kegel84: (Robin - Marian wood)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Robin, Vaysey, Marian
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: Robin and the sheriff come to an agreement.

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

Chapter 15: Bargain

Every time Robin heard steps coming towards him, he hoped it was his men coming, or Marian, having escaped this predicament, having waited for an opportunity to come back for him. At the same time he disliked this wish, considering the risk everyone would be taking with it.

When there was not the hope, there was the worry that the jailer would return, but for now, the man seemed to have vanished. He did not even come to shove any food or water Robin's way, and he wondered briefly, if this was now part of the sheriff's attempt to torment him.

He frowned, opening his eyes from the feverish doze he had been in, seeing that the same man was actually there again. He had probably come to make his ridiculous demands again. Robin smiled a little at the joke that it was, the man thinking he could still demand anything of him. He doubted the sheriff would even get to hang him; he would have to drag him to the gallows, before he succumbed to the fever.

"I've come back to talk about my proposition," Vaysey said then, and once he had forced the fog to the back of his mind, Robin actually noticed that the man seemed to be feeling off as well, although he was certainly not ill as Robin was. There was a strain in the man's posture that could not be missed. "What do you say," the sheriff started, "I pardon not only you, but also all your pesky little outlaw friends? Now, what do you say?"

Robin laughed, wondering then if he was already in the beginning stages of delirium.

"Oh, come on," Vaysey frowned. He turned to the guard behind him. "Bring some water." The man hurried off and the sheriff looked down at Robin again. "Do you agree to our deal?"

Robin shook his head, the laughter having died down. "Never."

The guard returned with a bucket of water and the sheriff motioned him to put it down in front of Robin. He eagerly grabbed the vessel, drinking the cold liquid gratefully.

"Who will help the poor people, if you're dead, hmm?" Vaysey went on.

"There are others," Robin replied, setting the bucket away and leaning back against the wall. "And if you want to hang me, you'll have to hurry."

"I don't want to hang you, Hood, I want you to work with me here," the sheriff called back, with a rising tone of anger.

"But I don't want to work with you," Robin spat out.

"Maybe I'll just hang someone else. Maybe this will make you reconsider."

Robin scoffed. The sheriff knew that he had first given up his lands, his title, had gone into outlawry to save his men from hanging, but there was little he could do to him now. His men were free, the sheriff had said so himself when he had complained about the ambush that had taken place. He didn't want any innocent villager to suffer at Vaysey's hand, so the man could hurt him, but then Robin doubted that he would have the chance to do so for very much longer.

The sheriff waved his hand then, and minutes later Robin could hear others arriving outside, a struggle going on at the same time, as someone was dragged towards the cell.

"Now, how would you like it, Hood, to see her hang?" Vaysey smirked now.

Robin looked up to see Marian being held by a guard on either side. It was a relief to see her alive, at the same time anger running through him at the actions of the sheriff, using her this way...

"Oh, and don't worry," the sheriff went on then. "I know about the two of you."

Robin gritted his teeth, as the man paced around in front of him.

"So what do you say? We string her up in the courtyard outside, short drop, I'd say, we don't want to break that pretty neck," Vaysey suggested. "You want to watch or not?"

"Robin," Marian said quickly.

The sheriff grinned. "Now what does she want to say with that, hmm?" He turned to Robin. "'Robin, don't do what the sheriff says' or 'Robin, don't let me die'." Vaysey showed his teeth.

Robin looked at her, swallowing heavily. He saw fear in her face, understandably. Otherwise she looked alright, having apparently escaped the worst cruelty of jailer or sheriff, and Robin was grateful for it.

"Don't hurt her," he said then. He didn't know what else to say, wondering what any of the pride he wished to retain would bring him, if it meant that it caused Marian's death.

The sheriff waved his hand again then, and the guards pulled her away, Robin watching as they did so.

"I'll leave you to reconsider your decision now, but I'll be back in an hour," Vaysey announced. "I'll have the hangman arrange everything outside, so that we can start once I hear back from you." The man strode out then and the door of the cell was locked as it had been before.

The sheriff had him in his hands, this much was clear. Before, the man had tortured villagers to get to him, and Robin had been ready to give himself up to the gallows to stop it. How could he refuse now to accept the sheriff's deal, if it meant Marian's death to do so?

Robin did not know what the sheriff really planned; he was sure that the man had not told him the whole truth, maybe not even part of the truth; but at the same time he figured that the situation could not get any worse. It could not hurt worse to accept the proposition. He didn't know if he would even see the next day, and if he did, he could still see what it would bring, if he really was to return to Locksley as Vaysey promised. He only had to ensure Marian's freedom, then it would not matter if Vaysey actually held true to his word.

