jadey36: (guy long hair)
jadey36 ([personal profile] jadey36) wrote in [community profile] bbc_robinhood2014-05-16 02:16 pm

One of Us

Title: One of Us
Author: [personal profile] jadey36
Rating: pg-13
Characters: Guy, Marian, Djaq, Robin, Will, Little John, Allan, Much, Meg
Summary: Guy, Marian and Djaq have helped free the outlaws from the castle dungeons and they are fleeing towards the forest. However, a bunch of mercenaries is on their tail and Guy can't run any more.
Word Count: 5,941
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.

One of Us

“I’m scared,” Meg sniffles, the top of her head still pressing into Guy’s chest.

“Don’t be,” he says, stroking her hair, hunkering over the trembling girl. “When it comes, it will be very quick.” He doesn’t add ‘and very messy’. When one of those war hammers strikes, it will split his head open. Please God they spare the girl.

“I never even got to kiss anyone, not once.” She jerks her head up. “Kiss me now,” she urges, the tip of her snotty nose touching his nose.

He shakes his head.

“Please,” she whimpers.

She could have run with the outlaws and escaped. Instead, she stayed with him. Surely he owes her this one small thing.

He gives her a soft, tender kiss. He can smell the damp grass beneath their knees, taste a hint of herb-infused meat pie on her warm breath.

“Enough of that!”

Two hands, under his armpits, yank him to his feet.

Almost dizzy with terror, his stomach a watery sloshy thing he fears will spill, Guy grits his teeth and waits for the blinding pain. It doesn’t come. Instead, he hears Meg’s sobbing laughter.

Opening his eyes, he finds not brutish men, thirsting for blood, but Robin and the rest of the outlaws.

Djaq drags Meg away, despite the girl protesting she wants to stay with Guy.

The mercenaries’ bellows are getting louder. They will be upon them at any moment and, even though they are now armed, the outlaws are severely outnumbered – they don’t stand a chance.

Allan crouches and grabs one of Guy’s shins, Will the other one, Robin and John an arm each.

“This’ll be undignified,” Allan says, “but it’ll save your sorry arse.”

Before Guy has time to ask what they are doing, his feet go from under him and the four men lift him up. Spread-eagled, his face to the ground, Guy shouts, “You can’t outrun them like this.”

Ignoring him, the men start running across the grassy plain, their breathing laboured as they carry their heavy load.

“We’re not going to outrun them,” Robin tells him, after they’ve covered another hundred yards or so.

Guy turns his bobbling head to the side. He sees Marian’s boots. Relieved she is still with them, he closes his eyes, willing away the urge to be sick.

“Change,” Robin shouts.

There is a brief fumbling of hands on his left leg. “This is ridiculous,” Much says, puffing and blowing.

If Guy could find the breath to speak, he’d agree with the infuriating little man.

The agony goes on, not just in his injured leg, but also under his armpits and in his groin. If they keep this up much longer, they’ll rip his legs and arms from their sockets.

He opens his eyes. The grass is coarser now, with soggy brown patches in between the rough tufts. “Put me down,” he says, raising his voice so they’ll hear him over their wheezing breaths. “Give me my sword and I’ll hold them off long enough for you to get away.”

“Stop!” Robin orders.

The men ease Guy to his feet. Fresh bile rises in his throat, along with a silent curse. He didn’t think for one moment that Robin would abandon him to the mercenaries despite what he’s just said.

His right boot sinks into the ground a little. John steadies him.

“I’ll go first,” Robin says. “I know the way. Follow my footsteps and you’ll be fine.”

Guy doesn’t understand. Where is the sword he asked for? His right boot sinks a little more. Then he realises where they are – Beck’s Bog.

“We cannot carry you now. You must walk by yourself.” Djaq touches Guy’s face, clearly worried he is too dazed to comprehend. “Do you understand?”

Guy nods. Of all the hare-brained schemes, he wants to say. Drowning in a boggy pool may be less painful than having his head split open, but he’ll be no less dead by the end of it.

“Hold my hand,” Meg says, pushing in front of Djaq and grabbing Guy’s hand.

The mercenaries are closing and there is no time to dispute Robin’s escape plan. With the outlaw in the lead, stepping a haphazard path, the escapees make their way across the marshy ground.

Meg walks in front of Guy, one hand holding up her long skirt, the other clutching his hand, pulling him along behind her. He keeps his eyes on the more solid-looking bits of ground under his feet, fearful of stepping in the wrong place and dragging her down with him.

