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DAY TWO

The shutters over the windows of his chambers were starting to fail at keeping out the chilly air by the early mornings. Normally he wouldn't notice because he would be far away, dreaming of a future where he sat upon the Sheriff's throne. Or, most commonly, a nightmare in which he is gruesomely defeated in battle by no one other than Robin Hood. It seems that his thoughts are always filled with the blood that accompanies failure; but not now. And not all night, for that matter. As he lay cradled in the thick sheets of his bed he thought of the wonderful first day of the fair. Of the sounds, the smells, and the voice of that beautiful girl…

Since the loss of Marian, he never found much interest in women beyond their physical benefits, and seldom had the idea of becoming married entered his mind. After all, what would people think if he stepped foot into an altar again? They would laugh, that's what they would do, they would laugh and mock him and strip him naked of any authority and dignity. There he would stand, nude in his finest clothes, a victim of jeering and his future wife a shame upon her family to marry such a foolish and down on luck man. Which is why it would never come to pass. Sir Guy of Gisborne would be destined to fall into history books as a lonely man to die alone with nothing but a title and power. And that would be with luck, of course. He was becoming increasingly worried that the mental anguish and relentless struggle inside his head would be all his life was meant to accomplish.

He was baffled, though. Yesterday he never worried once about Hood, the future, or his own standing. He simply, dare it be said, enjoyed himself. Perhaps, Guy tumbled in his brain, Christmas really is a splendid time of year. He woke up just before the sun came to Nottinghamshire and didn't dare drag himself from the velvety lush warmth of his mattress until he heard the bustle of men at work shuffling through the hallways. Another day at the castle had begun. He slid into his traditional black leathers and meandered down to the kitchen area.

Women in flour caked clothes were hard at work preparing the pastries that the Sheriff demanded each morning. Others were skinning game for supper that night and tossing the bloody scraps aside. Some mornings Guy entertained the idea of giving those leftovers to some of the prisoners downstairs, but today… today he wrapped his fingers around a bright red apple near the rolling pins and smiled at the cook in front of him. Clearly, she was not entirely sure how to respond, but this didn't put down his mood in the slightest. Soon the festival would start back up for the second day. He was wondering what the beautiful Ruby would like to see first today. Perhaps they should visit the traveling circus to see jugglers. But if she fancied more gaming tables, he would be happy to teach her. Maybe they should go by a local bakery for lunch…

This thought was interrupted quite painfully. Burning hot water splashed across his legs as a young woman dropped a tub of the liquid she had just heated on the fireplace. She scrambled to pick the great bucket right side up and looked petrified into Gisborne's eyes. Surely, she thought, she was to be put in the dungeons - or at least slapped across the face.

"You're a bit small to carry that." He quietly said after a few moments of deafening silence. The teenage girl dared not look at his gaze.

"Well, um, Sir – Sir Guy," she wringed her hands around each other, "Since Lucy passed we haven't gotten a new ewerer and it's been left to me to tend to the hot water around the castle…" She braced herself for a barking. Instead, Guy reflected on this thought and nodded.

"I will see what I can do about that." And with that, he strolled from the kitchen back to the great wooden stairs. The crisp apple made his palate soaked with sweet juice as he reentered his chambers. Oddly enough, he didn't mind having to change trousers today. He would go roam the fair and have a leisurely holiday, just as he hoped. He actually never knew he desired such a break, it was as if he kept the secret from himself, but playing peace keeper at the town fair was much more enjoyable than he could have anticipated. He dwelled on this until he got out past the castle's courtyard. There the business was slowly started to gain pace for the day. Some of the stands were still being erected and the circus had just arrived into the town. He fought the smile on his lips as his lungs took in the smell of the green decorations that were abundant.

Prominently, he stood at full height just before the castle gate, arms folded, eyes scanning the public. It was here he decided to wait to find his shining Ruby in the crowd. Hours, however, passed. Groups bustled about left and right and the sun clicked down just below the towers of Nottingham castle. And yet not a single blond struck his eye. Gisborne furrowed his brow and shifted the weight on his feet. In frustration, he began to walk the streets.

She was supposed to be here, she said so. She had said so herself! The woman promised him she would be here today… hadn't she? It didn't matter, if she cared, she would have arrived. She would have let him know if she meant anything more than a cheap thrill. Clearly, he had idolized a loose liar who wanted the satisfaction of taking down the guard of the strongest man in the region. He felt a fool. The sourness crept onto his face as time faded away and the desire to push people away swelled within him. He handed out scowls to everyone with no prerequisites.

Guy noted a hoard of men pushing and yelling over a gambling table. He broke through the crowd and shoved one of the men in the center against a wall, channeling his rage of disappointment into the man's chest. The swindler was stripped of his profits and was ensured that his generous donation to the Sheriff would certainly be put to good use. He had no patience for the drunkards that bloomed at the night. As he stormed back into the castle he tossed the bag of crowns to a guard.

He hadn't noticed until now that he left his sword upstairs in his chambers.