The long summer's evening was finally turning to dusk.
Where she stood in a little clearing in Sherwood, Marian gazed up at the rose-coloured sky which she could see through the leafy branches of the greenwood trees above. Her hazel-green eyes surveyed a flock of birds as they flew overhead to their final roosting place, and hugging herself in excitement, she tossed back her curly flame-coloured hair as she paced back and forth the little clearing.
She was waiting for Robin.
Robin with his emerald green eyes, so hynoptic, so of another world when she gazed into them. Like a pool of sea-green water. She had once crossed to France with her father Sir Richard of the Lea, and the sea on the crossing had been just like that - calm and green - and then whipped up and tumultuous, just as Robin's eyes could get when he was troubled.
She sat on a little tussock underneath a big oak tree, and drawing her knees up to her chest, she tangled her fingers through her auburn hair, combing it through. She had newly washed it, and it smelt of lavender, thanks to the herbal hair rinse she had concocted the day before. She was sure Robin would appreciate it.
Half daydreaming, she watched as a bee lazily buzzed round the clearing in the last gleams of sunlight slanting down, and perched precariously on a flower head, to drink the last of pollen before both it and the flower slept.
Will and Tuck and the others were all back at camp. "Where are you going, Marian?" Much had asked when she had made to slip away.
"Just going to meet Robin on his way back from Wickham," she had answered innoccently, and they had let her slip away with knowing nods and grins to themselves.
The camp wasn't too far away. From here, Marian could see the thin spiral of smoke from their camp fire drifting up into the air above the treetops.
Suddenly, Marian straightened up and listened keenly. He was coming.
Robin sighed to himself as he wearily wended his way through the sentry-like trees. But he was happy. He had taken the money they had taken from a fat rich merchant this morning to Wickham, to pay the taxes, and Edwards had said with a grin that there would be enough left over to buy a plough and make good that bit of rough ground on the edge of the village, where more cabbages could be planted to eke out the villagers sparse diet over the winter.
So Robin's initial sigh turned into a grin, and then his grin got even wider as he thought of the succulent meal of roast venision Tuck would no doubt have ready and waiting for him. Washed down with good strong ale, and some nice freshly baked bread. He chuckled to himself and rubbed his hands in anticipation as he strolled through the forest.
It was summer and there was plenty of food to be had in the forest. Robin thought he loved this time of year more than any other season. It was the season of green, of plenty. He and Marian were newly married, and every night was full of kisses and loving. Yes, he had good reason to be happy.
As he entered the clearing, to cross it to go onto the little deer trail that would lead to their camp, he stopped short on the edge of it because he saw Marian there. Waiting for him.
She rose to face him as he entered the clearing, and he thought to himself that he had never seen such a lovely nymph in all his life, with her long loose curly hair the colour of flames.
"Hello," he whispered, totally entranced by this vision of loveliness.
"Hello," Marian whispered back, smiling.
She gazed upon her man with pride. His ragged raven hair fell over ebony eyebrows that were like the wing of a bird, just grazing his finely chiselled cheekbones. His shirt was unlaced at the neck to show more than a glimpse of his hairy chest, and Marian felt a surge of longing.
"I waited for you," she whispered as he came across to her.
"Marian my love...." Robin took her in his arms and kissed her passionately. "You smell gorgeous," he smiled at her, drawing a little away from her and tangling his finger in one long auburn curl.
Marian laughed playfully. "It's the lavender. I picked it from the roadside on that hot and dusty day back in June, do you remember?"
"How could I forget?" breathed Robin, looking love-lorn at her. She was like a goddess.
Marian wrapped her arms around his neck and stared deep into his emerald eyes. Green eyes met hazel and for a moment, no words were said.
"Come," she whispered seductively at last, and half-turning, she tugged at his hand.
"Where are we going, my love?" Robin asked.
"I've made a place for us to be alone," said Marian coyly.
She had constructed it this morning. Just by the clearing there was a natural depression in the ground - big enough to hold two people cuddled up together. Not too deep, but deep enough.
Marian had worked hard, first gathering lots of bracken leaves to line the depression with so that they made a sound and comfy bed - even better than a feather bed. Then she had found long large branches and put them over the depression, criss-crossing them so they remained firm. She had covered those branches with more bracken, so the little hide away was completely camouflaged.
Finally, she had crawled on hands and knees through the little hole she had left for a doorway, and had busily plumped up the bracken and scattered over it dried lavender and other sweet smelling herbs. Then she had lain on her back for a while in her makeshift boudoir, looking up at the tiny glimpses of blue sky through the criss-crossed branches and sheaves of bracken she had built as a low roof overhead, and she had dreamt of the night to come in here with Robin.
Triumphantly now, she led Robin to the bracken covered mound by the clearing. "I made it," Marian said proudly.
Robin's green eyes flew wide in surprise. "You made this?"
Marian grinned. "It's our own little house. Come and see." She pulled him by the hand, and following her, he crawled on hands and knees through the little opening and down into the bracken-lined pit covered by the criss-cross of branches.
"It's like a nest," Robin chuckled, turning languidly over onto his back and looking up at the green roof above.
"Our nest," Marian snuggled up against him and playfully tweaked the hair on his manly chest.
Robin inhaled a delighted breath of the scent of green bracken and the lavender that was strewn upon it. "How wonderful it all smells."
"It's the lavender," Marian said, snuggling even closer.
Robin gazed into her hazel eyes, flecked with gold. "My love," he whispered, feeling his voice go hoarse with sudden emotion, "you are more precious to me than life itself."
A little deer came upon the clearing, and surveyed the camouflaged little hillock with mild alarm. For the branches and bracken were quivering as people moved inside it, and there were the most sensual sighs coming from within it as well...
"Oh Robin," sighed a feminine voice.
"Oh Marian," sighed the masculine voice back. "Are you ready, my love?"
"Oh yes - YES, Robin! My love, my lover - take me!"
There was a rustling of bracken - and then suddenly the network of branches came apart and crashed down into the pit onto them.