Author's note: This story ignores pretty much everything after Season One, so forgive me. Also, trust me: this is going to get political and ugly, so don't let the frivolity of the first few chapters fool you. Guy/OC.
Sir Guy of Gisborne wasn't pleased. He leaned moodily against the ash tree that shaded the stables and watched Marian through the shock of dark hair that fell into his eyes. As usual, she was giving more affection to her horse—the handsome bay that he had given her, he noted—than she'd ever shown him. After everything he'd done for her...
Well, he supposed he owed her something. When King Richard had returned, she'd managed to convince Robin to request a pardon for him, arguing that his role in—removing— Vasey was proof of his changed ways. He'd done his best to live up to her belief that he was capable of being a good man, and his being forced to confront all of the horrible things he'd done over the years wasn't helping his mood. Combined with being constantly thrown together with Marian and Robin, seeing them together all the time... it was tiring, to say the least. At least Marian still talked to him. Changed man or not, most of the other locals, Robin's gang included, had not warmed to him yet, and though he couldn't really blame them, he was finding himself rather lonely. He always had been, but under the Sheriff's rule, he'd had mindless tasks that helped him throw up mental walls to block out his unhappiness. Now, all he had was Marian, who was finding herself with less and less time for him as she helped Robin run the village and prepared for her wedding.
It looked as though she had a few moments for him now, though—his expression softened a little as she glanced up at him, quirked a smile at him, and headed towards him, horse in tow. God, but she was gorgeous—her dark hair rippled down her back, she'd left it loose today, and her hips swayed in an easy rhythm that he found hard to ignore as she neared him. He managed to pull himself together as he fell into step beside her, heading for the outskirts of the village.
"Still enjoying him, I see," he said gruffly, nodding at her equine companion.
Marian grinned. "Yes, I'm getting him ready for tomorrow."
Guy raised an eyebrow. "Is there something going on tomorrow that I should be aware of?"
His companion laughed. "Not particularly. An old friend of mine is arriving tomorrow, and is planning to stay for several weeks. She's rather competitive and is a superb horsewoman, we've raced every time we've been together. It's been a few years since I've seen her, but I suspect that a race will still end up in our plans."
"Yes, Rachel of Brookfield. I was sent to her family's estate for several months when I was about ten years old, when my mother was ill, and we've visited one another every year ever since."
"She's not travelling alone?"
Marian snorted. "A noblewoman, permitted to travel alone? Honestly, Guy."
He shrugged. "Well, she is a friend to you. Such a woman might be the sort to try just the thing."
Marian laughed again, and the corners of Guy's mouth twitched. He did love it when it was he who prompted her laughter. "Clearly, I'll have to introduce you. Though," she added, raising an eyebrow, "she might be too much for you to handle, Guy."
Guy's chin went up. "Even after the Nightwatchman?"
Marian folded her arms and smirked. "You couldn't handle the Nightwatchman, Guy."
He shook his head at her indulgently—he was through fighting with her on that count. They walked in companionable silence for a little while, and though still slightly jealous of the horse (Marian's arm was thrown carelessly across his neck), he couldn't help but be aware that this was the most contented he'd been in several weeks. Even though he was disappointed that her friend's arrival would assuredly take her attention away… well, he did so love to see her smile, and the thought of time with Lady Rachel of Brookfield was achieving that end, so it would have to do.
Guy awoke to the sound of women's laughter. Groggily pushing his hair back, he dragged himself out of bed and stumbled towards the window, fully prepared tell whichever gossiping idiots had woken him exactly what he thought of their early-morning prattle. "Honestly," he roared, throwing the shutter back, "Don't you have anything…" but the words died on his lips when he realized who, exactly, had woken him.
Marian stood below, grinning up at him from beside a woman he didn't recognize, but surely must be Rachel of Brookfield. Both of them had horses in tow, in addition to an extra—his own big black stallion, Makhara.
Rachel smirked. "Good morning, Sir Guy. Marian warned me but that you might be inhospitable if we woke you so early, but I've heard so much about you that I simply couldn't resist the temptation." Her eyes travelled down his bare chest, then back up to his face, and her grin widened. "I'm so glad I went against Marian's better judgement."
Marian shot a disbelieving look at her friend, momentarily surprised by her guest's audacity, but quickly shrugged it off. "Would you care to go out riding with us? We've taken the liberty of getting your horse ready for you." She and Rachel watched him expectantly, the latter still smirking up at his bare chest.
Guy suddenly felt uncomfortable under the appraising gaze of the newcomer. "Ah, yes, of course. I'll come down directly." Quickly pulling the window shut, Guy turned back into his room and reached for whichever tunic was closest and quickly dragged it over his head before yanking on his boots and staggering down the stairs and out the door to the two women awaiting him.
