Rowan woke to a tapping on her window and rolled over, willing the bird to stop pecking. It kept going, so she shoved a pillow over her ears.
"Rowan!" a voice whispered.
Rowan sat straight up and grasped for her sword. There was a shadow in the window.
"It's me, Will! Morning watch? Come on!"
Rowan sighed as she remembered what was going on. She stood up, pulled her tunic on, and looked across the row of sleeping bodies before the door.
"Here," she said, handing Will her sword and her arrow and quiver she had received last night. He held them obediently and let her use his shoulder to help pull her through the window. Once her toes reached the ground, he started walking.
"Thanks for waking me!" She said.
Will grunted at her and handed her a small roll and a piece of cheese.
"Oh, and thanks for breakfast."
"Do you have to be so damn cheery? It ain't even light out yet," Will growled.
Rowan was taken aback and became sullen, hurt by his outburst. She vowed not to say anything to him until he said something to her. Which turned out to be two hours later. He had led her to a tree and pointed up. Rowan climbed it, with extreme difficulty. Then Will easily scaled the tree next to her. Then, they sat in silence for two hours. Rowan kept catching herself dozing, which was dangerous when she was so high off the ground. When Will finally did speak, he said,
He stood up to fire the warning arrows into camp, but then relaxed and sat down.
"Just Marian and Sarah."
"Hello Will!" Marian waved.
"Marian," Will grunted, although it barely sounded like a word.
"Ah, so lovely in the morning, aren't you?"
Will grunted again, then added, "What in the hell are you doing here so early? Robin is probably still sleeping."
"Very well then, I will catch him in bed then." Marian colored as she said this. Will laughed. Marian's head jerked up.
"Did you just laugh, Will Scarlet?"
Will frowned again, "Yeah? So what?"
Marian smiled thoughtfully, "I just don't think I've ever heard you laugh before."
"What are you doing here so early?" Will asked, changing the subject.
"Well, I have just received word about a shipment of cloth coming in to the tailors this afternoon. He sent me word he wants to give it to you, but someone's got to go into town to pick it up."
"Who is that up in the trees with you?" Marian called, as if she had just seen Rowan.
Will didn't answer, so Rowan chimed in, "Its Rowan, milady."
"Oh, you're on watch now?"
Rowan wasn't sure what to say and thankfully, Will finished for her. "She's just like one of the men now. Beat Much in a duel yesterday."
"Hm," Marian said, peering up at Rowan, "That will probably do him some good."
"Aye, that it will," Will said, reaching his arms above his head and stretching. His muscles swelled against the material of his shirt, Rowan couldn't help but notice.
Marian clicked to her horse and the two women set off into camp.
"She's something, that Marian, isn't she?" Will said, suddenly chatty.
"Yes," Rowan said carefully. She recognized Marian- and Marian had almost recognized her, so she had to be careful.
"You know," Will said, "I had my hopes set on her once."
When Rowan didn't say anything, he twisted around to see her, "I did. Asked her to dance even."
Rowan tried to remain silent but couldn't help but be intrigued, "What happened?"
"Robin came in and said she was "spoken for" and that was the end of that." Will ran a hand through his hair and chuckled.
"What?" Rowan asked.
"Nothing," Will said, still grinning, "Just funny how things work out is all."
Rowan looked around her, sitting a hundred feet off the ground in a tree with this man- Will Scarlett, who everyone said never smiled but he seemed to smile all the time, in the middle of Sherwood- with Welloch Manor almost nothing but a memory in her head.
"Yes," she agreed, "It is funny."
Robin approached Rowan while she was eating lunch with a group of the men.
"Rowan, how well known are you in Nottingham?"
Rowan gulped, nearly choking on her drink, "Sir?"
"I need two men to go into town and pick up some cloth. I thought I would send a woman so it's not as suspicious. You are the least suspicious woman because you can fight for yourself and you only need one man, not two to accompany you. Now, if you go into Nottingham, will you be recognized?"
Rowan considered the question for a minute. Would anyone in that town know her? Had anyone in that town ever known her? Even if they had, would they be able to see the girl she was in the face she had now?