If the mercenaries had been archers, they might have easily picked off the outlaws, sending them to a watery, mud-squelching death. But they only have war hammers, maces and long-handled daggers, none of which they can throw with any degree of accuracy.

Guy glances behind him. The mercenaries, unaware of the treacherous ground, plunge headlong into the marshy bog. “Ha, ha!” he hears Robin exult. Three men are already flailing about in the bog, yelling for help. Their companions are shaking their heads, backing away.

Meg yelps as the rotten log she is standing on gives way beneath her.

“Robin!” Guy shouts. He is standing on a not very large squelchy bulge of mud. “Help me.”

Wide-eyed with fear, Meg is up to her waist in murky bog water, both hands wrapped around Guy’s wrist, threatening to pull him in too.

Seeing the danger, Robin jumps from one foothold to another with little regard for his safety. Balancing on the less rotten end of the log, he grabs Meg around the waist and helps lift her up next to Guy. She wraps her arms around Guy, burying her face into his neck.

“Thank you,” Guy says stiffly, angered not only by the apparent ease Robin had leapt across the boggy ground, but also because he, Guy, couldn’t manage to get Meg out by himself. Always it has to be the bloody outlaw who saves the day.

“They’re going around,” Robin says, jerking his head towards the mercenaries. “If we don’t hurry, they’ll beat us to the other side and cut us off.” He turns back to the others. “Marian, you’ve done this plenty of times before. It’s a straight line from where you are. Go ahead.”

Marian nods and takes off, leaping as easily as Robin from foothold to foothold, the other outlaws following in her wake.

“Keep your eyes on my feet,” Robin tells Guy. He turns, stepping slowly this time so Meg and Guy can easily follow.

“It’ll be fine,” Guy says, prising Meg’s arms from his waist. “Trust me.” He nods towards Robin. “Trust him.”

“Give me the stocks any day,” Meg grumbles, clearly less frightened now she’s no longer drowning.

“I’ve got you,” Guy says, gripping her cold wet hand. “Now go.”

Happily, the far side of the marsh has more safe places to put their feet and decidedly less water and they quickly make their way to the other side where Marian and the gang are waiting. There is a short expanse of open land to cross before they reach the relative safety of Sherwood.

“John, Will,” Robin says, indicating Guy. “A hand, if you please.”

The two men step up beside him – somewhat reluctantly, Guy thinks – and offer their arms as support. Guy is not so stupidly prideful to refuse their offer. Similarly, Marian and Djaq are either side of Meg, encouraging the wet, shivering girl to hitch up her sodden skirt and run with them.

Glancing behind him, Guy sees that the mercenaries have not given up and are now more than halfway around Beck’s Bog and closing fast.

“If I fall,” he says. “Drag me or do what you will. But for God’s sake, don’t let anyone die because of my failings.” He is looking at the three women, running for the trees: Marian, the woman he loves – no, loved; it has to be loved now. Djaq, his warm, witty, wonderful friend. And Meg, who appears rather fond of him, though he cannot fathom why; all he did was give her a single, rather passionless, kiss and pick up a piece of meat pie.

“I’ll pull you along by your long girl’s hair if I have to,” John says as they awkwardly run towards the forest. “Robin said we’re to stick together. No one is to be left behind, including you.”

It’s obvious to Guy that John is less than happy with Robin’s instruction.

Fortunately, they don’t have to pull him along by his hair, as, keeping his eyes fixed on the fleeing women, Guy manages to stay on his feet.

Once they hit the trees, they stop to regain their breath while Robin checks on the mercenaries.

“Well,” Allan asks, wiping his brow. “Are they still coming after us?”

Robin shakes his head. “No, they’ve turned back. Perhaps they’ve heard enough ghostly stories about the forest to put them off.”

“Those would be the stories you put about Nottingham I suppose,” Guy says, straightening and flicking his hair from his sweat-damp face.

Robin gives him a smug grin. “You have to admit, they were quite convincing. Even John here was frightened by them.”

John purses his lips, frowns. Guy chuckles, enjoying the thought of the big man cowering every time the wind whistles through the trees.

Glowering, his quarterstaff half-raised, John takes a step towards him.

“No fighting,” Robin says, holding up a staying hand. “We’ve had enough problems for the past couple of days; let’s not add to them.”

Meg, fruitlessly wringing out her soaked skirt, asks, “What do we do now?”

