Disclaimer: really? Okay fine, it's not mine.
A/N: "What's this?" I hear you say. Or perhaps the voices in my head are becoming too loud again…but yes, dear readers, there is not only a brand new story up on my page today, there is even a new chapter to this one! The story does however remain on hiatus, I'm on a RH roll at the moment but I'm not expecting it to last :/ This is set the day Fanny and all the others come into camp, sort of just after Will gets shot through the hand *shakes fist at Robin*
As always please enjoy and review - whether you liked it or not.
Seven children and a lifetime's hard toil, now they would be reduced to living as outlaws. In her mind's eye, she kept returning to the day she had returned home from the fields to find a notice upon her cottage door. She didn't need to be able to read to know what it said. John had left before the sun had set. In the months that followed, she found herself wondering if she could ever have had a different life or if it was truly God's plan for her to spend her days hungry, cold and surrounded by children that never stopped crying for their father. Part of her wanted to blame her husband; he hadn't provided enough, hadn't worked hard enough, hadn't been enough. If he had only put in more hours on the land, or if he had chosen a better trade perhaps they could still be in their little cottage – overcrowded and still poor but in a home and not some shack that like as not would collapse in the wake of the slightest storm.
She understood however, that it was not John's fault. It was only a matter of time, from the first man who was dragged away by soldiers for 'tax evasion', before her husband and that of all whom she knew would be driven out or else arrested. It was in some small part, a relief when John left. He was no longer at risk of being ripped from his bed and set upon in the street by soldiers as other men had been. It was near impossible however, to see their village – their home – as little more than a reminder that wherever her husband was, he was not at her side as he should have been. There was the meadow behind John's cottage where he had picked flowers for her as a brash boy of fifteen who stammered as he held out his wilted offering. The house that she had grown up in, where her father had, on his deathbed, given John his blessing to wed Fanny despite having long since told her he could think of no better man for her. Also in her Father's house, the bed where their first, ill-fated babe was conceived on their wedding night nearly four years years before Wulf was born. Everywhere she went, reminders of happier times where there was food on the table and a husband in her bed. She had despised them after John had gone, now she realised she may never see those places again. It made her desperately unhappy.
She thought back to when they had arrived in the camp, how happy she had been to see John. Her John. And Wulf – her little boy alive and looking no worse for wear than his siblings, she had hardly dared to hope for as much! She had felt John's eyes on her as she sought the final figure, she knew she should be satisfied – her husband AND her son, alive! – but there was still a part of her that prayed she'd see him. Finally, John had gestured one paw-like hand and she had seen him. She had wanted to weep and thank the Lord and hold her all loved ones to her but now it seemed her loved ones were splintering.
She had heard the stories of Robin of the Hood, of course. Every village in the county had some tale of his exploits – he was to be admired, she was sure, but any good opinion she had of him was shattered the moment he had accused Will Scarlett of being a coward. Deep inside of her, she could neither dislike nor distrust this man – her husband seemed to have conceded his role as leader to Robin and he clearly liked the man; that was good enough for her. But not disliking him did not mean she liked him, besides which, calling a man a coward was one thing but deliberately wounding him in front of so many others was something else. True, she had been shocked and appalled that Will would go so low as to attack from behind without engaging the other man in a fight but surely – ? She could not, in all honesty, think that Robin had overreacted. He had reacted to an unknown foe based solely on Wulf's warning, had it been John, he would likely have attacked with just as much ferocity. And, she conceded to herself, Will's actions had been out of vanity and hurt-pride, nothing more. Robin had called him a coward and he was trying to prove it was not true…or perhaps he simply wanted revenge and damn his image.
Had Robin not wounded him and were the boy perhaps three years younger, she would have thrashed him soundly for his actions. As it was, the pain and humiliation of it all would be punishment enough for Will. Had Robin been uncaring or even proud of what he had done, she would have found it far easier to hate the man for what he had done; as it was, he thus far seemed regretful to the point of true concern, which was more than could be said for her husband.
She could stay angry with John until the Rapture. She would do, if he didn't hurry up and apologise for being so cruel – really! She knew John and Will had their disagreements but they had known each other since Will was a babe! She thought of Will and his poor dead mother and of the nights when he would appear at their door, silent except for hiccupping sobs that wracked his tiny frame. John would scowl and stomp about for the rest of the night, muttering about nobleman husbands and demanding of her which of their children she would allow to go hungry before Anne Scarlett's boy did. Then she thought of the nights when John would go to bed and to work the next morning empty-bellied because for all his frowning and harsh words, that boy had never shown up on their doorstep and not been fed.
She fell to the bedroll the that night exhausted and wanting only sleep for a hundred years, when John joined her. Her ill-will towards him had waned and it had been so long since she had last been able to look into his eyes and feel his strong arms around her and suddenly she knew that she would live anywhere, do anything and disregard a thousand wrongdoings if she could just stay by his side. To the end.