kegel84: (Robin - Marian hoods)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Marian, Will, Much, John, Allan, Djaq, Robin
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: Marian and the gang go to Nottingham where they run into trouble.

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


Chapter 13: Ambush

Marian had been glad to hear the men approaching the camp, not doubting for a moment that Robin would be among them. Now that she had heard the reason for his absence, a cold shiver went over her, the sorrow she had previously felt turning to misery. It couldn't be... she couldn't lose him, too...

“How did this happen?” John asked then.

“And where is he now?” Djaq added.

Allan glanced at Marian, before he replied. “In York, I mean, he was caught in York, but they're taking him to Nottingham. Sheriff's paying a sum and all.”

“He was there, when it happened,” Much added in a somewhat accusing tone of voice, motioning to Allan. Marian's attention was suddenly drawn to the man, remembering the conversation she and Robin had had before the gang's departure from Nottinghamshire.

“What do you mean?” Will questioned.

“Robin told me to stay with the horses because he didn't trust Allan with them,” Much explained.

“That's not what he said,” Allan protested.

“He and Allan went off, but Allan came back alone later, saying he had no idea what happened,” the other man went on.

“It's true,” Allan confirmed. “Got one over the head, and then Robin was gone.”

“How do you know he's being brought to Nottingham then?” Marian intervened. She wondered how much the two men actually knew, if they had seen Robin, if they knew how he was faring...

“I heard it from a guard,” Allan declared.

Marian frowned, guessing she had to believe what the man was saying, but still, matters were strange. She wondered what had happened, worrying that it was actually a traitor who had done Robin in. She looked at Allan and tried to discern from his eyes what was going on in his head... Robin had not told her his suspicion, who he suspected, but she had felt that he had a name on his mind, when she had told him that Gisborne had met a man at the tavern in Nottingham. Had Gisborne then received the promise that Robin was delivered to him? Had the traitor acted in York? She couldn't say, and for now she knew that freeing the man was of more urgency.

“We go to Nottingham,” John decided, and Marian nodded to this, though the man looked at her concerned, as she did this.

But Robin wasn't here and she doubted that any of the men would try and keep her from going to the Nottingham as well, if she wanted to do so. There was the additional point of them not knowing what had transpired there. They did not know that was facing the same risk as they did, when coming to the town.

“We also brought the rest of the food,” Allan said then, all of a sudden. “Figured Robin wouldn't want us to leave it behind and all.”

John nodded at this, and Marian could understand the outlaws' concern with the matter, though her mind was on entirely different things now, no matter that she knew that the villagers needed the supplies.

“Where did you leave them? At our big storages?” Will asked.

Allan nodded. “We did, right before coming here.“

“Robin?” Much asked then, and causing them to focus their attention on their leader again, the outlaws readied themselves to leave for Nottingham. Marian noticed only now that Much was carrying Robin's bow. In a way, it was a depressing sight, to know the man separated from his weapon, imagining him defenceless against his enemies.

As the outlaws moved out of the camp, Marian trailed Will, resolving to talk to him. She had to mention what she knew, what Robin had suspected. She wasn't certain who of the men she could actually trust, seeing that she was not trusting at least one of them, but she knew that Will had grown up at Locksley, and that his father had been a friend of Robin's; she could not imagine the man would betray him now. Neither had Will been there when Robin had been taken captive in York. And still, if he were the traitor after all, maybe she would be able to discern as much from his reaction to her statements. She had to start somewhere, after all, as she feared that Robin's rescue was in jeopardy because there might be a traitor lurking among them.

Night had fallen when they reached Nottingham. The town's gates were closed and Marian was curious how the outlaws planned to get inside now. As they lay in waiting, she took care to stay with Will, still waiting for an opportunity to speak to him in private.

“Will?”

“Yeah?” The man turned to her with an open expression.

“Can I trust you with something?”

“Sure.” The man seemed slightly confused. “What is it?”

