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Ice [Jun. 9th, 2013|05:26 pm]
katrushkalupin
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[mood |excitedexcited]
[music |Young and Beautiful]

Here is my first Borgias fic! I just had to get into his delicious psyche!

Check it out here
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Help for a struggling writer!! [Jan. 17th, 2013|12:50 pm]
katrushkalupin
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So lately I published my first romance novel, which on the face of it sounds AMAZING and it is, but it also means I have to market myself so here goes.

My first novel, entitled When Fire Meets Ice is a story about a boy and a girl (Adam and Ginny) who have a hard time meeting in the middle when it comes to love.

When Adam Girard is forced to move to Rochester, New York with his father he is less than thrilled and when he meets Ginny O'Malley, he never imagines that she would be the love of his life, or that their love would send them both on a ten year journey of discovery. In fact, the only thing he wants more than the ability to choose where he lives, is to avoid being around her. But the more he is forced into her company, the more he comes to realize that the attraction he feels is more than hormones. 


Ginny has seen what the lure of the gorgeous, dangerous and emotionally unavailable male can do to a woman and she is not about to become another statistic no matter how captivating the tall, dark, and irresistibly French new guy is. No matter how much she tells herself that he is an emotional breakdown waiting to happen, and how often she recites it, she knows that there is more to him than she cares to acknowledge.


Her fear has kept them at a stalemate for ten years with Ginny running and Adam waiting, but when circumstances force them to pose the questions they are afraid to ask, and Ginny to face herself and the man she has pushed away for a decade, will they be able to find their happy ending, or have they run out of time?


Please check it out, it can be downloaded to any electronic platform that can use the kindle app ie ( laptop, computer, android, kindle, tablet)
It is also availabl here or anyone who has a Nook instead.

I know that you are all extremely amazing at reading and reviewing, so if you do buy it and read it leave a review so other people can be influenced into checking it out as well.

You officially have my permission to re-post this shamelessly wherever you think it'll get any attention.

Thanks for the support !!

Addy du Lac aka katrushkalupin
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Chapter 6 What Time has Told [Jan. 4th, 2013|01:54 am]
katrushkalupin
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Chapter 6

When Sarah ran into Guy’s office with wild hair and a pale face he felt his blood freeze in his veins. Her hand flailed as she paused in the threshold heaving mightily, but no words came out. He rose to his feet and crossed to her while she tried to catch her breath and fought the urge to shake her.

“Speak girl, what is it?” he snapped.

“It’s…” she drew in a short breath, “it’s my lady.”

“What of her? What has happened to Marian?” he took her arms now.

“She fainted.”

“What?!” In that horrifying moment Guy wondered if the Sheriff had not been appeased. If he had acted on his threat and done something terrible to Marian. Had he been too late? It had been weeks since that night, and all had been more or less quiet but Vaszey hadn’t gotten where he was by being simple. Had Guy miscalculated? Had he been misled by a show of normality while the sheriff plotted?

“We were in the market place and she just went white and fell away.”

“Where is she now? Not still in the market,”

She shook her head, still panting and Guy nearly lost his patience “Two of the guards carried her back to the castle.”

“Where is she now?”

“She’s in your chambers, I ran to find you.”

“You did well.” He said releasing her to sprint for his room. All kinds of ideas sprung to mind, poison being the foremost. If it were lethal then she’d have been dead by now. God if she were dead… He forced himself not to think on it and focused instead on getting there as soon as possible. When he burst into the room, the healer was in the process of checking her. Marian looked over at him with bleary eyes out of a face that was too pale for comfort. “What’s wrong with her?”

The middle aged woman spared him a measured glance. “Calm yourself down we don’t need you making a ruckus.”

“I’m fine, it was a dizzy spell.” Marian protested in a weak voice.

“You fainted dead away and you know it.”

Guy strode forward and then stopped in his tracks at the second look sent his way. “Is…is she alright?” he fought the instinct to hide his hands like a guilty child.

“If you’re gonna ask me annoying questions then you can wait outside.”

He felt his temper spark. “Excuse me?”

“Or you can park yourself in a chair over there and keep your mouth bloody well shut.”

“Or I can have you dragged into the dungeons and beaten for your impertinence.”

She stood up straight and turned to face him, “Aye you could. And then you can bring in one of those idiot men who call themselves physicians and they can bleed her within an inch of her life as they couldn’t find their arse holes with both hands and a map.”

For some reason Guy had to fight not to laugh, despite his annoyance.

“She’d have something wrong with her then for sure.”

“I want to get up.” Marian started to move, but the healer stopped her before she got far.

“You want to stay right where you are lamb.”

“But I’m perfectly well.”

“Are you a healer now as well as a hard headed cow?”

Again Guy fought back a laugh at the shocked look on Marian’s face.

“I swear the two of you are a match in hell. Both thick as the day is long.”