It didn't take long till the man returned, striding into the dungeon's cell once again. Robin moved to his feet shakily as he did so.

"So, what is your decision?"

Robin nodded. "I accept your offer."

The sheriff grimaced, but Robin could not say what the feelings of the man were.

"There is a condition though," Robin added.

"What is that?" Vaysey asked, lifting his eyebrows as he looked at the other.

"Marian needs to go free," Robin took a breath, forcing his voice to sound firm.

"Ah, ladidadida," the sheriff rolled his eyes. "The leper stays here, or how else do I know you will comply?"

Robin shook his head, guessing that their agreement was already coming to an end now. "Then I won't accept." At the same time as he said it, he knew that he would have to agree in any way.

After a moment the sheriff sighed. "You get the leper. But you will make sure," he pointed with a finger at Robin, "that I get the silver your men took from me yesterday."

Robin shrugged at this, but grew more serious then. "You will take me to Marian now." The sheriff was technically still standing in his way out of the cell, but moved to the side then. Robin felt unsure turning his back to the man, but figured Vaysey could have found plenty of other ways to kill him, if he wanted to do so.

"Take him to Lady Marian," the sheriff ordered a guard pointedly. The guard was about to grab Robin's arm, but the sheriff shook his head with a pained expression. "He is free to go." Coming up from behind Robin, leaning in over his shoulder, he added more quietly, "If you do what we agreed upon."

Robin's answer consisted in walking out of the cell, following the guard that was supposed to take him to Marian. He was very wobbly on his legs, and could feel the fog around his mind returning, his hand once again in a dull, throbbing pain, but he had to keep moving for now. Maybe he would actually he able to rest later; maybe he could get to Djaq, and she would be able to do something about the fever he had caught; maybe he would survive all of this.

The man he had been following came to a halt in front of him, turning left and right, apparently in confusion.

"What is wrong?" Robin asked, trying to ready himself for any kind of trap, but figuring that he had little chance as of now.

"She was here," the guard replied, pointing at an empty cell in front of them.

"Then where is she now?" Robin wanted to know, his eyebrows lifted. This didn't make sense in his mind, but then, little made sense today. He shook his head, before touching his forehead with his uninjured hand. It was still hot to his touch.

"I don't know," the guard admitted, still looking around. "The sheriff had the gallows readied, but I don't-"

The man didn't get to say more, as Robin was already hurrying away, as quick as his staggering step was carrying him. He knew the way; he had fled from here before. According to the sheriff, this wasn't a flight now, he was free to go, the man had said, but how many lies had he actually told? Fearful images came to his mind, as he ran up the steps towards the castle yard.

When he rushed out onto the yard, a few guards tried to stop him, but he ducked past them, coming to a halt outside. The gallows were actually ready, as both sheriff and guard had told him, but deserted. His worst fear not being confirmed, a cruel joke of the sheriff that had played in his mind, he was doubling over in exhaustion, trying to catch his breath again. He still didn't know where Marian was, but at least, she wasn't here.

The guards had caught up with him by now, pointing their swords at him, but Robin ignored them, still trying to focus on his breathing and the ever increasing difficulty of having the world not spin around him.

He could see the sheriff coming out of the castle then, who was grimacing at the scene before him.

"Why did they never catch you, when it actually mattered?" he asked, looking mockingly at the confused castle guards. "Just let him go."

"I still want to know where Marian is," Robin pointed out, doing his best to stand up fully again as the guards moved away from him.

"Your little bird seems to have flown away," the sheriff muttered drearily. "The guards can catch a man that is free to go, but seem to have let a leper slip through their grasps. You may believe me or not, but I didn't lay a hand on her." He smirked. "Maybe Gisborne came back and carried her away, wouldn't put it past that poor besotted fool, traitor that he is."

Robin frowned at this, but put this away as a desperate attempt of the sheriff to annoy him further.

"Maybe we could go upstairs now, Locksley, and talk about the details of our arrangement." Looking at the rope that was hanging from the gallows and the guards that were standing around, waiting for something to happen, he added, "In a more relaxed atmosphere." He grimaced again.

Robin shrugged. Vaysey had had him basically at his mercy before; it didn't really matter where the man planned to drive a knife into his back. Robin would take care, but at the same time nothing spoke against going to listen what the man had to say, for now at the least. He wanted to find Marian, and he also wished to see Djaq and the rest of the gang, but he doubted his desire to run back to the camp at the moment. He would have to talk the sheriff out of a horse; or steal one for that matter.

Once they had gone upstairs, Robin trying as well as he could to hide the weakness he was feeling, though he figured that the sheriff had long noticed. Vaysey waved him into his personal chamber. He turned to a servant who had been waiting then.