Marian hesitated briefly. “I think there's a traitor in the gang. Robin thinks so, too.” It was blunt, she knew, but they had little time.

Will didn't reply at first, staring at her wordlessly. “Are you sure what you're saying there?” he asked then. “I can understand you're shocked he was caught, but that doesn't mean he was betrayed or anything. It just happens; we all face the risk.”

Marian shook her head. “He already thought so when we talked the last time. Before you left for York.” She swallowed. “How can I know that not one of the gang is going to keep us from getting to him?” She looked down at the grassy ground.

“You can trust us,” Will said firmly.

“And what about what Much said? That Robin didn't trust Allan?”

Will closed his eyes for a moment. “Much...” Then he shook his head and Marian wasn't sure if it was a shake at the other man, or at Will's own statement.

“Let's move,” John called from the other side then, motioning them to follow. Marian hurried after Will, trying to focus on what needed to be done instead of the other matters on her mind.

The outlaws sneaked close to the town's gate, but just before they got there, Marian noticed a movement to the side and she slowed down, trying to call and caution the men who were hurrying along. They didn't hear her, and she tried to find cover, figuring they would all have to sneak into the town, and meet up again inside, hopefully drawing less attention to them this way as if they were to try and get in all in one big group.

She moved towards the town's walls then, wondering if she might try and get in at the west gate. She knew she could climb along the houses that were located there, easily reaching the castle this way. She had done so before, or rather the Nightwatchman had.

She couldn't see or hear the outlaws anymore at this point, and decided that it was just as well that she was on her own. She could trust herself; she had managed to defy the sheriff in secret long before Robin had even returned from the Holy Land, long before the gang of outlaws had started to do so on a regular basis.

She slipped around the corner to the west gate, seeing quickly that no guard was standing there at the moment. She knew they were making their rounds, but if she hurried, she might be in, before they came to look the next time. Glancing left and right she broke into a run and skirted through the slight crack between the gates, her small form having little problems getting through. Then she turned left, rushing along the narrow alley, before she found a good place to climb upwards.

From somewhere she heard shouts. Listening, she determined quickly that they were in the far distance, somewhere close to the main gate, as she guessed, fearing that it were the outlaws that had been discovered. She hoped it would give her the chance to slip into the castle, as the guards might be distracted by the others, no matter that this certainly had not been their plan. But Marian needed to get inside, needed to get to Robin.

Carefully she walked along the roofs of the houses, knowing her way from here, as she had taken it before. She felt somewhat more exposed this time, not wearing the concealing mask of the Nightwatchman. She stopped briefly to listen for any more sounds, but the noise from earlier had died down, and she hoped that the outlaws had gotten away safely.

She moved on then and came only to a stop when she could see the movement of a light down in the alley. She held her breath, watching and listening as a guard walked alongside the houses. When he had passed, she continued on, but was stopped then as a call came from behind.

“Hey you, stop!”

She didn't intend to obey, hurrying forward instead, leaping over the gap between two houses as she hurried to reach cover. She could hear the clanging of armour and knew that more men were following.

“I said halt!”

Marian turned her head to look down at the street and stopped, as she saw several bows trained on her. Maybe it was not even a bad thing that she was not the Nightwatchman now, seeing that he had been ordered to be shot on sight.

“Come down,” one of the guards said, and Marian climbed down to the alley, briefly cursing her stupidity not to have stopped earlier. She could have convinced these men that she was just a girl out of bounds; now they would know something was wrong.

The man in front of her narrowed his eyes, holding the torch closer to her to get a better look.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I'm...eh, Sarah,” she said quickly, the first name coming to mind.

“What do you think you are doing?” the man returned, but another was coming up to his side, looking down at her in the shine of the torch.

“Looks to me more like the daughter of the old sheriff,” he mused. “The one who ran with old Edward and killed the jailer on the way.”

“I'm not her,” Marian quickly intervened, staying to try calm, the accusation regarding to the jailer's killing ringing in her mind though. It had been Guy's doing, not hers, not that the sheriff would care about anything like that.