He rolled his eyes and sat in the chair by the window. “Just make it quick.”

“It’ll take as long as it needs to.” She replied.

The next ten minutes were spent in near silence. Guy watched as the healer checked Marian’s heart and pulse rate. Finally she leaned back and sighed. “What is it?”

“Well there’s good news and bad news.” She stood and walked over to the bag that was on the table. “The good news is that the lady is well.”

“And the bad?”

“There’ll be another Gisbourne idiot running around within nine months.”

“What?” Marian looked horrified.

“Lady Gisbourne is pregnant?” Jesu, a child…

She paused in rifling through her bag and gave him a considering look. “Maybe you’re not a dead loss after all.”

“How is that possible?” Marian pushed herself up to lean against the headboard.

“Bloody hell, you’ve been married for over a month now and you haven’t figured that out?”

Marian blushed, as the healer pulled out a selection of pouches.

“I’d give this to you,” she glanced at Marian, “ but you seem a bit slow, not to mention delusional so I’ll entrust it to you mi’lord.” She walked over to Guy and proffered them.

Guy took them frowned. “What are they?”

“This red one is lavender and violets for her headaches, this blue one is chamomile and fennel for the mornings. She’ll be sicker than a dog. Soak them in water add honey if she wishes, but be sure to serve that hot. Make sure she eats when she can, and gets rest. This last big one is lavender and rosemary, for her baths. She’ll be sore and exhausted. I’ll be checking on her every two weeks you make sure everything is going well. Keep those idiot men away from her mind! Or they’ll have her dead within two months.”

“Understood,” He glanced over at Marian, who had turned herself around to place her feet on the ground.

“My name is Matilda. Not that you bothered to ask.”

“Forgive me,”

“It’s to be expected.”

“I thank you for coming,” he opened a drawer and emptied coins out of a leather pouch. “For your time,” he said placing them in her hand.

She shrugged and then gave them a considering look, as if seeing something that they hadn’t admitted to. “Congratulations to you both.”

Marian didn’t respond, or look at either of them. Guy took a deep breath and nodded at Matilda. “Thank you.”

Matilda stared at Marian for another long moment and then left.

“You must be pleased with yourself.” Marian said.

“I imagine we will both be pleased. God willing I will have an heir, and you will never have to endure my touch again.”

“And you think you deserve an heir?”

His blood went cold at that. “Get some rest,” his voice seemed weak to his ears, but he forced himself to leave.

He saw Matilda in the hallway as he left and called out to her as a thought occurred to him. The woman stopped and turned to face him with annoyance etched onto her face. “What now boy?”

“How far along was the Lady Gisbourne?”

“I’d say about a month, she must have been throwing up her guts for the past few weeks I’m surprised you didn’t notice.”

A bloody month…“I’ve been… occupied.”

“Too occupied to notice her puking into a bowl every morning?”

“I haven’t been around I meant, I leave-” he stopped himself and shook his head “I don’t need to justify myself to you.”

“If you’re too thick to notice something as plain as the sizable nose on your face then you’d better get staff who are more observant than you. It’s shouldn’t have taken this long for you to call me.”

That set his stomach into another series of knots. Had they known? Had Sarah and Marian known and said nothing?

“Lord you hadn’t thought of that either had you? You are a thick one.” Her tone was almost sympathetic. She turned and walked away whistling and Guy took deep breaths to force back the wave of temper creeping in on him. He wanted to scream. He wanted to rip something apart with his bare hands and howl. His temper had never been good, even as a small child. His mother had helped him to rein it in but after her death he had no one to calm him. He’d learned to control it, after a particularly terrifying experience that he still didn’t fully remember, but this… This sorely tested the control he’d struggled for so long to build. The next time he faced either Sarah or Elise or Marian he needed to be sure that he wouldn’t do anything he’d regret.

That night, before he went to banquet in the great hall, he stopped in for a fresh shirt and to check on Marian. She was sitting at her vanity in a gown of shimmering, pale blue, silk. The bodice was made of velvet embroidered with silver. She would have been stunning if her skin wasn’t so very pale and her eyes weren’t full of tears. Sarah was putting the finishing touches on her hair which was being curled and swept over one shoulder. She raised her eyes in the mirror to meet his and he met her gaze evenly.

“I would have made apologies for you Marian. You shouldn’t have to contend with the Sheriff in your condition.”

“I am not some weak limbed, simpering maiden Guy.”

“No you are not.” He agreed, crossing to his chest to pull out a fresh shirt. “The midwife said that you were near a month along.” He heard something clatter to the ground and looked up to see Sarah scurrying to pick up a brush with numb fingers. He looked at Marian and saw that her face was like stone. “She found it strange that I hadn’t noticed how ill you had been over the past week.” He kept his tone nonchalant, but it was not without difficulty.  Another object hit the stone floor and he heard Sarah make a faint apology. Let the chit worry, she was lucky he didn’t wring her scrawny little neck. He took his clean shirt and a black silk tunic and threw it onto the bed before starting on the buckles of his jacket.

