jadey36: (guy long hair)
jadey36 ([personal profile] jadey36) wrote in [community profile] bbc_robinhood2014-02-07 09:09 am

Blood, Wine and Promises

Title: Blood, Wine and Promises
Author: [personal profile] jadey36
Rating: pg-13
Characters: Guy, Vaisey, Marian, Robin
Summary: Guy isn’t dead. That’s the good news...
Word Count: 3,362
Disclaimer: Robin Hood belongs to Tiger Aspect and the BBC. No copyright infringement intended. All rights reserved.
Author’s Note: Further fic in the Outlaw Guy series.

1 – A Different Life
2 – Fitting In
3 – Falling Apart
4 – Back to Black
5 - A Glimmer of Hope
6 – Trapped



Blood, Wine and Promises

Djaq is laughing; that high feminine laugh of hers. She snatches the dock leaf out of Guy’s hand, saying, “Here, let me.”

She lightly crumples the leaf and then asks Guy to show her his nettle-stung wrist. She presses the crushed leaf to his red and white blotched skin. However, his grateful smile soon becomes a grimace as his wrist starts to pulse and burn, worse than when he unwittingly thrust it into the clump of stinging nettles in order to pick the tiny mushrooms he spied growing amongst them. Now his wrist is on fire and the dock leaf has turned into a vial, the acid drip dripping onto his exposed flesh, burning it. Djaq laughs again and kisses his arm. Her lips are cool and soft. The burning stops immediately. Looking at his wrist, he sees it is its usual pale colour; no sign of charred flesh or blotchy lumps.

In gratitude, Guy resumes picking the wild herbs and edible fungi that Djaq desires. He picks and picks until his hands are full.

Back at the camp, he hands his forest harvest to Much, presently cutting down squirrels hanging from a tree.

“They’re too big,” Much protests.

When Guy looks at his hands he sees that the mushrooms he has picked are indeed enormous, the size of a cart.

Robin lands in front of Guy with a thump. He grabs a mushroom and holds it over Guy’s head, his face grim. The mushroom blocks out the sun, the trees, everything. Then a torch flames and Guy looks up and sees the underside of the mushroom is rock, the roof of a cave. He lowers his eyes. Robin is standing in front of him, arrow nocked, aiming it at Guy’s chest.

Guy holds up his hands, as if to ward off the arrow, but his hands are mushrooms. He is defenceless.

He turns to Djaq, to beg for help, but sees that Djaq is lying on Much’s griddle. Much is hacking her into pieces with Guy’s broadsword. Allan stands next to him, sprinkling herbs over Djaq’s body parts. Her head rolls off the griddle and lands on the ground with a squelchy splash.

“Sir Guy.”

Guy’s eyes snap open, his heart hammering so hard he fears it will burst out of his chest. He pushes his tangled mop of hair from his face and studies his hands: four fingers and a thumb on each, knuckles and palms. He’d been having a nightmare.

“Sir Guy? Are you well?” A sharp rap on the door accompanies the question.

Guy glances at the heavy blanket covering his legs, the dark grey walls, the flickering tallow candle and the horn covered window. His room, in the castle. He’s been here for three days, maybe four; he can’t remember.

“Can I fetch you anything?” the guard behind the door asks.

Yes, Guy thinks, wincing in pain as he wriggles further up the bed, so he can lean against the dark oak headboard. You can get me a new leg, a new identity, a new fucking life.

“Wine,” he answers, his voice raspy from lack of use and retching.

“The sheriff said that you are not—”

“Wine, damn you,” Guy shouts. He does not want to know what the sheriff said.

He listens to the guard’s echoing footsteps as he heads down the castle corridor to do Guy’s bidding.

“Aww, got fed up with your warm and fuzzy outlaws, did you? Beds not soft enough, Gisborne? Not enough variety in your diet?”

Guy hadn’t answered the sheriff; he’d needed all his concentration to stay in the saddle of Marian’s horse, to not let the pain of his injured leg get the better of him.

He’d glanced behind him several times during his agonising ride back to Nottingham, but no outlaws appeared. He had saved Marian, Robin and Much from almost certain capture by convincing the sheriff he’d spent the night alone in the cave. He had done his bit to try to atone for slicing Djaq open, but it was not enough that Robin would call on his men, both the inner and the outer circle, and rescue him from the clutches of the sheriff, the man Guy now detests with all his heart.