“You sure about that?” the guard ignored her interruption, lifting his sword to keep her in toe.

The man frowned. “Yes, I am.”

“What did the sheriff want to do with her again?”

“Hanging, I suppose.”

The other shook his head. “I'm not taking anyone to the gallows before I've made sure. And not at this hour anyway.”

Marian tried to glance around unnoticeable, searching for a way out.

“I'm not going to wake the sheriff at this hour either. He'll have to deal with it tomorrow.”

The other man shrugged. “Just take her to the dungeons then. Won't hurt a silly girl like her in any way to spend a night there. She can have some fun with the rats.”

Marian still hoped that they would actually consider her a random girl from town who had been apprehended. Then they might even let her go in the morning before the sheriff would be informed. But she actually doubted her luck would hold like that. Some of the guards might not be certain about her identity as of yet, but there were plenty who certainly knew her face. She wouldn't stand a chance; not like this.

They led her over the castle yard and then down into the castle itself. On the way she noticed that there seemed to be no other new prisoners being brought, causing her to hope for the outlaws. The guards brought her around a few corners and stopped then, one of them opening a door.

“Jailer, you're needed,” he called into the room, and Marian could fleetingly see other guards holding a man against the wall at the other side of the dark chamber, sounds of a struggle reaching her ear, before the addressed man came walking to the door, hindering her sight on the scene.

“We've got a new one,” the guard explained, motioning to Marian.

The jailer frowned. “I'm not done here yet.”

“Don't care,” the other man returned. “My shift's almost over. You can get back to it once you've taken this one off my hands.”

The jailer sighed, putting away the knife he had been carrying, blood still visible on it, and pulled out his keys. “This way,” he said.

As she was pushed along, Marian's thoughts returned to the scene she had briefly witnessed. She hadn't seen his face, but his posture, and the fact that she knew he had to be down here somewhere, made her fear that it had been Robin. She felt cold at the thought of what possibly had been done there.

The jailer opened a cell then, motioning for the guards to get Marian inside.

“What was so important that you couldn't spare a moment?” one of the men asked, moving aside to let the jailer lock the door.

“I wanted to take a few digits off the archer. Make sure he doesn't draw a bow again, no matter how good he is,” the man chuckled, while the guard who had asked looked disgusted.

Hearing the words caused a cold rage in Marian, and hurrying forward, she pushed against the closing cell door, catching the jailer in surprise and hitting him full force with the iron frame. The man slumped down, while the guards were watching, one laughing quietly.

Another one moved to close the door in the jailer's stead, and Marian could hear the lock clicking, as she stared at the men.

“Our friend is out for now, it seems,” one said, shaking his head. They dragged the unconscious jailer away, leaving Marian alone then, who feared that her luck would finally run out, once the morning would come and the sheriff would be able to tell what was to be done. It had started down here, when she had tried to free her father; but now she had ended up here just the same.

It was then that she realised that she still had her dagger, still fixed in her hair as it had been before, the guards not having recognised it as what it was. She reached for it, but left it where it was, knowing it would have no use unless she found herself confronted only by the jailer, not by a troop of guards with swords.

A few minutes later she could hear sounds again and saw the guards returning, dragging a man with them. Carrying the jailer's keys, one of them opened the cell next to Marian's.

“Jailer's indisposed as of now, but he'll see you later,” he told the man, as he pushed the prisoner inside. The light was still dim, most of the cell engulfed in darkness, but Marian was now sure that it was Robin. It couldn't be anyone else. What the jailer had said only confirmed it yet more.

Instinctively she curled her fingers into a fist, imagining what might have happened, and prayed that it hadn't taken place. Once she heard the door above closing, knowing they were alone now, she moved closer to the bars, peeking to the other side. It was hard to make out anything, she could only distinguish that he had slid over to sit with his back against the wall.

“Robin?”

There seemed to be a slight movement on the other side, but no reply came.

“Robin,” she repeated, more insistently, more worry creeping into her voice.

