My heart rate slowed, my vision returned, I once more inhabited my own body. I twisted around in the circle of Guy's arms, facing him. At my movements, he stirred slightly and one of his eyes opened the slightest little bit. He raised an eyebrow at me.
"Madame, if you mean to indicate a willingness for further exertions, I must object. Unless you are attempting to actually kill me by coitus- by the way, you've nearly succeeded."
I kissed his nose and smiled.
"No, sir- are you trying to smite me in that way? I am drained, I am devoid of life and energy, I may be too exerted to even sleep at this point."
"Delighted we can agree. What are you doing?"
"I am kissing you. I want to kiss every piece of you, starting with your face."
"You have gone silly. I can sleep while you go about your business, right?"
"Yes." I planted kiss after kiss, covering his forehead, his brows. I kissed my way down the long, strong, perfectly straight bridge of his nose, and nibbled on the tip.
"Gah! That wasn't a kiss! It involved teeth!"
"Sorry, I couldn't resist. This nose of yours, is perfect, you know? A nose to give the world reassurance of a nose. A platonic ideal of noses. You belong on coins…"
"I guess I'll say thank you, but you realize you sound more insane, the longer you talk, right?"
His arms locked tighter around me, pulling me even closer. I settled my arms around his neck, and held him to me.
"Your hair is beautiful, you know." I ran a hand through the softness of his thick, black hair and he groaned- not a groan of satisfaction, one of annoyance.
"Do you always spend time after making love discussing the appearance of your bedmate?"
I scoffed. "First of all, I've never in the history of my life 'made love,' and second, no. I'm usually out the door before they wake up."
"What do you call it if not making love?"
"Oh, please, Guy- what, you make love? True, you're one of the most appealing men I've ever seen, but I'd wager your way with the ladies has seldom involved romance and whispered words of adoration. Mine hasn't been that way either. Life has never been that way for me, and that's all there is to it. So, no- I don't 'make love.' And that's that."
"But you did with me."
"Guy, I hate that phrase. Let's keep with referring to it as coitus. Weren't you going to sleep?"
"Oh, yes." He closed his eyes obediently, and resettled his head against my chest. I continued running hands through his hair, feeling him relax with every pass, feeling his entire body going still.
"You sleep now, and then you'll wake up. And when you do, we'll get ready, and we'll go. We'll just go, you and me. We sneak away to France, and we see what happens…"
"I should tell you." His body jerked slightly, as if he'd actually fallen asleep but stopped himself, and his voice was thick with it. "Outside of this room, I'm not the man I am with you. I'm rough, I growl, I stomp about demanding obedience from those near me. Here, it's different. But outside, if I do those things, will you be scared? Will you think I lied to you?"
"You talk such nonsense, love. I said I know who you are, and I do. Here, there, in France- do your worst, I'll always know the truth. If I bow and simper and pretend to be subservient and docile in the world outside, will you doubt me? Will you think I lie?"
"No, love. I know you, too." I lowered my face, pressing my forehead to his.
"And so Guy of Gisborne will leave Nottingham, escaping the maneuverings of the evil Sheriff."
He smiled, his lips against mine, and took up the train of thought. "And shall go to France with Matilda the Witch, who won his heart. And after that?"
"After that… Everything else."
"Forever… and ever…?" His voice was falling asleep with the rest of him, trailing away.
"And forever after that, love." He sighed, and fell asleep. I stayed awake and planned. We would leave Nottingham, we would leave England. And after that? I refused to think past that, and instead wove the plan of how we'd get out of the castle without the Sheriff knowing. Eventually, once I had confidence in a path to take, I let myself drift off to sleep as well. I held him more and more tightly, knowing I'd never, ever let him go.
Author's Note: Okay, it might just be The End for now… I might end up revisiting Guy and Matilda, seeing how they're doing at some point down the road. But this part is done.
That being said, I can't thank any and all of you readers enough. This is the most visited story I've posted here, and I can't believe how many people have checked in. To those of you who've reviewed, thank you as well- I don't always respond directly to reviews, because I tend to be repetitive and gushing in my thanks, but I appreciate all of you who've taken the time to respond to what I've written. I hope you've liked it!