"To King Richard!" Much suggested, holding up his cup, sloshing a considerable amount of wine all over himself.
"King Richard!" Little John concurred, bursting into a fit of laughter, raising his own cup and clapping Morgan on the back, sending her sprawling forward onto the ground. She lay on the forest floor for a moment before giggling herself, stumbling clumsily to her feet.
"King Richard!" she nodded, thrusting her cup into the air, even though it was empty. They'd probably toasted the King ten times already, but they'd forgotten. Robin and Will exchanged worried looks, unsure of whether or not they should interrupt now or let their friends pass out first. Both of them had the same question. How had this happened?
--Several hours earlier--
"Me! I want to do it!" Morgan whispered feverishly, waving her hand in the air and bouncing on the balls of her feet. Will grabbed her hand and forced her arm down, rolling his eyes.
"Morgan, you can't even sneak up on a deer," he pointed out in the exhausted tone that he had become accustomed to using with her. Besides her infamous lack of grace, Will knew that she was only volunteering for the job because it involved sneaking into the castle, and that meant the possibility of seeing Allan. Robin tried not to laugh, but the wide grin on his face gave him away.
"Will, you can sneak into the castle. The rest of us will divide into two teams. The team closest to where Will sets of the signal will move in. The other team will go back into the forest and wait for the rest of us to get back. No sense in us all going in. This requires stealth above all else. Djaq, Marian, you're with me. Much, Little John, Morgan, you'll be team two. Alright, then, split up," he debriefed, giving them the signal to splinter off into their assigned groups.
"I can't help but think that this was not arbitrary," Much muttered, looking from Morgan to Little John. He loved them, but "stealthy" wasn't a word that came to mind when describing either one of them. Little John preferred the direct approach; his size just leant itself to it. Morgan, on the other side of the coin, was just excruciatingly clumsy. Much hadn't actually seen her sneak up on anything before, but Will had sent her back to camp on more than one hunting expedition.
"Well, what do we do until the signal goes off?" Much asked. The three exchanged glances, none of them really coming up with anything. Finally, Little John spoke.
"The Trip?" he suggested. Morgan clapped excitedly.
"The Trip! Brilliant!" she complemented. Much shook his head.
"No, absolutely not!" he put his foot down. "You're both too easily recognized. Besides, we need to watch for the signal, and we can't do that from inside a tavern."
Much ignored the pouty look that Morgan kept giving him, and the flat stare of annoyance that Little John had fixed him with. They were peeking out of an alleyway, the heat of the noon sun beating down on them. Their cloaks weren't helping.
"It's hot," Morgan complained. "Can't we go somewhere with shade?"
"The Trip," Little John suggested. Much resisted the urge to hit his head against the side of the house they were hiding behind.
"We have to wait for the signal!" he snapped, jumping slightly as a small white piece of cloth flew out of one of the castle windows. It was around the other side, definitely closer to the others.
"There it is! Can we go to the Trip now?" Morgan asked hurriedly, tugging on Much's sleeve.
"We have to go back to the forest! Weren't you listening to Robin?" he asked. Morgan sighed, crossing her arms over her chest, looking to Little John who shook his head.
"We go to the woods," he conceded, much to Much's relief. The three of them started out of Nottingham, two of them casting forlorn looks as they passed the Trip to Jerusalem Inn. A barmaid rolled out a large barrel, sitting it by the door.
"They're late, and we've no room. If someone steals the Sheriff's wine, it'll be on the guards, not us," she shouted to someone inside, wiping her hands on her apron and heading back in. Morgan tugged on Little John's sleeve. Little John looked at Much. Much glanced at the woodsman. He glanced at the cask of wine, sighing.
"Well, I suppose it's technically stealing from the Sheriff," he validated, noticing as both John and Morgan broke into wide grins.
"Morgan, I'm not sure that you should have any wine," Much admitted as the blacksmith filled her cup. She was giddy enough on her own; Much shuddered to think of what she would be like with wine running through her veins. She responded by filling a cup and handing it to him.
"Here. If you're drunk, too, you won't notice," she reasoned. Much looked at the wine. He hadn't had a fine wine since Bonchurch. Little John was already on his third cup, giving him a similarly encouraging smile.
"Should we really be getting drunk?" Much asked, worrying. Morgan shrugged.
