Universe: An AU look at what might have happened in episode one.
Characters: Robin, Marian, Much, Edward, and Dan
Warnings: Angsty; mild description of hanging; character death
Beta: My sis--nickname: The Muse
Disclaimer: I owneth not Robin Hood—sadly, nor the rest of the gang. sigh ; )
I should have saved them. I say it every day to myself and yet nothing changes. I dream of their frightened faces every night. White hands reach through my dreams, pulling me down, down. Their pleading cries deafen me. Marian has long since stopped waking me up. We both know nothing helps. No matter how hard I try to remember my excuses for inaction, I have long since forgotten. The second the men stopped struggling, I knew that I had no good reason. I knew that I could not remember a single well-thought-out argument for letting these men die. They did nothing to me and I committed the greatest injustice one man could do to another—I killed them. I keep seeing Will and Luke as the young boys they were, playing in the village and then I see them as the men they were forced to become the day they learned of their death sentence. I cannot forget the look on young Gidden's face when he learned he was to hang—all for stealing a loaf of bread. Allan A Dale put his faith in me to save him and I let him hang for it. Dan Scarlet came to me as soon as he knew his boys were in trouble. He thought me to be a good master, one who would save my peasants. I rewarded his loyalty by letting him watch his sons hang. These men were hung, guilty of nothing but having a heartless master. Four good men died that day and a far guiltier man lives on.
I keep hearing the words in my head. You must let them die... How different might my life have turned out if I not spoken! I thought to save Robin by my word; instead I lost him. I did not stop to count the cost of such a decision. I cannot shake the memory of the looks on the faces of the condemned men. Innocents were hung that day, victims of a war in which they were no more than pawns. In my dreams, I stand always above them, as if I were too good to save them myself. The memory laughs in the face of all my so-called principles. The Night Watchman's last ride was a few nights before the hanging. I burned my garb the day after the hanging, knowing how little I deserved that title when I had let innocent men die. I am hardly immune to seeing punishment meted out, but never before had I watched men—boys really—hang that I knew. I married my Robin and became Lady of Locksley. As a girl, that was my greatest dream. I watched that dream die along with the Scarlet boys. Every bit of life died in Robin when he let his own desires come between right and wrong. I have been numb since that day. The love that Robin and I should feel for each other has be replaced with grief—and guilt. Four good men died that day, and I am not entirely sure that Robin and I did not die with them that day.
I have my beautiful Bonchurch and Robin has his Locksley. It is exactly as we dreamed in cold nights on the battlefield and on the long journey home. Robin is married to the lady of his dreams and I have my share of fair ladies to court. The servant boy turned Lord Much is living the life of luxury. As I fought along side my master in the Holy War, I often felt that I deserved my Bonchurch. I never expected to feel so undeserving now that I am standing on my own land. Perhaps this is because it is here that I am reminded most of all of the four men who never had the chance to live out their dreams. We expect death in the battlefield; we do not expect it to follow us to our homes. We expect to kill our enemies while at war, but never our own men. I feel as if my land is drenched in blood. I fought in a war far away to gain a life; I lost it all in the war here. Home does not hold the comfort it once did. Four good men died that day and no piece of land, no selfish dream is worth that price.
I thought that, in losing the battle, we might win the war. I am no sheriff—unable to keep order in my own backyard—and I am an even worse soldier. My strategy resulted only in grief. My daughter does not speak to me much anymore. I think I remind her too much of the day she let me blind her to her principles. Robin is even worse; he speaks to me, but his words are hollow. He is like a ghost, barely here, and yet unable to pass on to the next life. He cannot bear to look Dan Scarlet in the eye, knowing he could have saved the carpenter's boys and yet did nothing. It is I who should be sorry. Little did I know that in trying to the keep the new sheriff at bay, I was actually bowing to him. I argued logic—or so I tried to believe, but now I know I argued only cowardice. I have paid for it dearly. All that I loved of my life is gone beyond repair. I have lost my daughter to despair and my son-in-law to bitter remorse. I have lost a good friend in Dan, though for the world, he will not complain, and I have lost every shred of manhood I ever had. Marian has a coward for a father and the people of Locksley have an ignoble ex-sheriff in place of the noble they once knew. Four good men died that day, all for the cowardice of one.
I try not to think about that day. I try not to lie awake at night, hoping to never wake again on this earth. I gave away the boys' things, knowing that others needed them more and knowing that I could not look upon them without weeping. The house is too empty with them gone. At night when I make supper—with what suddenly seems like too much food—I try not to hear their voices. Instead, as I go, I speak, pretending that when I turn around they will be waiting there, quieter than they've ever been in their lives. As I go about my work, I find myself turning to ask Will how his work goes. I often turn at the smallest sound, expecting to find Luke looking back at me guiltily. I am met by silence. It swallows me alive; it tears at everything that is left of my heart, eating away at all that is left of Dan Scarlet. Some men, I know, would use that darkness to hate Robin. There are still whispers in the village that Robin could have saved them. I cannot hate him. To hate him would take the life of me; the darkness and silence would devour me and Dan Scarlet would die at last. Hating Robin would make me little better than the Sheriff; loving in place of hate lifts me above mere mortals. No, I could never hate Robin. If I spend my strength hating him, I would have none left to love my boys. For their sakes, I will not hate him. Four good men died that day; two were my sons, and the world will never be complete without them.
Your opinion, please. I value constructive criticism. Did you like it? Hate it? Love it? Why so? Did I capture their voices well? Do you feel it is a valid look at what might have happened had Robin not decided to save Will, Luke, Benedict, and Allan? Thanks for reading and thanks ahead of time for reviewing!