Author's Note: Well, here is my new fic that I can tell will take me forever to finish as I am constantly researching for it! *sigh* This is sort of a compiled fic based on the life and tales of Robin Hood. As you may have guessed, Heero Yuy will play the part of the Earl of Huntington, who is believed by many to actually have been the famous thief. Some characters you also may recognize as playing obvious roles such as Relena as Maid Marian and Quatre as Alan-a-Dale. Others will come totally from my imagination. The story itself is taken from a number of novels as well as my own unique twist of the life of Robin Hood, so you may recognize various parts as being from films or books, but I hope the overall impression is original. Please enjoy and if you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to voice them!
All Along the Watchtower
Spring of 1192
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England
It was harsher than she had expected, but then she supposed she would always see the gentle walls of Huntington Hall superimposed over the stark stone fortifications that the old Earl called a castle. It had been years since she had set foot in Huntington, and back then it had been a child's foot, pattering down the dimly lit hallways playing seek-and-find with a tousle-headed boy of nine. She smiled slightly at the memory and cast her eyes over the walls again, seeking the familiar comfort of something long ago. She didn't find it.
The Earl had done a fine job of erasing any memory of his dead wife. Nothing of her warm and gentle presence remained, even the tapestries on the walls were different, portraying distant battlefields in honor of the Earl's son, Sir Heero Yuy who had been knighted by the Coeur de Lion himself in the midst of war for valor. The whole castle reflected the effects of the Crusades, and Relena wondered if she would ever again feel comfortable there.
She had come today simple out of curiosity. The Earl had announced a great celebration in honor of his son's return from the sun-soaked battlefields in the east, with everything from a feast, to dancing, to a hunt on the marrow. Relena had no intention of staying that long, though she knew leaving early would require a great explanation to the Earl, but she really had no desire to spend any more time in the company of William de Gray, the Sheriff of Nottingham, than absolutely necessary. Just thinking of him brought a scowl to her lips before she cleared the expression away. He had long expressed interest in her, thinking his newly given power by Prince John made him more than a match for her. In reality, he was below her station as he had bought his nobility with his inheritance. She was the cousin of King Richard, and as such, had a title to uphold. Her family was well known in the Shire and, considering its connections to the royal house, was one of large influence. She had no desire to wed the Sheriff, and indeed, had no fear of it ever coming to pass. Her brother, Milliardo, was the only man with the power to give her hand in marriage, and he had long despised the power-hungry William. Short of an order from the King, she was safe from marriage, but not from his unwelcome advances.
"Good morning, my lady," he said, striding up to her and taking her hand. She inclined her head slightly as he kissed it, holding it a bit longer than custom demanded before dropping it with a smile. "How fare you on this lovely day?" William fell in beside her as she walked leisurely from room to room, nodding to other nobles that called greetings to them, and she restrained herself from frowning. She really wasn't in the mood to stomach his flattery, and she had promised Catherine a walk in the gardens later…
"I am quite curious to meet the acquaintance of Sir Yuy, my lord. Have you heard much about him?" she questioned, lifting her pale lavender skirts slightly as they stepped in the Great Hall. If any room fully proclaimed the changes the Earl had made, it was the Great Hall. The ceiling itself towered above the attending guests, strewn with banners depicting the gold stag of the House of Huntington. The impression was one of military strength and this time she did frown. Did the Crusades mar everything?
William seemed to notice her displeasure but did not ask of it. "I have not yet met the Earl's son, though I hear his valor at Acre* brought him to the attention of the Lion Heart himself." Relena nodded once, she had heard the same. She looked about quickly for the Earl and found him in conversation with a group of barons from the north, the timbre of their voices betraying the seriousness of their conversation. One she recognized as the Earl of Salisbury from his brief appearances at court, a blustery sort of fellow that loved his land and his hounds. What would Huntington be doing speaking conspiratorially with him? The sheriff was still talking, "…staying for the hunt, of course? I would be most delighted to escort you, if you would allow me."
Relena blinked, realizing William had asked her a question. "Oh, that is most gracious, my lord, but--"
"Think nothing of it, Relena, dear. It would be my pleasure." He kissed her hand again and smirked at her before striding off before she could say anything. She stared after him a moment, affronted at the lengths he went through to bother her, before shrugging slightly. He always knew just what to say to get a favorable reply. She could hardly deny him a perfectly harmless request, and he knew it. So much for bending to a lady's wishes.
"Sir Heero Yuy, Lord of Huntington," the announcer's voice rose above the quiet murmurs of the crowd as the door of the Hall opened and a tiny pathway opened among the onlookers. Relena found herself standing on tiptoe to get a better look as a young man strode into the room, his dark, unruly hair marking him immediately as the Earl's son. She could see little of him from her vantage point but she caught a flash of dark Prussian blue eyes and nodded to herself. He was still the same but, of course, taller and broader in the shoulders, with the lean muscles that came from hard sword work. He had clearly become a man while he was away and she wondered suddenly if he still remembered her. It had been years since they had played as children together. Did he still remember the times they had spent in the gardens, pretending to be lords and ladies of the manor?
Heero made his way through the crowd slowly, hardly speaking and offering only few words when spoken to directly. He seemed very aloof and apart, as if he considered himself very different from the gossiping nobles that crowded around him like vultures. Or perhaps uncomfortable was the right word. Whatever the case, he finally reached his father you clapped his arm, his craggy face beaming and he introduced his son again. The nobles clapped lightly and began moving forward in hopes to speak with the young knight. Relena moved forward with the rest but was pulled to the side suddenly by an insistent hand on her arm.