"Well, look at it like this. If we don't drink this wine, then we've stolen it for no reason. That's just wasteful," she pointed out. Much sipped at the cup, finding that it was absolutely marvelous.
"You're right," he agreed, taking a long swig. "What right do we have to be wasteful?" Little John raised his cup.
"That's the spirit. Besides, this is burgundy wine! It is for savoring, not, Much, for drinking!" he approved, downing what remained in his cup. Much nodded. Besides, what harm could come of them getting a bit drunk at the camp?
"The stars above, no more than we, for they can see the hearts, the souls, the loves that cannot be!" Much sang loudly, swaying back and forth, his eyes closed as he belted something that once resembled a melody. Little John and Morgan exchanged glances before laughing unrestrainedly. Much did his best to be affronted, but he'd grown so used to Robin mocking his singing voice that he found he could not. Instead he joined in with the laughter.
"To Much! Bard and minstrel of no compare!" Morgan stood, bowing graciously, raising her cup above her head. Little John echoed the gesture, though he did not trust himself to stand.
"Very funny," Much rolled his eyes. "I'll have you know that someone very special taught that song to me, thank you very much." Little John sat forward, waiting for Much to continue. Morgan sipped her wine, still bowing, also anticipating Much's story.
"Well?" she prompted. Much took a deep breath.
"Her name was Eve," he started, sighing contentedly at the memory. "And after this is over, I'm going to go find her." He paused, remembering his brief kiss with the beautiful blonde. "Maybe before then."
"To Eve, then! To Much's Lady of Bonchurch!" Little John toasted, raising his glass. Much was more than willing to toast to that, drinking deeply from his cup.
"Did you see stars?" Morgan asked dreamily, holding out her cup as Little John poured another round for them. Much squinted at her.
"Stars?" he asked.
"When you kissed her," she clarified. "Did you see stars?" Much turned a bright red, nodding as he drank more wine.
"It was flowers blooming for me," Little John fondly recalled, causing the two younger outlaws to turn to him. He scratched the back of his head.
"When I kissed Alice for the first time," he explained. Morgan sighed.
"Little John, that's so romantic!" she commented, playfully nudging Little John in the arm. He smirked.
"And what about you, little miss?" he asked. Morgan choked on the mouthful of wine she was attempting to swallow, sending it spraying into the campfire.
"Who would I be kissing?" she asked innocently, twirling her hair. This inspired laughter in both Little John and Much.
"Morgan, you didn't just say that!" Much sniggered, as if his proclamation would make it true. Little John ruffled her hair.
"Blind, we are not," he laughed heartily. Morgan's already rosy cheeks turned a shade redder.
"If… if I was kissing someone," she emphasized the "if," leaning forward, "If I was kissing someone, I'd see stars." She nodded, as if her supposedly hypothetical statement would convince the two men. It, of course, did not. Perhaps Morgan knew it, because she abruptly changed the subject, raising her cup into the air once more.
"To Robin of Locksley! Earl of Huntington! May he continue to shoot arrows and fight Sheriffs and woo Marians!" She announced. The trio happily drank to their leader.
"To Djaq!" Little John moved along as soon as they'd refilled their cups again. "May she continue to make medicines and potions and salads!" Laughter rippled through the small group once more.
"To Will Scarlet! May he continue to whittle and secretly love Djaq and be a crafty craftsman!" Much continued, drinking to the resident carpenter.
"To Marian! May she continue to kiss Robin and mislead Gisborne and watch nightmen!" Morgan laughed, beginning to slur her words.
"To Morgan!" Little John proposed, "May she continue to sneak off at night and scare off deer and not cook!" Much emptied his cup on this toast, especially at the "not cooking" bit.
"To Little John! May he continue to be very un-little and scare the Sheriff's men and hit things with a bit of wood!" Morgan returned.
"We're very nearly out of wine," Morgan lamented, leaning on the barrel for support. Much and Little John gathered around, looking down into the cask, sad to find that Morgan was correct. They had a few rounds left at the most.
Little John grabbed both of his friends, by their shirts, lifting them clear off the ground before setting them on their feet.
"We will not be sad!" he commanded. Much and Morgan rifled off salutes, though Much's was quite sloppy and Morgan used the wrong hand.
"We will not be sad!" they repeated. They sat next to the fire, slowly sipping at the cups in their hands.
"If you could kiss anyone in the gang, who would you kiss?" Little John suddenly asked, looking from Much to Morgan expectantly. They stared back at him.
