A Drink Between the Wars Chapter X : Alls well that ends well.
At the point where the road forks, I paused. To go right would take me into Sherwood Forest; would take me to Robin. But I knew that I could not go right. I was not convinced that the Sheriff had been fooled. There was, therefore, every chance that I would be followed. As such, the last thing I could do was to be seen willingly going into Robin Hood's woods. Reluctantly, I tugged the reins to the left, towards Knighton Hall.
No sooner did I arrive, than I heard fast-approaching hoof-beats. A contingent of mounted soldiers rode into the yard and pulled up their horses. I felt my heart rise in my throat as I urged my horse forward to meet them, though with no great speed.
"Good evening, my lady."
One of them dismounted and stepped forward to help me off my own horse.
"We've been sent by Sir Guy."
His tone was more conversational than authoritative, but his words could still be more threat than comfort.
"Sent by Sir Guy to what end?"
"To protect you, Lady Marian; from Robin Hood."
"Oh. Well, that was very…kind of him."
"He is thoughtful man when he wishes to be."
The solider again offered a hand to help me down. I accepted in an almost stupor.
"Go inside, my lady. We'll see to your horse."
"Yes. Thank you." I paused at the threshold. "Are there more of you?"
"I think twelve of us against one outlaw will suffice, even if it is the 'legendary' Robin Hood."
"Well he's new," I muttered under my breath as I nodded.
I closed and bolted the door and leaned against it. The gesture was so typical of Gisborne, unable to speak to me but unable to leave me in peace.
I was too exhausted to even light at fire and sank into a chair. I did not hear him approach, but then I never do. He lit the fire than sat at my feet, leaning back against my legs as I ran my fingers through his hair.
"How did you get past them?" I asked.
"I didn't. I was already here. They need to learn to search a house before they secure it."
"Pray that they don't." I replied stroking my fingers against his cheek.
"How did it go?"
"Quick, short. Gisborne sent me away, sent me 'to my father's house'. Though apparently he felt guilty enough to send guards to protect me. I swear the world has turned upside down."
Robin took hold of my hand.
"I often think so but what has led you to this conclusion?"
"Gisborne sends soldiers to protect me from you, when all I really want is for you to protect me from Gisborne."
He turned around to look at me.
"That is quite an admission."
"It is not so much."
"I think it is."
"I am tired, for the moment, I am tired of the fight. And I feel that at times I have been fighting you as much as him. So I am surrendering."
"On which front?"
"You. Because unlike Gisborne, I know you won't hold it against me."
He leaned on the arms of the chair and bent to kiss me.
"I've noticed you've stopped calling him 'Guy'"
"Oh yes and that's the most important thing."
"You will let me protect you?"
"Because you have not done so in the past."
" I have at times."
"Well, after I was stabbed."
"When you were unconscious?"
"Are you going to deny that you had an independent streak?"
"Had? You needn't use the past tense."
"Robin, we have had this fight before, and I have no doubt we will have it again, tomorrow morning if you like. But for one night could we suspend negotiations?"
He nodded his concession.
"I've got something for you."
He reached into his pouch and pulled out a small ring with a deep blue stone set into it and slid it onto my hand.
"This isn't your signet ring."
"You can't wear my signet ring, it's too dangerous, the Sheriff knows my crest."
"Where did this come from?"
"Jerusalem. I bought it the first week I was in the Holy Land, a symbol of hope. It's been my good luck charm."
"And has it brought you luck?"
"I would say so."
He kissed me and we shifted positions so that he took the chair and I sat in his lap curled against his chest.
"It's been a very strange week."
"In the last seven days I've died, come back to life, had two weddings, knocked out Gisborne, in a church no less, joined your gang and deceived a Bishop."
"I'd say that's about average for me."
He laughed but he tightened his arms around me.
"And the really strange thing, is that it's all led to this. Now I am the picture of domesticity, sitting by the hearth with my husband."
I watched the word play across his features, then framed his face with my hands and brushed my lips across his jaw, his eyes and finally his lips.
"I will make you proud to have me as a husband," he whispered
"I'm already proud of you."
"As I am of you. I love you, Marian."
"I love you, Robin."
After a long affectionate silence, I pulled back to look at his face.
"Husband," I began, then gave him a minute to adjust to the address, "I do fear for your back."
"For my back?"
"It is not a very comfortable chair."
"I beg to differ."
"I think there are more comfortable places within the house."
"Well there's the bench beside your bed."
"There's the bed beside my bench."
Robin rose and gently set me to my feet and moved away to the hearth.
"It has been, as you said, a long, strange week for you."
"But, as I also said, well concluded."
"Still perhaps it would be better if we…if you…"
"You're not planning to sleep on the bench again are you?"
When he didn't answer, I began to feel slightly anxious.
"Robin, this is what you want, right? To be married to me?"
He turned to face me, his face lit by a broad smile.
"Of course it is, but I remember what you said in the forest."
"I said a lot of things in the forest, could you be a little more specific?"
"When we discussed the marriage bed, you were, that is to say, it frightened you. 'A man does not become gentle just because he hangs up his sword-belt'."
"That was not a general discussion, and I was not speaking of you, or of being your wife."
"Are you sure?"
I nodded, then leaned forward to whisper in his ear.
"Robin of Locksley, I swear to you, if you sleep on that bench tonight, you best plan on being there for the rest of your married life. Which will be short, because forget Gisborne, I'll be petitioning for an annulment."
Robin nodded, smiled almost bashfully, then scooped me into his arms so swiftly that I shrieked in surprise.
"Hush!" He admonished though he was laughing. We stood still waiting for the knock on the door, but none came. "Some guards they're proving to be."
"Would you rather they can bursting in at the slightest noise?"
"Given the circumstances, no, probably not."
We looked at each other then and smiled in perfect accord. No more words were necessary. Robin Hood had finally come home.