Dislcaimer: Property of Warner Brothers (apparently, I thought it was Disney tbh.)

A/N: Thank you as always to Ihni for reading this over several times for me and to JemLou this time as well.

Set immediately after the scene in the film where Robin shoots Will through the hand and Will runs off to lick his wounds in private.


Dropping to his knees by the stream, unmindful of the muddy ground beneath him, the young man examined his hand carefully. It looked as if it would be easy enough to remove if he could just…He yelped as even the slight movement of his gripping the shaft reignited the pain, making him feel as if his hand was on fire. It was pain the likes of which he had never known and he considered himself to be something of an expert in being wounded in fights. Willing away the tears that had sprung unbidden into his eyes, he sat back on his haunches weighing up his options. He knew it would have to be drawn out but if that pain was just from him touching the damn thing, he shuddered at the thought of ripping it from its place. Steeling himself, he fingered the offending object lightly, whimpering as he gave it an experimental nudge further through his palm.

"Do not remove it."

The heavily accented voice broke through the younger man's pain-filled thoughts. "It will bleed all the more if you do."

Will paused, uninjured hand once more cradling his injured one as he turned to face the Moor. "And what do you suggest? Am I supposed to just leave it in?" he spat. Scoffing, he turned back to the stream and plunged his hand into the icy waters, gasping at the temperature.

They were both silent except for Will's occasional shuddering breaths as his hand throbbed. Somewhat puzzled, Azeem moved forward hesitantly to sit next to him, watching the younger man bite his lip to keep from crying out as the bitterly cold water burned and then numbed his hand. After many minutes of Azeem silently observing Will and during which the young man occasionally darted wary looks towards the Moor, Will withdrew his hand.

Will grasped the shaft of the arrow and wiggled it experimentally, still darting nervous looks at Azeem. Apparently satisfied at the feeling (or lack of) in his hand, Will swallowed apprehensively before gripping the arrow tighter and preparing to pull it out the way it had gone in.

"Do not!" exclaimed Azeem, reaching out and grabbing the boy's uninjured arm, horrified as he realised what the boy had intended to do. Will jumped at the other man's action, glaring cautiously at him. "Do not," the man repeated, far more calmly.

Giving a harsh sigh, Will shook himself free, edging away from the older man. "It has to come out," he stated determinedly, still watching Azeem apprehensively.

"It will," Azeem assured him. "Come with me."

Will scowled at the man but to no avail, the Moor simply stood and watched him, waiting for him to stand also. "Come," the man repeated more forcefully.

Unsure as to why, but for once doing as he was told, Will stood and followed as Azeem began walking away.


"Wait here," Azeem commanded as they neared the fire. He paused at his hut to make sure Will did as he asked before ducking into it. Will glanced apprehensively about him and, seeing that the sleeping area was deserted, lowered himself to a log. Emerging from the hut with a small pouch in his hand, Azeem seated himself next to Will. "Give me your knife."

Will's face flushed angrily and he glared.

"Ah, of course," Azeem said, realising his mistake, "Forgive me, I did not think." He paused, then continued, eyes narrowed appraisingly. "Although, you have a certain reputation for bearing more than one."

Will could not deny that. Scowling, he bent and removed his dagger from where it was concealed inside his boot. Making as if to hand it over, he paused, eyes suddenly wide. "Why? What will you do with it?"

Smiling slightly, Azeem held his hand out. "I am indebted to the Christian, it is true; but I will not seek revenge upon those on whom he has already taken it." Will looked slightly less fearful at his words but still made no move to give the knife to him. "I will do no greater harm than has already been done."

Will begrudgingly handed the weapon over and, though he still looked suspicious, allowed the Moor to take his wounded hand in both of his as he examined it. Nodding to himself, Azeem placed the weapon on the ground, its blade in the flames.

"The arrow must be broken," Azeem informed Will calmly, "Only then can it removed without greater damage." He glanced up at Will's face searchingly. Will nodded slightly to show he understood as Azeem returned his gaze to the arrow and grasped it in both hands, preparing to snap the end off. "I will be as gentle as possible." he added without looking up.

