QUESTION ONE

The gang had all crammed into a tiny booth at the back of the 'Trip To Jerusalem', an old fashioned pub/restaurant that they all loved. The owner's son, Royston White, used to go to their school but at the beginning of the year when the scholarships were cut, he'd dropped out. Now he worked full time with his mum, keeping the shop.

It was old fashioned, big open fires with thick wooden columns – it was like walking back in time to the medieval Nottingham. Roy, upon seeing his old friends, ordered them the family buffet but no one except Much really felt like eating. They all picked at their food, surrounded by their bags holding all their material processions.

'So I guess we're homeless' Will finally broke the silence.

'Could be worse' Djac sighed.

'How?' Eve was close to crying. How was she supposed to tell her mum that she's been kicked out of her dorm and had no where to live.

'We could be Marian' Djac explained.

'Oh yeah, poor thing, she has a bed to sleep in tonight, she has a warm room, food prepared for her-' the tears stung in Eve's eyes.

'We have each other' John broke in calmly. 'She doesn't, she's all alone now… we should be thankful we have that much'.

'I can't believe they did that in assembly – in front of everyone!' Alice rubbed John's tense shoulders.

'Yeah what was Marian's game anyway?' Much asked.

'She was just doing what she was told' Robin spoke for the first time since the beginning of the assembly. Everyone dropped their food and stared at him, his eyes were at the front of the restaurant at the open door.

'Robin are you ok?' Djac watched as Robin's expression turned miserable.

'No' was his simple answer.

'Its not that bad' Much tried to pick him up. 'I mean, its like John said, we have each other, we're not expelled…. There's lots to be happy for'.

'I don't have Marian' Robin continued to look out at the busy pub, seeming to watch someone but it was too crowded for anyone to tell who.

Everyone went silent. It was true, they had each other but they also had their significant other. Will shivered at the thought of leaving Djac in the empty dorm all alone at the mercy of Gisborne and Vaisley. He would be freaking out right now.

'Right' Much slammed his drink down on the table and stood up. 'We go get her – now! Lets go bust our friend free'.

Everyone looked him, and then it slowly sunk in… 'I'm in' Will stood up, Djac grabbed his hand and stood beside him. Eve wiped the desperate tears from her eyes, smiling and stood next to much.

'We go to Hoodwell' John said.

'It won't help' Robin was the only one still sitting.

'Where's your sense of resilience? You've got to fight for her but she's worth it – come on Robin' Much egged him on.

'Much we aren't going back to the dorms' Robin said coldly.

'But we have to get Marian, I won't just leave her!' Djac felt awful for the fight they'd had before the assembly.

'It won't help going back to the school' Robin suddenly seemed to enjoy their outburst, a sneaky smile spread across his face. 'Probably because Marian is right behind you'.

X

Marian's fingers traced the empty bookshelf. Just a few minutes ago it had been crammed with every book imaginable. There had been so much life in her small little room, life that she shared with the gang, a life that she wanted back.

A knock came at her door. 'Marian, open up its Allen'.

Marian walked across the room and yanked open the door then pulled him inside. 'Have you got them? Have you got the house listings?'

'Yeah I got 'em' Allen produced the section of the daily paper and handed it to her. 'But I gotta tell you Marian, houses aren't cheap-'.

'Thanks to Vaisley and you lot' she cut in, her eyes scanning the listings.

Allen winced but he figured he deserved that much, 'yeah all right. But look, its hundreds of thousands of dollars and no one in the gang can afford that, even if they all pulled together'.

'Who said anything about the gang paying? I lost them their homes so I'll get them a new one… what are all the red circles?' she noticed a few sites had been highlighted.

'Oh I just saw a few I thought… I dunno, they'll need a few bedrooms right? And bathrooms – Much is impossible to share with. Plus they'll want a big kitchen-' Allen explained.

'So you went through and looked to find a home for the gang?' Marian asked, finally looking at him. 'Why do you care?'