"My, how the young lordling has grown," a voice piped in her ear, and she turned to meet the icy blue eyes of Dorothy de Gray, the Sheriff of Nottingham's daughter. Bastard daughter, some said. She was dressed in a slimming gown of blue satin with a fine layer of transparent silk georgette flowing over it with satin sleeves of puffed georgette to match. She wore a pretty necklet of glowing blue stones and a pair of silver slippers on her feet. Her long sunflower hair was immodestly draped over her shoulders instead of pulled away from her face, and Dorothy smirked at Relena's disapproving expression. Dorothy had a somewhat loose reputation among the young gentlemen of the Shire with rumors constantly circulating of her many exploits, none of which she confirmed, or course. Her father barely spoke to her, too busy finding someone to marry her off to, and so Dorothy constantly paraded herself, hoping for his attention. Unfortunately, she cared little for what people thought of her, and Relena knew for a fact that the girl was no virgin. What the sheriff would say to that if he knew, Relena did not want to know.
"Dorothy," Relena replied, nodding in greeting, "Do you know Sir Yuy?"
"No," the other woman purred, "but I plan to." She glanced at Relena. "I see you and my father have already spoken, I suppose he wants to spend the day with you." Dorothy's voice had a sharp edge, representative of the jealousy she harbored towards her father's relationships. Relena shook her head, all she wanted to do was to be rid of the older man, but Dorothy would never believe that. To her, her father's attention was everything.
"You have an interest in him?" Relena asked instead, nodding to the dark haired young man. Dorothy tilted her head, her raptor gaze settling on Heero.
"He's handsome enough, perhaps Father will arrange something."
"Perhaps," Relena replied, and then pulled herself away, "I must go and welcome him back. Care to join me?"
Dorothy shook her head, smiling secretly to herself. "I'll see him later." She gave a little wave. "Have fun."
Relena turned away and moved forward again, exchanging smiles with a few acquaintances. The closer she got to the front of line, the more nervous she became, without knowing why. After all, it was not as if she had never spoken to him before. It was just that he had never looked so…lost, before.
Steeling herself, she gathered her courage and stepped forward.
* * * *
Heero Yuy was bored.
He had returned to England to find it the same as when he had left. The same chattering, fickle people he had met a dozen times before. What was worse, was that after months in the hot, sweltering heat of Israel, the cold, damp weather of England had left him feeling somewhat off.
The war had changed him. He was not the same, naïve young man who had left with such high ideals. He had seen things that still haunted his nightmares, and sometimes came to him even in the daylight. The Crusades would never leave him, and he wondered if he would have survived if he had stayed.
A serious sword wound to his chest had sent him away from the battle front and into the care of the best physicians his father could buy. He still bore the scar of their haste, thinking to send him back to the front as one of Richard's most trusted men, but his father had pleaded that he be sent home as Heero was his only heir, and the King had agreed, providing that Heero wanted to go.
Looking back on his decision, he regretted it. Everywhere he turned he found himself comparing it with Israel and he seemed to find himself in two places, as two people, his memories all tangled in the fury of war.
And then he looked into her eyes.
They were a beautiful sky blue with hints of lavender brought out by the color of her dress. She was wearing a gown of crushed ivory velvet with an inner paneling of pale purple silk covered with a layer of fine lace. Her hair was pulled back in an array of curls with a strand of amethyst pulled through them, glinting when she moved her head. A few tendril framed a face almost faerie like in its loveliness, and he found himself looking hard at her, something about her pulling at him. Who was she?
She blushed under his gaze but held his eyes proudly. "Hello, Sir Yuy. Welcome back to England."
Behind him, his father supplied her name in a low whisper, causing him to blink.
"Lady Darlian," he said, and then stiffened as his eyes showed him a place faraway, in a land she would never see.
The sun beat down on them mercilessly, burning tree, leaf, and the very souls of the soldiers that fought across the sands. Battle cries and screams filled the air, but he could hear only his own grunts and cries as he surged forward, sword raised and dripping with the blood of infidels. Acre stood before him, the city silent now behind the walls that had fallen under Richard's siege. As always, he could hear the helpless cries of the women as they were raped in the streets by desperate soldiers. They were all desperate now, desperate to end the madness that had taken all of them in this war of death.
"Taa'la hena, Heero!" Peter Darlian shouted from in front of him, his unit trying to get to where Richard's banner was still raised above the fighting. "Tah al!"
"Roah," he shouted back, the Arabic that had been so hard to learn, slipping easily from his tongue. Peter went ahead and he followed, his sword cutting through Saracens as he went. He was only a few feet from the unit when he heard Peter scream. Heero turned abruptly, just in time to see a Saracen cleave Peter's head from his body with a single deadly arc of his sword. Stunned, Heero could not move, not think. Peter had taken the position Heero was suppose to occupy, it was suppose to have been him…
He raised one hand to the letter slipped under the layers of his armor and raised his sword to the sky, tears of anger slipping down his face.
"For England and the Lionheart!"
Relena was standing close to him, her hand on his arm, her eyes full of concern. Her face…Peter's face, looked up at him, innocent, and he had to step away. He did not deserve her comfort, could not let himself be comforted by her. It should have been him…
Her hand fell to her side and he could see the hurt in her eyes at his sudden withdrawal. Feeling cold and hot all at once, he withdrew the letter he had carried all the way from the holy lands and offered it to her.
"From your father, my lady."
She breathed out quietly and took it from him, tears glinting at the corner of her eyes though she did not cry. For a moment, he was further confused by an image of her as a young girl, running in a garden, laughing with him. Could this woman really be the little girl had played with as a child?
She held the letter calmly in slim fingers and inclined her head to him. "Thank you," she said, before disappearing into the crowd again, leaving him still confused and wondering just what the Crusades had done to him.
* * * *
*The Battle of Acre where Richard conquered the city and later slew 2700 Muslim prisoners on his way to Jerusalem.
Taal'la hena = Come with me
Tah al = Come
Roah = Go!