Forward To Time Past
Rating: T (For later chapters)
Disclaimer: I do not own Robin Hood BBC or any of the recognizable characters. Ideas and all original characters do however, so please ask before taking.
Summary: What was Robin of Locksley's life growing up? Who were his parents, how did he and Marian first meet? How did Much become to be his manservant and best friend? Series of one-shots.
A/N: Not really a story but more of a collection of one-shots that span from the time Robin was born till the time he returns from the Holy Lands. Chapters will be rated K-T. I will do my best to keep chapters in a progressive order, but do realize that I will potentially come up with more ideas as I go along.
Will also take any suggestions for future scenes that you would like to see.
Thanks goes to Kegel for a very light beta, of course, any mistakes that are found belong solely to me. :) Thanks, and comments/critiques are appreciated.
This scene takes place when shortly after Marian's father becomes Sheriff
There was never such a creature that amazed him quite like the horse. Beautiful creatures they were, with surprising speed and strength, yet retaining such a gentle, compassionate look in their eyes. They were full of trust, confidence; as though they somehow knew no harm would ever come to them under his gentle touch.
With long, firm strokes, Robert of Locksley ran the brush against the ebony skin, one hand pressed against the horse's face as he spoke quietly. The animal's ears twitched, turning towards the sound of his voice, the noise catching his interest. The man smiled, looking over the mare's head to where the young boy sat, watching every move intently.
"Fetch a brush, over there on the table, and come round here carefully."
It was as though the boy had been waiting for those words all morning, not wasting a moment to do as he was told. Barely tall enough to see over the table, he felt with his hands, clumsily grabbing the brush and pulling it off. Even as he returned, the horse neighed softly, prompting Robert to warn him to slow down. These creatures could be easily spooked, and a startled horse was one of the worst things you could deal with, especially with such a young lad about.
For a moment Robert pulled away, helping his son climb the small stool and gain his balance. The boy began brushing the animal, hasty strokes that were nearly too hard.
"Easy Robin, not so rough now," Robert reminded him, folding his hand over his son's, guiding him.
The boy slowed, but only because he had no other choice. Several times over the man repeated the motion, until Robin had gotten the rhythm down on his own. It was a quality that often still impressed him, even six years after the boy's birth. Robin was small for his age, but his mind was sharp as ever. He was quick in learning, and his eyes could pick out the keenest of things.
Robert had been contemplating on teaching the boy archery soon. Though most children did not learn until their later years, he was confident that Robin would learn easily enough. His wife, Ann, had disagreed naturally. She still believed in keeping the youth innocent, believing that archery and weaponry of any kind were for those who were older, and involved in more brutal happenings. That issue he would have to talk about later, he knew.
For now the boy seemed content in what he was doing, helping around the house, and the lands whenever he could, asking a bundle of questions, and playing with the other boys in Locksley. There was no need to rush, but it would help strengthen the young boy's body, and give him something he could concentrate on. He was too young for sparing, being too small to put up a proper defense, but that didn't stop Robert from working with his son.
In Robin's eyes, the training was merely a game, something that he and his father did on a regular basis. But Robert knew it would help him build speed, as well as agility, and would be useful should he ever find himself in an alarming happenstance. Even for such a place as Locksley, things could be troublesome. Thieves loitered in the forest, the very same woods Robin and his friends played in, and there were, as always, bullies that tried to dominate whenever the adults were not about. Rank mattered little in the eyes of children, and Robert was no fool to that concern.
Despite the fact that Robin was the son of a noble, he would still find himself in trouble from time to time, either caused by himself or another. Whether case it was, Robert felt more at ease knowing his son could contribute even the smallest amount to his own protection.
Robin was now brushing the mane, running his small fingers through the raven locks, singing quietly, the same song Ann would sing to him as a lullaby. His hands were gentle, combing tenderly, the other hand still wound around the brush, fingers clasping it tightly as though he feared it would fall at any moment. With a smile Robert leaned forward, kissing his son's head.
"When will I get my own horse?"
"When you are older," Robert answered with a laugh, moving back to brush the animal.
"Can I have a black one?"