“I'm fine,” he said then, but it didn't sound convincing.

She swallowed. “What... happened?” He didn't answer her, and she tried again. “Can you come closer?” she asked.

He made a sound that seemed almost a laugh. “What use would that have?”

“Robin, please.”

“The jailer, he said you had escaped,” he spoke then, sounding confused. “It was a lie then.”

Marian sighed. “It is a long story.”

“Tell me.”

“Tell me first what happened, please?”

He chuckled then, and this time it sounded more like him, causing her to smile despite the situation, before there was silence again.

“Please come here,” she asked him then.

He came and as dim as the light was she could finally make out his form a little more clearly. His right arm was pressed against his tunic, and it wasn't easy to miss the dark stains that were underneath. She held out a hand, the want obvious, and only after a moment did he relinquish, allowing her to handle the injured limb.

It was a relief to see all his fingers were intact, but cuts were there in the palm of his hand, defensive wounds from when he had fought against it, she presumed. They were painful looking, easily telling of what had transpired earlier. Marian felt sick, knowing of what would have followed had she not been taken down here at the moment she had been. Perhaps it was a blessing for her to have been separated from the others and caught as she was.

She dropped his hand, pulling up the folds of her dress, tearing the material even as Robin tried to stop her. When she had a length in her hands she beckoned for his again, and he gave it with a sigh.

"I have no way of cleaning it," she told him quietly, tying off the one end. It would do nothing for the pain, but at least it would help to ease the flow of blood.

He tried to curl his fingers, but she could see that it caused him to flinch.

“Don't do this,” she said.

“I can still move them,” he returned, breathing out heavily.

She nodded, knowing that it had caused him concern.

“Your men will come for you,” she said. “They're out there, they know you're here and they will come.”

“I don't think the jailer's going to be satisfied with what he did so far,” Robin returned, and she could see his worry. It was strange to see him so, he who hadn't shown any worry about being strung up by the sheriff outside. He seemed to force a smile then, one that became more genuine as he went along with it, “But you're right. My men will come, for the both of us.”

She knew he wanted to spread optimism, and she wondered if she now wanted to talk to him about the suspicion, the traitor she feared might lurk in the gang.

Before she could start anything on that matter, he went on, “Tell me what happened.”

She wanted to ask him as well, about what had happened in York. While she had already received an explanation by Much and Allan, she wanted to hear it from him, wanted to learn what he had seen. She nodded though, beckoning him to sit down, and she tried to find a place for herself, relieved to see that no rats seemed to be scurrying around, no matter what the guards had been joking about.

As she started to explain, she could hardly believe it had only been a few days since it had happened. “My father is dead,” she told him.

Robin reached out to her again, his uninjured hand coming to rest on hers. “I'm sorry.”

She nodded. “He died at Locksley,” she went on then, and could see the surprise and confusion in his face.

“How-?”

“I went to free him,” she explained. “I came down here, knocked out the jailer - I didn't kill him – that was Gisborne-”

“Gisborne?” Robin asked sharply.

“I came to free my father, but Gisborne caught me.” She grimaced, knowing she could have ended up at the same place as she was now, if Guy had not helped her. “We argued,” she admitted. “But then he helped, and got us to Locksley.”

“And slit the jailer's throat,” Robin intervened.

Marian nodded, not willing to dwell on that matter. “We were at Locksley for a few days, before my father passed away.” She closed her eyes, trying to swallow down the lump in her throat.

When she looked up at him again, she saw that he wanted to know more, but kept his questions at bay. She nodded again then. “The morning, after the service, Gisborne sent a message that I needed to leave. I believe the sheriff found him out.”

“Where did you go?”

“To your camp.” She smiled. “I met your men there. They know you're here. They're planning to come for you.”

“And you went with them?”

“We got separated. And I was caught.”

“We will get out of here,” Robin promised.

Reaching up into her hair again, she said, “I still have my dagger. But it's no good picking locks.” She smiled.

