Author's Note: This story takes place after the events of Series 2 and before the events of Series 3. So... *SPOILERS* for the end of series 2. (I, personally, don't have BBC America and am waiting for the DVD of the Third Series, so I have no idea what happens therein, so this will have nothing to do with the actual events of that series.)

This is just an idea that's been kicking around for a while, and I'm not certain how much I'll add to it. I figured I'd post the beginning and see if anyone likes it- or, I might keep going just for the heck of it.

Disclaimer: I own nothing in the universe of the BBC's Robin Hood- not Guy, not the Sheriff, not a thing. I mean no infringement, just some harmless fun.

Eyes On Fire, a Robin Hood fanfic

"Valzey, this is slightly beyond the pale- even for you. I'd ask if you were serious, but I know enough to see that you are."

The Sheriff of Nottingham groaned. He had a piece of bread in his hands and, at my statement, he stopped picking off bits to feed his birds through their bars, and threw it sullenly against the wall. He walked to his desk, thumped down sulkily into his great chair, and groaned again.

"Why is it, when I finally relent, go against nature and the gods, and do something nice, no one gets it?"

I crossed to him, facing off across his hulking black desk.

"Because, to put it gently, Sheriff, altruism is not a quality you possess. Simply do me the courtesy of answering this one question, honestly, and I may consent to help you. Why do you ask me to do this thing?"

The Sheriff responded by blowing a raspberry. I'd forgotten how easily this beastly brute of a man might be mistaken for a spoilt ten year old.

I knew the answer without him saying it. As with all people, it was as if his every word, every flicker and rolling of his eyes, every gesture of his hands- all of it was underscored by his own voice translating, explaining his thoughts. The secret I'd had to figure out at an early age is that everyone in the world is anxious to confess all of their thoughts every moment of every day, I just happened to be one of the few with a capability to listen to their unspoken voices.

Just now, for instance, the Sheriff was saying this:

"He is the closest thing I have to a friend. His loyalty and devotion to me has, quite against my will, inspired something of the same in me. I'm frightened that Guy's mind has left and will never return. I need my only friend, my staunchest supporter, and my good right hand."

After a protracted charade of hemming and hawing, Valzey finally sniffed something about the difficulty of replacing his lieutenant. I'd been hoping for the slight miracle of true words coming from the mouth of the Sheriff, and I almost got it.

"So, there you are, Matilda- evidence that my dead, blackened heart can beat with honest intentions."

"You say you bring me here to mourn the loss of my cousin, but I arrive and find that, instead, you wish me to impersonate her- dead and all- in order to seduce your second-in-command. If I were to acquiesce, I would require one thing."

"I thought my honesty was all you asked."

"No, that was what I asked in order for me to entertain the notion of listening to you. I'm listening now. And what I need is this: an agreement, in your own hand and sealed with your own insignia, promising that you will not kill me or bring about my death. I've heard tales, Sheriff. I've heard that you tend to dispatch those who are no longer useful for your purposes, and I've no wish to join their ranks."


He reached into his desk and pulled forth a parchment, a quill, and ink. Twenty minutes later, we'd arrived at words that suited us both, and he wrote them on the scroll. He melted ink, set his insignia in it, and handed it to me. I could already hear him thinking of ways to skirt the wording of the promise, just in case he decided to kill me despite all this effort.

"And, no, Sheriff, you won't be able to suggest to Guy of Gisborne that he murder me for you. When I'm done with him, his loyalty will belong to me, above even you. Fear not, though- I've no wish of it, and will see to it that is back to his normal, Nottingham-loving self. But I'm warning you- do not carry out any of those plans forming in that fetid little brain of yours. If I die, well, you remember who my cousin is?"

He looked at me and laughed. "I'd forgotten that you read thoughts, Matilda! Delightful. Now stop reading mine and never mention that cousin of your again. Phillip Augustus need not enter any of our thoughts. France to the French, England to the English, eh?"

"You know, Sheriff, you're a scoundrel and a double-crossing snake, but I like you for all that. I only wanted to remind you of a relative I have and my cousin didn't. Perhaps if she were related to the King of France it might have protected her."

"The only thing that could have protected Marian would have been if she'd seen sense and wed Guy of Gisborne. Or, failing that, if she hadn't loved Robin Hood. Or, if she hadn't been running around doing secretive good deeds and making herself an enemy of the Crown. Actually, she had a million chances to spare her own life and always chose the path of destruction. She practically begged Guy to kill her, really."

My blood chilled at his unspoken thought, "He saved me the trouble of doing it myself. Of course, I tried- damned girl was almost as indestructible as that lover of hers…" He smiled wistfully to himself, then caught me looking at him. Despite my best efforts, some of the revulsion I felt must have shown on my face.

"Good God, woman- you'd think someone who could read thoughts would be used to learning ugly truths; don't pretend I'm worse than anyone. And I told you to STOP DOING THAT!"

"Valzey, you need me too much to keep screaming in my face like that. I'm sure you'd hate to have me feeling out of sorts when I go to Sir Guy's rooms. I might not be able to perform to the best of my abilities."

"Ah, a cunning witch. Already you are proving more intelligent and worthwhile than that cousin of yours. So, tell me- planning to hope you just look and sound enough like Marian, or are you going to use a glamour of some sort?"

"If he's as far gone as you say, I doubt anything too intense will be required. You said that nothing in her rooms has been touched? I will wear her clothing, they probably still smell like her skin. That should be close enough. I'll dress like her, go to his rooms and…" Honestly, I hadn't quite had time to think much past that, but the Sheriff obviously had.

".. and then you simper, and pretend not to be interested, and tease him, just like she always did. And then, spread your legs, offer absolution in the attainment she never gave him in life. Then you leave, and he's back to himself, and I can get on with my normal routine of evil plans- sowing seeds of discontent and treason, et cetera. Got it?"

I nodded. He shook my hand and gestured for me to leave. I waited until I'd opened the door and turned back- "And, Sheriff- don't even think of watching through that peephole above Guy's bed. I'll know if you're there and I swear to whatever evil deity you hold holy- I will gouge out your eyes myself. You think you miss that tooth? You'll miss your eyes even more."