'Oh Jeez Marian – their my family too. Just because I went a little-… look, I'm just looking out for them' He shrugged.

Marian gave a weak smile. 'Thanks – its narrows it down… so, where's Guy?'

'Keeping tabs on your crush?' Allen couldn't resist. Marian glared at him. 'Sorry sorry! Take a joke! He's out with Vaisley and his dad. They'll be back later'.

'Do you think its over? Do you think Guy's finally broken up with me?' Marian wouldn't let herself hope, not yet.

'You don't look too upset at the thought. To be honest – Nah, I don't think he'll let you go that easy. I mean, why go to all the trouble of kicking them out if not to enjoy the prize?' Allen said.

'Prize?' Marian asked.

'Sorry, I know that was derogatory.' Allen apologised. 'What I meant was-'

'I know what you meant - its ok. But prize? Why the hell would Guy want me? I mean, I lie, I sneak around, I cheat… I'm surprised the gang, let alone Robin, even want me' Marian could feel today's events circling in round her.

'Marian' Allen took a sharp breath. 'There's not a real reason I can think of why any guy wouldn't want to be with you. You're beautiful, smart, funny… and you're a good person. Oh and I don't think you'll ever have to worry about Robin giving up on you'.

'Thanks Allen' Marian smiled for real this time. 'I hope you're right… hey look at this! Its perfect!' she pointed to a particular add.

'Don't show me!' Allen closed his eyes tightly. 'I'm not in the gang – I'm the opposition, one of the bad guys remember? You can't show me where they live'.

'Allen open your bloody eyes' Marian laughed. 'If you're such a bad guy, why'd you help me in the first place huh? Now come on, we need to get this place before it gets cold. I don't even want to think about where the gag's gonna sleep tonight'.

X

Marian horried along, half from the cold, half from wanting to finally do something right. Besides, the place would be closed for the night in a few minutes – she had to hurry.

'I wish you'd have let me drive' Allen grumbled

'Oh come on, it's a five minute walk, besides, we need to save the planet – ozone layer ain't what it used to be' Marian smiled.

'But I like driving – in fact, I got a new car on the weekend' he gloated.

'New car?' she tried to distract her worried mind.

'Um yeah… ' Allen cringed, regretting he bough it up, 'Vaisley bought it for me'

Marian scoffed, 'So you're driving in a car that's cost could feed a dozen families for the entire winter and killing the planet – doesn't that bother you?'

'Yeah it bothers me. But Marian, I've never had fancy cars or the latest clothes like you – I've been poor all my life, let me have this one luxury?' he pleaded.

'Whatever' was all Marian could say. Finally the place came into view and she ran forward, head bent against the cold to the car park. 'Are you coming or what?' she yelled to Allen who had fallen behind.

Allen froze. From where he was he could see the whole complex through the large windows…and sitting in the back corner was the entire gang. He couldn't face them, not now, not after he'd helped de-home them. Maybe tomorrow, after Marian had helped them but not now. 'Nah- I gotta go give Gizzie your alibi'.

'But Allen-' Marian protested but he'd broken into a jog back towards school. What the hell? Why was he leaving so suddenly? – It didn't matter. She had to go find the gang a house then she'd have to call them and find out where they were. Next she'd have to apologise to within an inch of her life…

Marian shivered in the night air and yanked open the door. She was met by the warm familiar scent of her favourite restaurant – the Trip To Jerusalem. She and the gang used to come here a lot - Mrs. White's food was mouth-watering and she always gave her a generous serving. In fact, if Zeke worked here, she doubted she'd ever want to leave. Especially if she could buy the vacant rooms above where the hotel used to be for the gang –she would never leave. Maybe she would just stay surrounded by the gang, hot pasta with hazelnut coffee with Robin's arm around her waist forever…

'Marian!' Mrs White beamed as she pushed past the crowd to get to the bar. 'What a surprise darling! Are you looking for them?'