"Bring us a few goodies from the kitchen, will you? Do not forget the wine, of course." Vaysey watched Robin out of the corner of his eyes, still having an odd expression on his face. Robin did not listen to his words though, for his attention had been drawn to something entirely different.

Hanging on the wall next to the sheriff's bed was a curved sword, one he recognised very well. It was a trophy, that much was clear.

Robin turned to Vaysey with lifted eyebrows.

"A little cherry on top the Sheriff of York gave me," the man explained with what seemed to be an amused smile. The other still stared at him, as Vaysey waved his hand. "Just sit down somewhere, Locksley, will you? Before you fall over and hurt yourself." Robin didn't move and after another moment the sheriff pretended to just come to understand. "We will take it down, naturally," he nodded towards Robin's sword. "Guard! Take the sword down and give it to Locksley."

The guards might have considered this a dangerous decision, but then they didn't know as well as the sheriff did that Robin was resolved on not killing the man. Not that he could not have changed his mind on this, but Robin didn't even bother considering all the hurdles he would have to overcome on his way out, if he were to do so.

The guard took the sword from the wall and presented it to Robin. It was slightly awkward as Robin had to reach around and take the weapon with his left hand as opposed to his right, the one that it had been handed to. He didn't dare using the limb at all at the moment, unwilling to cause any more pain in it.

It felt good to have the sword back and Robin took care to fasten it to his belt, while the sheriff seated himself with a bored expression, starting to pick from the food that had been brought in in the meantime.

Robin then took a seat as well, though he wished nothing more than to be back at the outlaws' camp, able to finally rest and sleep properly.

"Help yourself," the sheriff offered then, chewing.

Robin didn't hesitate long. While his desire for sleep was greater than that for food, he had been starved for days, and seeing the food laid out on the table did nothing to subdue his appetite. It was probably a good thing in regards to his well-being. He might have wondered, if the sheriff would consider anything like poisoning the food, seeing Robin die as he put too much trust in the man, but Robin knew that Vaysey would want to see him suffer. He wouldn't give him such a pleasant death that started out with this meat that was, as Robin admitted to himself, tasting delicious.

With a smile he thought of Much who would love to see such a rich meal. Then he frowned, remembering the reason he was actually there.

"Let us talk about the deal then," he suggested, nodding to the other man. "And I want a horse."

"Are you a little girl, Locksley?" the sheriff replied annoyed. On Robin's expression he added, "You will get your horse, but let me summarise the important points now: I will have you pardoned, publicly, you will get your little friends to bring back the silver they took from me."

Robin still didn't like that part, knowing that the gang would react incredulous on any such suggestion.

"You go back to Locksley, can have a dance in the spring with all your peasant friends, but make sure that the taxes come in, so we can help bring dear King Richard home."

Robin nodded to this, although he was certain that the sheriff was not telling him the whole truth.

"My men?" he prompted then.

"Will be pardoned, too," the sheriff assured him. "But you make sure they don't steal back my treasure in their free time, or any other that comes through to Nottingham for that matter."

Robin nodded once. There was the question as to how they were to help the peasants, if they had no money stolen from the sheriff, but at the end of the day it was the people's taxes they would be stealing, those that were supposed to bring the king home now. Or those aiding the sheriff.

"Do you want the traitor in your gang pardoned, too?" the sheriff asked suddenly, and there was glee in his expression.

Robin leaned forward, frowning deeply. "We can make this deal, or not."

"I can hang you and your leper, or not," the sheriff returned.

Robin tried to quench the anger, reminding himself that Vaysey was only provoking him. He would never take the man's word in any matter such as that; he himself would find out if there was a traitor, he would not ask Vaysey about it, or the man would use any opportunity to destroy Robin's trust in his men.

"What about Gisborne?" he asked, showing that he had no intention to talk about the sheriff's previous query.

Vaysey grimaced. "We'll have to make sure he doesn't get what he wants, or all of this," the sheriff waved towards the town of Nottingham, visible from the window, "will go up in flames."

Robin didn't answer. He didn't even know where Gisborne was, only that he was not at Locksley anymore. Remembering what Marian had told him, he could only assume that the man had left after Vaysey had found out that he had helped Marian. If that really was the case, for Robin did not trust that Gisborne would risk his position with the sheriff this way.

Unless he had already other plans in any way. Still, it was only the sheriff's word that the man wanted to kill him. But then Vaysey had to be really afraid, if he was ready to make these kind of deals. Not that Robin fully trusted in anything that had been said in the room. He had to see what was to come from it, take it step for step. Promising the sheriff to give the silver back had not yet cost him a penny, but had gotten him out of the dungeons, and Marian hopefully away from the gallows, for now.

"Now, shall we make our proclamation?" the sheriff asked, still sounding somewhat irritated by the idea.

Chapter 16
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