Will gritted his teeth to keep from yelping as the thin wood suddenly gave way, tugging at the neat hole it had made. He was not so proud as to pretend that he could have done that himself – it had taken Azeem some strength to do it with two hands let alone one. Still, he watched in morbid fascination as Azeem slowly, painstakingly withdrew the two ends from either side of his hand. His eyes followed the pieces to where Azeem left them, coated in Will's blood on the ground.

"Why did you do that?" Will asked, finding his voice once more. He winced as the Moor poured some of John's strong ale into the wound – it was painful but not unexpected.

"Before an arrow is withdrawn, the tip must be removed," Azeem answered patiently, now grasping Will's arm and raising it to above the boy's head to reduce the bleeding. Will nodded, then frowned thoughtfully.

"When I shoot a deer, I don't rem –"

"Because you do not care what further damage is done to it," Azeem interrupted, "had you removed this the way you intended, you would have known why the poor beasts struggle." Having no answer to that, Will began to eye the now near red-hot knife. Following his gaze, Azeem said conversationally, "In my country, a jailor removes the hand of a thief with a burning blade – a fate that almost befell the Christian and his friend," Will's eyes widened fearfully and he instinctively tried to retract his arm from Azeem's grip. "The heat," Azeem continued, looking sympathetic but ignoring the young man's struggling, "seals the wound so that sometimes the wound does not become infected."

"Sometimes?"

Azeem smiled grimly, "Their wound is severe; they lose a limb for their crime."

Will seemed to consider this, then: "I'm not a thief," he protested half-heartedly.

"Perhaps not, but you have received a lesser wound for a far greater crime!" Azeem said, suddenly sounding sharp. "To take the life of another man is an affront to Allah, and that is not dealt with so lightly."

"Wasn't gonna kill him," Will muttered angrily under his breath, though he avoided Azeem's eye.

"You attacked downwind," Azeem pointed out unbendingly, though he was gentle as he lowered Will's arm and reached for the now heated blade, "What did you expect would come of it?" Will did not reply; Azeem had not expected him to.

Their attention was drawn by the appearance of many of the newly arrived villagers and their families – among them John and Robin, who stopped on seeing them. Will flushed, half from embarrassment and half from fury and looked away. Robin recovered himself and nodded his thanks to Azeem, who inclined his head. Azeem saw Bull among the crowd, he seemed to be telling one of his obscene stories to John and his newly arrived wife. All three paused and glanced over at Azeem and Will. Turning to Will, Azeem gestured towards the injured hand with the knife. "Can you bear it?" he asked kindly, weighing up who would be best should the boy need to be restrained.

Gulping, but determined not to be shown up in public again because of Robin, Will nodded, closing his eyes tightly. "Just do it."

Azeem was impressed. He had seen grown men reduced to sobbing, vomiting messes whilst having their wounds cauterised but here sat a mere boy, who, except for a few gasping sobs endured it in silence. Whether out of true bravery or sheer bloody-mindedness, it was unclear. Will trembled with the effort to keep from crying out, his breathing ragged – every instinct in him screaming to get away from this agony! He barely noticed as the blade was removed or as Azeem replaced it in the flames, leaning over and placing his hands on Will's shoulders as Will cradled his hand in his uninjured one, sobbing silently.

"It is almost done. It will be over soon." Azeem said quietly.

"Almost?" Will cried, his face tinged slightly green.

"Both wounds must be sealed or the bleeding will continue – the risk of contamination will be severe!" Azeem explained earnestly. He found himself genuinely sorry to have to put the boy through the procedure again. Azeem looked away from Will as John's wife staggered up to them, she looked exhausted – not to mention heavily pregnant.

Lost in the pain, Will did not notice her arrival until a hand was rested upon his head. Startled, he turned to see who it was, and upon recognition he let out another strangled sob before turning his back to her and covering his face with his uninjured hand.

"Now then, Will Scarlett," she said firmly, her hands now on her ample hips, "you've brought this on yourself you know. What have you been told about picking fights you can't finish? You deserve this and a lot more for what you've done today."

