MATILDA'S COTTAGE

A commotion in the yard before the house that Will Scarlet had built her made a woman grab a candle and rush to the door.

As the rain poured outside, Matilda opened the door of her hidden cottage to see several men ride up towards her.

The sheeting ran and dark sky had soaked them all through.

Matilda's eyes widened as she watched them all dismount, and Robin gently pull a small huddled figure into his arms, before walking towards her.

"Out in this rain!" Matilda cried, "You will catch your death the lot of you, and her in her condition."

Her words, however parental and scolding, cracked upon seeing Marian, pale in her husband's arms.

"Inside, the lot of you." Matilda stepped out of the way of the door, still holding the candle.

The gang trudged forwards towards the house.

John got hold of the horse's reins along with Alan, and made to take them to the back of the house.

Tuck remained on his horse, and looked down as Matilda ushered the gang in before Robin, who was carrying his wife still.

"Robin!"

Tuck's voice carried over the rain, and Robin turned slightly to look at him.

The unspoken words between them made Robin nod.

"A safe journey my friend."

Much joined them, half in the rain.

"You are leaving, but why, I mean surely…"

Tuck chuckled, "someday I will return, but I will join the king's supporters in Loughborough I think… spread some of the good work, some joy and strength… the good word of Robin Hood."

Robin nodded once more, understanding.

"But…" Much looked around, "The rain!"

He could not understand why someone would not want to wait the rain out in Matilda's warm cottage before the fire…

"The rain does not stop the will of god, and the good word of Robin Hood." Tuck's eyes shone.

The philosophical way he had of speaking rang true through the rain.

Robin nodded once more, his words so sincere that the depth of his emotion rang in every word.
"Thank you."

Tuck nodded and waved his hand, before turning his steed and racing off into the forest.

Matilda put her hand on Robins shoulders.
"Come inside, she needs to get dry."

Robin stepped inside and Matilda shut the door, just as another peel of thunder tore through the sky.

MATILDA'S COTTAGE

"Put her here."

Matilda stoked up the small fire in the back bedroom, which had once belonged to her daughter Rosa, before her husband had returned from war and they had returned home to Nettlestone.

The woman then quickly moved back to Robin's side as the room grew warmer.

Djac had followed them in and removed her cloak, reaching to pour some water from a nearby jug into a cup.

Matilda pulled back the top blanket to allow Robin to lie a quivering and pained Marian on the thin mattress.

Her hands were clasping at her stomach. She was moaning in pain and he watched as she rolled towards him, curling into a ball, tears falling down her face.

They could all she that she was nearly all the way asleep, but in pain, and therefore still somewhat conscious.

Robin rubbed her back anxiously and Matilda stepped closer with Djac.

The small Saracen woman stood on the other side of the bed, anxious.

"I need to check her over, see what damage today and those curs at the castle may have done to her, fragile as she is at the moment." Matilda stood beside Robin and reached around him to gently rub Marian's hip as the woman moaned quietly, and something incoherent, although they all thought that they heard Robins name.

Robin was staring at his wife through stinging eyes.

She had never been fragile to him, but she looked it now, physically and emotionally.

Matilda was sure that today had all been too much, and that what Marian needed was sleep, and plenty of it, in the safe and warm.

"Robin hold her." She said and she glanced at Djac, "hold her legs."

Djac nodded grimly and held Marians legs out straight on the bed, Robin held her to him as Matilda rolled back his quivering wife's shirt and pressed her hands over her stomach over and over, checking the woman's health.

She had dealt with countless women conceiving, carrying children, birthing children, and also countless who had lost children.

Marian sobbed harder and moaned quietly through the pain in her body.

She felt so tired, and so broken…

Robin held her tighter and she clung to him through her tears.

He, Djac and Matilda alike had tears in their eyes.

"My dear are you still bleeding?" Matilda asked Marian as she pulled her shirt back down.

Marian had only miscarried the day before, and Matilda was worried about how large an ordeal this had taken on the young women… physically and mentally…

"No." Marian sniffed and Matilda stopped trying to lift her legs to check her breeches for stainging.

"It is gone." Marian's voice broke and she dissolved into new painful tears.

Matilda took in a breath and swallowed, touching Robin on the shoulder.

"Alright my dear." She said gently, mastering her tears as she and Djac stood away from the bed.