“To the camp,” Robin says. “To dry out, eat and sleep.”

“Amen to that,” Much declares.


After limping from Dead Man’s Crossing to the camp and then back to Nottingham, Guy has had enough of walking. He’s also exhausted, having not slept since the day before yesterday. The outlaws, too, bear all the signs of extreme fatigue. Even Robin, who always seems to have an inexhaustible amount of energy, is rapidly blinking his tired eyes in an effort to stay awake. Guy knows from living in the castle that sleeping in the dungeons is difficult; always there are prisoners moaning or calling out, and if not that, then the hard narrow beds and the pervading cold will keep a person awake for hours on end.

“Let’s keep going,” Robin says, rubbing his eyes.

“Must we?” Much yawns and plonks onto a fallen log.

“Yes, we must. Meg is freezing and we can’t be certain that the sheriff won’t send those mercenaries back out after us. We’ll be safe in the camp. There’ll be some food there too,” Robin adds.

Perking up at the mention of food, Much lurches to his feet. “Come on, then,” he says, striding through the trees and almost bashing into one in his haste.

Djaq touches Guy’s arm. “I can look for another walking staff for you, if you think it will help.”

Robin gives John a pointed look.

With a grunt, John steps up to Guy and offers him an arm.

“Thank you,” Guy says. “I appreciate it.”

His words are heartfelt and John manages a softly spoken, “You’re welcome,” in return. He uses his strong right arm to take up much of Guy’s weight.

Despite John’s grudging acceptance of Guy, he makes no effort to strike up a conversation on the long walk to the camp. Guy is more than happy about that. He knows the big man tolerated him when Guy first declared himself on the outlaws’ side because Robin bade him to. That was before he slashed Djaq’s stomach open with his sword. Djaq may have forgiven him for that, but John does not strike Guy as a man who forgives and forgets easily.

Meg walks on the other side of him. Now and then, her head darts to the side as some forest creature, startled by the noise of booted feet, scurries away. She shrieks when, while glancing nervously over her shoulder, she smacks into a low-hanging branch, its spiky twigs catching in her hair.

Guy says nothing, remembering his first few days living in the camp, how he jumped at every unfamiliar sound. He recalls also his nighttime flight through the forest, Robin on his tail – or so he had thought – when the howls of wolves reduced him to a quivering wreck.

Two and ten, and you still wet the bed Guy Crispin. His cruel sister’s words come back to him and he cringes inwardly at the memory of crouching on the forest track, his arms over his head, a leak of terror running down his inner thighs.

When Meg next lets out a frightened squeal, this time at a squirrel scuttling up a tree, Guy’s patience snaps and he tells her not to be a stupid girl.

“Stupid girl yourself,” she says, giving him a petulant scowl.

Robin laughs. “I see you two are making friends.”

Guy mumbles an apology, citing exhaustion as the reason for his tetchiness. In reply, Meg shyly offers him her hand. He takes it, telling John he will manage the rest of the way to the camp without his aid.

“I suppose I’m an outlaw now,” Meg says, not sounding too unhappy about it.

“I’m afraid so,” Guy replies. “It will not be safe for you to go back to Nottingham, to your father.”

“I don’t want to go back to him. He’ll only try to marry me off again.”

“Would it be so bad? He might wed you to a fool, but even fools have their good points.”

Guy is looking at Robin and Much, up ahead, walking side by side. Much is babbling on about what he’ll have to eat once they reach the camp and Robin is reminding him that there is no food in the camp other than stale bread, to which Much replies that at least it won’t be black and covered in creepy crawlies.

“You really aren’t the big-I-am any more, are you.” It is not a question.

Guy lets go of Meg’s hand.

“I have done many terrible things; committed crimes I am thoroughly ashamed of; crimes that could have been avoided if I’d stood up to the sheriff.”

“Why didn’t you then?”

A handful of excuses run through his head, none of them sounding any better than the truth, or at least the near-truth. “I needed him. I needed the power and riches he could have brought me.”

“For what?”

Guy glances at Marian. “It doesn’t matter now. I was wrong. She didn’t want baubles and trinkets. She wanted a man who...” He trails off, realising his mistake.

Marian is laughing over something Robin has just whispered in her ear.

Meg glances from her back to Guy, comprehension dawning. “But she’s Robin Hood’s lady. Everyone round here knows that.”

