Sorry for the wait. I've been really ill :)
"I don't understand."
"You must go," her father said solemnly to Marian. "It is the sheriff's wish that you do, he seems to think that you will be more safe at the castle."
"Safe from what?" she asked.
"There is band of outlaws on the loose Marian, and we do not know what they capable of," he said gravely.
"Father," she said, her voice dropping to no more than a whisper. "It's just Robin."
"That is neither here nor there, and it is not my decision at all, I would much rather you stay here. But the sheriff is doing this for your protection. You must go," his face and voice all but shouted his displeasure, but he knew as well as Marian that she had no choice but to go.
"This is utterly ridiculous," she said.
But within a few hours she was riding to Nottingham. She had insisted that a carriage was not sent to fetch her, she wanted her horse to be at the castle with her, in case she had to leave at short notice. She reached the castle without intervention and was met at the gates.
"Good afternoon, my lady," Guy of Gisbourne said holding out his hand to assist her down from her horse.
"Sir Guy," she said curtly. "Which room will I staying in whilst I am here?"
"I have been informed my lady, that you will be residing in the bedroom which was once your own," he said.
"Very well, I have only brought a few things, I shall take them there myself," she said, authoritatively.
"The sheriff wishes to speak to you on your arrival," he said.
"Then I shall visit him as soon as I am done," she said, walking away from him.
She knew this castle probably more than anyone else, she doubted even the sheriff knew all of the secret corridors. She hastily found her old room and placed her small bag of things on the table near the door. On the bed was a white dress, with a simple note.
It is not seemly to wear ones travelling clothes for the rest of the day,
She rolled her eyes, and quickly put on the dress, taking in how her room had changed since she was last here. The answer was, not a lot. It still looked exactly the same. That unnerved Marian.
She went quickly downstairs to the chamber where the sheriff would be at this time of day. She knocked on the door, and heard a call from inside. She walked inside the large room, and curtseyed. "Sheriff." she said. "You wished to see me."
"Yes, yes, Lady Marian, come in, come in. Sit," he said, oily. She obliged and took the chair he had been gesturing to. "Now Lady Marian, we have a predicament."
"What do you mean Sheriff?" she asked.
"Well, your former fiancé is on the run as an outlaw," he said, almost jubilantly.
"I have heard," Marian said in a nonchalantly.
"Does this not... bother you?" he asked, curiously.
"Of course it bothers me Sheriff," she said calmly. "My name has been besmirched merely by an association I once had with him."
"I see," the sheriff said, obviously hoping for a different answer. "So he was indeed you were engaged to me married, I thought the rumours may have been false."
"I was indeed Sheriff, I was betrothed to him since my birth," she said stiffly. "I can assure I held nothing but indifference toward him before he even left for the Holy Land."
"So it was your father's decision?" he asked, trying to draw out information from her.
"It was yes, but when Robin of Locksley was younger he would have made quite a suitable Earl, unfortunately the power went to his head, and he went of to the Holy Land, seeking glory. War changed him. He is no longer fit to be a noble, as of course he has proved by his recent antics. Do not think worse of my father, he made a good decision all those years ago, he could not tell what Locksley would become." The sheriff surveyed her for a second, apparently judging her certainty and resolve.
He seemed satisfied.
"Is that all you wished to speak to me about Sheriff?" she asked.
"No, about the matter of you staying in the castle-"
"Sheriff I assure you that it is not necessary for me to remain here in the slightest, my father's home is secure and his men are able," she interrupted, trying to change his mind. The sheriff grinned, and looked at her with an eyebrow raised.
"Alas Lady Marian, it is not at my will you are here," he said.
"But you are the one who summoned me, are you not?" she asked, confused.
"Well yes," he agreed with a shrug. "However purely for the luxury of a bit of peace."
"Whatever do you mean?" she asked with a frown.
"Sir Guy has... pestered me. I did at first contemplating forbidding it, but he would would only whine, and mope over your safety. Anything for a quiet life." Marian sighed, and closed her eyes briefly. That man was becoming more of a hindrance to her every time he opened his mouth.
"Very well," she sighed. "I assume I will be required to remain here until the outlaws are apprehended?"
"It will not be much longer Lady Marian, I have my best men on the case," the sheriff said.
"I do not doubt it, Sheriff though I do ask if, just encase some unforeseeable problem causes the delayed capture of the outlaws, I may be allowed to return to my father's home to collect some more of my belongings."
"What on earth could you need?" he asked.
"I shall have them provided for you, the more freedom you are allowed the more Gisbourne will sulk around and not do his job," he said irritably.
"Am I not allowed to leave the castle?" she asked, feathers ruffled.
"That you can discuss with Gisborune, it holds none of my interest," he said waving a hand dismissively.
"Very well Sheriff, I will do just that," she said, courtesying. "Thank you for your time."
"Sir Guy?" Marian said softly from the door of the stable.
"Marian," he replied in surprise, having just dismounted from his horse. "What are you doing out here?"
"I came to find you," Marian said sweetly, although she felt like slapping him for planning to keep in her the castle, a prisoner in its walls. Well... a prisoner with an exceptionally large and comfortable cell. But a prisoner none the less. "I just spoke with the sheriff..." she started, flattening down her dress, noticing how his eyes followed the path her hands took. "How long am I to stay here Sir Guy, my father is elderly, he cannot stay for long in the estate by himself." She lied, her voice laced with false concern. She knew her father was perfectly able to take of himself. "I am worried for him." Guy's eyes snapped back up to her face.
"It's not safe Marian," he said, looking her in the eyes. She walked slowly toward him.
"You don't know that Sir Guy... I don't expect to you to let me return just yet. That would be imprudent, but if the outlaws make no sign of an attack on Knightley, if they are not interested in me at all... may I return?" Guy's forehead furrowed. "I am sure your team will catch them very soon of course, but in case something happens..."
Guy looked at her contemplatively. "In one month. If nothing happens to make me fear for your safety, you may go."
"Sir Guy..." Marian said, resting her hand on his arm. "This is not something I am proud of, but I know Locksley, I knew him, should I say. And when I knew him, he was rash, impulsive, unthinking. Things like that stay with a man forever, if he wishes to get to me at all. It will happen very soon, he is not one to mull things over. I assure you."
"A fortnight," Guy said sharply. Marian inwardly groaned, a fortnight was a long time, but she felt it was the best she was likely to get.
"Thank you Sir Guy, you have put my mind at rest over my father's condition," she said with a forced smile. Guy failed to notice how it did not reach her eyes. "Within that fortnight Sir Guy, the sheriff mention you might wish me to stay in the castle-"
"Well I can't let you wander around through the countryside, it would defeat the object entirely," he interrupted.
"I quite understand," she said soothingly. "I ask only that I be allowed to walk in Nottingham, it's quite safe there. No outlaw would dare infiltrate the walls, and if they were so insensible they would be cut down in a heartbeat by your men." Guy bit his lip, and Marian looked at him with pleading eyes.
"Very well," he said curtly. "I shall assign two men as your bodyguards however."
"Sir Guy-" she started, but was interrupted.
"It will set my mind at ease Marian."
"Don't you need them for the outlaws?" she asked.
"Two men can be spared for matter of your safety, it is very important to me," he said, almost softly. Marian swallowed uncomfortably.
"Thank you Sir Guy, I greatly appreciate your kindness," she said courtesying slightly.