She feels him, sometimes, in the wind that sings through her hair, in the twang of a bowstring or the rustle of leaves in the forest.
Sometimes she wonders at the peace that steals over her at these times, a deep, abiding calm that settles her heart even as it raises goose-bumps on her arms. Shouldn't she be heartbroken, prostrate with grief? She had loved him, after all, as fiercely and unconditionally as a human being could love. That first glance had been a lightning strike, igniting a blaze that never went out – a fire that burns still in the deepest part of her heart.
But despite the constant ache, the never-filled hole in her heart, he never quite feels gone, and so she never quite stops believing that she will see him again. Her heart is broken, yes, but not shattered beyond repair.
But it's not until the end that she truly understands why.
The plain, rough stone of the nunnery catches on the threads of her veil as she settles down on the narrow cot and drifts off to sleep.
And she dreams of Robin.
He looks the same as ever, nut-brown locks blowing in the nonexistent wind that ripples the surface of the stream, and the smile on his face is all for her as he stretches out his hand.
She takes it and rises, light as air, as spirit as he is now. When she catches a glimpse of their reflections in the stream she can see that she looks as young and fresh as she did when they first met, all those years ago in Nottingham.
"A May morning," he had called her then.
But it's not until he kisses her in the old, familiar way – tender, sweet, just a little artless – that the truth comes home to her, and the body she no longer has begins to tremble.
"Oh, Robin!" she cries against his shoulder, and he laughs, half-breathless.
"Welcome home, my Marion," he murmurs in her ear, and her broken heart is whole again, just like that.
She pulls away to gaze into those eyes, to lose herself in them, and she smiles, then throws her head back and laughs for joy.
His hand cups her cheek, smoothes her hair, as he continues, "You did not believe something so paltry as death could part us, did you?"
"No," she says, still lost in those eyes, "I don't believe I ever did." And now she understands what she never could before: he has been waiting for her, all this long while, not ready for the next great journey unless she could walk it with him.
She kisses him, sweet, and takes his hand and says, "I'm ready now."
He smiles in that way, only for her, and kisses her hand.
Their wait is over, their journey only just begun.
The next morning, the nuns find her, body cold, hand outstretched, a smile on her face.
Somewhere in Sherwood the wind whistles through the trees, and a shimmering feminine laugh echoes through the grass in harmony with a deeper chuckle. The sunlight shines golden through the leaves, drenching the forest in a glitter of light.
Hidden in the shadows, two lovers kiss in joy.