Summary: Everything is a choice, and Guy of Gisborne knows that as well as Robin Hood. What happens, then, when Guy chooses to act against the Sheriff to save Marian from the earl of Winchester after all? Set in series 2, episode 6 (up to a point), but then completely AU.
Author's Note: I've been toying with the idea of writing something for Robin Hood for months, now. This is the result. All disclaimers apply, and the BBC own everything. This is just for fun. I hope everyone enjoys, and reviews would be greatly appreciated!
Chapter One: Everything but the Girl.
She had been bargained away like a prize heifer, nothing more than a concession for a strip of land in a county the Sheriff probably won't even deign to visit. All as part of a pact that could see them all hanged as traitors. What was worse, Marian had been dragged into it their treason; she was guilty by association and Guy well knew it. Well, Winchester be damned. He could have anything he liked; everything but the girl.
He reaches her door and pauses briefly with a painful squirm of panic at the silence on the other side. What if she's out? He would never have time to find her before Vaisey, or worse, Winchester. He dispenses with the formality of knocking and wrenches the door wide open only to be greeted by the sound her voice, dripping in admonishment. "Guy, at least do me the courtesy of knocking."
He has no time for it, he has to make her see reason – and that's no easy task when her head is full of Robin Hood inspired obstinacy. "Clear your possessions; you're leaving … now."
"Winchester's made a deal with the Sheriff; you've become part of the negotiations,"
He hopes the short, declarative sentences will impress upon her the urgency of her situation. Sadly, it does not.
"Pardon?" she asks, flatly uncomprehending.
"Winchester wants you," he replies, concise and blunt as he can be and talking directly at her.
Finally, she turns in her seat to look at him. "Tell him he can't have me," she emphatically commands, as if it were easy as clicking your fingers.
"The Sheriff has agreed; I cannot protect you," he insists.
It's no good, she's in shock. He tries to snap her out of it by snatching up the first bag he sees and hauling it carelessly onto the table in front of her. To drive the point home, he even starts packing for her. "You have to run now."
"But my father-"
He wants to throttle her, now. "I will look after him!"
"I can't leave him!" she retorts hotly.
"Why do you always resist me even when I'm attempting to help you?"
He's stuffing the clothes in the bag, but she's just pulling them out again. But at the same time she knows what's happening. "I can see that, and I'm grateful."
Her gratitude extends to continuing to undo his haphazard packing. He's beginning to wonder why he bothered. "If the Sheriff knew I was doing this my own life would be in danger!"
"Why do you work for him?" she demands, full of exasperation.
It's a question Guy has asked himself several times. But the truth is plain and simple. "Because I have nobody," he replies, unashamed of how alone in the world he really is. To cut off any further dissent he fishes in his pocket for the money he has to give her. "Take this, I have instructed a man on the West Gate to let you out. Go. Now!"
The moment of parting squirms like poison through his heart. There's no time for lingering farewells, just one final stolen kiss before he bolts for the door. No looking back, he thinks, just go. He's out the door before he has a chance to break down and succumb to his own fraught emotions. He needs time to think what he's going to tell the Sheriff. And nor does he have long. As soon as her chamber door is closed, that drawling voice stops him in his tracks.
Guy slowly turns around at the Sheriff's voice, and he's already on his heels. Fear and apprehension crawl through his guts as he thinks the Sheriff listened in on every word he just said to Marian. He can say nothing' he is dead already if Vaisey really did hear all that.
"Taking the Lady to meet her new Lord," the Sheriff continues, closing the gap between them with just a few steps, backing him against the wall.
"As my Lieutenant, Gisborne, you sit at the right hand of the farmer. You'll share in the fruits of our labour," he explains, placing a cold hand on the back of Guy's neck. It was always his way: he bore the whip to keep him in line in one hand, and the velvet glove sheathed the other to lull him back into line. "You will be a God amongst men, as long as I can trust you. Take Lady Marian to Winchester."
The Sheriff's voice is low, almost seductive, his gaze searching, penetrative as he seeks out the truth in his right hand man. Guy is powerless under the scrutiny, like some other person takes control of his actions and words. It's like being drugged. Someone else nods his head for him, but he can't quite bring himself to speak the betrayal of Marian aloud. Vaisey smiles, caresses a tear from Gisborne's cheek like a concerned parent.