"Everyone's taken," Much commented thickly. John shrugged.
"Pretend they aren't. That's the point," he explained. Much nodded, mouthing an enlightened "ohhh" as he did.
"Allan," Morgan mumbled. Little John shook his head.
"He's not in the gang anymore," he contested. Morgan gently bit on her tongue, mulling the question over.
"Who would you pick, John?" Much asked, redirecting the question, giving himself time to think.
"Djaq," the woodsman answered quickly, nodding matter-of-factly as he took a drink. Much and Morgan stared, mouths open with surprise.
"Well, she's very pretty!" he defended his decision.
"She is that," Morgan said to Much, as if the man had argued. Much took this in, nodding.
"I would pick you, Morgan," he admitted bluntly, sipping his wine. Morgan nearly dropped her cup.
"Why me?" she asked. Much scratched at the back of his left ear.
"Cause Djaq's too much like a sister, or something, and I'm afraid of what Robin would do to me if I ever kissed Marian," he drank again, "And you're pretty." Little John looked at Morgan, who was still staring in shock.
"Thank you, Much. That was incredibly kind," she finally said, leaning forward and kissing Much on the cheek. "That doesn't leave the camp," she said sternly.
"I'll not tell Allan if you don't tell Eve," Much haggled. Little John laughed at the pair of them. He sincerely hoped that he would remember all of this in the morning, though the chances were slim to none. It would certainly be fun to casually drop a line from the evening's conversations, just to see the reaction from Much and Morgan. The thought was childish, yes, but John felt that he was entitled every once and a while.
"That," Much began, holding the wet rag to his pounding head, "was a terrible idea." It was properly noon before any of them had woken up. Robin and company had seen the tail end of the trio's celebrations, which ended abruptly when Little John passed out. He'd hit Much on the way down, knocking him out as well. Morgan had decided that she, too, wanted to be unconscious, and had curled up next to them on the ground, using Much's stomach as a pillow.
Morgan was now kneeling by the stream, dunking her head in the cold water. She'd seen Allan do it when he was trying to sober up, finding that it helped. Little John grumbled an agitated reply at Much's complaint, though it wasn't discernible. Much wasn't entirely convinced that it was even English. Even if John was grumbling at him, he didn't care. His head hurt, and he blamed Morgan and John for talking him into the previous night of misadventure.
"You are a silly drunk," he said to John. He turned to Morgan, who had just lifted her head out of the water, sputtering.
"And you are just silly," he said to her. Morgan didn't try to deny it, dunking her head back into the water. Little John smiled slyly.
"That's not what you said last night," he pointed out. Much turned a brilliant shade of red that could've given Will a run for his money.
"Shh!" he shushed fervently. Morgan pulled her head out of the water again, looking over at the potential squabble. She could either diffuse the situation or join in. Naturally, she picked the latter, grinning.
"It's alright, Much. At least you didn't see flowers blooming," she reassured, shooting John a teasing smile. The large man reverted to his grumbling, crossing his arms over his chest and avoided Morgan's gaze.
"Thank you, Morgan," Much muttered. Morgan started to wring out her hair.
"No problem, Much," she replied. "Anything for someone who called me pretty." Much opened his mouth to say something, but opted not to as Robin strode over to their little group.
"You three alright, then?" he asked louder than he normally would've, his childish smile broadening as all three of them winced at the volume of his voice.
"Fine," Much replied. Little John grumbled something that was either "I'm tops" or "Sod off." Robin bet on the second one. Morgan rubbed her temples, electing not to say anything.
"I will say, I've never seen anyone dance like you lot," Robin commented. Morgan and Little John stood, simultaneously looking at Much, who followed suite. "The singing was a nice touch. Maybe next time we need to sneak into the castle, we can pass the three of you off as professional torturers." He was so busy laughing at the members of his gang that he hadn't noticed that they had circled around him. There were certain things in life that tended to unite people, and drinking though an entire barrel of wine was apparently one of them.
"I was only joking!" Robin sputtered, clambering out of the river.
Yay for complete silliness! Yay for wine! Yay for Morgan not cooking!
This was actually a requested piece that I did for one of my friends. She requested only two things: drunkenness and someone ending up in the river.
So, here we are. Blame her. XD
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed it. It's just a light-hearted little oneshot, but I'm fond of it.