"If that is what you want," he replied, humoring his son.
"Cedric's father is teaching him to ride. Will you teach me?"
Robert watched his son fondly. Cedric was one of his friends, and Robin talked about him often. He was older than Robin though, by quite a few years, and soon would be heading to Nottingham to work in the castle. It would still be years before Robin was even big enough to ride a horse on his own, but he didn't have the heart to tell him. Sometimes Robert cursed his own soft-heartedness, wishing he had the ability to be firmer with his son.
"In due time Robin."
It was the only thing he said, the pair brushing the mare in silence, the only sounds filling the air was of the horse, which snorted, and neighed from time to time. Robin was intrigued by the animal, his eyes filled with wonder and amusement as he brushed the soft coat. Soon after, Robert began saddling the horse, sending Robin back to the corner so that he would not be underfoot.
As he worked he spoke to his son, teaching him with words, naming the different items he used, and how they went on, and what they were for. Though doing by hand was a far better teacher, Robert would settle for something much simpler, giving the boy preparation without the lad even knowing it. In time, the boy would know how to saddle a horse on his own without struggle.
"We are going then?" Robin asked excitedly as they left the barn. "To Nottinhem?"
"Nottingham," Robert corrected him, leading the mare behind him. "Yes, you and I both. I spoke with your mother, and your lessons are cancelled, just for today though."
In a quick motion he scooped his son up, lifting him over the saddle, holding him until the boy had a firm grip. Robin had clutched the mane, a look of fright crossing his face, but fading as his father reassured him, mounting up behind him. With a quiet word they were off, the horse taking up a steady trot.
Robin had ridden with him only a few times, and Robert knew that both the height and the motion worried him. Another reason it would be some time before he would ride alone. His son had courage, but he drew that strength from other people. If others did not trust him, or believe he could do what needed to be done, than he seemed to falter. Robert had seen it happen many of times during his lessons.
They took the forest path, one of the quicker routes through the woods, the sunlight pouring through the branches of the trees. It was a warm day, inviting and kind, a perfect day for such a travel. Robin had only been to Nottingham a few times in his young life, but today was the first he would be inside the castle.
Robert wished for his son to meet the Sheriff, hoping to introduce the boy to politics early in order to weave the intricacies involved in naturally. It would be something the boy would have to deal with on a daily basis as he grew older, and he wanted his son to have the firmest grasp possible in this ever-changing world. If the boy's mind was sharp enough, the man saw no problem in offering the knowledge.
At the thought he glimpsed down at his son, wrapping a hand about the small boy's torso as Robin let out a silent yawn, his eyes growing sleepy. He had been up early that morning so it was no surprise that he was tired, and the long ride through the forest would certainly do him in. He would let the boy sleep, for now; Nottingham was still some time away.
Robert could remember when his wife had first told him about the child. It had been surprising news; he had been younger then, not quite ready to be a father, and many of the months spent waiting for his arrival had been a mixture of apprehension and slight resentment. But holding his son for the first time had washed away any doubt the man had held, and Robert would not ask for anything to be any different.
Slowly the forest melted away, and the Castle of Nottingham rose in the distance, bringing a smile to his face. As they drew closer, he woke the sleeping boy, keeping a firm grip to prevent him from falling as they rode through busy town. Robin blinked, sleepy-eyed as he looked around, his small eyes taking in the many features the market had to offer.
They would not be stopping today; Robert knew that would upset his son, but they had naught the time to spend browsing among the stalls, and surely, as it always was, Robin would find something he wanted, and the man would not be able to say no. He kept the horse at a full trot, moving by the market as he reached the castle courtyard, bringing the mare to a gentle stop as he dismounted, helping his son down afterwards.
Robert nodded towards the man who had addressed him, offering up a blatant smile, "Sir Mathew."
The man nodded in return, having arrived just shortly before them. He watched the pair idly, his gaze moving from one to the other with a slight frown. "You know, my son, Guy; he is riding by himself."
Robert smiled in return, but it was more through amusement than appreciation. Mathew of Gisborne, the man had come to England while Robert himself was still a lad. His family had been raised as nobles, but never granted any land due to the fact they had not been born in the shire. Even still, Mathew himself always sought ways to better himself above his peers, and would search for even the smallest of jibes to point out.