She beckoned the woman to follow her as she turned to leave the room, getting Marian something for the pain.

Marian remained on her side, curled into a ball.

She had one hand gripping at her shirt over her stomach, for the deep aching sensation had not left.

Her body still felt like it was made of metal.

Robin sunk to kneel up on one knee by the bed, wrapping her in his arms and letting her sob into his chest.

"Shush…" He was shaking as she tried to calm her.

"Shush Marian it is going to be alright… Matilda will give you something… it will make you sleep, you will be alright…"

Marian let out a heart wrenching, and almost frightened, cry, and clutched at him tighter, sobbing anew.

Robin pressed his face into her hair and let his own sobs flow from him.

NOTTINGHAM CASTLE

"Let me Guess…" Sheriff Vaisey was reclining in his chair, one hand holding a cloth to his face where a large red welt was forming. He groaned his words, soundings bored, but an angry undercurrent was present.

Guy of Guisborne, bursting a black eye from Tuck's metal cross, was stood before him.

"He got awayundetected… all of them…" Vaisey said nothing for a heartbeat after his sentence.

But abruptly he stood and hurled the piece of cloth at Guisborne.

"Even the monk!" He screamed, "The one you failed to catch this morning!"

Another piece of cloth went Guy's way.

It did not harm and fluttered short, but the angry gesture of his arm was enough to show the force behind it.

"I have said it before, and I will have to say it again Guisborne…"

Thunder and lightning tore the sky in half outside.

"I WANT HIM DEAD!"

MATILDA'S COTTAGE

Matilda walked through the main room in her cottage.

She walked through the gang, who sat around, drying their cloaks, glad to be in the safe and warm… and pleased that Marian was back with them.

Although they were all worried about her, and worried about Robin…

Together they were stronger.

They all knew that.

Much and the others were close to sleep, their arms wrapped around them.

They were content to be in the safe and warm.

All of them could not help but think about the fact that they would be out in the cave in the sheeting rain were they not in the cottage.

Matilda walked into the small bedroom that was once her daughters to see Robin sat on the edge of the bed staring down at his wife.

"She is asleep." Robin murmured, voice low and quiet.

His eyes did not once lift to look up at the woman who had helped his mother give birth to him.

She had been the woman that he and Marian had more or less decided would help Djac help Marian birth their own baby.

But that was all gone now.

Matilda set the tray she was holding on the small table at the side, careful to not knock over any of the candles.

She then moved to stand beside Robin, staring down at his wife's face.

"Plenty of sleep in the safe and warm and she will be fine." She told him softly, "You and your 'merry men' will stay here for the remainder of the week… once she is up on her feet again by Saturday you may return if you wish."

Robin said nothing, just nodded his head.

They stared at his wife and Matilda rubbed his shoulder where she stood at his side.

"There is wine and some more of the mixture I gave her to relax her… for the pain. If she wakes and feels she needs it..."

Robin nodded after a moment.

"Is she in pain?" His voice cracked.

Matilda let out a breath that was close to a sad sigh.

"Not while she is asleep… by the morning she will be stiff and a little sore… but today has been the worst, the worst is over… for it will feel like the same pain she used to feel every month with her flux… physically she is through the worst of it..."

Matilda was trying to remain resolved and comforting, but she knew her hurried and repeated words were falling on deaf ears.

Robin and Marian were grieving, and grieving hard, for their pain was raw and fresh.

He swallowed and nodded.

He knew that the emotional pain would take far longer to heal.

Matilda rubbed across the back of his shoulders.
"Get some sleep."

With that she turned to walk to the door.

"Thank you." Robin's voice was low, and his eyes just about tore away from his wife to look at her.

The woman smiled sadly, nodding her head, before shutting the door behind her.

Robin swallowed and turned his eyes back on his wife.

Tears built up in his eyes and he bit his lip.

Robin removed his boots and lay down gently on the bed beside Marian.

He wrapped her in his arms and even in her sleep she hugged herself to him, back against his chest, arms wrapped around his forearm which was wrapped around her.

He kissed the back of her head as her teary face pressed into the crook of his elbow in her sleep.

His other arm slid between her head and the bed, acting as a pillow, so she was wrapped in his arms, hugging them and clutching at him.

He tried to hush her gently to sleep but it got caught in his throat.

He choked back a sob.