kegel84: (Will - bow)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Guy, Marian, John, Will, Djaq, Much, Allan
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Anything that you recognize I do not own.
Summary: A twist of history and an unexpected offer give Robin new opportunities in his fight for both his people and country. It also brings new dilemmas, as he and the gang have to make hard choices to find their way when conflicts come to a head.
Spoilers: Till mid-season 2.

Chapter Summary: Guy makes a decision, Marian runs into a trap, and the outlaws return to camp.

Notes: Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] emmithar for the beta!

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10


Chapter 11: Trapped

He walked down the stairs of the castle as slowly as he dared, his thoughts racing. The question to what he was to do was there, though Guy had already decided what he would not, could not, do. Even as he had answered the sheriff in an affirmative, promising him to bring Marian to Nottingham, at the same time admitting that he was hiding her at Locksley, his mind had also been searching for solutions.

He couldn't confront the sheriff any further. As strained as the man was, he could be glad that he was still alive and a free man. He had seen Vaysey getting rid of people for far less serious transgressions.

Once he had entered the man's chamber, it had not come as much of a shock to him that Vaysey had seen through his doings. He had suspected that he would do so at some point, despite the precautions he had taken. At the end of the day, the sheriff had way more people in his hand, way more people who would inform him of anything that concerned the Master-of-Arms and any other matters of the man's interest. Guy wasn't sure what it had been that had given it away, but he suspected that the visit he had received the previous day of the sheriff's messenger, delivering the order to return to Nottingham had played a part in it.

He had taken care that no one was to spot Marian at Locksley, but he had known that this could not go on forever. Now he could only hope for her sake that she still had time to attend the service for her father that he knew would be in the morning hours of this day, before she would be rudely interrupted.

What was to happen then, he did not know. Previously he had had thoughts of convincing the sheriff that no harm had been done, to find his allowance for her to return to the castle, or stay at Locksley, hopefully also receiving the permission to marry her, an outlook she would share, as he hoped, after all that had been done... He had feared that it was a foolish idea, and when he had seen the sheriff on his return to Nottingham, he had been acutely aware that the man would not be so easy to sway. The threat had been there and Guy could not help fearing the man's intentions. He knew that if he did not bring Marian to the castle today, it would end with bitter consequences for him. He would have no way to appease the sheriff; the man would simply get rid of him, all the while sending guards to Locksley to arrest Marian. Guy had to act himself.

He made his way to the stables, a place he had left not long ago. Only one of the stable boys was there at the moment, and napping even more so, but Guy was not bothered by that; it would rather help him. Leaning down to the haystack that was occupied by the boy, he shook the young one, effectively waking him. He blinked confused and then scrambled to his feet, as he realised Guy's presence.

"You, boy, you can ride?" Guy asked, before the other could make for a run.

"'Course I can," the boy responded quickly, rubbing his eyes with one hand.

Guy pressed a coin into his hand. "Take a horse and go to Locksley as quickly as you can. Go to the manor and tell them that she has to leave, and now."

"Who, she?" the boy questioned.

"That in none of your concern," Guy returned, rising to his full height. "Now leave, before I take other measures."

The boy nodded quickly, before he moved to ready a horse. Gisborne walked over to his own horse, knowing that he would have to get it ready himself. But it would be to his advantage, enabling him to convincingly delay his own departure. He knew that the sheriff would have him watched, would have his every step out of the town observed. He assumed they hadn't seen him speaking to the young boy, and if they had, that they didn't know that it was about more than saddling his horse.

The boy rode off soon, and Guy took care to take as long as possible, before he followed as well. Then he let his horse trot out of Nottingham, heading for Locksley, but going slower than he could have done. After a while, just after he had passed the village of Clun, he slowed the horse to a halt and dismounted. He pretended to check the front hooves of the animal, at the same time trying to discern if anyone was near, following him. He was still certain that he was being pursued, although he had yet to spot or hear anyone.

He rode on then, still taking his time. While he was coming into the village of Locksley, he wondered if any of these precautions even made sense, for he realised more and more than he might have passed the point of no return. Could he really face the sheriff again without Marian? Not today, that much was certain.

When he rode towards the manor, everything lay quietly. He walked into the house unannounced and it took a few moments before Thornton came to see who had entered.

"Marian, is she still here?" Guy questioned directly.

The other shook his head. "She left directly after the service for Sir Edward earlier this morning, Sir. A boy arrived and told us that she was to leave immediately. You sent the boy, did you not?"

Gisborne nodded. "I did." He could only hope that Marian was safe. "Do you know where to she has gone?"

Thornton shook his head. "She would not say."

Guy gave only a short nod. It was maybe the better that no one knew, but he hoped that she had found shelter somewhere. It was probably easier for her on her own, though he hated that fact that she was alone. He hadn't had time to think of any other retreat for her, and he feared that only escape had saved her life. If he did not return with her to Nottingham soon, the sheriff would try to make sure that it was done.

