"Well, we should probably be getting back to the manor now." Uncle Benjamin said. I stifled a yawn and answered, "Yes… I suppose we should." Loveday, holding the hand of my prideful uncle, spoke up. "Benjamin, how's about we invite my father and Robin to the house for some refreshments and a place to sleep? After all, it is closer than the castle." Uncle thought for a moment, and not being able to deny Loveday, he sighed and nodded.
"Master Coeur De Noir and Robin, would care to join us for some drink and possibly a night's stay?" Coeur looked uneasy, but Robin looked at me and smirked. He straightened, bowed low to my uncle, and with perfect politeness and respect, said, "Sir Benjamin, it would be a pleasure and I would be very grateful if you would allow me to enter your magnificent house… That is, if the princess wishes for me to be present at all." He cast me a mischievous glance. Fine. If he wanted to play it that way, well Cat's teeth, tongue, and tonsils, so will I.
I curtsied and, holding myself with the air of a lady with power, replied, "Well, I am not so sure, seeing as you, good sir, have tried to kidnap me on numerous occasions, locked me in a dungeon, and then proceeded in making me fall off of a very high wall."
Robin's face fell as he winced slightly. "It's not like I wanted to do those things, princess…" he said softly. "And! Then you-"I paused for dramatic affect. "You helped me find the pearls, stood up to your father to protect me, and saved Moonacre." I looked at him steadily, a small smile forming on my lips.
Robin's eyes went from sorry to amused. "Well princess, does that mean a low, unworthy bandit such as myself my step into your home?" he asked.
Without skipping a beat, I replied, "No." Robin's eyes widened a little, and Loveday gasped. "A bandit cannot come in. But-" I paused yet again and smirked before saying, "my new ally and potential new best friend, Mr. Robin De Noir, can."
Robin smiled lightly, with was so much better, compared with his usual smirk, took my hand and kissed it lightly, saying, "You have my eternal servitude, Princess." I smiled down at his face, taking in how his eyes sparkled, as if we were sharing an inside joke.
Uncle Benjamin cleared his throat, snapping us back into reality. We blushed, turning away from each other. Loveday gave a knowing grin, but I hadn't the slightest idea of why or why I was blushing!
"Well, that's that, nothing to be done." Uncle said. "Let's all head back, before we fall asleep standing up." He gestured for Coeur to follow him. "Yes, I think we should." The lord of the forest replied. Loveday and Uncle Benjamin lead the party toward the house, closely followed by Miss Heliotrope and Digweed, Coeur De Noir, who was walking very timidly, for Wrolf was next to him.
Robin ended up walking in slow strides next to me, and we stayed like that for around five minutes, in perpetual silence, until I couldn't stand it any longer. "Robin! Say something please!" I exclaimed. "I honestly don't care how boring the topic, just say something!" He looked at me and said, "But what is there left to say? Maria, we've done what seems like everything."
I stared at him for a moment and he got a defensive look on his face. "What?" I shook my head and said, "You finally said my name… you didn't call me 'Princess'." I liked it better than my nickname, the way the sounds slide off his tongue… wait, what? That is definitely new. I just met him for God's sake! I must just be exhausted.
Robin just absently said, "Well, yeah. That is your name after all." I nodded my head, yawning and rubbing the tiredness out of my eyes. Robin noticed and said, "Tired, Princess?" I rolled my eyes at the return of my nickname, and said, "Well, yes. It is after two in the morning." He chuckled and before I could protest, swooped one arm behind my legs and used his other to cradle my back. "Robin! Set me down!" I yelled in his ear.
"Just go to sleep, princess… I'll wake you when we are at the manor. And don't worry… I probably won't kidnap you." He said, a hint of a smirk leaking into his voice. I sighed in defeat, and nuzzled into his chest. He smelled of pine wood and leather, fresh cut grass and sweet hay. It was a warm and pleasant smell, and I started taking deep, slow breaths. I heard Robin chuckle and murmur, "Do I smell good, or are you asleep?"
"Hmm I wonder which one it is, Bird Boy." I replied sleepily. I was on the brink of unconsciousness when he sighed. "Maria, call me that again and I'll drop you. I swear it, I'll drop you." He warned. "Bird Boy." I whispered and I slipped off into the shifting world of unconsciousness.
In my dream, I was wandering the forest, Wrolf with me, and Serena in a little wicker basket I had gotten from Silverydew. We were in a deep part, when I heard twigs snapping under foot somewhere in a clump of bushes. "Robin?" I called out, expecting the curly haired imp to jump out at me. But suddenly, Wrolf growled into the shadows, and Serena puffed up and shook with fear. I whispered once more, "Robin?" my voice shaking with fear. I knew, however, that it was not my friend, and I started backing up.
"Looook… iiiit's a liiiiittleee Moooooon Priiiinceeeessss…." A voice rasped. Out slithered an enormous snake, with white milky eyes the size of an apple. Its body reeked of decaying flesh and it had many battle scars. Looking toward its mouth I saw fangs the size of my own small dagger that had been a present from my uncle. Its mouth dripped green slime and white foam. Where the substance hit on the ground, the grass died and smoked down to ash. "Yoooou dooon't haaave muuchh tiiime leeeft, Priiiinceesss." It rattled.
That was not okay. The only person I allowed to call me that was Robin, and he was my best friend. Suddenly, the snake lunged and I woke with a start, my arm burning. "OH!" I yelled. I was still in Robins arms, but we were walking into the garden of the manor to go in.
"I was just about to wake you Princ- what's wrong, Maria? Are you ok?" He looked at my face, and seeing it pale, and feeling me shake, he pulled me closer to his body, as if trying to protect me. I couldn't form full sentences and I broke out into tears. I buried my head in Robin's many scarves, and he shushed me, trying to calm me down.
When that didn't seem to work, he muttered to me, "Shhh try to be quiet, be still, and keep your face to me." We walked through the door, and I heard people talking, and Robin say quietly, but loud enough for everyone to hear, "She's asleep, so I'm going to try and put her in her bed without waking her." Loveday said, "Oh look at my brother, being such a gentlemen. Maria must've tamed you. Anyways, her room is up the stairs, down the hall, and up the tower steps. You can't miss it." I felt Robin nodded and start climbing the steps up into my room. I must say, I was glad he was here for me. He's who I would've wanted with me anyways.