"That is good to hear," he replied, "But your son is also older than Robin, and he is bigger as well."
"I see little difference in that matter," Mathew replied, pulling off his riding gloves. "He is also handling a sword well."
"I will be starting Robin soon myself, teach him with a bow first however. I feel he will do quiet well," Robert returned, handing the reigns off to one of the servants that showed up. "Perhaps our boys could learn together."
The man snorted, shaking his head. "Archery…for the weak-minded. A bow and arrow won't do you any good in close combat. Do not fool yourself."
Robert laughed, taking Robin's hand in his as he turned back to the man. "And an archer who is good enough does not need to worry about close combat. By the way, you have my sympathies; I had heard you put your bid in for the Sheriff."
It worked, the man's sly smile slid into a frown and he turned away in a huff. "I was the best candidate, but they chose an old beggar instead. Not my worry though, when England falls into dark times it will not be due to my family."
"Duly noted," Robert nodded to him, "Good day Sir; come along Robin."
He didn't wait for another response, leading the boy up the stairs instead. Mathew was a difficult creature, and Robert had never particularly enjoyed dealing with the man. Part of him felt sympathetic for the man's son; one had to wonder how harshly he was driven, and the complexities that were interwoven between the strained family. Guy himself would spend time with Robin and the other boys of the village from time to time, but already his son was showing the same dislike for the strange newcomer as Robert had for Mathew.
The thoughts died away as entered the Great Hall, the celebration and festivities going on there earning a small gasp of wonderment from Robin. Robert smiled, watching his son as the boy glanced about the room, eyes gathering in all the people and the table that was laid out before them, adorned with food. Robert had had feeling that this would make up for the loss of going to the market.
Carefully he scooped the boy in his arms, working his way down the stairs and into the fray of people. Sir Edward was a decent man; his wife Kate was even more charming. She tended to smooth out any flaws the man carried. Robert had spoken with them in passing, and though they were not considered great friends, they seemed to get along well enough. He was hopeful that this new Sheriff would do well for all of Nottingham and its surrounding shires.
The crowds were heavy, Robert working his way through slowly, pausing to greet several of the other Lords and Ladies who had joined the fine celebration. At last he reached the end of the hall, nodding warmly towards the Sheriff, extending a hand as he set Robin back down on his feet.
"Sir Robert," Edward smiled at him, clasping his hand, glancing down at his feet. "And little Robin. A bit young for such festivities, I believe?"
"Mother said I could go," Robin stated proudly, earning a laugh from the man. Robert chuckled as well, turning back to the man.
"I've been promising him for a while now. Though one cannot blame me, as I assume you have your daughter here as well?"
"Marian has not any choice," Edward explained, "but she is with her mother; come, let us leave here for a moment, and seek some quieter atmosphere."
It was a wise move; the hall was filled with a jovial atmosphere, but it was difficult in such conditions to hear what one said, and most importantly the issues they would discuss were topics that they both would rather not have privy to the general public, even if most here were nobles.
For Robin, it mattered not. His ears were too young to understand such details, his childlike innocence still sheltering his mind enough to where he would not worry in such matters. Robert kept him close as they left the hall, pausing only to greet several more nobles on his way out.
He exchanged quiet words with the man as they moved down the hall, fond memories being exchanged between the pair. The both of them had been born and raised in the shire, having going through both good times and bad. Though England was nowhere near perfect, Robert was content with where he was living. He would not give it up for the world.
At a cross in corridors they came to a pause, Robert giving a slight bow as the fair Lady Kate came into view, she returned the gesture, her chestnut hair curling in gentle waves that fell about her small face. He could feel Robin move around him, drawing closer to his leg, his small fingers still clutching his hand.
"Lady Kate," Robert nodded to her, his eyes glancing down at the small girl that toddled by her side. "Your daughter is getting more beautiful with each passing day. I do believe she resembles you in many ways."
"You are too kind, Sir Robert," Kate laughed, her gaze moving to her daughter, than back to him.
