A/N: I wrote this because I have always loved Allan. Will is my favorite (and the love of my life ;)...), but I love Allan. And deep down, I believe, he's always been and will always be one of the good guys. So this is his redemption. Because he totally deserves better, and anyone who disagrees can go eat dirt or something...
Disclaimer: I do not own Robin Hood, it's tragically the property of the BBC. If it did belong to me, certain people would not have died...
"You're always in the sun, Robin, and I'm always in the shade." -Allan-a-Dale, "Ducking and Diving" (s2ep5)
Allan had been stupid, and the money had been too good. It had been a mistake, one he regretted every minute after. Gisbourne had played on his fears, had dragged all those thoughts Allan usually kept buried out into the forefront of his mind. What if Robin didn't need him one day? Where would that leave him? A criminal, an outlaw, a dead man. So, Robin would pardon them, Much said. But even pardoned, what was Allan? He was a petty thief, a mediocre poacher…a really excellent liar. And that didn't leave too many job openings; in fact, it sort of ran you out of town. And each time you were discovered as a fraud, as a thief, as a liar, you would run to the next town, hope they hadn't heard of you yet, and do it all over again. Allan had lived that way once. He wasn't really keen to do it again.
So he had been stupid, and he had taken the money and the promise of a better life. The promise, he knew deep down, was empty. The threat of hanging lay thick on his tongue every time he spoke to Guy, every time he lied. And the threat of an arrow to the back made him twitch every time he entered the forest. Because even if Will and Djaq forgave him, he doubted very much if Little John ever would. And Robin had made it terribly clear that while forgiveness—however grudging—remained on the table, his trust was lost irrevocably.
And Allan had been so angry. He thought at first that he was angry with Robin, for not needing him, for leaving him with no options, for giving him no choice. But it hadn't been Robin's decision to sell out the gang for an empty promise and a few coins.
Then he thought he was angry with Guy, for using him, for torturing him into the deal, for using honey-covered words to poison him against his friends. But it hadn't been Guy's decision to listen to those words and let them fester in his mind like an open wound until betrayal was the only slave that would soothe the injury.
And when he realized his useless anger had only led him to fear and pain and more betrayal, he had returned. A dog shamed, his tail between his legs, slinking back to his former master, begging to be let back inside the warmth and comfort of his old home. And Robin had let him back in—forgiveness, he had been granted. But trust was harder to come by. And then Allan was angry with himself, for thinking that a few silver pennies could ever be brighter than the trust and friendship of the outlaws of Sherwood. And he had made a decision: to stand in Robin's shadow, to be content in the shade of a sun so bright that the shadow it cast glowed, too.
And life had been good, had almost returned to normal. But then his old decisions, his old mistakes came back and haunted him, and Tuck relayed the proclamation granting him pardon. And as he appealed to each friend before him, desperate to be believed—for once in his life, telling the truth—he grew angry again. Angry at himself for making that terrible mistake; angry at Robin for not trusting him when he had done so much to regain that trust; angry at John and Much for falling so easily into disbelief, for following Robin's lead and never having even the briefest thoughts or opinions of their own; angry at Kate for her blind faith in Robin; angry at Guy for saying nothing in his defense, for that smirk playing across his mouth, knowing that the ripples of what he had done were yet to fade into the wide water of the world. Angry at their decision to not trust him—their choice to leave him behind.
But no. It had been Allan's choices, his decisions that led him here, to this point, tied to a post in the camp he had never disclosed the location of. His horrible decisions that had led to those terrible expressions on his friends' faces. The hurt, the pain, and the grief etched onto each beloved face told Allan that this, his second betrayal—be it real or false—was far, far worse than the first. Because even if he were telling the truth, how could they ever be sure? How could they ever know?
The tide of anger had yet to subside as Allan worked the little knife out, and the ropes binding him fell away, John's strong knot still holding. As he collected his meager belongings, he muttered angry words that meant nothing. His knife went back up his sleeve; his sword slithered reassuringly into the scabbard hanging from his belt. He pocketed half a loaf of bread and a few strips of dried venison. He hesitated before taking a handful of coins as well. His brother's lucky dice were in his belt pouch, along with two of Will's best nails he'd lifted as a token by which to remember his best friend. He picked up his bow, slung his quiver over his shoulder, and made sure his tags were tucked under his shirt, secure on their leather thong around his neck. He took one last glance at the camp, his home, his refuge, before leaving forever. For he meant to not return.
He walked through the shade of the trees, their summer glory still crowning their green heads, away from Nottingham. His anger pulsed to the beat of his sorrows. They had left him behind, they didn't need him, they didn't want his help. Everything he was, all the reasons they didn't trust him pounded through his body with the unending refrain of his heartbeat: Allan the Thief, Allan the Liar, Allan the Traitor, Allan-a-Dale. Allan, who had lost the trust of all the men in the world he loved. His comrades. His brothers. His anger at his own stupidity raged on, and the shadows under the trees swallowed him up, as if he were part of their shade, a bit of darkness that might or might not exist.
The anger drained away as suddenly as a flash of lightning, and as quickly. The shock of seeing the army before him was too great, too awful to allow for anger. And the man leading it was dead. Allan blinked, as if to clear his sight, but when he opened his eyes, the dead man was still riding his white horse at the head of the massive snake winding it's way through the trees. His disbelief had still not dissipated when he stood and began to run, throwing his cumbersome bow and quiver aside. He ran toward Nottingham, toward his brothers, toward Robin, uncaring of their distrust, uncaring of their mistakes, and of his. He knew he had to warn them. He had to tell them of the man who had risen from Hell only to drag them all back with him. And that warning was the only thought his mind allowed him to think as he ran, ran, ran to Nottingham, to Robin.
When the first arrow's fletching scratched a line across his cheek, Allan ran faster. But not even in his desperation could he outrun every speeding arrow the Sheriff's men sent flying after him. He dodged and ducked and wove, and some of the trees protected him. But they were nearing the edge of Sherwood now; the road to Nottingham lay open before him, the trees were thinning, and there was no more cover.
Allan barely felt the first arrow that hit him, just under his right shoulder. It's force flung him forward, but he kept his feet under him, kept running. The second arrow hit just to the left of his spine, and he cried out as the cold iron pierced his flesh. He stumbled. A third arrow brought him to his knees before he fell forward. He struggled up, his fingers curling in the cool soil that was the root of Sherwood's strength, and his. A booted foot came down on his back, slamming him back into the ground, and he cried out again.
His cheek pressed into the fragrant leaf litter, still damp with last night's rain. The sweet scent of rot, the fragrance of Sherwood, of home filled his head and the green sunlight streaming through the summer leaves filled his vision, dizzying. He made no sound as the cruel steel of a sword slid between his ribs to finish what the arrows had begun. He turned his face toward the sunlight, still grasping at the rays he had never felt, trapped as he had always been in the shade. He reached for that sunlight, not to take it for himself, but to protect it from the oncoming storm of swords. Perhaps, he thought, his darkness could hide that brilliant sun as night covers day. Perhaps his final act in this shaded, traitorous life would be good.
Allan sighed out his last breath, deep in the gloom under the trees of Sherwood, but when his brothers burned his body in the courtyard of Nottingham, he stepped for the first time out of the shade and into the sun…