Robin shook his head. “It won't work. Keep it. If... if you should be taken outside... use it.”

She nodded, not willing to mention the likelihood that when she would be taken outside, she would be both bound and surrounded by guards, ready to take her to the gallows for the sheriff's amusement.

She once again wondered what had happened to Guy, though she knew she could not hope that he would come for her again. If he even knew about her being down here, if he was even willing to free her, she knew the sheriff would not allow it.

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

They hadn't managed to get into the castle. They had made it into the town alright, but then they had soon been discovered, as a guard spotted Allan creeping along, apparently becoming suspicious. He had raised an alarm, and seconds later all of the outlaws had been on the run.

They fled the town, wonder still in them as to where Marian was. She had been separated from them, even before they had sneaked into Nottingham, causing questions as to her having followed another course of action now. Will was worried about her, imagining that she might go so far to take any rash actions, remembering how he himself had felt after his father's death.

Of course Marian would not go and try to kill the sheriff, no matter that she might blame him for Sir Edward's falling health that had finally caused his death, but Will could imagine that she would become reckless in trying to free Robin.

He knew there was nothing the gang could do about it now, having no clue as to where she even was. They still had to get to Robin, but before that they had to wait for calm to return to the guards that paid attention to anyone who entered the town.

They made their way back to the forest, the darkness around them becoming more complete.

“We go back to camp?” Much asked then, sounding somewhat exhausted, but turning around to look back into the direction from where they had come from. Will knew that Much would not rest before they had gotten into Nottingham again.

“I don't think we have the time,” he said.

“That's what I think,” Much confirmed. “We wait here, go back, when they'll all have calmed down, and find Robin.”

The outlaws settled down to wait in the underbrush, Will letting his thoughts wander to what had happened this day, and what was to come the next.

“I'm sorry about earlier,” Allan said suddenly.

“Why?” Will wasn't able to see his face.

“Guard seeing me and all,” he answered, Will able to make out a shrug.

He frowned, it being unusual for Allan to feel sorry about something like that, something that could simply happen to all of them.

“Sometimes I think you're really working against Robin, you know?” Much spoke up. “First he gets caught with you around, then you're spotted when we try to rescue him.”

Will could hear that Much was only speaking his mind, was not directly accusing Allan, no matter that he had argued earlier in anger that Robin did not trust Allan.

“What do you want to say with that?” Allan returned.

Will thought back to what Marian had told him. He still thought that she had spoken in distress about what had happened, but then, if it was true that Robin suspected it, too... Will didn't quite think that Allan had been spotted on purpose earlier.

“I'm just saying...” Much replied.

“Be quiet,” Djaq said suddenly-

“But-” Allan argued.

“Quiet!” John ordered, and as everyone fell silent, Will could hear that there were other sounds out there. It took some moments before they became clearer. There were people and horses moving along the road nearby. And then light also found its way through the thickness of the underbrush and Will could see that torches were being carried in the distance.

“Are they searching for us?” Allan wondered.

“They're not coming from Nottingham, they're going there,” Will replied quietly.

“Why do they come at night?” Djaq asked in a just as low voice.

Much was moving forward then and the moment Will realised what he was doing, he followed him, knowing he wouldn't be able to stop him anymore. He could hear that Djaq, John and Allan were following on his heels.

Much jumped out onto the road.

“This, is an ambush,” he declared, as the horses jumped nervously in front of him, the men alongside of them just as surprised, as they scurried about to protect a wooden chest that was being carried along.

Later, as the outlaws had taken to their heels, with as much of the treasure they had run into as they could carry, Will wondered if they hadn't raised yet more alarm in Nottingham doing this. But then, maybe the sheriff would come looking for them in Sherwood now, and wouldn't expect them in Nottingham, no matter that this was where they would go, once they had hidden the silver that would buy the next supplies for the villages.

Now they had to rescue Robin. They might be able to work on their own as well, but they had to get their leader out of there; Will felt that they owed it to him.

Chapter 14

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