Title: Secrets Are a Sickness
Prompt: 06; fever
Character(s): Guy, Marian, Pitts, Thornton
Word Count: 1291
Disclaimer: I own nothing, BBC and Tiger Aspect do. No infringement intended, no money being made.
Summary: Guy's secrets become a sickness.
"I'm sorry, my lady Marian." Thornton peeked out from the half closed front door to Locksley Manor. "Sir Guy is unwell. He cannot receive visitors." Locksley's steward frowned and dropped his gaze.
"Unwell? What is the matter with him?" Marian frowned herself. Sir Guy of Gisborne was not the best of men, but illness was not to be taken lightly, especially one that seemed to have laid an otherwise exceptionally healthy man low.
"Fever," Thornton was saying now. "Possibly contagion of some kind. The physician, Pitts, is with him." He smiled at Marian a little, but it was not comforting. Then Thornton became all business again. "I'm afraid you will have to leave, my lady. I cannot risk you becoming ill as well," he said briskly.
Several emotions battled for dominance in Marian. At the front of them was relief that she might be spared Sir Guy's unsettling attentions for the time it took him to recover from whatever ailed him. On the heels of that came guilt. She should not be pleased that anyone might be taken ill. Concern touched her as well as she wondered how bad it really was, if Sir Guy was in any real danger.
If he died, things in Nottingham could become more uncomfortable for her and her father than they already were. The Sheriff did not like either of them, and had no qualms whatever in making that clear. Sir Guy was a buffer of sorts between the abrasive current Sheriff and the old one. Marian knew Sir Guy's reasons for standing in that place, and while she didn't necessarily like them, she was willing to accept whatever help they could get.
She resolved to say a prayer or two for Sir Guy's recovery. Had she cared a bit more, or if he were, say, Robin, she might have insisted on seeing the sick man. But in this instance she planned to simply hope for the best and keep her distance from Locksley for the time being. A physician was present after all. She could do nothing Pitts couldn't. Although in honesty, she might have felt better if Matilda was treating Sir Guy. Then she could be sure he would not die and leave her and her father undefended to Sheriff Vaisey's mercy.
Thornton clearing his throat brought her back to herself.
"My lady, you really must go. If you became ill..." He said no more, but his worried face spoke volumes.
"Please tell Sir Guy that I pray for his swift recovery." Thornton nodded. She turned away and blinked at the sudden slam of the door behind her.
~ ~ ~
From an upper window, Pitts watched Marian of Knighton leave. She was a pretty thing, always had been. Too bad about her father's fall from position. Sir Edward was a good man. Far better than Vaisey and Guy of Gisborne. But they were in power now, Sir Edward was not. And Pitts knew better than to tread on powerful toes.
It took months for the Sheriff and Sir Guy to trust him. He'd proven himself with silence while treating Sir Guy's infrequent injuries. Heaven knew the wounds he received were odd, to say the least; strange marks in strange places, and cuts and bruises where there should be none. Pitts suspected even he did not see all of the marks Sir Guy bore. But he kept his mouth shut about the ones he did see, and Sir Guy came to him regularly now, trusting in his discretion.
"You understand the importance of following the plan?" Sir Guy asked now. A frown rode his face, and he stared intently at Pitts.
Pitts nodded, and did not look away from that cold gaze. "I understand completely, Sir Guy. I come every day, stay several hours to ensure your health and keep everyone else away with the fear of contagion while you conduct your business in London. It may take many weeks," he smiled a little. "But I am a patient man, and your generous offer is more than enough to make it worth my while."
Sir Guy did not return the smile. His blue eyes raked over Pitts once, then he grunted and resumed packing his saddlebags.
"The Sheriff will make it more than worth your while if you manage to keep silent and stick to what we discussed." Sir Guy spoke over his shoulder. "And if you stick to it even after I have returned there will be more reward for you."
Pitts glanced around the room he agreed to imprison himself in for the better part of each day for who knew how long. For the money he stood to gain from this little charade, he could make himself quite comfortable here.
Sir Guy had finished packing. He turned back to Pitts, arms crossed over his chest and the frown still firmly in place. He said nothing, only looked at the physician. Unable to help himself, Pitts fidgeted under the scrutiny. He had realized a while ago why Sir Guy didn't speak much. He didn't need to. The frown and imposing stature were quite enough to make one uneasy.
"So when does this little drama begin?" Pitts asked, trying to make light of the situation.
"Tomorrow." Sir Guy kept looking at him.
"Well, then, I should get back to my shop in Nottingham, prepare the things I'll need to carry this off." He ducked his head a bit and hurriedly shuffled out the door.
Guy watched him go. Once he was alone he moved to the window and waited for the sun to go down. He would leave Nottingham under cover of darkness and be several miles closer to Plymouth by dawn. His ship bound for the Holy Land was scheduled to leave port on the first tide day after tomorrow.
A small tingle of excitement shivered through him. In a couple of hours he embarked on possibly the most important journey of his life. In a few weeks he might have everything he ever wanted. That, or he might be killed in the trying.
All sorts of things happened at sea, storms, pirates, shipwreck. Or he could be captured and executed for trying to kill the king. Or skewered by a filthy Saracen's blade for no other reason than he believed in a Christian God. Guy resolutely pushed those morbid and fearful thoughts aside. He'd waited too long and worked too hard to allow apprehension to get in his way now.
His only regret was not being able to speak to Marian one more time before he left. He'd heard her parting words to Thornton through the window. His blood warmed a bit at the thought of her praying for him. He almost wished there was a way he could tell her at least some of the truth, that he was going away for awhile, but when he came back he would be able to give her everything she could ever want.
But no. She would not understand. She was too loyal to the king to realize how things could change for the better with Prince John on the throne. Better she believe the lie of his illness. Besides, she would never know the difference, and he would certainly not tell her.
With the last rays of the sun slanting across the floor, Guy indulged himself in pleasant thoughts of Marian fussing over him once he'd regained his health. Surely she would be more receptive if she thought he had been close to death's door. A small smile crossed his mouth. The lie might have more beneficial consequences than he'd first imagined.
Guy of Gisborne continued to smile as the sunlight faded and he finally sat down to wait the coming of the night.