The journey was long, and the voyage was hard for all. It was not only Marian who now had wounds from which to recover.
There was Robin, with his new injury lying directly on top of the old one, this time infected only with guilt: it was he who had cried "leave him".
There was Much, with a swelling on his head that left him dazed and confused even when he had woken up after a full day of sleep, who had to hear over and over again that Will was gone before he could remember it on his own, and cry for him.
There was John, whose rage turned inwards and whose words dried up, and who watched Djaq with eyes so heavy, knowing that he was lucky to never see his wife, because he would never feel grief like this.
There was Allan, whose apologies were forgotten amongst the sorrows of the others, who was back to awkwardness and isolation among the group.
And then there was Djaq.
She was like a ghost: she appeared only when called, and only then fleetingly. She tended to Robin's wound without comment, sewing it up with the same care that she always did, but without the sharp recriminations about leaving a weak spot unshielded. She ate infrequently, she spoke rarely, and more than once John had caught her staring at the sea, pressed to the bows as if she might pass through the wood altogether.
"I can't stand it," Marian said to Robin one night as they lay wrapped around each other. "I can't help but think that if we'd only left immediately, without spending that week there…"
"But if you think like that, where are you going to draw the line?" he asked. "If we'd left a week earlier and jeopardised your recuperation; if we'd left before you awoke, never realising you were alive; if we'd never gone at all, leaving you and the King both to die."
"Stop it," she whispered. "I know. I know that, all of that. But I cannot help but feel something different."
He didn't respond, but drew her closer to him in silent confirmation that he was feeling it too.
They first made love with tears in their eyes.
The ship wended its way west, stopping in various ports occasionally, but always drawing closer to the British Isles. Days turned into weeks, but the monotonous, unchanging environment aboard made it seem as though they were making no progress at all. Tears still flowed, words still went unspoken, and Djaq was still a shadow at their periphery.
When Southampton was sighted, it was as if Will had died only days ago. English architecture and English ships merely cast a new light on the reality of his death.
"What now?" Allan asked as they all stared out at the coast.
Robin didn't look around at them, though he saw how they all looked to him for the answer. He was gazing back out at the ocean as he replied. "The Sheriff will still be trying to kill us. Gisbourne will still claim my birthright as his own. The poor will still be taxed to the brink of starvation. And we will still just have half a dozen of us."
As Marian's gaze flickered to Djaq, remembering he who would be replaced by her, Robin pretended not to notice.
"We carry on," he said, turning to face them. "Nothing changes, even though everything has changed. This fight, this struggle, it is bigger than us. It does not stop because we might feel tired, or because we might need rest, or because we do not feel capable. It is unstoppable, and so must we be."
"We carry on," echoed John, his face grim and determined.
"We carry on," confirmed Marian, Much, Allan.
Robin looked at Djaq, who raised her head and met his gaze with just a spark of that fire that had been, temporarily, doused.
"For England, for King Richard, and for Will Scarlett, we carry on," she stated.
And so the tale continued.