Suddenly finding himself on his feet facing the woman, Will felt his temper rise again despite the pain, and despite his feelings on seeing her again. What he meant to say was that if it hadn't been for Wulf, the fight might well have been over with that one strike and that he hadn't brought this on himself actually, that her son and Locksley had brought it on him and that he couldn't care less what she thought he deserved.

What he actually said, in a half choked whisper was "Fanny."

Truly, if he hadn't caught sight of Robin and John at that moment, both of them shooting looks towards him – the former looking almost concerned, the latter looking absolutely furious – he might well have thrown his arms around her (injury and pride be damned!) and begged her forgiveness as he used to. As it was, the sight of them was enough to make him simultaneously cowed and irate. As such he threw himself back down, forced his trademark arrogance back onto his face (even as he felt the tears welling up again) and thrust his hand out once more.

Uncertainly, Azeem glanced at Fanny wondering whether to continue with her there. His thoughts were interrupted by Will who made it clear he wanted it over and done with.

"Well?" he bit out, "If it needs to be done, then do it!" His tone was taut but his voice wavered slightly. Azeem was reminded of Robin in the jail back in Jerusalem; they wore the same looks of resolution and resignation to their fates.

The boy closed his eyes once more, biting his lip as Azeem moved towards him with the blade. As Azeem reached for the injured hand, Fanny wrapped one arm around the boy's neck and shoulders, pulling him flush against her. The hold was too firm to quite be called an embrace – it was unclear whether it was meant as a gesture of comfort or restraint, perhaps both – nonetheless, the boy hesitantly reached his other hand up and wrapped trembling fingers around her arm. He did not cry this time, but Azeem had to hold tight to keep his grip on the boy's arm as he wrenched around in their grips. Suddenly, the boy went very limp, his head falling onto Fanny's arm as she tried to keep him sitting upright.

"Will he mend?" Robin asked hesitantly, suddenly approaching with John as the latter moved to help his wife lower the unconscious young man to the bench.

"Perhaps," Azeem responded, now slathering some strong smelling paste on to Will's hand. "The wound is small, but it may yet become infected."

Robin nodded remorsefully, thinking of the soldiers he had seen felled not by their injuries but by the fevers that followed. "But if it doesn't?"

Azeem eyed him almost disapprovingly, finishing dressing the hand with a rag before answering. "Time is a great healer, Christian, and only time can tell."

"Serves him right if it does though," John said gruffly, scowling down at the young man.

"John!" Fanny exclaimed, shocked.

John shook his head, clearly unwilling to argue with his wife so soon after their reunion.

Will gave a low moan from the bench, eyelids fluttering slightly.

"We have much to discuss, my friends. Will you come?" Robin said hastily, looking from John to Azeem, both of whom looked to Fanny.

"Go," she said shortly, "I'll stay till 'e wakes proper."

Satisfied, Azeem fell into step next to Robin as he left the fireside. John, however, remained by his wife, who had settled herself on the bench at Will's feet.

"What about the – "

"They'll be fine" she interrupted, not looking at her husband. "There's others about."

"Woman, you should be with our – " He broke off as Will moaned again, eyes opening reluctantly as he took in his surroundings.

"John?" Will asked uncertainly, sitting up quickly and gasping as both of his hands brushed the log.

"Careful!" Fanny chided not unkindly.

"Fanny," Will said faintly, seeming surprised to see her, "Fanny, I – "

"Enough." John said loudly.

For a moment it looked as if Will would argue. He glared up at John, face flushed before glancing at Fanny. Unable to meet her gaze any longer, he hung his head, still scowling but no longer trying to speak. Will gazed off across the fire trying to control his resentment, still acutely aware of John standing over him. His mind filled the silence with images of Locksley, interspersed with the humiliation and agony he had just suffered at Robin's hand. He wanted to run – to get away from the faces of these people whom he had known all his life and away from Locksley's voice ringing in his ears – but he didn't trust his legs to support him if he were to try.

