It took a moment for Allan and Morgan to stop kissing. It took another moment for the shocked gang to find their voices again.
"You're pregnant?" Much questioned incredulously, pointing out Morgan's stomach.
"You're alive?" Little John inquired pointedly, indirectly scolding Much for not seeing the more immediate question.
"How?" Robin asked. "Gisborne stabbed you!"
"You were gone for over a month!" Luke pointed out. Morgan didn't miss the accusatory tone in Luke's last sentence. She had expected this onslaught of questions, though she'd quite hoped that they wouldn't look so upset with her. She supposed that this was her own fault, though she stood by her decision.
"I'm not pregnant," she started, "How could I be? I've never--" Realizing what she'd said, she turned a bit red and looked to Allan, who merely avoided eye contact. Deciding that actions would clarify more than words, she began untying the rope belt around her waist. There was a strange, shifting sound. Much thought it was familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. As the slipped the belt away, the large bump on her stomach dropped out from under the robes. It turned out to be a sack, which hit the ground with a loud thump. Robin opened the sack, chuckling to himself as gold coins spilled from it.
"Clever," he commented. "And how did you come by this brilliant plan?"
"It's a long story," Morgan said softly, tucking a strand of her dark hair behind her ear.
"I'd like to hear it." The gang's attention shifted to Allan, who'd emerged from the initial euphoria of seeing his wife and realized that he'd thought that she was dead. He was clutching at his half-stitched wound, his blue eyes betraying how hurt he felt. He leaned back against the wall, waiting for her to say something.
"Maybe we should all sit down," Much suggested. To his relief, everyone seemed to agree or were at least too tired to argue with him. They sat in the crowded room, taking any available spot and forming an awkward sort of circle. Morgan, careful to avoid meeting Allan's gaze, took a deep breath.
Kate and Owen missed their son. Matthew had been shot in the castle while working for the Sherriff. He'd been a good lad, and when he'd died his loving parents couldn't see any good in the situation. At the time, there hadn't been any. How could they have possibly predicted that over two years later, it would save someone's life?
As they trudged through the cemetery, they didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. It was silent, as graveyards usually are. It made it all the more obvious when the shriek of pain ruptured the still air.
They spotted Guy of Gisborne almost immediately. He was holding a woman against a tree, sword plunged deep into her shoulder. Owen pulled Kate behind a nearby shrubbery, having enough sense to know that they couldn't be seen. Gisborne stalked away from the tree, leaving the poor woman there to die.
"We've got to do something!" Kate whispered urgently, scrambling from behind the bush as soon as Gisborne had gone. Despite the certain amount of hurry-up involved, Owen spared a moment to smile lovingly after his wife. Kate's impulsiveness was both her best and worst quality.
"Stay awake!" she was instructing as he neared the tree. The woman was doing her best to obey, but her eyes kept closing. Kate kept talking to her as Owen inspected the wound. He was no physician, but he knew two things to be true. The first was that they had to get her down from the tree. The second was that they'd have to bind her shoulder, lest she bled out.
"Kate, we've got to get her to a physician," he whispered, trying to spare the woman from hearing her fate. The whispering gave it away.
"That bad?" she asked through clenched teeth. Kate put a hand on the woman's unmarred shoulder.
"Don't worry. We're going to help you," she said slowly. The woman nodded, carefully putting her hand on the flat of the sword.
"I made this sword, you know," she commented deliriously, laughing through the obvious pain.
"What's your name?" Kate asked, trying to distract her as Owen prepared to pull the sword from her arm.
"Morgan. Morgan A Dale," the woman managed before her eyes closed again and she allowed sleep to take her.
"She's lucky," someone was saying. "A few inches to the right, and even I couldn't fix it." The voice sounded like it was coming through a door.
"She's one of Robin Hood's," someone else said. "I mean, I think she is. She doesn't have a tag, but I'm sure that I've seen her running off with his lot before." A baby was crying, which prompted Morgan to groggily open an eye. She didn't know where she was, and that initially scared her. Wherever she was smelled of herbs and medicines. It reminded Morgan of Djaq, and the thought of her friend calmed her.
"She's awake, mother," another voice chimed in.
"About time," the first voice laughed. The speaker was an older woman with a head of wild hair, held from her face by a thick band of fabric. "Hello, dear. How do you feel?"
"Dead," Morgan answered flatly, trying to sit up. The woman held her down, preventing her from putting weight on her injured shoulder.
"You're not that, I can promise you," she chuckled. "And don't even think about getting up for another day or so."