Wretched and filled with self-loathing, he is back where he started, the lackey and whipping boy of Sheriff Vaisey, only this time there is a guard stationed outside his bedchamber door, night and day.

“I told you,” Guy had said as they trotted under the raised portcullis and across the cobbled courtyard. “The outlaws became suspicious of me. They suspected that—”

“La, di, da, di, da,” the sheriff cut across him, dismounting from his white mare, stepping onto the back of an obliging guard, down on all fours. “Do you think I really care why you left those thieving outlaws? A clue – no. The fact is, you’re back, and now you can tell me where their forest hideout is and I can deal with those do-gooders once and for all.”

Guy had told the sheriff he didn’t know where the outlaws’ camp was; they’d made him wear a blindfold every time they’d left or returned to it.

Incensed, the sheriff had whacked Guy’s wounded leg with a gloved hand and then stomped towards the steps leading to the castle’s main entrance.

At Guy’s howl of pain, Marian’s skittish horse had reared and he had fallen off. The next thing he knew, he was in his bedchamber, a guard on his door.

His stomach gurgles with emptiness. Servants had brought meals to his room and, later, taken them away, untouched. Only the wine he consumed, jug after jug of it. The servants didn’t take away the foul-smelling pail in the corner of his room. If he continued drinking to excess, it would soon overflow.

Apart from stumbling over to the pail to spill the red and runny contents of his stomach, the only other times Guy had left his bed were when he needed to squat on his chamberpot. He can smell it now, the fetid odour filling the airless room. The servants weren’t emptying that, either.

The sheriff had spoken to Guy only once since striking him in the castle courtyard. Standing outside Guy’s bedchamber door he had bellowed: “Gisborne, you’d better think very carefully about whose side you’re on if you want to set foot outside this door again.”

Guy had spilled from the bed, pounded on the door with his fist, insisting he was on the sheriff’s side and that he didn’t know where the outlaws’ camp was. The sheriff didn’t respond, his footfalls echoing along the castle corridor as he strode away.

That had been three or four days ago. Since then, the only visitor he had had, other than the morose servants who delivered his meals and jugs of wine, was Blight, the sheriff’s physician.

To ensure Blight didn’t tell the sheriff about Guy’s stitched leg, disproving Guy’s lie about the outlaws’ taking him hostage following the ambush on the Great North Road, Guy had ripped what remained of Djaq’s neat little stitches from his wound, stuffing a rag in his mouth to keep from crying out. Watching the fresh bloody trails run down his thigh, staining the grey and sweaty bedsheet, he had cried, not from the pain of pulling the stitches, but from the images dancing behind his tired, aching eyes. Images of Djaq pressing her small hand to her stomach, staring in amazed disbelief at the blood seeping between her splayed fingers. Images of Robin and Marian, kissing, their arms wrapped around each other.

When the stitches were out, the bloody threads dropped into his chamberpot, Guy had flopped back onto his bed, too full of remorse and apathy to care whether he bled to death or not. He’d fumbled inside his sweat and wine-stained undershirt to clutch his wooden outlaw tag, to remember happier times. The tag was not there. Guy remembered: he had snatched it out of Djaq’s hand when she had offered it to him, flung it aside, his only care at that time to thrust the sharp end of his sword into Robin’s heart because he had broken Guy’s.

Blight had come some hours later, with his leeches and his pompous manner, and sewn Guy up. The stitches were large and uneven and the physician made more of them than the wound merited. Prior to inserting the blunt and rusty needle into his ripped flesh, Blight had snatched the wine goblet from Guy’s hand, insisting it wouldn’t hurt a bit. It had hurt a lot, and Guy couldn’t help but wonder whether the sheriff had had a quiet word in Blight’s ear prior to the physician calling on him. God, how he hated that man.

A soft rap on the door stirs him from his miserable thoughts.

“About fucking time,” he says, licking his lips in anticipation of the blood red wine wetting them and then running down his throat, warming his insides, dulling his senses.

The person behind the door knocks again, louder this time.

Guy shouts, “I’m the one locked in, you dimwit.”

He waits, looks expectantly at the door. No key turns in the lock; no servant carrying a wine jug appears.

