kegel84: (Much)
kegel84 ([personal profile] kegel84) wrote2010-05-31 10:39 am

Fic: Better Days Will Come 16

Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Much, Will, John, Djaq, Allan, Robin, 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: The gang hears about the agreement between Robin and the sheriff, and Marian is in hiding.

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

Chapter 16: Proclamation

"In the name of the Sheriff of Nottingham, which is myself, installed by the sovereignty of Richard, King of England, blah-di-blah-di-da, the following man, Robin of Locksley, also known as Robin Hood, is pardoned from his crimes. He is also reinstated to his title of Lord of Locksley and Earl of Huntingdon. Also pardoned are all and any of the men following him."

Much froze, thinking about what had just been said, before he turned to Will, both of them hiding behind a stack of wood. "Did you hear what he said?"

Will nodded.

"This is a good thing, right? He said he's pardoning Robin."

"I don't trust the sheriff," Will returned grimly, and Much had admit that the other had a point. It would never be wise to trust the man.

"Where is Robin? He will know about this, I'm sure."

They had sneaked back into Nottingham in the morning, after they had stored the treasure from their latest ambush, and had since then been hiding in the town, hoping for an opportunity to get into the castle. Much had been agitated, only consoled by the fact that none of the town's folk had said anything about a recent hanging.

They still didn't know how they were to free Robin, but maybe this wouldn't even be necessary.

Djaq and John came up behind them.

"Did you hear what he said?" Much asked them as well and Djaq nodded once.

"We do not trust the sheriff," John made it clear.

Allan came sneaking up to them as well. "What's Robin up to now?"

"Why? Do you know where he is?" Much questioned quickly.

Allan motioned over to the castle yard. There Robin was, ready to mount a horse. None of the guards who were standing around seemed intent in stopping him, a curious sight indeed, Much thought. Robin heaved himself up to the animal, closing his eyes for a moment, as he was sitting, which caused Much to frown in wonderment.

"He does not look well," Djaq spoke what he had already felt, too.

"He is ill," he stated worriedly, not taking his eyes of his former master.

"Maybe the sheriff put something in his drink, drugged him, messed up his mind," Allan suggested, circling his finger next to his ear as to indicate what he suspected to be Robin's state of mind. "Would explain all of this," he waved towards the sheriff, who was still standing there, beaming now.

"This doesn't even make sense," Will shook his head.

As they were watching, Robin rode slowly out of the castle yard and through the streets of Nottingham. The outlaws followed him stealthily, still not sure what to make of the situation. As Robin reached the town's gate the guards there watched him warily, but let him pass.

"Where is he going?" Much whispered behind Will, the gang once again concealed as well as they could.

Will frowned. "Back to camp, I think."

Much moved ahead, his mind set on following Robin. They still had to get out of the town again, but in his eyes this should be easier than getting inside. As Robin rode over the bridge, they lost sight of him, and Much hurried to get to the gate as well, the others following him.

"Hey," someone called from behind then, and Much turned his head. "Stop," a guard said, pointing at Will.

Will was about to break into a run, but Much stepped forward.

"We are Robin Hood's men," he declared. "And you heard what the sheriff said. We are free to go."

The guard was frozen to the spot for a moment and others joined in their attention to the scene. Then the man nodded, and the former outlaws moved to the town's gate carefully.

"I like how that's going," Allan smiled, as they walked out of the town unhindered.

"I still don't understand this," Will said. "The sheriff wouldn't just pardon us like that. Robin has to have offered him something in return."

Much looked ahead into the distance, but he already wasn't able to see Robin anymore. Of course, on horseback the man was much faster than them. At least they knew he was free, no matter that they did not know what was behind all of this.

As they came up to the camp later, all was quiet. Much soon spotted Robin though, lying in his bed, sleeping. Much could imagine that the man had to be more than exhausted after being caught in York, brought to Nottingham, spending days in the dungeons and who knew what else. The most mysterious were certainly the dealings with the sheriff, but in Much's view those were hardly important at the moment. He was just glad that Robin was back, and in one piece as far as he could tell.

Contentedly, he set down his things, including Robin's bow that he had been carrying. The man would be happy to have it back. He would probably be hungry when he woke up, so Much moved to check the storages that camp provided. There was little there, he remembered as he found them nearly empty. At least the others seemed to have brought some of the peas and grains they had taken from York to the camp. It would have been foolish to hand all of it out to the villages; the outlaws needed to eat as well after all.

Much set up a pot, seeing Djaq move over the Robin as he did so.

"He is hurt," she said quietly, looking at the man.

"Hurt?" Much questioned alarmed. They had all seen that Robin looked ill, but he had hoped that rest and food would help there. Guilt and alarm was now coming up in him that he had not noticed that his friend was injured, had not even looked closely.

"His hand," Djaq explained. "It's bandaged." She frowned. "He used some cloth. It does not look clean."

"You cannot wake him," Much declared, leaving the food behind and coming over to her.

Djaq shook her head. "He is already running a fever. Look at him."

