He doesn't understand why Robin is smiling. He scrunches up his face and tilts his head, disbelieving. Robin is still staring straight ahead, that strange smile playing around the corners of his mouth. It hasn't reached his eyes.
Much makes a sound that is almost a laugh.
"You don't mean that." He hears the whisper of uncertainty in his voice. Robin doesn't answer him, leaves the moment hanging there.
But, the summer grass is warm, and the King is coming back, so Much brushes it aside.
"A smaller man would be offended. A smaller man would be wounded."
Robin laughs, finally, a dry, brittle chuckle.
"You see, there is no smaller man, Much," - the smile dies on his face as Robin turns to look at him - "you are the smaller man."
He sits and says nothing as his master, his friend, spits out words that burn and sting, as Robin discards everything they've been through. Much barely hears it; he doesn't need to. He sees the sneer on the face that he would die for, feels the stinging in his eyes, blinks it back as he thinks of all the things that Robin doesn't know about him; fire and sand and Eve and watching his best friend shaking in his arms a thousand miles from home.
He blinks again as he realises Robin's still talking.
"You're like a pox on my skin. I keep scratching, but you never go away."
There's the bitter edge of a chuckle in his voice now, and suddenly Much's lip is trembling, he has to fight to keep his shoulders level. There's a lump in his throat as Robin stares at him with something approaching defiance, daring him to react. Daring him to leave.
Much reaches out and shoves him, hard, sends him sprawling in the grass; he thinks he sees a glimmer of triumph in the cold eyes of his master.
"You go away," he says, all sadness and contempt, and this is what it feels like when your heroes lose their shine. He grabs his sword, strides away as fast as he can, doesn't look back. He knows Robin will sit there for hours.
"We are Robin Hood's men, here to defend the King."
Even as he says it, he realises he's still defining himself by Robin. And that he always will.
He sprints through the grass, unsure of exactly where he is going, unsure of everything but the fact of Robin. They need Robin, and Robin needs him. He is going to bring him back, and everything is going to be alright.
The King-who-is-not-the-King rides past and Much stands in the dust, open-mouthed, thoughts crowding into his brain.
He looks around wildly, torn between Nottingham and Locksley, between England and Robin.
He pelts towards the church, gasping and sweating and praying he is not too late. Seizing the thick rope, he wrenches it from side to side with everything he has left.
"Stop the wedding! Stop the wedding!"
The guards are closing in now, grabbing at his arms, but he keeps on shouting, keeps his eyes fixed on Marian.
She turns to Guy, bewildered, accusatory; his jaw is set.
Wrenching his arm free, Much points towards him, trying frantically to make her see -
"He went to the Holy Land! He tried to kill the King!"
Marian's eyes are wide behind her veil. She stands, suddenly; Guy grabs her arm. Much struggles harder as he watches the two of them, desperate.
He may not be a clever man, and he may not be a proper noble, but he watches people, he understands things. He knows this girl, knows that without her Robin will fade away. They are all tangled in a knot; the three of them, and Nottingham, and England, and the things they do to protect what is important. The things they lose. There was a brave girl with a clear voice and sadness in her eyes, and she kissed him, and now she is gone and he is aching. This fight, this necessary fight, is tearing everyone apart, but he will not, cannot, let the people he loves lose each other. Not like this. Not when there is still a chance.
His eyes burn into the girl at the altar as they both think of the man they are saving, and all their fates are knotted together in the stale church air.