Surprisingly, it was Lady Rachel who caught his attention first. She'd mounted her horse in the time it had taken him to get downstairs, and he was genuinely thrown by his attraction to her—he'd not really noticed what another woman looked like after his disastrous almost-wedding with Marian. Once he'd had a second to think about it, though, his shock at his own reaction to her became less astonishing. She was slimmer than Marian, more waifish, and her facial features were balanced… she had enough straight lines – a sharply defined jawline and sweeping eyebrows—to give her maturity and elegance, but still had enough soft curves—the jump of her nose, the wide arch of her blue-grey eyes—to flatter her youth and spunk. The way her legs curved around the sides of her mount didn't hurt, either. She was playing with the end of her long gold braid as she spoke gaily down to Marian, who was still on foot, as she was still holding his horse in addition to her own. Both women glanced up and stopped talking as he closed the door behind him.
"Marian," he greeted her shortly, before turning to her companion. Guy bowed low. "Forgive me for being out of sorts a moment ago, I fear I haven't been sleeping well and it's made me ill-tempered in the morning." He straightened. "You are Rachel of Brookfield, I presume?"
"The one and only, Sir Guy of Gisborne," she replied saucily. "Now, I must ask you something before you even bother getting onto that fine big stallion of yours."
"And what is that, my Lady?"
Rachel grinned wickedly and leaned down to look him in the eye—he was tall enough, and her horse short enough, that Guy found himself just inches from her face. "Are you," she said conspiratorially, "man enough to race Lady Marian and me?"
Guy actually laughed aloud—it hadn't been what he was expecting. He glanced her horse up and down as he swung onto Makhara. "That depends. Were you intending to win this race on that little horse of yours?"
All three turned their mounts to the road as Rachel lifted her chin at him. "Certainly. Why, will you not race now, knowing you have no chance of winning?"
Marian laughed as Guy smirked at Rachel's little mare. "You expect that little tiny mare to out run one of the tallest and fastest stallions in Nottingham? I doubt the two of you could outrun Marian's gelding, much less Makhara."
"Ah, so your horse has an Arabic name as well! Please, allow me to introduce Scheherazade, who is actually of Arabian blood. And yes, I assure you, I do expect my—what did you call her? – my 'tiny little mare' to outrun that big, clunky-looking beast of yours."
"Well, let us end this debate now, my friends!" Marian's proclamation was followed by the dust that her bay gelding threw back at them as he and his rider took off. Her companions didn't even need to signal their horses—they were just as eager to run as their riders.
Guy grinned again at the feel of Makhara's muscles bunching beneath him as he threw himself forward—despite his wish that Marian gave him the affection she gave her horses, he did understand her love for them—it was something he felt every time he took his horse out for a run, it forced him to focus on the moment, on keeping in sync with a thousand pounds of fire and wind and hooves and mane. He caught up to Marian and passed her easily—she was a good enough horsewoman, and her companion cocky enough, that he felt no guilt in beating either one of them. He was less than two hundred yards from the road, he and Marian's standard endpoint, when a flash of white caught his glance—Rachel was beside him? But he'd left her behind at the beginning of the race!
"I told you not to underestimate us, Guy!" she shouted to him over the pounding of their horses' hooves.
"The race isn't over yet, Lady Rachel!" he called back, kneading Makhara's neck for more speed.
"I have a confession, Sir Guy," she yelled.
Rachel grinned sweetly. "I haven't even given her her head yet!" And with that, she dropped the little white mare's reins and Guy watched in disbelief as Marian's slender golden visitor and her little white Arabian horse surged ahead of him as though he and Makhara were standing still, crossing the road with plenty of room to spare and pulling up the little horse. Guy and Marian arrived behind her in quick succession, leaving the three of them in a group, breathing hard. Marian took one look at Guy and started laughing.
"You should see your face, Guy. I told you she was competitive, I warned you."
Guy shrugged. "Clearly, I should have listened more carefully. I ought to know better than to disbelieve you at this point, Marian." He turned to glance at Lady Rachel. "But I never thought it was physically possible for a horse that small to move that fast, even with so light a rider."
Rachel grinned, still breathless. "Never underestimate how powerful something small can be, Sir Guy. Such an assumption will only bring you trouble, even if it's as small a matter as wounded pride and a horserace." She turned Scheherazade and clicked to her, the mare swaying in an easy walk back towards the village, Marian trotting forward a few steps to fall into conversation beside her.
Guy arched an eyebrow and turned to follow the two girls. Perhaps Marian's visitor wouldn't leave him as alone and unstimulated as he had feared.