Everyone knew it except me and the sheriff, it seems; or perhaps he knew as well and simply didn’t tell me out of devilment.

“As I said,” Guy says, more angrily than he means to, “it doesn’t matter now.”

They walk the final few yards to the camp in awkward silence.


Meg scrutinises the outlaws’ forest hideout. “It could be worse.”

“Wait until you see the outdoor privies,” Allan says, flopping to the ground and immediately shutting his eyes.

“It’ll be fine,” Guy reassures her. “Djaq and Marian will tell you what you need to know.”

“Such as what?”

“Such as not setting off the camp alarm, or getting snaffled in one of Will’s elaborate traps, or accidentally eating a poisonous berry.”

“I’m beginning to think the dungeons weren’t so bad after all.”

Djaq walks up to them, a smile on her face. “Here. A dress you can put on while your one dries out.” She hands Meg a gold-coloured dress.

“Since when do outlaws wear gold dresses?” Meg asks, running her hands over the satin bodice.

“They do when they are making fools of the sheriff’s guards. Go put it on.” Djaq points to the curtained-off sleeping area. “I think it will fit, though it might show your ankles. You are taller than me.”

Ordinarily, the only clothing Guy takes notice of is Marian’s, but Djaq’s admittance of wearing the dress in order to fool the sheriff’s guards jogs Guy’s memory: the dusky girl with a flower in her hair, serving drinks; it was Djaq. She wore the dress when that German booby Count Friedrich came to visit the castle, when the sheriff put on a special gaming night in order to fleece the man of his money. Of course, the night had ended the way most of the sheriff’s moneymaking schemes ended: with the outlaws fleecing them.

Meg goes to put the dress on.

When she is out of earshot Djaq turns to Guy. “You like her, I think.”

“She’s nothing but a foolish, ill-mannered girl,” Guy says, turning his attention to the slumbering Allan, avoiding Djaq’s enquiring look.

“That she may be, but she clearly has, how do you say it...a soft spot for you.”

Guy glances at Will. He has his arms crossed, a scowl on his face. “You should go talk to Scarlet. Tell him what I told you to tell him. Otherwise he might think you’ve taken a fancy to me and I’d rather not end up with an axe buried in my chest.”

“I am going to tell him, right now. While we are gone from here please don’t let your temper get the better of you.”

“I’m hardly awake enough to string two words together let alone raise my voice to anyone.”

Djaq smiles and Guy gives her a weary smile in return. Unable to restrain himself, Will uncrosses his arms and hurries over.

“Will.” Djaq loops her arm through his. “I was just asking Guy if, when he is recovered, he would go search out some more medicinal plants for me and he said yes, of course he would. Isn’t that wonderful.”

“Er...yes, wonderful.” Will shoots Guy a disbelieving look.

“Come, walk with me.” Djaq tugs Will away.

Guy glances around. Robin and Marian have disappeared. He frowns. Even though he is beginning to accept that he has lost Marian to the outlaw – not that he ever had her to lose in the first place – he still finds the thought of them together, kissing and touching and whatever else they might be doing, a miserable one.

Allan is still asleep, gently snoring. Much is over by his cooking pit, rummaging through a wooden chest, doubtless looking for something to eat. John is nowhere to be seen.

Guy is sorely tempted to follow Allan’s example, but then Meg appears, tugging the dress’s low-cut neckline towards her chin in an effort to conceal her bosom, and he changes his mind.

“I look ridiculous, don’t I?”

Guy shakes his head. “No. You look lovely.”

Meg’s cheeks redden in a girlish blush. She glances around the camp. “Where’s everyone gone?”

“Apart from Mr Sleepyhead here,” Guy points at Allan, “and that ever-ravenous idiot over there,” he points at Much, his head still buried in the chest, “everyone else has disappeared.”


Guy doesn’t elaborate, instead telling Meg that as much as he would like to keep her company, his eyelids are closing of their own accord and he must lie down and sleep a while.

“You must be tired, too. I do not know how long the others will be gone for, but I’m sure they won’t mind if we borrow their beds.”

“I am tired,” Meg says, stifling a small yawn with her hand. “I didn’t get a wink of sleep in those smelly dungeons.”

Entering the shady sleeping area, Guy points to Robin and Much’s bunks, which lie opposite one another. He stretches out on Robin’s narrow bed, his feet hanging over the end. Meg sits on the edge of Much’s bed, eyeing the threadbare blanket, doubtless wondering about the bathing habits of outlaws and if blackened bread is the only place creepy crawlies inhabit.

