Author's Notes: Because, um, really? Five years and one scar? What is he, a freaking ninja?
bear to mention
He was Robin Hood. He was justice and bravery and goodness personified, virtue and kindness tied off neatly with a little bow. Most of the time the outlaws believed this because most of the time, it was true.
But they could see something in him, when he fought. It was a part of himself he kept well-hidden, smothered beneath his compassion and integrity, a tiny sliver that he had surely meant to leave in Acre. It was something savage, and brutal, and not entirely human; a violence he could control when his fingers wrapped around a bow, but that got away from him when steel clashed against steel.
The first time—the day he gave himself up to save some tongues—the dead men were impressed by it, by his speed and agility and savage inability to be touched. His apparent invincibility gave them all hope, strength, fed their vanity and made them think that maybe, just maybe, they could do this.
But as they grew to know him, as they grew to understand his generosity and endless capacity to give, the guttural aggression in his sword fighting seemed stark and out of place against the rest of his character. In the following weeks they would wonder, then fear, then accept. Robin never spoke of the Holy Lands; never spoke of the men he killed the day that Marian nearly died. But he wielded a sword less, markedly avoiding the hilt at his hip.
Roy saw it when Robin pretended to kill him. He would joke afterwards, but for the rest of his days he would remember that look—the unapologetic, discomfortingly calm expression that had drawn itself across Robin's usually expressive face, the small smile that graced his lips in victorious pleasure. And Roy understood then how Robin of Locksley, a pampered noble who weighed less than his mother, could survive the Holy Lands with only one scar.
Most refused to acknowledge the shard of madness in their leader because usually he could manage it and so it could be ignored. Only twice had it taken total control of him; the day he'd realized Gisbourne had tried to kill the king and the day he'd thought Marian dead. In both instances he lost all control, giving in to the desire to kill and hurt and maim until the world felt as he did.
Much told Marian that Robin needed to be loved. He did not add that love was the only thing standing between his master and madness, a blockade that withstood every assault but sleep.
He thought it best not to include that Robin knew how many men he'd killed in the Holy Lands. That he kept mental record—not as a boast, but as a confession, as a personal self punishment.
He thought it best not to include that its length would take days to recite, that the numbers could fill Locksley and Knighton and Nottingham without a blink. Some things, after all, do not bear that sort of mention.