"No," she told Robin easily, "No one will know me."
"Good," Robin said, "You and Will will go to town at once."
Will spit out his ale, "Me? We've just got done watch! Don't we get some sleep around here?"
Robin stared him down, "You will go Will because everyone else has things they must do and not be spared."
Even Rowan couldn't ignore the tone of aggravation in Robin's voice, like he was explaining things to a very small child.
Will glared at Robin, and Rowan was surprised at just how much hate was in his eyes. He slammed his plate down and stalked off. Rowan looked around uncertainly.
"Well, better go catch him, I guess," Robin said easily, turning back to where Marian waited for him. The men laughed. Rowan stood up and raced across the camp to where Will had disappeared into the trees.
"Will!" she yelled, seeing his figure ahead of her on the path, "Will, slow down! Come on! Wait for me!"
Will kept going, seething. "Who the hell does he think he is? Treating me like a god damned child. I'd like to ring his-" he glanced over and saw her.
"Did you know that he wasn't even one of us to begin with?"
Rowan shook her head, surprised, "Really?"
"No! He was just some hot shot rich boy that came in all "I'm going to lead you!" Will groaned, jerking his hands through his hair. He looked at her, "Damn it!"
"What?" Rowan asked, "What did I do?"
Will sighed, "You can't wear that into town. You gotta go get a dress."
Rowan looked down at her breeches and tunic. She giggled, "I guess not."
Will sighed, a weary smile surfacing briefly on his face, "Go get changed. I'll wait here."
"I'll be fast," Rowan promised, jogging back toward camp.
"And do something with your hair!" Will called.
As quickly as possible, Rowan was back, changed into a light blue dress that Fanny had given her from the camp chest. She had pulled some of her hair back in a braid and let the rest fall around her shoulders.
"Am I all right?"she asked Will.
"Yeah, you'll do. You look too good to be a townsperson though. Try to act stupid."
Rowan nodded, unsure what to make of his comment. What did he mean by "look too good?"
"Now, we got to get our stories straight," Will said as he walked. He took long strides. So long that Rowan was practically jogging to keep up with him. "So what are we? Siblings? Cousins? Spouses?"
"Cousins!" Rowan decided.
"All right, then. Cousins. And where are we from?"
"Okay. Cousins from Hillsdale. Why are we in town?"
"To buy me a new dress for our other cousin's wedding! Oh, this is a fun!" Rowan laughed.
"Fun now," Will agreed, "But not so fun when you are being interrogated by the Sherriff's dogs."
The rest of the walk they made up details- usually with Rowan supplying them and Will shooting them down, second guessing them or fixing them. They had walked the miles to town faster than Rowan thought they would.
"All right, let's go," Will said, pulling up his hood as they approached the town wall.
"Stop. Why are you coming to Nottingham?" A guard asked robotically.
"To buy a dress," Rowan said brightly. Too brightly, both the guard and Will gave her a look.
"And you're from…?"
"Hillsdale," Will added. "We're farmers."
The guard studied them for a minute. Rowan smiled, hoping she looked totally at ease as her heart beat in her chest. Maybe he had heard about her and knew who she was?
"You may enter," The guard said. "Next."
Rowan and Will stepped through the gate and into the town. Rowan was taken aback by all the movement. After the quiet stillness of the forest, she wasn't ready for the hustle and bustle of the town. She froze. Then she felt a hand on her back and Will whispered near her ear,
"Come on. Don't be scared."
They crossed the square, avoiding vendors and women with vegetables and a lot of soldier's men- some of whom whistled at Rowan as she passed, only to cut them short when they caught Will's glare.
When they got to the tailor's shop, denoted by a sign above with a simple needle on it, they looked at each other, took a deep breath and Will led the way inside.
"Hello," called a small man on a stool, without looking up, a pin balancing from his lip. "What can I do you for?"
"Um," Rowan said quietly, then cleared her throat more loudly. "I would like to have some cloth to make a dress."