“Eggs!” they both hear Much shout excitedly. “God be praised, I’m saved!”

Meg smiles. “What a funny little man.”

“He’s all right in small doses,” Guy says. He means to say more: to tell Meg about Djaq’s extensive knowledge of plants, about Robin’s heroics and John’s big heart beneath his gruff exterior. Instead, he yawns. It’ll keep; and Meg will find out all these things and more if she stays with the outlaws. He smiles as his head sinks into Robin’s pillow. It’s a good thought.


Guy’s eyes snap open and, for a moment, he can’t remember where he is. Then he hears Djaq’s high feminine laugh and the ring of an axe, smells meat roasting on the campfire. He glances across at Much’s bed, but Meg is gone, if indeed she had slept there at all after he closed his eyes.

He sits and stretches. When he steps into the outer camp he sees that the sun is low in the sky. He’s been asleep for hours.

“You missed the midday meal, I’m afraid,” Robin says, pointing to a low wooden stool opposite him, inviting Guy to sit. “But we thought it best to let you sleep.”

“Thank you. I needed it.” Guy glances around the circle of seated men and women. Everyone is here, including Meg. She has changed out of the gold dress back into her own, much plainer, dress. She smiles at Guy and he gives her a small smile back.

“Rabbit?” Much says, offering Guy a piece of charred meat on the end of a sharpened stick.

“What, no salad to go with it,” Guy says keeping a straight face.

Djaq laughs.

Robin grins. “Guy, I do believe you are truly one of us now.”

“Actually it’s squirrel,” Much says, after Guy has taken several bites.

Meg spits a mouthful of meat onto the ground.

“He’s joking,” Guy says, examining the remainder of his meat with a frown. “I think.”

“How about a toast, then.” Allan licks his fingers and pours ale into several wooden mugs sitting on top of a hewn tree stump.

Guy accepts the mug Allan offers him. “What are we toasting?”

“How about not being dead.”

Much raises his cup to the heavens. “I’ll drink to that.”

Everyone else follows suit.

“Now that we’re all gathered,” Robin says, his face suddenly grave, “I have something to tell you.”

Guy guesses that Robin is about to announce his and Marian’s betrothal and decides that no matter how much it hurts he will offer his congratulations along with everyone else.

“Well, what is it?” Much asks, fidgeting.

Robin is staring into his empty cup, as though whatever he is about to say is sitting at the bottom of it. He looks up. If anything, he looks apologetic.

“I’m going to be leaving you for a while. I’m going to—”

“Leaving!” Much shouts, jumping up. “What do you mean you’re leaving?”

“Sit down, Much and let me explain.” Robin places his empty cup on the ground, his eyes sweeping over the perplexed men and women. Only Marian, an inscrutable look on her face, remains unfazed.

“Guy, Djaq,” Robin glances at both in turn, “you will not know this. And Meg,” he says, turning to the girl. “I’m not sure what you managed to hear. You were not that close to us.” Meg frowns in puzzlement. “Last evening, in the dungeons, when Vaisey thought he’d finally see us dangling in the castle courtyard come the dawn, he couldn’t resist having a bit of a gloat.”

“A lot of a gloat, you mean,” Much interrupts.

“That gloating,” Robin continues, “included bragging about killing the king.”

Guy shifts uncomfortably and stares into his own empty cup.

“Vaisey said that the king left the Holy Land several weeks ago. He said Richard was travelling overland, in disguise, when Leopold, Duke of Austria, captured him. Some business about tearing down the duke’s flag after the surrender of Acre. Anyway, they are apparently holding the king in a castle called Trifels. From the little Vaisey said, it appears he has made a deal with Prince John to go to Germany, either to kill the king while he is still captive, or to await his release and attack him then.”

Guy looks up and meets Robin’s hard stare.

“I knew nothing of this, Robin. Believe me.” He recalls the conversation that he had with Vaisey in the map room. Of course. The sheriff was never going to divulge his plans to Guy, not when he suspected that Guy was still on the outlaws’ side. He’d simply been toying with him the way a cat toys with a mouse. Sorry, Gisborne. I’m afraid I need to be elsewhere. The interruption had been a planned one.

“I do believe you,” Robin says.

Guy breathes out in relief.

“What’s all this got to do with you leaving?” Allan asks. “You’re not thinking of rescuing the king single-handedly or something stupid like that, are you?”

