"Marian, the love of my life."
I never thought I would be able to admit that to anyone, not even to Robin Hood. I never even thought he would become my fellow brother in arms. It's over for us both, but he won't leave me. How ironic fate was to cause us to share a brother. Now neither of us had anything left to lose, nothing left to hold onto.
I remember Marian's beautiful smile and her embrace after I had once saved her life. There was no other like her. Still, I can't forget the mocking gaze on her face when I had stabbed her. She had lost all reason to believe in me at that point. Our relationship had hit rock bottom. Why did I kill her when I had once sworn to protect her? It wasn't fate that had dealt me a blow, it was only my choices.
"She was always yours," I murmur meeting Robin's eyes.
He is a good man; I underestimated him. He had possessed everything I had ever wanted, but Marian would never have had me. I couldn't make her love me. I should have realized that sooner; if only I could somehow see her again. A shadow crosses the room and like the flicker of a flame, I sense her presence once more. There she is crossing the dark hall clad in her white sari from the holy land. For a moment she glances my way, her gentle gaze meeting mine. I want to tell Robin she's here among us, but it's too late. Marian disappears as she passes behind one of the pillars. My body is broken, but my spirit is more alive than ever. All I have to do is let go.
"Now I'm free."
My surroundings become a weary blur as my eyes close for the last time. Where shall this sojourn called death take me? To hell? Life had been that for me. Could it really get that much worse? Surprisingly my thoughts stay with me, carrying me to another place far from the prison of Nottingham. I couldn't have been more ready to leave that god-forsaken place behind.
Where am I? My sight returns, only for me to find myself in the sanctuary of Sherwood. Not only that, the place where Meg had died in my arms. There is the steady river and the vines wrapping themselves tightly around the trees, the things I had never noticed before. Such simplicity, such peace! All is quiet and still. That's when I remember her. The way she was with her caring gaze and honest words. Meg…
"Guy," I hear her say. There she is standing before me, a smile upon her face. "You didn't think I'd really leave you behind, did you?"
"Meg," I heave a sigh of blissful relief. "I never thought I'd see you again."
"You were the only true friend I ever had," she replies, "the only man I could ever love. I wasn't ready to let you go, Guy, not after how brief a time we had."
I smile at her, amazed that I can still feel the touch of her face like I remember. Her lips meet mine tenderly, comforting any doubts I have left of myself. There is a part of me she knows better than I, the kind of man I could have been.
"You saved me," I murmur, "from myself."
"Come," Meg says, holding out her hand to mine. "We cannot stay here forever."
I hesitate, uncertain of her words. "Where will we go?"
Meg gestures toward the river. "When you are ready, we shall cross it."
"Why should we wait?"
Meg doesn't need to answer my question. I hear footsteps behind me. Standing there far off from us is Isabella, her eyes piercing into mine. Meg has disappeared. It's only me and my sister's ghost.
"Isabella? What are you doing here?"
Isabella looks so vulnerable like she had when she sought me to help her. Here was my sister, someone who had been abused by the man I had condemned her to. "I think you know why," she replies.
"You betrayed me," I snap at her, remembering how she had stabbed me along with the Sheriff.
"You easily did the same to me." She doesn't close the distance between us. Our paths can never cross so closely again. We had made our choices.
"Where will you go?"
She leans her arm wearily against the tree. "I don't know; someplace where I can start again. This is the last time you'll see me, brother, but I can't leave you yet. There need be no secrets here."
I am silent for a moment, pondering her words. "I was wrong to hurt you like I did. I never treated you like family. To me you were just a woman that was a burden to me. We share the same weight of sins. I know you'll forget me, Isabella."
A tear falls from her eye, as she meets mine unafraid. "I'm not afraid of you, anymore. I just needed to hear those words from you ever since I was a girl." With these parting words, Isabella takes her leave of me, disappearing behind the branches of the dark forest. She must find her own path without me. Only then I presume she'll be at peace.
I turn around, my eyes searching for Meg. She can't leave me now, not when I need her most. When she had died, I was just beginning to open up to my feelings and allow myself to fall in love again. But there was another still…
"It's not over, Guy," says a familiar voice.
There she stands slowly making her way toward me. She is clad in a cloak like an enchantress, more beautiful than ever.
"How you've haunted me," I confess to her.
"Guy, after what you did to me, it's not as if you didn't deserve it."
I wish I could hold her close to me again, but it's too late. Her heart belongs to another. "I shouldn't have wanted you for myself."
"I know," she reassures me. "We've both done each other wrong."
"Marian, I never thought I'd love another, not after what I did to you. I can't forgive myself."
Marian's gently takes my hand. "You must, Guy and you must let me go this time. You know Robin is dying."
"Yes," I reply, blessed at least to have seen her again. "He needs you."
She smiles at me, full of forgiveness, ready to move on. Without another word, I allow her hand to leave mine. She'll be alright now. Now I am alone again like before.
I turn toward the river, feeling its waters beckon to me. "Meg, I am ready."
"I am here." She comes to me again, taking my hand and leading me into the waters as if I was to be baptized again. The past is behind me, the water my rebirth. It's Meg who will take me to the other side.