Marian wondered who 'them' was, 'Actually Mrs. White-'

'Please call me Mary' she cut in.

'Mary' Marian gave her signature polite smile. 'I was actually inquiring as to your vacant rooms. Didn't upstairs used to be a hotel for backpackers?'

'Yes dear, oh but I couldn't keep it up, not with the restaurant and the pub and raising my little Royston' She babbled on, nudging to her son Roy who was off serving some people in a booth. 'Their up for rent now. Its not furnished, but I do have a laundry service and dinners for them. Of course the owners will have to provide their own breakfast and lunch but its still a good deal- oh but Marian? Why are you asking?'

Marian took a deep breath, telling Mary the whole story (Guy, Vaisley, hostage-takers, etc) would take some time, but she was determined not to lie unless absolutely necessary – so maybe just the edited version. 'Well, to be honest… the gang and I got expelled from the dorms today and I was wondering-'

'Oh Marian, Marian! Expelled? You're not at school anymore?' Mary clutched onto both Marian's shoulders, shaking her with each question.

'No not expelled from school – expelled from the dorms. We're not allowed to live there anymore, but we still attend the classes. There was… a misunderstanding' Marian explained.

'So now you have nowhere to live?' Mary asked, suddenly very serious and sympathetic. 'Say no more dear, you'll live upstairs, on the floor above us – free of charge'.

'No! No, I couldn't do that to you Mary. We can pay rent – just like anyone else would.' Marian explained.

'Nonsense – you're like family to me. Besides, I know how that school works – its run by that evil man, Sherriff,' Mary shuddered. 'He kicked my Royston out and now you too! Oh, you'll have to move in tonight, I'll get some towels, and sheets-'

'Mary, if you won't let us pay rent at least let us help you. The girls and I can waitress at nights. And the boys can clean or cut onions or something. Please, I don't think we could accept such hospitality' Marian begged.

Mary watched the young girls face plead. 'All right' she smiled. 'I'd would actually love some help, especially such pretty help as you' she squeezed Marian's cheeks. 'I'll go prepare your rooms, you can go tell the gang they have a home, for as long as you need it'. And with that, Mrs. White disappeared into the crowd. Marian felt squeezed by two German tourists as she went onto her tiptoes to see Mary climb the stairs to the other levels. She breathed a sigh of relief. The gang had a home… she wished she could live with them. Maybe Allen could convince Vaisley to let her go too, especially if her and Guy were over. Wait – what did Mary say about telling the gang? Were they here? She turned around and looked over shoulders, trying to find them. Suddenly, she heard Much's familiar voice and saw the whole gang stand. She came from around behind the pub, not quiet sure how to face them yet, but then she saw Robin's face, his cheeky little grin and she felt her loose herself breath.

X

The gang all turned around, stunned, and saw Marian standing right behind them. She looked guilty, relieved and cautious all at the same time. It took a second for everyone to realize she was actually there but then all the girls freaked.

'Marian!' Alice squealed.

'Did the monster expel you too?' Eve jumped up and down beside her.

'Oh Marian, I'm so sorry about what I said and what he did to you' Djac engulfed her in a bear hug.

All the boys hung back, watching their girl's screech and giggle and hug. Then they looked at Robin, he looked serious but still had that welcoming smirk. They decided, silently, to give him and Marian some privacy. They slowly grabbed the hands of their girlfriends and pulled them into various corners of the pub.

Marian suddenly felt alone, vulnerable even which was stupid because it was just Robin. She'd been alone with this man a hundred times, but she couldn't shake the feeling.

'I'm sorry' she blurted out. Robin had risen from the booth and came and stood in front of her.

'Sorry? What are you sorry about?' Robin hated the distance between them but he didn't want to reach across and take her hand, she looked worried, mad even.

