Disclaimer: Robin Hood belongs to the BBC and Tiger Aspect.

Characters: Marian, Guy, Sheriff, Earl of Durham, various random guards; Guy/Marian-ish, mentions of Marian/Robin

Summary: Once again Marian finds herself made part of a bargain, only this time there doesn't seem to be any way out. Guy offers a solution, but will Marian take it? Set post-Lardner's Ring.

Notes: I'm not technically supposed to be online at the moment, but I didn't get the chance to post this before. One of my NY's resolutions was to post some fic every week, so this is my entries for the last two weeks. Unbeta'd and rushed, so expect some mistakes. Currently this is only going to be a three-parter, but there's room for more if people want it.

Last Chance, First Choice

Chapter 1

She toyed with the ring distractedly, twisting it around her finger and absently noting the way it glinted in the candlelight as she cast her mind back to the events in the tree. Had it only been last week? The time since had passed in a blur, waking up disorientated when a maid came in to stoke the fire of the chilly room, far colder even than the forest had been, and yet again wondering how she had come to be there. She had told Robin she would return to the castle because she could do more good there, but in the past few days she had done little but remain enclosed in her room, musing over just why she had said that. Could it be that she had just been making excuses? That, secretly, she actually preferred the regulated enclosure of the castle to the stifling atmosphere of the camp?

But no, that couldn't be it; she and Robin had managed to reach a compromise lately, where he was unquestionably in charge of the gang, but he would listen to her opinions and consider them as carefully as the other outlaws', rather than wrapping her in silk and feathers all the time. Had she decided to escape from the tree with Robin, the rapport between the two of them and with the rest of the gang would have largely remained unchanged: a comfortable exchange of knowledge and skills that set the whole group at an advantage. Instead she had chosen to return to the castle with Guy.

Though she tried to put the thought out of her mind, she couldn't help but consider that perhaps she had just been making excuses when she had given her reason. Escaping with Robin would been the equivalent to shouting from the turrets that she was throwing in her lot with him, that this whole hostage charade was exactly that, and would shortly give way to suspicions about her relationship with Robin, and possibly even betray her identity as the Nightwatchman. Was she ready to make that massive leap yet? She had thought she was when she fled the castle after her father's death, but that had been born more out of a desire for comfort and time to grieve than anything else – something that Guy had made clear by pressing his advances that she would not find in the castle. The obvious solution in her haze of grief had been to follow Robin to the forest, even though it meant abandoning her father's body and missing his funeral. Having had her doubts about that decision once already meant that she was hesitant over making it again, so she had chosen to carry on with the charade, to continue to hide her involvement with the outlaws, and return to Nottingham playing the part of the scared and innocent victim.

She laid her head back against the pillows and inhaled deeply. A moment later the door to her chambers was flung open, and Guy of Gisborne hurled himself into the room.