Guy felt uncomfortable as he watched the ceremony below. The last time he had witnessed a marriage, the woman he once believed to be the love of his life was being given away…but not to him. To Robin Hood. Robin and he would always be in competition it would seem. But in this case…Robin was the winner. He squinted his eyes so he could see more clearly. It appeared to be the Locksley boy…Will, if he remembered correctly, and that Saracen woman, who were being married. Robin was performing the ceremony of course, with Marian standing close at his side, her hands protectively cradling her stomach. Guy winced slightly at the thought of her carrying Hood's child. It seemed to make their union more permanent.
He had suspected that she was with child when they had danced together at the castle…the gown John had chosen for her to wear didn't leave much to the imagination, although the small bump showing was very slight. Hadn't he memorized Marian's silhouette? He had been so obsessed with her that even her form was forever imprinted in his mind. His suspicions about her condition had been confirmed when he had planted both of his hands around her waist and placed her on the wagon. There was no mistaking the bulge around her middle.
"So, this is my son's gang?"
Guy blinked and reluctantly turned to Malcolm. "Yes."
"Are they members of his gang…the couple who is being married?"
"Yes," Guy gruffly responded.
They continued to remain hidden as they watched the rest of the ceremony until it came to a close, with Will kissing his bride.
"Ridiculous," Guy scoffed.
"The boy…marrying a Saracen. It's unheard of."
"From where I'm standing, that boy looks more like a man. And she's quite a pretty girl."
"Like father…like son," Guy murmured, shaking his head. "Well, I suppose we should get this over with," he said reluctantly, crossing his arms over his chest.
"No…wait," Malcolm urged, grasping for Guy's sleeve. Guy instantly pulled away.
"Don't touch me, old man. This was your idea, not mine."
"I want to meet my son in private. But not now…later, tonight."
"You are in no position to negotiate with me."
"Please…I'm begging you," Malcolm said, a trace of desperation in his voice. "It would be easier if you brought Robin to me in private."
Guy raised his eyebrows. "You expect Hood to believe that I happened across his long-lost father out in the woods? No, you're coming with me."
"I c-can't," Malcolm stuttered. He looked as if he was on the verge of tears. Guy realized just how old and worn he looked at the moment, as if the weight of the world was on his shoulders.
"Why, because you're too weak? Too much of a coward to face what you've done?"
"No…just…please…bring him to me."
"You've ruined so many lives…" Guy continued, his anger beginning to take hold, refusing to let go.
"I know I am unworthy of your help…much less your pity. But I am asking you just this one thing…to bring my son to me. You both deserve the truth."
"For all I know you could be lying to me."
"Yes, I could be."
Glancing back toward the camp at the happy gang, who were caught up in congratulating the newlyweds, Guy was torn. Torn between simply walking away from all the pain the past brought, or staying and discovering Malcolm's secret. Perhaps he would finally find the peace he had been searching for all of these years, but somehow he doubted it.
He had sought it out so many times in his life. He had foolishly felt he could redeem himself by marrying Marian, thinking she could wipe him clean of his many crimes. But he was slowly beginning to realize that no person, no matter how pure, could truly save him from himself.
"Fine," he agreed, surprising even himself. "We'll wait until they've gone to sleep."
"You won't regret this," Malcolm said, the relief apparent on his scarred face.
"Congratulations to you both," Robin said warmly as he hugged Will and Djaq. The two were beaming, and rightly so.
"Thank you, Robin. The ceremony was perfect," Djaq said as she linked arms with her new husband.
"Yes, thank you for everything, Robin," Will repeated.
Robin watched as they walked off, arm-in-arm, looking blissfully happy.
"That was us a few months ago," he heard Marian say as she sidled up to him, her hand brushing his arm.
"Yes, it was. And look how much has changed since then," Robin said, grinning as his eyes shifted to her midsection.
"You don't have to remind me," she chuckled as her hand instinctively found its way to her stomach.
Robin pulled her closer. "Do you think you're up for some dancing tonight?"
"Yes, apparently Much thinks we need to end this night with some entertainment."
"Who will play the music?"
"That's the best part—he will."
"He can't play! You're teasing."
"No, I swear I'm not! He claims he can play the lute."
"Are you sure that's not because Will crafted one for him?"
"Maybe he's been practicing," Robin said, winking impishly.
"This I'll have to see with my own eyes."
"Much, I cannot dance!" Djaq pleaded as she sent an imploring look to Will, who merely shrugged.
"What? You danced over in your country, surely!"
"Yes, but I was never good at it. Besides, our dances are different. Please, do not make me."
"Oh come on, it might be fun," Will said.
"You can dance?" Djaq asked skeptically.
"Well…no. I mean I've had some practice...during special occasions in Locksley. But it's our wedding—let's enjoy it."
"Oh, alright," she huffed, a flush creeping into her cheeks.
"Wonderful!" Much gushed. "Alright, time to pair everyone up. "Will and Djaq, of course….Robin and Marian...errrrr oh." Much's head shot up. "Marian, are you….errrr….able to….ummmm….dance?"
Marian rolled her eyes. "I'm not an invalid, Much."
"Quite right. Good, very good. Well then…oh…" Much trailed off again, his eyes widening as if he just realized something important.
"What?" Allan asked.
"Umm, it looks like we have more men than ladies."
"Yeah, obviously," Allan said snidely. "But you can count me out anyway…I'm not doin' any dancin'."
"John…Carter? Surely one of you men would like to dance? Elizabeth needs a partner."