"Enough, Scarlett." John repeated firmly, watching the young man tremble with some unknown emotion. Suddenly, Will surged to his feet and took several lurching steps before storming away. Both John and his wife watched apprehensively as Will nearly walked headlong into Wulf, who was listlessly following his siblings around the camp. They held eye contact for a moment before Will's look turned contemptuous and he turned his back, continuing to his hut and throwing himself in. Wulf gave one miserable look around the camp, before suddenly scowling and taking off once more. Fanny made to follow him only to be stopped by an enormous hand closing around her arm. "Let 'im be. He'll be back before dark," John advised easily, confident that this fall-out between his son and Scarlett would be resolved soon – as they had always been.

Fanny turned to him, face worried. "John," she began, "what will hap – "

"Later, woman," John interrupted, already turning away in the direction of Robin and Azeem.

"Don't you walk away from me, you old lummox!" she called, hands on hips. She felt the familiar kind of resignation and dread setting in that she had felt before when John had first had a price put upon his head. He did not stop, but lumbered away leaving her feeling bereft without him. "John!"

He stopped at her voice, returning to her side and placing paw-like hands on her shoulders. "Later, my love."

He gazed at her, his eyes creased in concern as she felt her own eyes filling. Sighing, he wrapped one arm around her and they both turned to watch children (their own and others) playing some game in the dirt across the camp, blissfully unaware or unaffected that today they had lost their homes and everything their families had worked for all their lives.

"What about Wulf?" she questioned anxiously.

"He'll come back," John repeated still unconcerned. Pushing away from her, he watched her look uneasily in the directions of Robin, Wulf, and Will. Sighing, he added knowingly, "Go! See if there ain't some other lad wants mothering."

She sniffed and nodded, the tears gone as quickly as they came. "That Robin'll be waiting." When John did not immediately leave, she added firmly "Go! I've things to do!" ushering him away (and turning to collect the abandoned medicines.

John watched her for a moment, shaking his head in resignation as she paused before heading purposefully in the direction of Will as he had known she would. Turning once more, John went in search of Robin and Azeem.


Robin and Azeem wandered slowly so that when John came to catch up, he barely had to lengthen his stride before he came upon them.

"That woman…" John said, shaking his head. Robin smiled knowingly, but did not comment.

"Her assistance was of great help to me; both the boy and I are in her debt."

"Yes!" Robin cried, suddenly turning to Azeem and scowling. "Where were you? You have come far from your homeland claiming a life's debt to me and yet you stood by and watched a man try to murder me while my back was turned – again!"

"I did not think your life to truly be in danger," Azeem replied, unconcerned and seeming almost surprised to be questioned about it. "If I had, I would have acted."

Robin was momentarily struck dumb. "That man almost knifed me in the back! Do I have eyes in the back of my head? Hm? Do you think I can see when someone comes at me from behind while I am unarmed?"

"Hardly unarmed, Rob," John broke in, grinning, "My God that were some sharp shooting – I don't reckon Scarlett'll cross you again now."

Robin shared a quick grin of his own but it faded as he met Azeem's eyes. Sighing, Robin threw his hands in the air. "What? Am I to grovel and beg forgiveness for defending myself now?" He looked incredulously to John.

Azeem remained stony faced. "You say you do not wish to see more blood spilt, yet you do not hesitate to do so yourself." Robin opened his mouth to protest, but Azeem cut him off, "It is one thing to wound men that hunt a child, it is another to take the use of his hand from a boy that questions you."

"Questions me?" Robin exclaimed indignantly. "The man would have killed me!"

"As I say," Azeem said quietly, "I do not think the boy meant to kill."

Looking disgusted, Robin turned to John who had been watching the exchange thoughtfully. As if sensing that his input was now expected, John straightened.

"Scarlett's hand'll heal," John said easily, "Rob wouldn't have."

Azeem, seeing that the two would not be swayed, said nothing.

"What do you mean I took the use of his hand?" Robin asked, belatedly realising what the Moor had said. "It'll be a few weeks perhaps, but he'll heal." Both Robin and John looked uneasily towards Azeem.

"Well, won't it?" John prompted.

"The damage to the hand is unclear," Azeem said evasively. "It will heal, yes. Although to what extent I cannot be certain."

Whatever reply the Englishmen had to that was cut off by Wulf sprinting towards them, shouting for Azeem.

"What is it, lad?" John was pleased to see his son back in the camp so soon but alarmed at whatever event had brought him to them.