Much stopped. He could see the colour of his cheeks, could see the slight shivers that were coming over him despite the blanket that he had drawn over himself and the warmer spring air that was around them now.

Djaq carefully took Robin's hand, pulling and unwrapping the bandage then. Much didn't like what he saw. He didn't have the knowledge that Djaq had, but he had the experience from five years on the battlefield. These wounds didn't look good.

Much's gaze went from Robin's hand to his face, and he saw that the man had awoken, watching them bleary-eyed for a moment, before pulling his hand back from where Djaq had been holding it.

"Robin," Much nodded to him; he was still worried, but it was good to see the man.

"I have to clean the wounds," Djaq said earnestly, reaching again for Robin's hand, but he held it close to himself. He sat up properly and Much moved away to give him more space.

"I've seen it in the Holy Lands," Robin started then. "Wounds that became infected. Limbs that had to be taken to spare a man's life." He looked down at his hand and Much could once again see the red of the skin around the injuries.

"We do not have to worry about that just now," Djaq returned.

Robin nodded quietly.

"What happened?" Much asked him, pointing at the hand.

Djaq turned to him meanwhile. "Do we have some wine left? For the pain and so I can clean the injury?"

Much nodded eagerly. "Of course." He turned away to get what she required.

"Yeah, what happened?" Allan asked as well. "We heard that proclamation the sheriff made, what's that all about?"

Much filled two cups of wine. One he handed to Robin, one to Djaq.

"It's hard to explain," Robin started, as he nipped at his cup. Djaq had set down the second one, now rummaging in her bag to find what she needed for her work.

"Try us," Allan shrugged, and John nodded in agreement, as he and Will came up to settle around them as well.

"The sheriff wanted a deal," Robin explained, frowning, taking another gulp of the wine.

"We do not make deals with the sheriff," John insisted.

"John's right. We don't," Will agreed, but Robin's gaze went up to him and he fell silent.

"He had Marian, has Marian, I don't know," he shook his head. "He threatened to hang her. I could not let that happen."

Will nodded at this, while Djaq sat down next to Robin, taking his hand in hers.

"Marian was caught?" Much intervened. They had not seen her since they had first tried to get into Nottingham to save Robin, but he had hoped that there had been another reason for her disappearance.

Robin nodded. "I saw her in the dungeons. We talked." Looking down at his injured limb, he added, "She bandaged it." He fell silent for a few moments, as he gritted his teeth, as Djaq was working on the wounds. "I don't know where she is now," he went on then. "Vaysey claims she got away."

Will shook his head. "We haven't seen her."

"The deal?" Allan prompted and Robin's gaze went to him. Much could see a yet deeper frown on his friend's face as he looked at the other man, and Much remembered what Robin had told him in York.

"He had us all pardoned," Robin went on. "We have to give back the silver you took the other day. No more ambushes. I go back to Locksley."

"What?" John's exclamation resounded in the camp, and Robin winced as Djaq continued cleaning his wounds, focusing only on this task.

Will was shaking his head silently in disbelief.

To Much, the deal sounded good, if one could even trust the sheriff's word that was, but he could see that the others did not like the idea at all.

Robin cried out, as Djaq touched his wounds again. She muttered a quiet apology as she did so.

"I can understand that you don't like this," he admitted then. "I would never have accepted anything like this, if it wasn't for Marian." He paused. "But now I think we need to do this. For the king."

"What does the king have to do with this?" Will questioned.

"The king is still being held hostage. A ransom has to be paid. If we take the prince's treasure, he cannot do so," Robin explained earnestly, as Djaq wrapped his hand in a fresh bandage.

"You don't actually believe the sheriff's or Prince John's money is going to the king?" Allan grimaced.

"Yes," Much agreed. "Why would the sheriff care for the king? He will be out when the king returns."

Robin nodded. "I know. I do not trust the sheriff, but for now, I think we should do this. You heard the sheriff: he pardoned us. Now, he does whatever he wants and tomorrow we could be back where we were before, but we have to try." He looked at them seriously. "We cannot stay here in the forest forever. We cannot help the people enough this way. We cannot bring the king home this way."

"So what are we going to do?" Much nodded to him again.

"Vaysey fulfilled the first part of our agreement by pardoning us and letting me go. We'll go to Locksley. Tomorrow we'll give him the silver. We will try to get information as to where it's going, making sure it's really going to pay for the king's ransom." He looked at the rag Djaq had unwrapped from his hand earlier. "And I have to find Marian."

"I don't like this," Will still declared. John had moved over to his cot, putting his staff away with a thud. Much could feel his disapproval.

"You don't have to come to Locksley," Robin nodded. "I do not trust the sheriff myself. If you prefer to stay here, I will not make you come. But Gisborne is not at Locksley anymore and I have to go and see what has become of the people there."

"I will come," Much offered. Robin had to know that he would not let him go alone. "But shouldn't you rest and get better before we go?" He could see that Robin was not doing better than earlier, seemed yet more heated even than before.

Robin looked at Djaq, and Much thought there was more in his gaze than what the current topic was about. Much could see Robin's worry. He could often sense Robin's feelings, also when the man was hiding them from him, or himself even.

