sharp swat to the back of the head.
"A clue: no. Where's the proof?" he asked. He was sure that Gisborne would've caught on to his sarcasm earlier. The poor boy. He did try so very hard.
"Proof, Gisborne. I will not send any funds to Hastings until I have proof that King Richard intends to land there," The Sheriff expounded. Gisborne pulled a letter from his pocket, clearly emblazoned with the royal seal. The Sheriff snatched it from his grip, quickly opening it, his eyes racing over the elegant handwriting. He looked back at Gisborne. The younger man didn't wait for him to ask the question.
"I saw Hood running into the forest, soon after the word spread that he had seen the messenger. We were unable to apprehend him, but he did lose this letter. From the King. Telling him where Richard would make his landing," Gisborne reported. The Sheriff gripped the letter like it was the Holy Grail.
"Ready a chest of funds. Now!"
Allan was right next to the chest, shifting nervously on his horse. If Robin and the gang attacked, which he was sure they would, he would be right in the line of fire. His eyes were glued on the trees, warily scanning for any sign, ready to get out of the way. As if on cue, a shower of arrows rained down in front of the convoy, causing them to halt.
"Are we interrupting anything important, Gisborne?" Robin called from a ledge, throwing his head back in a laugh. Little John and Much appeared to the right of the convoy, weapons ready. Djaq and Morgan flanked the left side, their swords flashing under the sunlight that trickled through the trees. Robin slid down from the ledge, his grin widening as the guards drew their swords.
"Don't just stand there! Attack!" Gisborne commanded. The men obeyed, making the first move, engaging the outlaws in battle. Allan dismounted his horse, hanging back as the guards near him dropped. Djaq and Morgan seemed to have bonded. Maybe it was a girl thing, but they seemed to move together, understanding where the other would go, keeping each other guarded as they pressed forward. Allan shook his head. Definitely a girl thing.
"You'll not touch that gold, Hood," Gisborne smiled, swinging his sword. Robin stepped to the side as he avoided potentially getting cleaved in half, the grin not leaving his face.
"You always say that Gisborne, but it's never true," he pointed out. Gisborne laughed, ignoring the jab.
"Look around, Hood. You're outnumbered," he shot back. Robin glanced around. Gisborne was right. The guards were doing a fine job of holding the gang off, with Allan right next to the trunk of gold, intent on guarding it, pushing Djaq and Morgan back with no small effort.
Robin steeled himself, making his decision.
"Time to disappear!" he barked. The outlaws looked at him, surprised by the suddenness of the command. They began to back off, waiting on Robin's cue. Robin allowed the fight to continue for another minute before he kicked Gisborne back, slamming him into one of the guards. "My gang, this way!"
By the time Gisborne got back to his feet, the outlaws had gone. He smiled at the trunk, which still sat on its cart. Allan leaned against the cart.
"Not being funny, but that could've been catastrophic," he commented, "At least they didn't make off with the loot." He knocked on the trunk. His eyes widened as he repeated the gesture. The sound was hollow. Gisborne swallowed hard, bracing himself.
"Open it." Allan flipped the trunk open. It was empty.
"Clever beggars," he muttered, picking up the trunk, lifting it so that Gisborne could see the hole in the bottom of the trunk. There was a piece of parchment resting inside. Allan handed it to Gisborne, who slowly opened it. A single word was scrawled across it, partially covered by the King's seal.
Will had waited until the fight had broken out, slipping underneath the cart. He hacked a hole in the bottom of it, hacking another whole in the trunk, holding a sack open underneath it as the gold spilled out. He held the sack close, gently letting it down as it filled, muffling the sound of the coins. The fight dragged on around him, but he ignored it, focusing on the gold. Once he had filled the sack, he replaced it with another, repeating the process. As soon as the trunk emptied out, he slipped back into the woods, dragging the loot behind him as he ducked into the trees.
He allowed himself a small smile. The plan had worked without a hitch. He had created a replica of Kind Richard's seal, using Robin's letter of commendation from his majesty as a reference. Robin had written the letter, stamped it with the seal, and "accidentally" dropped it in front of Gisborne. Djaq had suggested the fight as a cover for the actual heist. Will smiled. It had worked flawlessly.
He distributed the bags of gold to the rest of the gang. Robin grabbed one of the bags, grinning and clapping a hand on Will's shoulder.
"Good work, Will. I didn't even see you!" he smirked, openly impressed. Much followed after, as he always did, taking a bag with a nod. Djaq took the next, affording Will a smile. It was a smile that she reserved for him, though she never knew if he saw it or not. She sometimes wished that he wasn't so quiet, but there was something about his reserved manner that drew her to him. Morgan walked up behind Djaq, nudging her in the shoulder.
"That was fun," she commented loudly, oblivious to the moment that she had just interrupted.
"Yeah, fun," Djaq replied, walking off. Morgan reached for the last bag, the largest one. She tugged at it, struggling to pick it up from the forest floor. She glanced over at Will, who had turned a brilliant shade of red.
"You alright, then, Will?" she asked, tugging fruitlessly at the large bag.
"Fine," Will replied hastily. Little John walked up behind Morgan, shaking his head at her trouble. He gingerly pushed the girl aside, grabbing the bag and slinging it over his shoulder with little effort. Will smirked, giving Morgan a look. She crossed her arms over her chest.
"What? It was heavy!" she defended herself. Will didn't say anything, walking after Little John. Morgan followed, continuing her defense.
"Really it was!"
Allan laid in his bed, staring at the ceiling. He had a headache. The Sheriff had yelled at him for hours. Then Gisborne had yelled at him. While on duty, he heard some of the villagers mumbling about him as they walked past.
"There he is, the traitor. Turned on Robin Hood and all!"
The nasty little rumors about the traitorous Allan A Dale had spread to the villagers. They no longer looked at him with the same admiration that they had when he was with Robin. Instead, they shot him dirty looks. Allan let them talk. Yes, he'd done wrong. Yes, he'd been the traitor, the liar, the Judas Iscariot. But they didn't know the whole story. They didn't know that he'd been captured and tortured. They didn't know that he'd helped the gang break out of jail. They didn't know that he'd seen Will slide under the cart, that he had heard him emptying out the trunk. But he knew, and, for the moment, that was enough.
Allan smiled, falling into a peaceful sleep for the first time in days.
The end! I hope you guys enjoyed it! Thanks to Stripysockz, honestgreenpirate, and jeps for the reviews!
I'm going to start working on the next story as soon as I can, but I still have some things to work out before I start writing.
In the meantime, I'll probably post some one shots and so forth.
Hope you guys keep reading! Tell your friends! Leave reviews! Enjoy life!