"Very good," he croons in approving conclusion, before easing himself away, back down the stairs and out of sight.
He watches the Sheriff saunter out of view, waits until his footsteps have receded, and finally releases the breath he didn't realise he was holding. On the other side of the door, he can still hear the muffled sounds of Marian's hasty packing, the metallic clatter of jewellery being tossed carelessly into bags, he pictures her in his mind as she throws in the gowns and trinkets of a lifetime spent here in Nottingham. He can see the earl of Winchester peeling back his bedsheets, ready for her on their wedding night, and the Sheriff counting his coins – a transaction complete. He can see himself alone, forever navigating the caprices of a madman, a slave without chains at the mercy of the increasingly powerful, unstable, Sheriff Vaisey. Nausea rises, bile hitting the back of his throat before he retches and dry-heaves, doubled over at the top of the stairs. He needs only a minute to compose himself again, and in that minute a decision is made. He listens again to the sounds of her packing, preparing to run, and he knows he's going with her.
A slack-jawed guard scratches his bollocks through a grubby tunic, his halberd resting lazily against his right shoulder. Guy's lip curls in disgust at the sight of him, but at least he's alone. His equitable colleagues are no doubt engaged in similar pursuits at the local tavern or whorehouse. Behind him, the human menagerie of dungeons stretch out into the gloomy distance, each with gimlet eyed inmates gaping outwards into the semi-darkness. The air is heavy and rank with their stench; sweat, blood and shit mingle, a foetid reek that makes the unaccustomed eye water. But Guy's eyes are far from unaccustomed, and he knows who he's looking for, spots him almost immediately.
He nudges the guard and nods to Alan A Dale, still seething and newly re-incarcerated at the behest of the Sheriff who wanted someone to hang. "That man, A Dale," says Guy to the Guard who stops scratching his balls but says nothing. "The Sheriff has ordered his release."
The Guard looks sceptical. "Y'wha-?" he grunts, words barely formed, but Guy understands their semi-language.
He takes a deep, steadying breath. "He is to be released immediately," he speaks firmly, despite the tremor in his heart. Keeps his voice low so no one else hears him but the guard, not even the other prisoners. He leans in close and whispers in the guards ear: "Tell him to run for his life. It's just, the Sheriff wants to go out hunting later, and … well, he's going to be the quarry, if you catch my drift."
The two men look knowingly at one another, and a lop-sided grin spreads across the guard's dirty, toothless, face as comprehension sets in. That's the Sheriff they all know and love – hunting for humans instead of boring old boar. They both laugh like schoolmaids sharing a joke.
"Right you are, Guv," says the cheery guard as he reaches for the keys connected to his belt.
Guy waits, breathing a silent sigh of relief as he listens to the scrape of the key in the rusty lock, the clangour of metal bars pulled back. A brief interaction he cannot make out, and A Dale is soon being escorted outside. Five minutes later, and the guard is back. This man knows too much. He will tell the others that he, Guy, told him that the Sheriff ordered A Dale's release. "Just come with me a minute," says Guy, throwing an overly friendly arm around the guard's shoulders, and leads him into the outer chamber, out of sight of everyone else in the dungeons. His dagger is drawn silently, and sinks into the others man's flesh with an eviscerating ease. The man's face is all dumb incomprehension. Even as he falls to the dirty floor, landing in the rushes, he doesn't seem to know what is happening, and his death is a largely silent affair. Dead men tell no tales.
Time is of the essence, and Guy picks up the pace and sprints to the Great Hall where the guards patrol all day and all night. To create the perfect diversion, he needs them all gone while he and Marian make their escape. He looks for the Commander, easily spotted at the doors of the chambers.
"You!" he shouts across the room as he approaches the man at speed, "there's been an escape from the dungeons." He is careful to shout loud enough for them all to hear, and the effect is instantaneous as they all snap to attention. "Alan A Dale; get after him now. Tell the Sheriff to keep Winchester safe until we catch him – A Dale is armed, he's killed one of the guards. I think he might go after the Black Knights."