Gisborne still doubted that the sheriff cared very much about the matter with her and her father itself, which was also the reason why he had previously believed that he would be able to convince the man to basically forget about it all, but still he knew, Vaysey was probing him now, and detested the rebellion against his orders.

He could do nothing for Marian any more at this moment. Now it was the question what he would do for himself. When he had left Vaysey's chamber earlier that morning he had assumed that he would return in the course of the day, very soon realising that he needed to let the sheriff cool off from the disappointment he was to suffer, if he learned that Guy had failed to get Marian before she fled.

Now that everything that had happened had settled down in his mind, now that he was seeing the grave face of his housekeeper in front of him, he realised that things were not that easy. Vaysey had threatened him with the fact that his position was in danger and Guy feared that as much was true, and possibly more.

Grabbing the hilt of his sword he knew that he had to make a decision. He gave another short nod.

"Thornton, I am going to leave the shire for a time. Should any of the sheriff's men come and ask for me, tell them as much. I will return in due time."

The other only showed a slight surprise. "Very well."

He himself would have to send a message to Vaysey, explaining that Marian was already gone when he arrived at Locksley. If the man would believe as much, was another matter. Guy left the house and remounted his horse, the decision weighing on him, but he knew that he had to wait till Vaysey had calmed down, or his life was in danger. He often had a hard time to estimate what the other man would do, but then the sheriff was also known for rash actions when it came to life and limb of others, and Guy did not want to become a victim of that. He would leave and return, once he could believe Vaysey to have regained his calm, or once he needed Guy, or he could alternatively offer the sheriff a service that was of considerable value to him, more than he had offered even as Master-of-Arms.

He felt some regrets that things had come so far, and there was some anger also towards her, she, who had made him act this way, just for the sake of a man who lay now buried in the churchyard of Locksley. But then, he had had no other choice.

>>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>------->

She had planned to leave, though it had not been her intention so run quite so sudden.

No thoughts of escape had been on her mind during the small ceremony that laid her father to rest. Very few people had been there, the ceremonial basically a secret after all. For her protection, Marian knew. It had been nothing compared to what would have been expected at the funeral of a former sheriff. Guy had not been there either, having ridden off to Nottingham, as she had learned from Thornton.

Marian had just been back at Locksley manor, sitting in her room, crying now in the time she found alone, when she had heard the rider arriving outside. For a moment she had thought that Gisborne had arrived back, but then a glance outside told her that it was a young boy who had come to stop in front of the house. He jumped off the horse lightly and skirted to the front door

Pushing the sorrow deep inside, Marian took a moment to compose herself and twirl up her hair, finishing it with the dagger that did not show its true nature when adorning her hair. She had to be ready to leave. Wondering as to what the arrival of the boy meant, she went downstairs, taking care to remain out of sight of the front door though.

"Sir Guy, he sent me, Sir," she could hear a young voice explaining.

"He sent a message?" Thornton asked.

"She has to leave, that's what he told me, Sir" the boy said quickly.

"She?"

"That's all he said, Sir."

Marian didn't need to hear more. A feeling of worry and confusion was there, as to what exactly had happened in Nottingham. The sheriff had found her out, she guessed, but still she wondered why Guy had not come back to Locksley himself. She could imagine that he had not dared to do so, the sheriff maybe on his tracks. Or he had not been able to. But then, he would not have been able to send the boy either.

She hurried back upstairs, only taking moments to retrieve her belongings, before she rushed downstairs again. The fact that Guy had not had the opportunity to tell her himself that she had to leave made it clear that time was precious, no matter the exact reason why he had not come himself. In any way, her plan had been to leave before he returned, no matter the slight feeling of regret on her conscience that was connected with this plan. He would only have argued for her to stay, or would have wanted to know where she was to go, at the least. This, he could not learn.

Still no reply from her father's friends had arrived, but Marian was not planning on leaving Nottinghamshire in any way. She would stay. There was nothing waiting for her anywhere else, and only here could she do what she felt she had to.

Thornton caught her by the front door. "You are leaving, milady?"

She nodded quickly. "I heard the message."

Thornton looked at her gravely. "Where are you to go, if I may ask?"

Marian shook her head. "Thank you for everything, but I cannot tell you."

The man's gaze remained on her, and by his expression Marian got the slight feeling that he had an idea about her destination.

"Take care," he nodded, and Marian slipped out of the door, taking a view around the village, before she hurried off, pulling her cloak over her and into her face despite the sunshine that was bringing another warm spring day. She headed towards the forest, still quickening her steps. Once she was under the cover of the trees, she slowed down, knowing she had still a fair distance to go.