'I'm sorry I did that. I'm sorry I expelled you from the school. Sorry I didn't jump off the stage, find a shovel and smash Vaisley's face in' Marian had tears of anger running down her cheeks. 'There are so many things I've done, so many things to be sorry for. I'm sorry I-'

'Hey' Robin couldn't stand seeing her in so much pain. He broke the distance between them and pulled her close, resting her head on his chest. 'How can you be sorry for something you didn't do?'.

'What? I expelled you!' Marian cried. 'How can you not be furious with me?'

'You didn't expel me – the principle did. And she only did it due to an undeniable request from Vaisley's evil excuse for a father. How can I be mad at you? You just read out a stupid speech' Robin rubbed her arms and she slowly calmed down.

'But-but I said it in front of the whole school' Marian said, her voice tired from her sudden burst of tears.

'We all ready knew - we knew what was coming. That's why we had a sorta party in your room. The principle had called us in, prior to assembly, apologising …but she had no choice. I was just trying to find other accommodation, that's why I wasn't there…'

'You knew?' Marian whispered. She could feel robin nod as she gently swayed her. 'I still should have said no, I shouldn't have done the speech'.

'Marian, you had no choice. None of us resent you for it. In fact, we all felt as though we'd let you down by leaving… Much was ready to storm down the door and take you with us, wherever it is we're going' Robin chuckled without humour.

Marian pulled away from him. 'That's why I came – I talked to Mrs. White, you remember the old hotel up on the third floor? It's vacant now for renters. So I explained the situation… she's giving it to the gang, free of charge, as long as we help out in the restaurant'.

'Seriously?' Robin cocked an eyebrow. Marian nodded. 'Um, well…ok. I mean – awesome. That's great, so close to school, so close to you!' he picked her up and spun her around.

'Robin!' Marian giggled. 'Stop it! Let me go!'

'Never' he slowed down and bought her body closer to his, thinking it was as familiar to him as his own. 'Thankyou Marian' he breathed in her hair and felt her shiver. 'You're my hero'.

'Our hero' Djac said while Much coughed lightly to break the couple up.

They reluctantly parted, though Robin kept one arm tight around her waist. 'Were you lot eve's dropping?'

'Of course we were' Djac brushed past him and they re-crammed into the booth. There wasn't much room to begin with, so Marian, happily, sat on Robin's lap, locking her arms around the back of his neck.

'So we have a home again?' Eve asked.

'Yep' Robin beamed.

'And we have each other – that's what's most important' John added.

'Corny much?' Alice teased.

'I like corny' said Marian and John smiled.

'So we have a home, each other, jobs, thanks to Mrs. White, school… anything else we need?' Will asked playing with Djac's hand.

'Yeah – to get Marian away from the freak and preferably leave him with an arrow in his head' Robin said.

'Not to mention the people suffering thanks to the Sherriff – I won't be one hundred percent happy until they're taken care of' Marian added.

'Ok, so apart from assassination and revolting against the government' Much rolled his eyes.

'Actually they have a good point' Djac spoke up. 'we have everything we could ever want – why not hep others?'

'You're not serious?' Much asked.

'I could use some help with the whole Nightwatchman act…' Marian played with Robin's hair.

'Its settled' Robin smiled. 'First thing once were moved in, we free Marian and liberate the people of Nottingham, agreed?' he raised his pint.

'I'm in' Marian raised hers. The rest of the gang looked at each other, before rolling their eyes, not avoiding the inevitable and raising their glasses.

'To saving the poor' Marian toasted.

'To liberating the beautiful' Robin smiled.

'To the bloody impossible' Much said.

Tah-Dah! What did u all think? It was so sad finishing this story, but I've all ready started a new story, just look up my profile or 'Hood School – Term 3'. I luv reviews, so tell me wat u want 2 c next story.

Also, do u guys want to know what happened between Marian and her father? Do u want 2 kno or should I focus on school life?

Thankyou, seriously, for reading my stories! It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Hope u keep reading and enjoy my next piece!