"All right. What kind of cloth and what color?"
"Something, durable and I would like it to be in forest green," Rowan said, slowly and clearly.
The tailor looked up briefly, then at the other customers in the store.
"Well, I will have to check in the back. Would you mind if I help everyone else out first? You could come back, say, in a quarter of an hour?"
Rowan looked at Will. He nodded shortly.
"That would be great. Thank you." They stepped out into the street.
"That was great!" Rowan whispered, "It felt so official!"
"Don't start celebrating yet," Will said, although he did smile. "Come on, let's check out the vendors. Maybe they'll give us free food."
Rowan followed Will as he wound his way through the crowd. It was strange to be here. To remember that outside of Sherwood and what had happened even before Sherwood, life went on. As the passed through a particularly narrow opening between two carts, three men brushed against Rowan as they passed.
"Forgive me," the last one said, turning to look at her. For one second, Rowan was confused about who she was looking at. Then, she saw the scar along his jaw line. Anger rippled through her veins and she lunged forward, clawing at his face, a hoarse yell erupting from her body. She didn't see anything except for his face. She grabbed for his hair. He stumbled down to the ground, and the men with him turned back, trying to shield him from her. Then, she felt arms around her waist, wrenching her away. She clung on, scratching, doing anything to impart half the damage he had done to her. But alas, whoever was holding her was stronger than she was and finally yanked her away.
"Forgive my cousin," Will was saying, as he dragged Rowan away from the men as quickly as possible, trying to shield his face. "She is not well."
"I'll say she's not! She ought to be in a loony bin! That one!" The man on the ground yelled.
"You're lucky she did no damage to my man!" called another, higher voice which Rowan recognized. She tried to move away from Will, but he was too strong. He half-drug, half-carried her through the crowd, which parted for them in fear. "Let go of me, I'm fine!"
"Fine?" Will blanched, his voice rising in anger. "Fine?"
"Yes! Let me go!" Rowan spat, thinking how similar this was to their first meeting.
"Will you behave?"
Will released her Rowan immediately started back towards the square. Will swung her back towards the wall and used his body to pin her against the wall, his hands locked around her wrists. He could feel her whole body heaving in anger as she breathed. Slowly, her breathing slowed. When he thought she was calm, he let go of her wrists and eased away from her. Rowan was so surprised and weakened that her knees almost gave way. Instead, she pressed herself against the wall, letting the cool brick touch her flaming forehead.
"Rowan," Will yelled, "Do you have any idea what you just did? What if the soldier's came over? I have a price on my head you know! You could have gotten us killed!" He was panting from anger and the effort of fighting with her. His voice lost its steam and softened "Lord almighty Rowan…what the hell happened back there?"
Rowan took a deep breath. "I don't want to talk about it."
Will considered this for a moment, then began another angry outburst, "Don't want to talk about it? Rowan, you just endangered my life. Don't you think I deserve an explanation?"
Rowan sighed. He was right.
"That man…was a man from my past. And we have…unfinished business."
"That's it?" Will asked.
Rowan looked up at him, somewhat apologetically. Will realized just how drained she looked, like all of the energy and life from that morning had been sucked out of her. She could barely stand for God's sake.
"All right," he answered himself aloud, "That's it then."
Will retrieved the cloth from the tailor with no problems and the two of them left town as quickly as possible. Neither spoke almost the entire way to camp. Rowan was lost in a world of memories- of that face. And Will was caught worrying about her. When she launched herself on that man, she had been almost in-human. Just pure hatred and anger and violence. He looked back at her trudging down the path behind him, her head down, her eyes sad, her long hair reflecting the sunlight. How could they be the same girl?
Just then she looked up and caught him watching her. She stopped walking.
"Can you do me a favor? Can you not mention what happened to anyone?"
Will thought for a moment. He figured he probably should tell someone. What if she was going to attack someone in camp? But then he met her eyes, and thought for a minute that he had never seen eyes that held such sadness. How did she mask it most of the time?
"Sure," he said, attempting a smile, "I won't tell."
She just nodded, once, and started on again.