"Mother says for Azeem to go to her – it's Will, he's sick!" Wulf reported, clearly on the verge of tears.

Glaring at Robin who looked a mixture of defiant and unnerved, Azeem swept past them and back the way they had come.

"He'll be all right, Wulf." Wulf looked fretfully at his father. "He'll get well out of sheer bloody-mindedness," John added, winking and being rewarded with a small smile.

"I shouldn't have shot him."

John and Wulf both looked at Robin, who was staring dazedly towards the camp.

"I'm sorry, Wulf," Robin said, realising now that the child had been avoiding him ever since it had happened. He also realised that Wulf was not at all the one he ought to apologise to but he could not – would not – apologise to Will Scarlett whether he believed the man had tried to kill him or not. "I shouldn't have shot him." He repeated.

"It's done," John said gruffly, his earlier enthusiasm forgotten. "He's brought it on himself – he always does." He added, his uncertain tone belying the harsh words.


"How long has he been like this?" asked Azeem over the sound of Will retching in the background.

"Dunno," Fanny replied, her brow creased in concern, "I just came in and there he was, all pale and sweating and then this." She gestured towards the young man, who did indeed seem to be sweating profusely. Shooting the Moor a worried glance, she asked, "What did you do to him?"

Azeem scowled, mildly offended. "Nothing that was not necessary," he replied slightly defensively, "the pain may have been too great, or perhaps it is contaminated after all." The latter was added as an afterthought although he would have been surprised if an infection had set in quite so quickly. Leaning over the now supine form, Azeem felt the boy's brow and was not surprised to find it burning. Taking in the rapid, hitching breathing and closed eyes, he nodded to himself and ducked out of the shelter without a word.

Stunned, Fanny stood to follow but paused, gazing at the boy before her. Giving another apprehensive glance in the direction in which Azeem had disappeared, she knelt again. She brushed the soaked hair away from the boy's face as he turned his face towards her. She gave a tight smile that she almost thought he tried to return before drifting into unconsciousness. Alarmed, she lumbered to her feet again and almost collided with Azeem as he suddenly reappeared with an armful of cloaks.

Barely sparing his patient a glance, Azeem nodded at Fanny to help him and together they spread several of the makeshift blankets over Will. "I've sent your son to find more aconite," Azeem informed her quietly, "I've seen very little since coming here. Does it grow badly?" When she did not answer, he looked up at her.

"I dunno…" she said uncertainly, "I…I've never heard of that."

"It blooms in yellow," Azeem said after a short while for want of anything more helpful to say. Fanny looked thoughtful but nodded politely. Azeem set about heating up water outside whilst Fanny kept vigil. A few times, she wondered if she ought to be concerned that her son was out alone in the darkening woods but these thoughts were often interrupted by Will's muttering incomprehensibly and tossing his head in the grip of the fever.

Robin, John and a couple of other men from the group ducked in once or twice to ask if they could be of assistance. She couldn't help but feel their offers were for the most part insincere, with perhaps the only exception being Peter - the man who had prompted Will to confront Robin earlier in the day when they had first arrived. She was trying to decide whether she believed Robin was genuine when he had offered his assistance, when Azeem returned.

"Aconite," he said abruptly, holding up a single flower before adding it to a cup and grinding it with water.

"Wolfsbane," she informed him disinterestedly, "we call that wolfsbane."

Azeem poured a little of the concoction down the boy's throat, stepping back as Will choked and sat up gagging. He was clearly disorientated but pulled away as Azeem raised the cup to his lips again.

"Drink it, it will help," Azeem advised patiently at the same time as Fanny ordered, "Get that down your gullet, Will Scarlett."

Will drank a little of the bitter drink before lying down again, on his side this time. Taking a few more shuddering breaths, he closed his eyes again and seemed to be unconscious once more. Satisfied that there was no more he could do for the moment and quietly assuring Fanny of this, Azeem left.

Fanny had just begun to leave too when Will suddenly murmured her name, seeming surprised to see her. "What is it, Will?"

"'m cold."