"No arguments from me," Morgan mumbled, her head falling back onto her pillow. "Not that I'm not grateful, but who are you?"
"Matilda," The woman answered. "This is my daughter, Rosa, and her daughter, Alice." The second woman, baby in tow, smiled kindly.
"You've had quite a journey," she said. "Kate and Owen brought you to a convent, but they couldn't treat you there."
"Gave us a fair bit of trouble, you did," the second voice said loudly. She had red hair and doe-like eyes. "It's Eleanor, if you were planning on asking. Eleanor of Newcastle."
"Morgan A Dale," Morgan returned.
"Well, Morgan, I think you'll be interested to know that Baldy has announced that you're dead," Matilda said cheerily, inspecting the bandages on Morgan's shoulder. "I doubt he's all that confident, though. He's got his men in the woods, in case you show up again."
"With that shoulder, I'd recommend not showing up," Eleanor advised. "You wouldn't stand a chance."
"About my shoulder," Morgan began to ask, gathering enough presence of mind to work out the seriousness of her injury. Matilda grinned.
"It'll be fine. You can't go gallivanting through the woods straight away, but you'll be able to use it again. In the meantime, you should keep your head down," she instructed firmly.
"But the poor still need help," Morgan argued. "I can't just sit around and let them go hungry. And what about Lukey? Someone's got to make sure that he's alright."
"So, wait. You're saying that you need to help the poor and keep an eye out for this Lukey character, and you can't be seen?" Eleanor asked, her eyes bright with mischief. Morgan nodded. "This may sound completely mad, but I've got an idea."
"If the Sheriff knew I was alive, he'd keep his men in the woods. They'd eventually find the camp and Lukey, and I couldn't let that happen," Morgan explained. "As long as I was dead, The Sheriff had no reason to keep his men in the woods, and with Brother Tuck around he had bigger things to worry about."
"Surely, you could've at least told the villagers," Much reasoned. "They would've helped you."
"Just like they helped at the Nettlestone barn?" Morgan countered. "The fewer people that knew about this, the better."
"Why couldn't you tell me?" Luke asked, confused. "I wouldn't have gone running my mouth to everyone."
"You would've tried to help me," Morgan sighed, scratching at the back of her ear. "Will would never forgive me if I let anything happen to you."
"I'm not a child. I could've held my own," Luke said argumentatively.
"It's not like we thought out all the details. There wasn't time," Morgan said, burying her face in her hands.
"It wasn't all her fault," Eleanor spoke up. "It was my idea. Anyway, I don't see what the problem is. Everyone is safe, and you lot can go back to annoying the Sheriff tomorrow."
"The problem is that we thought that she was dead. I thought she was dead," Allan said in a barely audible voice, standing and angrily storming from the room. Morgan looked to the rest of the gang, her eyes pleading, asking for advice.
"Morgan, it wasn't the best course of action," Robin reprimanded. "You should've at least told Luke, or made provisions so that we wouldn't believe you were gone." Morgan looked at the floor, taking the scolding in stride.
"However," Robin continued, resting a hand on her shoulder. "It is a brilliant cover, and I think I speak for us all when I say that we're glad to have you back."
"Even though you left the camp a mess," Much pitched in. Luke and Little John nodded in agreement.
"Is he going to stay angry with me?" Morgan asked, staring after Allan.
"Only one way to find out," Much prompted, giving Morgan a push in the back. For a moment, she just stood there, unable to make her feet move forward, unable to face the possibility that Allan could honestly be angry with her.
"Howay, mate!" Eleanor shouted encouragingly. "Not gonna find out standing there all night!" Morgan smiled at her friend, opening her mouth to say something, but Little John knew that the blacksmith was stalling and promptly forced her out of the room, closing the door behind her.
When he arrived at the Sheriff's room, things were just as bad as he'd expected them to be. The guards had made themselves scarce, a wise decision on their part. Todd, who had somehow managed to become more intoxicated than when Guy left him, was standing just outside of the door. Guy didn't know if he was laughing or crying so hysterically. He suspected it was a mix of the two.
"Todd, do control yourself," Moira snapped from inside the room. Guy peeked inside, but quickly looked away. Moira was naked, save for the sheet she'd wrapped herself in. The Sheriff, on the other hand, was being far less modest. He was standing behind her, caution, amongst other things, to the wind.
"It's the end of life as I know it," Todd managed to say, clutching his sides. Had Guy not been so desensitized to Vaysey's base antics, he would've agreed.