Exasperated, Guy flings the blanket from his legs and limps across to the door, mumbling threats about ramming the jug on the stupid servant’s head.

“Guy,” a voice whispers.

“Marian.” Guy leans his forehead against the oak door, sucks in and blows out a shaky breath. This is the first time since arriving back at the castle that he has heard from Marian. In his more lucid moments, he had fretted and gnashed his teeth, convinced the sheriff had captured the Night Watchman or that he had caught Marian in the act of spying and locked her in the dungeons, awaiting the gallows. He even started penning a letter to Robin expressing his fears before screwing it up in frustration: he was a prisoner in his own bedchamber; what hope did he have of getting his plea delivered to Robin Hood.

“Where have you been?” he asks. “I was worried you—”

“I can’t talk for long,” she says, cutting him off. “I told your guard he was wanted in the Great Hall and he will soon be back when he finds out he is not.”

Guy asks, “Can you unlock the door?”

“No, sorry. Guy, did you tell the sheriff where Robin’s camp is?”

“No.”

“Are you going to?”

“No.”

Guy hears Marian’s hiss of relief through the thick oak panels that separate them.

“Guy, the sheriff locked you in here because he suspects you betrayed him, joined the outlaws. He does not believe your story about Robin taking you hostage. He thinks you were the one who told Robin about the tax monies. The sheriff questioned the guard who stabbed you. The guard said you attacked him and he had no choice but to defend himself.”

“How do you know all this?”

“I heard the sheriff speaking to his mute scribe. I was listening at the keyhole.”

“Of course you were,” he says. “After all, you’re not only the Night Watchman; you’re also Robin’s spy.”

“You know why I do what I do, Guy.”

Guy detects a note of apology in Marian’s voice, though, without being able to see her face, he can’t be certain of her sincerity. Not that seeing her face ever helped him before in discovering Marian’s true thoughts. Djaq was right: he has spent too little of his life around women and understands nothing of their ways.

“Does the sheriff believe my lie about not knowing where the camp is, about the blindfold?”

“The sheriff knows Robin is no fool, not when it comes to protecting his friends. The camp is Robin’s sanctuary and he doesn’t reveal its whereabouts to anyone unless he absolutely trusts them. So, yes, I am certain that bit of your story at least he believes.”

“So I am locked in here because the sheriff wants me to suffer, to pay for my disloyalty?”

“Yes.”

“Marian?”

“What?”

“You can get me out of here. I don’t doubt your talents to trick these fool guards and unlock the door.”

“And if I do, then what?”

Guy stares at his lacerated feet, at his blackened, blood-encrusted big toe. Marian is right – then what? Make his way to The Trip Inn, drown his sorrows and end up a drunkard, a beggar on the streets, one of the great unwashed of Nottingham who Robin so charitably helps with his handouts of coin. Or stay with the sheriff and continue to suffer the indignities, the insults, the taunts and the tongue-lashings. Robin will not take him back, of that he is certain.

As if reading his mind, Marian says, “You could leave Nottingham, make a new start. Robin will give you some coin if I ask him to.”

He notices she doesn’t suggest that he kills the sheriff. Neither does he suggest it himself. Knowing his luck, he’d probably botch the job, end up stabbing one of the sheriff’s serving boys instead of the sheriff. Either that or one of the sheriff’s fool guards will actually prove useful for once and run him through while the sheriff gives Guy a gold-toothed grin and a small wave of his hand.

“No,” he says. “I will not leave Nottingham. Not without you.”

“You cannot have me; you know that. I am going to marry Robin. I love Robin.”

Marian laughs quietly, but Guy hears it. He grinds his forehead into the door, harder and harder, as if by doing so he might blot out the words she has just spoken.

“I love Robin,” she repeats. She gives another small laugh, as if she can hardly believe what she has just said.

Of course, Guy knows she loves Robin just as he loves her. Their kissing proved that. But to hear the words spoken aloud is more than Guy can bear. He is glad the door stands between them so she cannot see his tears.

“Guy?” Marian hisses when he remains silent.

“What?” he manages.

“If you stay here, the sheriff will make your life a misery.”

He lets out a short bark of hysterical laughter. His life can surely be no more miserable than it is right now.

“You are as stubborn as Robin,” she says.

Guy can almost hear her stamping her foot.