She shook her head, now that the Moor seemed satisfied that he would recover albeit not immediately but perhaps overnight, she could feel her anger at Will mounting up again. "Good," she told him, tutting, "you deserve it." All the same, she tugged the blankets back up over his shoulder, tutting again when he turned his head into her arm slightly. She left it there briefly, not responding to his movement but not moving away from it either. She was glad to know Azeem seemed to know what he was doing – Will's breathing had already become more measured and less erratic although it was hard to tell whether he had yet stopped sweating. "I'm going to go now, Will," she informed him, sighing, "John'll be waiting."

He made a small noise in the back of his throat that could have been one of protest or simply acknowledgment.

Leaving him to sleep, she left the shelter to find John waiting for her outside, arms folded and an expression of fond disapproval on his face. Shaking his head at her, he raised one arm as she wrapped her own about his chest.

"I s'pose you'll not ask how he is?"

"I don't need to ask, woman. If he still weren't right, you'd still be there," John said gruffly, with more than a hint of irritation in his voice.

"Not if he'd died," she commented casually, glancing at him, "he could be dead."

"Good, save us all a lot of grief."

"John!" she exclaimed, pushing away from him.

Sighing, John fought a grin. "He ain't dead. Azeem said as much when he came out."

"It's not right, saying things like that about the lad, what's he done to you?" she asked indignantly, though she did accept John's arm around her shoulders again.

John scoffed. "It's not what he's done; it's what he might do when my back is turned."

"John!"

Rolling his eyes, John gave another put upon sigh. "What? Woman, I'll not feel guilty over the likes of him, but…" Fanny scowled at him again, opening her mouth to speak but he cut her off. "BUT, if it'll shut you up, how is he?"

Fanny glared.

"Well?" John said, throwing his arms out, "I've asked, me dear, how is he?"

She sniffed, "He'll be fine. It's just a flesh wound."

"More than it would've been for Robin," John muttered under his breath. Seeing her glare, he continued louder, "Anyway, there must be better things to talk of than William bloody Scarlett!" Turning to her, he pressed one paw-like hand to her stomach. "How's my son? Strong, I hope – he's gonna have to be, out here."

"Don't you worry about that, John, it'll be strong enough. But, it's another girl this time, I'm sure of it." John raised his brows sceptically. "A mother knows these things, John, I've had seven already, I should think I can tell!"

"And what shall you be called, my lamb?" John asked his wife's belly.

"I thought – if she is a boy, which she won't be – 'William' might be nice." she said nonchalantly.

She tried and failed not to grin as John directed one of his fiercest scowls at her.

"I think not." John replied with remarkable composure.


"Will?"

Will froze, his back to the voice. Working past the exhaustion that came from his being sick with infection, he summoned what cheer he could. "Good morning, Wulf!" He exclaimed turning and forcing a tight smile on to his face. The smile fell from his face as he took in the boy's expression. "Wulf?" he ventured nervously, "what's wrong?" Wulf shifted, scowling at the earth beneath his feet. Will felt his chest constrict – Wulf was never this quiet even (or especially) when he was supposed to be. Will began to wonder what could have happened during the days he had been confined to his hut with Azeem being the only one to enter since the first day when he vaguely recalled Fanny sitting with him for a while. "Wulf?" he prompted softly, kneeling before him and raising a hand to clear the hair from Wulf's face.

"Get off me!"

They both jerked away from each other, one from shock, the other from apparent disgust. "What?" Will demanded, pushing himself to his feet.

"Stay away from me," Wulf ground out, finally raising furious eyes to Will, "how could you?"

"How could I wha – ?" Will paused, eyes narrowed in thought. His features slackened into shock briefly before sharpening to anger. "Locksley?" He spat disbelievingly, "That's what this is about? Wulf you saw what he did – all those people, Wulf, even your mother! That was because of him!"

Wulf's harsh gaze faltered slightly then returned full force. "Father says it was for the best! Him and Robin are helping us defend ourselves!"

"'Father says'?" Will mimicked nastily, "you wanna know why he says it's best? It's because we've gone too bloody far and nobody knows what to do anymore – not him and not Locksley! He's ruined everything, Wulf, we were fine before he came!"