"I do not know, Robin. But you need to rest it."

The man nodded.

"We will go to Locksley later."

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Marian was in hiding.

She hadn't wanted to go, hadn't wanted to leave Robin behind. But she couldn't have the sheriff toying with her any longer either. He had once brought her out to the gallows, letting her believe she was going to die, leaving Robin behind down there to succumb to the fever. Later she had seen he was alive, still, when she had again been taken from the place she had been locked up in. The sheriff was toying with Robin as well, using her, though she did not know what it was that he wanted Robin to force to.

She had seen the outlaw, had seen that he was ill. She wouldn't allow the sheriff to taunt him any longer, with her as the pawn.

When the opportunity had presented itself when she was led away from Robin's cell again, she had struggled and broken free from the guards, rushing out of that dreary place only with the regret that the archer was still down there, promising silently that she would return, with or without his men.

She had used her knowledge of the castle, had sneaked out into the town, not encountering any trouble on the way. Now she was there, trying to rest, preparing herself to go back. Then she saw them, the outlaws sneaking through the town and she smiled at this, hope kindling in her that they would together manage to free Robin. There was still a queasy feeling in her stomach as to his condition; but getting him out of the dungeons would raise her hope in that regard as well, no matter that she believed him going to the forest could not be a good thing in these circumstances. They had nowhere else to go.

Pulling the cloak she had snatched from a laundry line deep into her face, she wandered carefully over to where she saw Much and Will waiting.

Then she stopped as she saw the sheriff appearing up at the castle. It was difficult to interpret his expression. He seemed to be strained and gleeful at the same time. Her heart beat faster as she observed him getting ready to speak, as she had a fearful expectation of what he wanted to announce.

When he made his proclamation then, she did not believe her ears at first. It did not make sense.

She could then see the outlaws discussing among themselves, and few moments later Robin appeared in the courtyard, ready to mount a horse, and decidedly not escaping, but riding away unhindered by any of the guards. He still looked ill, but she was glad that he seemed to hold up well enough to leave.

Marian still could not believe it. The sheriff had pardoned Robin and his men; the question was only as to why. The last she had seen of the situation had been Vaysey trying to force Robin to do something, to agree to something... but the sheriff would hardly have to force Robin to accept a pardon... it was not something that needed to be accepted, the idea was absurd even.

She frowned, realising that she could imagine it. Robin despised the sheriff, would not want to do his biding, might not even want to be pardoned by him and go back to Locksley. Robin was stubborn as this, she knew.

Although she could imagine this, it still made no sense for the sheriff to make Robin accept it, if Vaysey did not gain something as well. So this was what had to be behind the matter, and the sheriff's ambiguously good mood. Robin had promised him something. And Marian guessed that he had only agreed because the sheriff had threatened her.

She watched the gang follow Robin as he rode out of Nottingham. She pursued them herself, still careful as to what would happen. There was a short hold-up at the town's gate, as a guard recognised Will, but Much stepped forward and reminded the men of the sheriff's proclamation. Feeling an absurd amusement as she watched the former outlaws leave the town unharmed, she moved along to the gate as well. She didn't know if Robin was going back to the camp, or was riding out to Locksley directly, but the gang would follow him, and so would she.

A guard stepped forward as she neared the town's gate, and she cursed her recent inability to avoid detection.


She stopped and two more guards came to support the first.

"This is the one the sheriff is looking for," one of them informed him.

"The sheriff had Robin of Locksley and all of his men pardoned," Marian pointed out quickly. "So I am free to go." She had just seen the gang do the same, there was no question about it.

The man looked down at her. "You're not a man. And you're not one of Locksley's either, as far as we know." He motioned to the other guards. "Take her."

As one of the men came to get a hold of her, Marian ducked, evading him, then skirted sideways around the others, and broke into a run.

She didn't look back as she ran, praying with every step she took that they would not shoot her to stop her, but then she had seen no archers at the gate. She only allowed herself to slow down, as she had passed the gate and was able to blend into the people that were camping outside of the town. She received stares from them, as she walked among them, stopping then, as she sat down on the remains of an old tree trunk, trying to catch her breath.

Despite the people around her, she felt helplessly alone, as she knew the gang of former outlaws to be gone by now. She couldn't show her face in the town again, or in the villages even, or she would only end up in the sheriff's dungeons again. With a wave of despair that she tried to shove out of her mind quickly, she wondered if there would even be anyone still, who would come for her then. The feeling was irrational, she told herself. Robin and the gang were there, free even, if the sheriff held true to his word. Maybe Guy was somewhere near as well, though she had not seen him at the castle. She wasn't alone.

She watched a few children play a game with stones for a few minutes, as she heard the rumours going around in the paupers' camp. There was talk, talk of Robin Hood having been pardoned. Right after followed the question if it meant that he was working for the sheriff now, would forget all about the people in and outside of Nottingham.

Marian picked herself up, pulling the cloak around her form again, as she set off for what she knew would be a long walk, one where she would have to take care to not be detected again.

Chapter 17

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