“You should be the one to leave,” he says. “You endanger your life by staying here, and I cannot properly protect you while I am locked in this room.” Despite all the lies and deceptions she has dealt him since Robin’s return to England, he cannot find it in his heart to wish her harm, or worse. Marian saved his life in the cave. Robin would have killed him; of that, he has no doubt.

“I cannot. My father.”

“That is a poor excuse and you know it. It would not be difficult for you to take your father to a place of comfort and safety. You have many noble friends here, people who could care for him while you ride around pretending to be a man, handing out your food parcels and stolen coin.”

Guy waits for Marian to come back with some counter argument. She does not.

“You will not leave the castle,” he continues, “because it suits your purpose, suits Hood’s purpose. Without you listening at keyholes, it would impossible for Robin to learn of the sheriff’s schemes, the coming and going of coin; he would find it harder to evade capture.”

Marian remains tight-lipped.

As the silence stretches on, Guy presses his ear to the door fearing the guard has returned and Marian has slipped away, hearing nothing of what he has just said.

“Marian?” He taps gently on the door.

“I am here.”

“What are we to do?” he asks.

“Wait,” she says.

Guy hears footsteps: the guard returning. He hears Marian say something about misunderstanding or mishearing the sheriff’s request. She tells the guard that the sheriff was in a foul mood and she didn’t want him to shout at her so had not asked him to repeat his request of her. She hurriedly goes on to say she is feeling rather faint, it being the time of her moon blood, and could the guard please fetch her some water to dispel the dizziness whereupon she will return to her chamber to lie down.

The guard mumbles something in reply and speeds away, clearly uncomfortable with the mention of the Lady Marian’s monthly blood flow.

Moments later, she raps on the door.

“Marian?”

“I will do a deal with you,” she says.

“Which is?”

“I will leave the castle if you will take my place, become Robin’s spy.”

“And if I do. What do I get out of it?”

“Robin does not forgive easily, not when it comes to his friends, and what you did to Djaq was unforgiveable, even if you did not mean to. By doing this, you will regain Robin’s trust and, when the time is right, he will help you escape the sheriff. When the king returns to England, he will revoke Robin’s outlaw status and in turn Robin can grant you land, a home, a Gisborne.”

“There is no point in having a Gisborne if there is no Lady Gisborne to share it with me.”

“You will have my friendship, Guy. That is the best I can offer.”

Guy thinks of Djaq, smiling at him, laughing kindly at his mistakes, clapping her hands in delight when he presented her with an unrequested handful of mushrooms and herbs. Until the moment he stabbed her, he had not realised how much he had come to appreciate that friendship, rely upon it even. He misses her more than he does anything else about living in the forest camp. Surely a friendship with Marian is better than his present lonely existence.

He glances down at his shoddily stitched leg, at the bright red skin surrounding the crisscrossed threads. The back of his neck is damp with sweat, as is his forehead. The room is cold yet he is hot. He recognises the signs. A few more days locked in this room and he will not be able to remember his own name let alone have to worry about how he will wheedle his way back into the sheriff’s good books, become a spy for Robin Hood.

“Very well,” he says. “I will do as you ask. But you must promise me on your father’s life that you will leave the castle immediately and not return. I could not bear to see you hang.”

“I promise. And I will tell Robin that—”

“Marian?”

“Your water, my lady,” the guard says.

Guy steps away from the door.

Moments later, the door opens and a serving girl enters with his long-awaited wine. The girl places the jug on a small table by the bed, wrinkling her nose as she does so. She scuttles out the door as fast as her long skirts will let her. The guard grins evilly at Guy and locks the door. The man’s face is familiar and Guy realises it’s the guard who stabbed him during the ambush.

With shaking hands, he pours the wine into a goblet. Drinking greedily, the crimson liquid pours down both his throat and his unshaven chin. He doesn’t care. All he cares about is that Marian will be safe, away from the castle, and that his unhappy life will soon be over. He will escape the sheriff at last, without the aid of Robin Hood.

The jug empty, he flops onto the bed. Closing his eyes, he imagines leaves and branches above his head, patches of blue sky in between. He breathes in deeply, inhaling an imaginary whiff of wood smoke from the camp fire; hears the clunk of Will’s axe as it bites into wood; the soft burble of voices as the gang sit and talk over their supper; and, rising above it all, Djaq’s high feminine laughter.

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