A/N: The name of this story comes from the fact that as soon as I saw the series 2 finale, it was inevitable that I would write this. And I like to think that it was inevitable that Robin and Marian ended up together. Even if you take the BBC's version over mine, they will end up together in death, one day. So! Welcome to Inevitability. It picks up seconds after Marian closes her eyes.
Until this moment he'd been calm. For her. Now she had gone, now that she had pulled the sword from her own belly, now that her eyes were closed and her breath was still, he fell apart.
His cries echoed across the battlefield, the blood-soaked sand, the watching outlaws silent in their grief and horror. The King bowed his head respectfully. Gisbourne and the Sheriff lived to fight another day, and Marian...
"Marian, you can't leave me. You're my wife now, you cannot leave me, do you hear? Marian!"
Djaq glanced at Will, and moved forward. "Robin. You must let her be at rest."
Robin Hood, leader of the strongest and most successful band of outlaws in England, did not heed her words at all. He just stopped his desperate cries and broke down into sobs instead, clutching the still-warm body against his own. "Marian..."
"She's right," Will said, coming to support his new girlfriend. If the word was really applicable. "She needs to be prepared for—"
But he couldn't say it, and neither would anyone else. They had accepted Marian's death – they'd seen the wound, Djaq had proclaimed what would happen once the blade was removed and they believed her wholeheartedly – but he had not accepted it, and he would not, and none of them wanted to be the one to tell him that she was beyond calling back with lovelorn pleas.
"Robin," Djaq tried again, but he shook his head.
"No, Djaq. Just leave me alone. Just..."
He couldn't complete the thought, but Djaq saw the order as a positive one. He'd at least used 'me' rather than 'us', and he was sending the physician away. He must have, on some level at least, accepted the inevitable. She shook her head, and beckoned to the others, drawing them away from the pair of them, leaving Robin to mourn his wife in peace. Even the King turned away without a word of complaint. He owed him this, and he owed her. They had saved his life together; he would give them this time together.
"Marian..." Robin whispered. "Oh, Marian."
He seemed to remember he'd done this once before. She was dead and he was regretting everything he'd not said to her, everything he'd not done with her, everywhere he'd not seen with her, the life he'd not led with her. But he knew that lightening did not strike twice, and anyway, what could be more different? Then she'd been lying in a cool cave in beautiful Sherwood Forest, with Djaq working over her; now she was clutched in his arms in the harsh heat of the Holy Land, and no one was even entertaining the thought that she could still be alive. Because she wasn't.
He'd seen the blade go in. He'd seen it come back out again. He'd seen her blood, staining the silver, pouring from her like her foolish words. And to think that he'd once wished that she would tell Guy of Gisbourne the truth of her feelings; to think that he'd wanted to see the look on his face as she dashed his dreams. He hadn't even seen his face, in the end. He'd been watching Marian, running to her, ignoring Gisbourne. What was he when placed next to her?
"Didn't you hear?" he whispered to her. "What John said earlier: today is not a good day to die? Any other day... no, no other day. We were stupid, you and I. You were right, I should have been more careful, but so should you. We were too confident, we thought we were invincible. How many times have you thought I was dead or I thought you were... We were teasing fate, weren't we? Every time we got through another assassination plot, another execution attempt, we got a little less scared. We should have been terrified, Marian. And we should have seized the day long ago. We should have married months ago, found a priest somewhere who was sympathetic. And stupid, stupid me, I should have asked you. Forced you to answer me. Oh, Marian, Marian..."
The tears continued to fall from his eyes and drip onto her cheeks, still flushed with the memory of life. The soldier that still lurked inside him reminded himself that this was a waste of water. This was a harsh environment and water should be treasured. Every part of Robin agreed that this was a harsh environment; it was tainted with too many deaths, and the only one that would kill him, too. The sun beat down on his back, burning his neck, and the only breeze to bring relief was the breath from her lips—
Wait. Had he truly gone mad with grief?
He wouldn't waste time deciding whether that was true.
"Djaq! Come here, quickly! Djaq!"
The young Saracen woman came pelting into the deserted town square, Will only half a step behind her. Much came behind them, and then Allan, and finally John. He wondered briefly why they assumed they were needed; did they think he would harm Djaq in his madness? He knew, really, that they cared about him too much to leave him alone for too long; Much in particular would never leave without being forced, as had been proven many a time before. At this moment, though, he was in too much of a hurry to need anyone other than Djaq.
"She's breathing," he said in a rush. The words might not have been coherent to anyone other than a linguist; even though English was not her native language, Djaq was so practiced at unravelling English words that she was the best eavesdropper in the group, and she understood now.
She dropped to her knees, knocked Robin's hands out the way, but he couldn't care now. Nothing mattered if she could... Djaq held her fingers close to the Englishwoman's lips and her eyes widened to the size of stars. Abruptly, she scrambled to Marian's wound and began re-examining it, evaluating it afresh.
"Um, Djaq," Much said awkwardly. He glanced at Robin and bent closer, as if that would stop Robin hearing his words when he was so focused on Djaq. "Is there actually any hope? I mean, I want her to live, of course I do, but, um, you know—"
"Don't give him false hope," John said grimly.