“Not single-handedly,” Marian says, a determined look on her face. “I’m going with him.”

Robin shoots Marian an annoyed look. “No, Allan. Nothing like that. Whatever Vaisey and those hired thugs are up to, I—” Marian pokes him in the thigh, “that is we,” Robin corrects, “are going to warn the king. If Prince John knows about Richard’s capture then we can assume Queen Eleanor will know as well. Even now, she might be planning some sort of rescue attempt or maybe organising a ransom if that’s what the king’s captors are demanding. Whatever the case, there is no time to find out. I am certain I will be granted an audience with the king once I speak to the castellan, explaining who I am.”

“So...you’re not going to try and get him out?” Much asks.

“No, Much. I doubt that will be possible. But I can warn Richard about Vaisey and the mercenaries, about the possible threat to his life, put him on his guard.”

Everyone is silent, digesting the information. Guy notices Marian reach for Robin’s hand. After a moment, the outlaw laces his fingers through hers.

“And you’re sure Vaisey is going too?” Guy asks.

“Not entirely, but I doubt he’ll trust those mercenaries to keep order by themselves and I rather suspect Prince John will have warned the sheriff that this is his last chance to get something right for a change. Besides, I think I saw the sheriff’s replacement when we were escaping the castle.”

“Who?” Allan asks.

“Sir Jasper. As we ran past Battley Street, I saw an ornate carriage. A man was leaning out of it, saying something to the driver, and unless Sir Jasper has a twin brother, it was him.”

“What do we know about him?” Will asks.

“What do we need to know?” Allan says. “The man works for Prince John.”

Much raises his hand. “Er...can I come with you?”

Robin shakes his head. “No, Much. Too many of us will only draw unwanted attention.”


“I said no.” Robin stands. “We are leaving, now. After his planned execution of us, I am guessing that Vaisey intended to leave Nottingham immediately, in which case he will have a head start on us, but not by much. And Marian and I will be able to travel much faster than a score or more of men; at least I hope so.”

Much glances up at the sky. “But it’s getting dark. It’ll be night soon. You’ve not slept.”

“Don’t fret, Much,” Marian says, giving him a reassuring smile. “We can sleep for hours once we board a boat.”

Guy doesn’t know whether to feel relief that Robin’s announcement was not about wedding Marian, or concern that Marian is heading off on what could turn out to be a dangerous mission.

“Robin,” Marian says. “Tell them the other thing.”

“Ah, yes.” Robin glances nervously at his gang and then at Guy. “There is one more thing.”

“Let me guess.” Allan grins. “You’re leaving Much in charge.”

Robin looks at Guy. He keeps on looking.

“Me?” Guy says, pointing to himself.

“Him!” John thunders.


On their feet now, everyone starts talking at once. Even Guy, momentarily dumbstruck by Robin’s suggestion, finds his tongue, protesting that he is surely the last choice when it comes to someone leading the gang in Robin’s absence.

“Enough!” Robin yells. They quieten. “I have thought about it, and I have made my decision. While I am away—”

“We,” Marian says.

“Seriously, Marian.” Robin glares at her. “It’s a detail. When I say I, I mean we; in this instance anyway.”

“Not being funny,” Allan says. “But it’s a pretty big detail.”

Waving Allan away, Robin says, “As I was saying: I have made my decision. Guy will be in charge.”

“And we don’t get a say in this at all?” Will asks. He glares at Guy, jaw twitching.

John is also looking daggers at him.

Guy licks his lips, swallows hard. If this is how they feel about it now, God help him when Robin’s gone.

“I have my reasons,” Robin replies.

“Which are?” John asks.

“You really want me to spell it out?”


Robin opens his mouth as if to speak and then closes it, shaking his head.

“Robin,” John says, his voice low and threatening.

“It was my idea,” Marian says, stepping in front of Robin. “If you want to have a go at anyone over it, then have a go at me, not Robin.”

“Marian, you can’t—”

Marian whirls around and silences Robin with a pleading look and mouthed words that only he manages to catch. He nods.

John, Will and Much glance at one another and fidget uncomfortably. None of them, it seems, is prepared to have a go at Marian, especially after the risks she took in order to free them from the dungeons.

“Well, I’m all right with it,” Allan says, pouring himself another ale. “After all, Giz knows this Jasper person,” he looks in Guy’s direction and Guy nods in confirmation, “and when I was working for him – er...no traitor jokes, if you don’t mind – he was...well, he was all right.”