"Where are your manners Robin?" Robert scolded his son lightly, drawing him out from behind his leg. "Say hello."
The boy muttered a quiet phrase, awkwardly mocking a bow similar to what his father had done only moments before to the both of them. Proper greetings were expected to everyone, Robert knew, but it was more important to establish that with the ladies first, than with anyone else.
"Kate, perhaps you would take young Master Robin with you and Marian while Sir Robert and I converse. I'm sure Robin would enjoy the company of someone closer to his age then us adults."
"Of course my love," she smiled, turning then to Robin. "What do you say young man?"
Robert looked down at his son who returned his gaze with a mixture of confusion and slight apprehension. He didn't force his son, but he knew he couldn't very well dismiss the Sheriff's orders. "Well Robin, what do you think?"
"But dad, she's a girl," he whispered quietly, presuming that lowering his voice would lesson the timid insult.
Robert laughed though, moving to his knees so that he was at eye level with the boy. "That she is, and you must treat the both of them with respect. They need a man to watch over them while the Sheriff and I are busy. Do you think you can do that for me?"
The boy shifted slightly, glancing to them, then back at his father with a quiet nod. Robert knew the ploy would work; all that was needed was to convince Robin that his task was an important one. Reluctantly Robin let go his hand, taking Kate's in a firm grip, casting one long, dismal look back as his father, with hopes perhaps the older man would save him from his current fate.
But Robert let him go, rising to his feet as he rejoined the Sheriff in their trek down the hall. Alone now the other man let out a sigh, watching him with a curious gaze. "I do not know if I approve of your decision to take such a young boy along, even if he is your son. As you can see I do not involve Marian or my wife in such matters. I find it to be poor judgment, and worrisome, especially since you are on the council."
"The decision was my own," Robert explained. "I mean no disrespect, but Robin is older than your daughter, and my son will take his place as Lord of Locksley as he grows. I wish for him to be prepared for what will come. I want for him to be comfortable in the castle, not chary of it. But my decision to bring him has nothing to do with my judgment on the council, I assure you."
Edward smiled at him, giving him a nod. "This is what I wanted to hear. I trust your contribution, but if other Lords question your judgment I need a response to give them."
"I feel that they will understand," he replied briefly. "Most of them have children of their own and understand where I come from. It is not as though I will be having Robin attend the Council of Nobles at this age."
"Not everyone though," Edward reminded him. "One of the members has expressed his concern greatly; he wishes to have you removed, feeling your attendance in Robin's life overshadows your ability to perform your required tasks as Lord of Locksley."
"Let me guess; Sir Mathew?" Robert guessed, shaking his head.
"I cannot say; you know this. When a Lord speaks to the Sheriff it is a known factor that the names given are kept private."
"But it was him; was it not?" he pressed, nodding when the man remained silent. "So tell me; when is it a crime to raise your children? Do you abandon Marian I wonder?"
"The words were no mine Robert," Edward reminded him, "I am only saying this to warn you. You may find complications coming that you are not ready for."
"I assure, My Lord, that I can. I have been Lord of Locksley since my father's passing, and have even served the King a short time before that. I think you will find that any complications would only present a challenge, not a defeat."
"So then you will attend the Council of Nobles in the coming days?"
Robert nodded, coming to a stop. "Of course; and I think you will find my company there quite rousing. I have several notions that a few of the other Lords and I have been working on; they will be ready to present at that time."
"Then I look forward to it," Edward said with a nod. He smiled then, seemingly more at ease. "Shall we return to the Great Hall? I fear the lack of my presence will be noticed soon."
Robert nodded, "I would assume it already has; you are the guest of honor. I will join you in a moment however, I would first like to find my son."
"Leave him be," the man reassured him. "It would do well for my daughter I think. I would like for her to have some company. I will not see her as often when my wife returns to Knighton with her, and it would appease me to know my daughter has someone close in age near her."
Robert let out a smile, understanding where the man was coming from. Though Knighton and Locksley were not exceptionally close, they were the closest of all villages, and he knew Edward preferred to have someone he trusted to spend time with his child. Besides, he himself reckoned that growing up with a girl in his life would do his own son some good as well.