"She knows what she's doing, alright?" Will defended her. "Just let her do it."
A cry burst from Djaq, unintelligible to all the others save Robin, for he had learned her language, and he recognised now the triumphant word "yes!"
"Go and get physicians," Robin said, his voice now low and urgent. "I don't care who, just go!"
"Right, yeah," Allan said and started sprinting off in the direction that the King had gone. Will wouldn't leave Djaq and Much wouldn't leave Robin, but John followed after Allan, slightly slower because of his size but still haring after the younger man with a surprising speed.
Djaq began firing instructions at the three men left behind, tearing open Marian's dress at the same time. Thanks to the urgency, not even Much blushed, though both he and Will winced when the torn flesh was exposed. "Will, tear her skirts into bandages. Much, pressure, here. Robin, make sure her heart keeps going, and if it doesn't, hit it."
"How's she still alive?" Will asked.
"Oh, this woman is the luckiest one ever. The sword, it missed her liver, her stomach, it went between! Still too much bleeding, we need to stop that, but her organs are alright!"
"So she'll live?" Much blurted, his hands pressed where Djaq had indicated.
"Pray to our gods, she should. She is young and strong, and she has overcome trauma before."
Much let out a cry of sheer delight, but Robin's face remained solemn. He couldn't allow himself to hope just yet. His hand lay on her breast, desperately praying that the repetitive thud-thud would keep going. Thud-thud. Thud-thud.
"Here," Will said.
Marian's skirt was now fearfully immodest, but what did it matter? Djaq grabbed the makeshift bandages and stuffed one into the wound to staunch the steady flow of blood, leaving the rest for the moment while the injury remained untreated. "Hurry up," she cried.
"What?" Much asked, affronted.
"Not you! The physicians."
They waited for a few minutes, in place, silent and tense. There was nothing to be said and no way to relax. There was only the continual thud-thud that kept them all there, desperately hoping. Finally, Robin's keen ears pricked up. "Horses," he said, and soon the others could hear them too.
"Thank the Lord," said Much.
"And Allah," Will added.
Djaq smiled at the show of solidarity. "And a couple of mortals, too."
"There they are!" cried Allan. "Come on, quick!"
An English physician vaulted off his horse and sprinted to the dusty group, Allan hot on his heels. John lumbered behind them, sweating profusely.
"Get out of the way," the doctor ordered irritably.
None of them did.
"I'm not moving," Robin said with quiet authority.
The man sighed, recognising a youth in love. "The rest of you then."
Much looked to Djaq, who shook her head and looked to Will. She knew an English soldier would not listen to her.
"She's a physician, too," Will said.
"She?" came the inevitable question.
"We haven't time for this," Robin exploded. "Djaq is a Saracen physician who now lives in England, and is devoted to helping King Richard and saving England. I, Robin of Locksley, vouch for her. She's saved all our lives before; she treated the King's arrow wound. So get on with it."
"Indeed," the man said. He was war-weary, naturally suspicious of the dark-skinned woman who claimed to be a doctor, but he knew better. "What's the wound?"
Djaq began firing off information at the speed of an arrow, listing the damage caused by the sword, detailing what needed to be done to save Marian's life. The physician looked impressed, but thankfully did not waste time, pulling out knives and needles from a worn leather bag. Within a minute, the English man and the Saracen woman were working over the wound, Will and Much sitting back uselessly, John and Allan watching silently, Robin still feeling the thud-thud that kept him alive.
At one point, Djaq began bemoaning the lack of diversity in the remedies carried by the doctor.
"If only we had Saracen medicine!" she complained. "Even what I make in the forest..."
"It is heathen!" the Englishman protested, shocked.
"No, it's not," Will argued. "It's science, not religious. How can that be heathen?"
"Stop quarrelling!" Robin ordered. "Concentrate."
"She's safe now," the physician soothed him.
"Safe?" Much questioned, his eyes wide and fearful.
"Yes," Djaq confirmed. "I would prefer it if we had something suitable to stop infection, but she will live now."
A single tear slipped down Robin's face and fell onto Marian's exposed neck. "Thank you," he said, not directly to either doctor, but to both.
"What's your name?" Much asked the Englishman.
"Matthews," he answered. "Adam Matthews. And you?"
"I'm Much," he replied cheerfully. "And this is Will, and, um, you know everyone else."
"Except for my patient," Matthews said. "Your man Allan called her Marian?"
"Yes," Robin said, smiling for the first time in too long. "Lady Marian of Locksley. My wife."
The outlaws all smiled in harmony with him, knowing their story, but Matthews took the statement as something completely normal, and merely nodded. Somehow, that made Robin even happier, to know that here and now, their marriage was perfectly normal, acceptable, and not a secret to anyone. And he could claim that she was the Lady of Locksley and no one would bat an eyelid, or think of Guy of Gisbourne. Though they had not been married in the eyes of the law, it hardly mattered. They were married in the eyes of God, and they were married in their own eyes. They were just Robin and Marian, Lord and Lady of Locksley, and everything was how it was meant to be.