“That still doesn’t mean he should be our leader,” Much points out. “I mean what if he changes his mind about working with us and decides to turn us over to the new sheriff or whatever this Sir Jasper is going to call himself?”

“I am not going to change my mind,” Guy says.

“Guy is an outlaw now, the same as us,” Robin says. “If Sir Jasper or any of his men catch him he’ll likely suffer the same fate that we were about to suffer this morning. Now enough of this bickering. Everyone in favour of Guy being the leader raise your hand.”

Robin raises his, quickly followed by Marian and Djaq. Allan shrugs and raises his hand too. So does Meg.

“I don’t believe it,” Much says, rolling his eyes in indignation. “Out-voted!”

“Do I get a say in this?” Guy asks.

“No,” Robin says, “but I will speak with you, alone.” He beckons Guy to follow him.

Fearful of John’s staff and Will’s clenched fists, Guy hurries after Robin as fast as his injured leg will let him. When they are out of both eye and earshot of the others, Robin stops.

“One moment you are pointing an arrow at my chest,” Guy says, “and the next you’re asking me to take your place. I don’t understand.”

“They are good men, my friends; the best. But none of them can do what I’m asking. John has a big heart, but it is too big for his own good sometimes. Allan is too lazy. Will too angry. And Much is...well, Much. It has to be you.”

“And that’s the only reason?”

“No. Before you worked for Vaisey, you trained as a knight. You understand about discipline and the need for doing things the right way. You want to prove your loyalty, well now is your chance. With luck, Richard will soon return to England. And when he does he will reward those who are loyal to him. Understandably, he might not look upon you so favourably after what happened in the Holy Land, but I will speak for you, and your actions henceforth will stand you in good stead.”

“Is that what Marian said? Was it really her idea that I lead?”

“No. It was mine. But Marian agrees with me.”

“I am no Robin Hood.”

“I’m not asking you to be.”

“They will not follow me.”

“Djaq will. And Meg. And if Djaq supports you then so will Will. Much will do whatever I ask him to do. As to John, well, he’ll come round. And it seems you have a friend in Allan.”

Djaq, Meg and now Allan. He has never had so many friends.

“All right. I’ll do it. But if, when you return to England, you find me dangling from one of Scarlet’s rope traps, don’t be surprised.”


By the time they return to the gang, Marian is standing with two packs at her feet, along with Robin’s bow and quiver.

“So, this is it then,” Much says. He looks as if he’s about to cry.

“Much.” Robin finishes buckling his quiver and slings his bow over his shoulder. “Our business with the king will not take long. We’ll be back before you know it.” He gives Much a quick hug and then turns to Djaq. “Djaq.”


She steps up to him and he kisses her cheek and then whispers something in her ear. She whispers something back and Robin mouths ‘thank you’. Allan he clumps on the arm with a warning about keeping the tavern tricks to a minimum as well as keeping out of trouble. He gives Will a firm handshake, says, “Keep a special eye on Locksley. If the king returns with us, or soon thereafter, I would like some house and lands to reclaim.” Will nods and steps away. Robin offers John his hand. With a frustrated shake of his shaggy mane, John accepts and returns the handshake. As an afterthought, he gives Robin a bear hug that has the outlaw visibly grimacing.

“Take care of yourself, lad.” John nods towards Marian. “And your good lady.”

“I will, John.”

Robin says something else that Guy doesn’t hear, but it is clear it is something about him, as John immediately swivels in his direction. After a moment of staring balefully at Guy, John relents and gives him a nod of weary acceptance. Guy manages an appreciative nod in return.

Marian hands Meg a small dagger. “I can get myself another one on the way. If you do not know how to use it properly, Djaq or any of the others will teach you.”

“Thank you,” Meg says. She turns the dagger over in her hands, inspecting it.

Marian kisses Guy on the cheek. “Good luck,” she whispers.

“I believe I might need it,” he says.

Picking up their packs, Marian and Robin head out of the camp. Guy watches until they are out of sight and then turns back to the gang. No one speaks. They are all staring at him, doubtless wondering what he, as leader, will ask of them now.

He clears his throat. “So, where do you want me to sleep, then?”

Author’s Note: in early medieval times an area to the west of Nottingham, known as the Beck, was indeed marshland, so the bog the outlaws escaped over, that I have conveniently called Beck’s Bog, is entirely feasible.

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