"Gizzy, do us a favor and take care of the boy. Her Ladyship and I have more to go over," The Sheriff instructed. Moira made the point clear by slamming the door in their faces, leaving Guy with an intensely panicked noble.
"Let's go back to that pub," Todd suggested as Guy picked him up off of the floor. He wobbled in place, making a valiant effort to remain standing.
"I think you've had enough," Guy said authoritatively, leading Todd to his room. It was an awkward walk. Todd's sister had just entered into an affair with the Sheriff, and the man was clearly shaken by it. Guy wasn't sure what to do. He could ignore it, pretend that nothing had happened, and hope that Todd would be alright in the morning. On the other hand, he could offer a shoulder to lean on, metaphorically rather than just physically.
"I don't think any little brother is meant to see that," Todd commented, almost laughing, dragging a hand down his face. He looked over at Guy, waiting for a response. Clearly, he wasn't allowing Guy a choice. Guy attempted a smile and awkwardly patted him on the back.
"I don't think anyone is meant to see that," he corrected, leading Todd to his room.
Allan was too tired to finish his dramatic gesture of leaving the convent. He'd gotten halfway through the chapel when the floor had started to rock under his feet. He sat down on one of the pews and closed his eyes. He couldn't remember the last time that he'd felt so totally exhausted. He'd nearly fallen asleep when he felt an odd, tugging sensation in his arm.
Morgan was focused completely on finishing his stitching, giving him the chance to just look at her. Her dark hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail at the base of her neck, disappearing into the folds of the brown robes. Allan almost expected her to look somehow older, but she looked just the same as she had when he'd left for the Holy Land, apart from the fact that she was currently impersonating a man of the cloth. She hadn't been able to treat wounds before, and Allan guessed that it was a newly acquired skill from the way that she stared intently at her hands and the way that she was lightly holding the tip of her tongue between her front teeth as she worked.
She gave the needle a final pull and neatly tied off the thread, giving Allan ample time to pretend that he was sleeping. He knew he couldn't stay mad at her forever, but he was definitely mad enough to last the rest of the night. They could talk in the morning. He repressed a shiver as Morgan ran her fingers through his hair, gently trailing down the side of his face with the tips of her fingers.
"I'm so sorry, Allan," she whispered in his ear before pressing her lips to the side of his face. "Please, please, don't hate me." Allan briefly considered waking up and kissing her back, but he was still pretty mad. Morgan sighed and rested her head on his shoulder, lacing her fingers in his.
"I love you," she whispered sincerely. Okay. Maybe Allan would just pretend to be angry. Just for a little while. Just to teach her that she couldn't go around pretending to be dead. Fortunately, he didn't have to pretend for too long, the events of the past few hours weighing heavily on him, drawing him into sleep.
"This is a bad idea," Much grumbled, though he still followed Robin through the gate. "Completely terrible."
"It worked for Morgan," Robin replied.
"Morgan is insane," Much pointed out gruffly. "And it didn't exactly work out for her last night, now did it?" Robin nodded in concession. That much was true. Allan hadn't said a word to Morgan all morning, not even when she'd asked him about his arm. When Robin had decided that Allan needed to stay behind, Morgan had automatically volunteered to stay with him, but the tavern trickster hadn't even looked at her. Robin sighed. It was their first marital dispute, and he had absolutely no intention of getting involved. Such meddling could prove detrimental to his health.
"Eleanor, what do we do now?" he asked, focusing on the task at hand. Eleanor grinned, her tongue poking out from between her teeth in an exceptionally mischievous display. She'd already paraded them through the villages, introducing them as a pilgrimage on the way to Canterbury. By the time they'd gotten into Nottingham, a sizable crowd had formed. The Sheriff stormed out of the castle, followed by the Irish noblewoman. Gisborne and his new friend lingered several feet behind. From the looks of it, they were recovering from a formidable hangover.
"What's the meaning of all of this?" The Sheriff demanded, seeing the small cluster of robed men. He sneered when he spotted Eleanor, as if the mere sight of her brought about the memory of a terrible taste. "Oh, it's you."
"Lord Sheriff," Eleanor greeted with an exaggerated curtsey. "I hope that the good Lord has abundantly blessed your morning." It was clear from her superfluously polite tone that she didn't really extend such kind thoughts to the Sheriff, and the older man didn't miss it.
"Indeed," he muttered flatly. "What do you want?"
"Lord Sheriff, I demand nothing of you. I only wish to introduce you to some dear friends," Eleanor returned.