Beth quickly spoke up. "Oh no, really…I don't think I'll dance either."
John scowled. "You know what my answer is. I'm not tip-toeing around like a fool."
Carter was more agreeable. "I don't object to it. Although I can't say I'm much of a dancing man myself." He turned to Beth and grinned. "I'll dance if you do."
"Oh, very well. I suppose we'll all have to be terrible together."
"Good, very good," Much repeated enthusiastically as he lined everyone up.
"What dance is this?" Marian asked.
"A line dance, of course!" Much said as if she had asked an absurd question.
"I know that, but which one?"
"Oh...um…well. There's more than one?" he asked haltingly.
"Yes, but perhaps we should do a more basic one to start off with. I think everyone here has learned the Black Nag."
"I have not," Djaq said, a panicked look on her face.
Will smiled reassuringly. "I think I know that one…it's easy to learn."
"Well, then. The Black Nag it is!" Much stated confidently as began playing the stringed instrument.
What followed during the next few minutes looked (or sounded) nothing like the dance it was supposed to be, but the important thing was that they all enjoyed themselves. Even John and Allan were supportive as they clapped along to the music, although Allan winced and eyed Much skeptically a few times. He also found himself staring at Beth and Carter, feeling an irrational surge of jealousy, and not liking himself for it one bit.
When the song ended, Djaq laughed, out of breath. "That was the most ridiculous thing I've ever done! Another one?"
"So much for not wanting to dance!" said Will.
Much excitedly obliged and played another tune, this one slower. Not being familiar with the dance, Carter excused himself, and Beth did as well.
Allan watched as Beth ambled over to the side and observed the other dancers fumble through the steps. Clearing his throat, he walked over, not really sure what he was even doing.
Beth jumped slightly and glanced over. "Oh, I didn't even see you there."
"Terrible, in't he?" Allan said, pointing over to Much.
Beth laughed. "Poor Much. He tries so hard."
"Too hard if you ask me," Allan chuckled, crossing his arms.
They continued to watch as the song came to a close, and Much insisted on playing another, this time a jig.
Marian threw up her hands. "I'll have to sit out for this one."
Much looked disappointed. "But we can't have just Will and Djaq dancing!" Much continued to ramble.
"How about it?" Allan suddenly asked Beth.
"Er…how 'bout a dance?" Allan repeated, looking rather awkward at the moment. "Only if you want to…I'm really no good at it. Just thought you might—"
"I'd love to," Beth answered.
Allan grinned from ear to ear as they stood across from each other by Will and Djaq. This was a perfect dance for Allan, since it was a lively one, but Beth still couldn't resist laughing when he messed up a few steps.
"Oi! Haven't had as much practice as you!"
"You're a terrible dancer!" she continued to tease.
"It's just because we have a terrible musician…"
"Leave Much alone!" she said, laughing as Allan made up his own version of the dance again.
"You really are a terrible dancer, Allan," Will teased.
"Never claimed to be a good one," Allan said, shrugging.
As the dance came to a close, everyone decided to take a break.
Beth fanned herself. "I think I need something to drink! I can't remember a time I've had more fun, even if you did step on my foot."
"Oi! It was an accident! Besides, you've got big feet."
"What? I have not!"
"I'm just sayin'…."
"Oh…you." Beth playfully ribbed him in the side.
Maybe it was the twilight playing funny tricks on his eyes, but Allan was certain that Beth looked even more beautiful with the soft light from the fire playing around her face. And he liked her hair loose, the waves falling freely down her back. If he wasn't mistaken, she was starting to adjust to the forest life.
"What is it?"
Allan jumped, realizing he had been staring for far too long.
"Er, wha' is wha'?"
"You were looking at me strange…"
"Was I? Well…it's because…" his eyes lit up as he realized he had a way out of this one. "You've got a tiny leaf in your hair," he said, pulling it out.
"Oh. I hope it wasn't there all night. I must look a sight," she said self-consciously, smoothing her hair down.
"Yeah, you do," Allan said, his voice surprisingly tender. For once, Beth couldn't think of a thing to say.
"Time to dance again!" Much called out, interrupting their little moment.
Allan groaned. "Much…"
Beth laughed. "I suppose we ought to humor him. Come on."
The festivities continued throughout the night, with Much attempting to get the gang dancing any chance he could take. By the time everyone had retired for the night, it was well into the early hours of the morning. Robin settled into bed beside Marian, who had gone to sleep earlier. Just as he was beginning to get comfortable, he could have sworn he heard someone whisper his name.
No, he was just exhausted.
There it was again, but this time louder. He bolted up and scanned the tiny room. He reached for his sword and stepped out of bed, being careful not to wake Marian. Cautiously, he opened the door and stepped out, looking from side to side.
"Finally. I thought your merry-making would never end."
Instantly, Robin turned and held up his sword, only to find Gisborne standing there, a cross expression on his face.
So, this turned out to be a longer chapter than usual. I hope you had fun reading this one! I enjoyed writing the dancing scene...I think it's good to have something light every now and then. Especially since the show had a lot of fun moments. And what does everyone think of Allan and Beth? :)
Also, I tried to research dancing during the medieval ages as best as I could. I'm pretty sure the lute is the instrument Will makes for Much, you know...the one that looks like a guitar. But someone please mistake me if I'm wrong! Thanks again for the reviews and support on this story everyone. I really enjoy reading your reviews and getting feedback. It means so much to me.