It was an odd feeling, to be in the forest under these circumstances, to make her way to the outlaws' camp, knowing that she would not simply return to Knighton or Nottingham in the course of a few hours.

The gang did not know that she was coming of course, but then Robin had asked her often to join him in the forest. She had refused then, the idea of living in the woods seeming absurd to her, when she could just as well stay at her home or at the castle. Now she did not have another place to go to. She wondered if Robin would be happy to have her there; she believed he would; why else would he have pleaded with her to come there as he had done? She did not know how the other outlaws would react though.

The forest felt foreign around her. She had never conceived it like this, now that it was to become her home. The birds were louder than the sounds she herself made, and with a smile that vanished quickly as the sorrow came back up, she wondered if the outlaws were to hear her coming. Maybe they were even already waiting in the bushes around her.

As she walked up towards where the camp lay, she looked around with greater attention, but there was no human movement she could detect. She wasn't far away from the outlaws' home, when she suddenly lost the ground under her feet, as she was lifted up in the air, a rope tightening around her waist, leaving her hanging in mid-air.

She cursed, taking another moment to realise that she had been caught in one of the gang's traps, intended to keep people away from the camp. Somewhere she could hear the sound of a bang, probably an alarm that someone had been caught in the trap. She groaned, imagining the faces of the men, especially Robin's, when they would find her here.

After a few moments, she could not hear any more of the bangs, and neither was there any noise of outlaws talking and walking up to where she was. There was only silence, save for the birds that were still singing around her.

She realised what it meant. The outlaws were not at their camp. With a feeling of dread she wondered if they were even back in Sherwood. Plenty of days had passed since their departure, as she had thought, but then she did not know where they had gone, or how long they would take to come back.

She tried to wriggle out of the rope that still tightened around her, but found that it only caused the rope to swing back and forth, tightening yet more, making it still harder for her to move in any coordinated way. She cursed again, very much unwilling to stay there until one of the outlaws dared to show their face in Sherwood again.

Once the rope had stilled again, Marian reached upwards and pulled the dagger out of her hair, letting it fall loose over her shoulder as she did so, and moved her arm further up to try and cut the rope above her head. After a few moments she succeeded and dropped, landing not all too hard on the forest ground. Removing the last pieces of rope around her waist, resolving to have a talk with Robin about that matter, she moved on.

She made the last steps over to the camp with the greatest care not to treat into yet another trap. The camp was still hidden, but knowing how she could enter, she was inside soon, finding it empty as she had expected when none of the men had come to see who had been caught in their trap.

She checked the fireplace and found it cold, telling her that it had not been in use this afternoon. The camp did not appear deserted in the whole though, a few personal things of the men lying around. Figuring that she would probably stay there for a while, having no other place to go and having to wait for the return of the men, she checked the storages she knew the gang had for food, but found them nearly empty. Of course, this was what Robin had told her. They didn't have any supplies, and neither had the villagers around Nottingham, this being the reason for the outlaws' departure after all.

Marian sat down on one of the camp's cot, finding that she was not feeling hungry anyway. She looked around the empty camp, loneliness creeping inside her. No one was here. Her father had been buried in the morning, a time that seemed already long gone, the ceremony itself not having yet fixed itself in her sense of reality. Swallowing, she figured that it was not half bad that the outlaws were not there yet, leaving her some time alone, a time that she wanted to come to an end, too, though, as she felt the outlaws' camp and the trees around it encircling her, almost as if she was caught again.

>>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>-------> >>>------->

John didn't mind the waiting, but still wonder had come to him as well as to why Robin, Allan and Much had not yet returned from York. His own concern had been raised yet more when he noticed that Will, and especially Djaq, seemed to be worried.

He knew that the pair was talking between the two of them about things they didn't mention to him. John was aware that this wasn't specifically an affront to him; it was the same with Much and Allan, and probably also Robin. So it was no secret to him that Djaq and Will had shared their thoughts about their delayed friends, though he did not know what exactly they had spoken of, besides the few thoughts they had mentioned to him.

Another day had passed and the three outlaws had spent it observing the affairs in the villages. Much to their disquiet, they had seen a tax collector making his rounds in Clun.

John wondered seriously what the sheriff expected the people to give, there being simply nothing they had. Grimly he hoped that the man would not get the idea to raid the houses for food, now that the outlaws had distributed the shares from York.

As the sun was going down they were making their way back to camp, Will and Djaq leading the way along the narrow path while John followed, the absence of the other outlaws still on his mind. There was something they had to do, but for that, they first needed to know where the others even were.

"We go to York," he said then and Will stopped in his tracks in front of him.

"You think the others need our help?" he questioned.

John nodded.

"You want to go now?" Will clarified, turning yet more to the other man, as if ready to walk back the way they had come.