It is perfect. They all suspected that Alan would try to get back in with his old gang, and what better way to do that than bust out of prison and go after the Black Knights? Winchester will be under lock and key, and the maelstrom of confusion will give him the perfect opportunity to get Marian away. But he knows his time is limited, and he is back, sweating and panicking at Marian's door within minutes. She is waiting, even with her hair done, for him. He pauses in the doorway, taking a moment to just look at her, to take her in.
Slowly, he leans down and picks up one bag and hugs it close. "You'll have to carry the other under your cloak," he tells her between puffs of breath as his heart continues to race. She replies with an almost imperceptible nod. "I created a diversion; we have no time or we'll both be dead."
The cloak is over her shoulders in a trice, the hood pulled down low. Guy holds his hand out to hers, and she takes it without protestation or hesitation. Her hand in his sends a thrill of excitement coursing through his body like a charge starting from the tips of his fingers. It feels that way whenever he looks at her.
He smiles. "Let's go," he says, matter-of-factly, as though he were suggesting a walk by the river.
For the first time in a long time, Marian returns his smile.
The whole Castle is in chaos as they charge through the galleries and passageways towards the terraces. Marian is clasping his free hand for dear life, she can't see properly because of the hood pulled low over her face. But there is no sign of the Sheriff – he must be guarding the Knights personally, making sure no one gets to them or his precious Pact of Nottingham. As they reach the main exit, however, he is waylaid by one of the sentry officers.
"Sir Guy, can you lead any men yourself?"
He thinks fast. "No, I must get this woman through the forest safely, make sure we're undisturbed by anyone," he commands. It will be all right, he thinks to himself, any guards out beyond the Castle walls will think he's part of the manhunt, anyway. Just to be cautious, he adds: "concentrate your efforts inside the Castle – I'm sure he's after the Black Knights."
Marian remains completely silent, he can feel her trembling against him as she presses close. He wants to get her away as quickly as possible, but the Officer is still bleating at him. "There's a company of musicians inside, what're we to do with them?"
Guy bites back the angry retort and scowls instead. "How should I know!"
The Officer knows better than to cause any more trouble for him and stands aside much to Guy's relief. He tugs on Marian's wrist, leads her quickly to the stables where finally she can lower her hood for a moment, even if it's only while she helps to saddle their horses. Just before she mounts, however, he stays her by placing a hand on her forearm. She pauses, foot still in stirrup.
"Marian, when I get you safely out of the gates, ride on ahead without me-"
"But what will you do?"
"I need to find someone, then I will follow you. You'll be safe enough beyond the walls."
Her expression is clouded with worry; she wants to protest and he feels his heart turning cartwheels at her concern for his safety. But she doesn't yet know he's staying with her.
Once they're saddled, Marian disguises herself once more and he leads the way out of the castle and under the portcullis. There are only two guards manning it now, the rest are inside searching for Alan A Dale, who should be well beyond the walls by now. They wave Guy through without even a second glance. It's not like it's an unusual sight, after all. He even gives them a wave as he passes. Once they are beyond the walls, he pauses and lets Marian's small Palfrey catch up with his Destrier horse. "Wait for me at the ravine ten miles north," he instructs. Wordlessly, she digs her heels into the horses flanks and breaks into a gallop.
For a moment, he watches her gallop away until she is obscured by the dust clouds kicked up by the horse. He turns his old warhorse around, and begins to skirt the castle walls. He couldn't very well leave Alan to be hunted like an animal, besides, he knew he'd be needing the Outlaw, now. It doesn't take long, and as luck had it, Alan found him. Always with the luck of the Devil on his side, A Dale had even managed to purloin a horse from God knows where. Gisborne knew he'd struck gold with him, even if he chose not to show it.
A Dale is scandalised. "What the hell was all that about?" he demands, dismounting with a crash into the dusty earth, not a ten minute ride from the Castle walls. "They're hunting for me everywhere in there!"
"That's why we need to get away, and fast," Guy replies, not bothering to stop or slow down for Alan. "Follow! Now!" he calls over his shoulder.
He's remounted his horse within a nanosecond, trailing behind Guy who's little more than a black, brooding, blur in the near distance, but he's soon catching up. The ravine, ten miles north. They know they have to be quick before the Sheriff catches on, but for now they're all three content to chase whatever destiny has in store for them.