"If they're friends of yours, I'll pass," Vaysey quipped, drawing a small chuckle from Moira. The two exchanged a series of quick glances. Gisborne made a point to look away, and in doing so, he caught sight of Todd, who was stepping forward. The blonde was staring curiously at one of the robed figures.
"Don't I know you, sir?" he asked politely. The robed figure shook his head as if emphatically denying.
"Not to overstep my boundaries, milord," Eleanor piped up, though she clearly didn't have a problem with overstepping boundaries, "but how could you know him? They only arrived here yesterday." Todd tilted his head to the side, brow furrowed in thought.
"Yesterday," he repeated quietly. Much, the robed figure in question, turned to Robin. They couldn't be caught yet. They hadn't secured their escape route; they'd be trapped. Unfortunately, Todd wasn't giving them a choice.
"Oh, you're the bloke from the kitchen!" Todd blurted out. For a moment, there was silence. It took the Sheriff about thirty seconds to put two and two together. Coincidentally, it took thirty seconds for Robin to form one of his infamous half-baked plans. He threw his robe from his body, deftly pulling Todd into a tight hold and pressing a knife to his neck.
"Hood!" The Sheriff thundered, though no one dared to respond. Robin held the knife dangerously close to Todd's throat, daring the guards to try something.
"Stop him!" Moira demanded. "Don't let them take my darling brother! Please, Sir Hood. I'd pay any price to see him safe!"
"You would?" Todd asked, clearly surprised. This proclamation was news to him.
"Really?" The Sheriff echoed incredulously, but Moira had already thrown herself into a theatric faint.
"You may want to tend to your new friend, Sheriff. In the meantime, we'll take care of her brother," Robin taunted, "We'll negotiate that price she was talking about." With a cheeky grin, Robin led his gang out of the city, Todd in tow.
"I'll go after him," Gisborne growled as soon as they'd made the trees. "I'll take my best men."
"Don't bother," Moira interrupted, opening her eyes and sitting up. "I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity."
"Opportunity?" Gisborne repeated, confused. The Sheriff helped Moira up and led her back into the castle, away from the prying eyes of the public.
"Of course. I can have the buffoon killed and frame the outlaws at the same time," Moira explained, as if this was an everyday occurrence. Beside her, the Sheriff sniggered.
"I'd pay any price to see him safe!" he squeaked in a falsetto impression of Moira. "The faint was a bit much, don't you think?"
"Hood bought it," Moira countered. "But if you're not convinced, I could do a bit of real roleplaying, just for you." The Sheriff gave a lecherous laugh at the proposition and quickly whisked the noblewoman off to his bedchambers, leaving poor Guy to be disgusted by what he'd just witnessed.
Alone in the hallway, Guy made a valiant attempt at clearing his head, but the white clad visions of Marian and Morgan wouldn't allow it.
"Go away," he pleaded under his breath.
"You've got to do something, Guy," Marian said firmly. "They're going to kill him."
"He can't do anything about it," Morgan scoffed. "Just look at him. He's pathetic. Couldn't do the right thing if he tried."
"That isn't true," Marian countered, defiantly crossing her arms across her chest. "Guy, you can do the right thing. Help him."
"The only person that he knows how to help is himself," Morgan countered. "Watch. He'll let Todd die, all because he's too afraid of the Sheriff."
"Guy, please," Marian implored. "Do the right thing." Guy shut his eyes tight, bidding them away as he tried to decide just what "the right thing" was.
Sorry that this chapter is absolute rubbish!
When I first got the idea of Morgan masquerading as Tuck, I just sort of ran with it without thinking too
much about the logistics. So, when I was actually writing it out, I ran into a few bumps. Why wouldn't Morgan tell Luke? Why would she be so very secretive? How would the gang react to this?
So, I'm falling back on the fact that Morgan is probably still distrustful after that whole barn fiasco. She also wouldn't want Luke to get hurt if he tried to help her and got caught somehow. That second one may not make much sense, but this is Morgan, and she's never been completely sensible.
As for Allan… Well, wouldn't you be upset if you thought one of your loved ones died, only to find that they were actually impersonating a member of the clergy?
Other than that can of love!angst, I think I rather enjoy writing SheriffMoira. Even if it's the creepiest thing I've ever written.
And Todd. Still love writing him. Look forward to Hostage!Todd. I'm sure that the gang is ready for that. XD
Anyway, hope you all enjoyed this (rubbish) chapter!