"It is going to be dark soon," Djaq pointed out from behind him, causing John to look at her. "I do not mean that I do not want to go and help them. I am worried, too," she added.

But John nodded to her as well. "We go to camp and wait till the morning. If they are not back then, we go back to York."

"I agree," Will said, glancing from John to Djaq who gave a short nod as well.

They continued on their way, but once they were only a few steps away from where their camp lay hidden, Djaq stopped again.

"Will, John," she said urgently, lowering her voice. The two men were at her side seconds later, looking down at what she had found. "Someone may be at the camp," Djaq whispered and John saw what she meant. One of their traps had gone off, but nobody was there anymore, the rope having been cut to free whoever had been caught.

"I don't think it's the others," Will spoke in a low voice. "They wouldn't be caught in our own traps, now would they? And they would not need to cut it to get the person down." He looked at Djaq who was shaking her head slightly.

"Keep your weapons at hand," John decided, grabbing his staff tighter. Will nodded, getting his bow ready, while Djaq took out her sword.

As they approached the camp, they did not immediately see anyone. The camp was not fully closed off against the outsider's eye though, indicating that actually someone was inside.

"I don't understand how anyone can have found it," Will murmured, but Djaq hushed him. John could understand Will's frustration though, as the man had built the camp with its concealment in mind, one that seemed to have failed with the intruder today.

They stepped carefully into the camp, still unaware of anyone's presence. Will kept his bow drawn and John his staff ready, confusion on his mind. Then he saw the lone figure and lowered his weapon. She was sleeping on Allan's cot, the blanket drawn around herself.

John pointed to her, a small smile on his face. "Marian."

"What is she doing here?" Djaq whispered, looking at the other woman.

"We'll have to ask her, once she's awake," Will shrugged.

"You think she knows anything about Robin and the others?"

Will shook his head. "I doubt it, but that's one more thing we can ask her."

The three of them settled down in the camp, John soon starting to prepare an evening meal for them with the little they had left over. His rustling finally woke Marian, who sat up with a start once she seemed to be awake enough to register the outlaws' presence.

"It's you," she said, letting out a breath. She looked from John to Will and on to Djaq then, confusion showing on her face. "Where's Robin? And the others?"

"They are not back from York yet," Will explained, grabbing his carving knife.

"York?" Marian frowned. "That's where you've gone to..."

Djaq nodded. "We came back first. Robin remained with Allan and Much."

"Why are you here?" Will asked then, and John thought this was a good question. He imagined that she had wanted to see Robin, but she had never before stayed this long at the camp alone, waiting for him, staying to sleep there even.

Marian shook her head slightly. "It's a long story."

Her tone told them that she was unwilling to talk about it, and although John could see that Djaq and Will shared a look about it, they left her alone for now, did not question further. John continued preparing their meal, looking over to where she sat then though.

"You want to wait for Robin?" he asked quietly.

She shrugged.

He frowned slightly, but didn't stop in his preparations.

"My father is dead," she said finally, in a quiet voice, causing all three of them to look at her.

"I'm sorry," Will said first.

John sighed, believing to understand now why she had come here. She was alone in the world now, so it only made sense that she would come to Robin. John even believed that Robin had mentioned before that it was only her father that was keeping her at the castle at Nottingham, Robin having asked her to join the gang instead. Now she seemed to have done just that, though she had not said it in her own words yet. John wondered if it was a good idea in any way. He was uncertain if she would be able to find her place there.

"I am sorry, too," he said.

"When do you think Robin and the others will be back?" she asked after a few minutes.

Will hesitated. "We thought they would already be back by now." He glanced at Djaq.

"We plan to go back to York, if they are not here by the morning."

John nodded to this.

"Do you want to stay here for the night?" he asked Marian.

She appeared uncomfortable, but nodded then, and John wondered what it was that she was keeping to herself. Sure, her father's death was certainly weighing heavily on her, and he could see the paleness of her face. But it did not seem to be the whole story, as to why she was here.

He continued preparing their meal, but was once again interrupted when they could hear voices in the close distance, mixed with the sounds of branches breaking and the rustling of leaves, that announced the arrival of people.

"But I'm telling you..." Allan's voice could clearly be recognized.

"We should go to Nottingham," Much declared.

Will smiled at this. "There they are."

John nodded contently. He had been slightly worried, it was true, so it was good to know that the outlaws had made it back now.

As Allan and Much entered the camp though, the gazes of the ones who had been waiting there searched in vain for the appearance of the third man.

"Where's Robin?" Marian voiced the question in John's head, confusion visible in all of them. Maybe the man had gone off on his own again; it was the idea that came next to his mind...

Allan looked at Marian. He seemed to feel uncomfortable, while Much was clearly upset.

"Robin's been caught."

Chapter 12
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