"You're just jealous!" Wulf yelled furiously, shoving Will backwards as hard as he could.

Will stepped back to avoid falling and paused, an ugly look on his face. "I'm not jealous of him," he scoffed, grabbing Wulf's shirt and shoving the boy back with his one uninjured hand.

"Yes, you are! You're jealous because everybody likes him and nobody here has ever liked you! I don't even like you – I could never be friends with a coward!" Wulf shouted tearfully.

Enraged, Will raised his hand, "You little – "

"You are! You're a coward!" Wulf went on, even though Will had grabbed him by the collar and now held him off the ground.

Will shook him, not quite striking him and threw the boy away from him. "Go away." He ordered, breathing heavily and trying to convince himself it wasn't just the fact that his hand was still wounded that had prevented him from truly injuring the boy.

Wulf stood, chest heaving and looking heartbrokenly at him.

"WHAT?" Will yelled, throwing his arms out, "what do you want? Just leave!"

In the distance, they heard Robin, closely followed by John calling Wulf's name. Wulf shot a final disillusioned look towards Will,

"Go on," he said setting his jaw and raising his brows expectantly, nodding towards the voices, "Locksley's looking for you."

Wulf sniffed and turned to leave, pausing before turning back. "Would you really have killed him, Will?" He asked brokenly of Will, who now had his back to the boy, trying to rein in his fury .

Will scowled again, not turning. Would he? Honestly? He had been telling himself (and everyone else) that he had not intended to murder Locksley – perhaps severely maim, but not kill – but would he have, really? Was this truly what he had amounted to – a coward who struck while his opponent's back was turned? If so, Locksley had been right – no, not right – just…not necessarily, completely wrong. It was difficult to say, honesty was not something that came easily to him after so many years of deceit and dishonesty.

"Probably," Will admitted almost miserably, more to himself than to Wulf. Feeling shame wash over him that he should think of killing anybody while their back was turned, even Lockley. He heard Wulf run off to wherever John and Locksley had got to but he did not turn to look.

"You think far too much of yourself."

Will shot to his feet again at Azeem's voice. He glanced uneasily at the Moor, wondering how long he had been there – long enough, clearly. "How would you know?" He asked, bristling.

"You are young," Azeem informed him, coming to join him on the bench and gesturing for Will to sit once more, "and you are reckless – in battle, they are both a disadvantage." Will raised his brows but did not comment. "You could not have slain him, even if you had truly been trying," Azeem continued knowingly.

"How would you know?" Will repeated.

Azeem smiled serenely at the younger man, "Had you come close, you truly would have lost a limb." Will stiffened and glanced nervously at the blade at Azeem's waist. "Your hatred for him runs deep, yes?"

Will nodded, staring away unseeingly.

"Why?"

Will hesitated, seemingly thinking the question over. "He's…he's only making things worse. When all this is over, he could find shelter in any Lord's household if it were far enough away," he turned to look Azeem in the eye for the first time, "but what happens to us when he gets tired of playing at being poor?"

Azeem considered this, then: "Are you afraid?"

"Yes," Will confessed very quietly, then frowned, remembering, "I once heard a man – a Lord – talking about his son fighting in your country, he said: 'it is a fine thing to die in somebody else's war'. We didn't start this, he did. So, what happens when we're the ones left to finish it?"

"If you want the Christian to end this, you should not kill him before it is done, correct?" Azeem advised pointedly. Will snorted but nodded. "Your fellows would perhaps find it easier to forgive if they knew it would not happen again."

"Mmm," Will said noncommittally.

"Will it happen again?"

Will considered, then straightened and admitted cockily with a smile that did not quite reach his eyes, "If necessary."

Azeem nodded, correctly reading the boy's half serious remark. "Then you must forgive me, William," he said disappointedly, using Will's name for the first time, "if when the time comes, I also do what is necessary."

They shared a look that Will broke, lowering his gaze and nodding. Azeem pressed one hand to the boy's shoulder and wandered away, leaving Will questioning his own nature and whether all that he had said had been true.


The line 'it is a fine thing to die in somebody else's war' actually comes from the Hornblower films and is said by Lt. Kennedy, but I thought it fit quite well.