“It’s alright Sarah, you can leave. I won’t need you for another few hours, you may take your dinner.”

He threw his jacket onto the bed with a bit more violence than was necessary.

“Thank you mi’lady.” She curtsied to both of them and fled the room.

“You should have told me Marian.” He said pulling the knitted undershirt over his head.

“Told you what?” Marian asked, rising to her feet pressing a hand to her stomach.

“That you’d been ill. You should have told me, it could have been serious.”

“Because I knew that I wasn’t.”

“You-” he paused, feeling the temper rising up again and then took a deep breath, while fisting his hand in the clean shirt. Eventually he let it out and pulled the shirt over his head before slipping on the tunic and fastening the golden hooks. “You were wrong to do what you did.”

She stared at him with dead eyes out of a stone face but made no reply, even as the tears in her eyes spilled down her cheeks.

“Would it be so terrible Marian?” he walked over to her and still received no reaction. “Can we not begin again and move past all that has passed between us?”

“Like the fact that you forced yourself upon me and ruined all my hopes for the future?”

He groaned inwardly at the thought of another argument with her but it was heartening to see life in her face at least.

“Believe it or not this is not what I planned for us.”

“I know what you planned.”

“No you don’t,”

“I know that you were content to begin our marriage with a lie.”

“I didn’t know that it was a lie when I said it.”

“You made no move to inform me of the fact before you manhandled me in God’s house.”

He nearly laughed, but knew better. “You were about to strike me yourself, if you recall.”

“You deserved it!” she cried, stomping her foot.

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. At times it was painfully obvious how young she was. “I suppose I’m to take from that that you didn’t?”

“Yes!”

“Everything I have done has been to protect you and your father,” She scoffed and he fought back a surge of temper, “and no matter how you rail against me, and how much I regret the necessity of it I will never apologize for having done it.”         

The silence in the room as he held her eyes was broken by a knock the door .

“Come.” He called and Alan stuck his head through the door. “What is it Alan?”

“I’m not being funny, but you were due in the hall fifteen minutes ago. I had to leave me dinner to come fetch you and it probably won’t be there when I get back.”

Marian drew in a sharp breath and stepped around him, whipping the train of her skirt out of his way. She pushed Alan out of her way and strode down the hall. Guy rolled his eyes and followed her out the door, passing Alan on the way.

“Did you have another domestic?”

Guy glared at him and Alan’s mouth curled against a smile.

“My father always said-”

“I couldn’t give a tinkers damn what your peasant father had to say a-Dale. And if you value the skin on your back you won’t try to tell me.”

“Absolutely, Gizzy.”

“And don’t call me that.”

“What, ‘Gizzy’?”

Guy paused and fixed him with another look that threatened murder and Alan held up his hands in compliance with a deceptively innocent expression.

“Just making sure.”

“Why don’t you make sure that you stay out of my sight for the rest the night?” Guy asked in terrifyingly pleasant tone.

Alan nodded and scampered away, whistling as he went. Guy drew a deep breath and then let it out before moving to catch up with Marian.

She was already seated by the time he reached the banquet hall and Vaszey glared at him as he entered.

“Late Gisbourne.”

“ Forgive me my lord, it couldn’t be avoided.”

“I was commenting on how sickly your leper looked. I don’t suppose that she did us all a favor by actually contracting the damned disease did she?”

“No my lord.” Guy replied evenly as he took his seat beside her.

“Pity. A little birdy told me that she had a little spill in the market place.”

Shit “Clever animal.” Guy replied keeping his eyes down and his voice mild with great effort. “Did it tell you anything else?”

“No.”

There was a great silence following that response, in which Guy weighed the pros and cons of providing that bit of information. He didn’t like Vaszey knowing that truth, but to try to keep it from him… If it was a test and Vaszey already knew then it would reveal that Guy was not completely loyal, but if he didn’t know then it would put Marian and himself and Sir Edward in a dangerous position. He looked up at Vaszey and saw the gleam in his eyes. “Lady Gisbourne is with child.”

“Well done Gisbourne, get them breeding early I say.” Lord Charleston called out. Guy gave him a fake smile even as he fantasized about putting the simpering little twat’s head through a wall.

“Yours?” Vaszey asked pleasantly.

“Yes.” He couldn’t quite help the warning his voice, and Vaszey heard it.

He fixed an oily smile on his face and turned his attention to Marian who was looking paler by the second. “I’m sure she’s thrilled with the prospect.”

“I didn’t ask her.” Guy replied.

“Better take to care Lady Gisbourne. All kinds of ails can befall a woman with child.”

Marian stared at him with wide eyes her hand settling over her stomach and then fixed her eyes on her empty plate.

They stayed there for the rest of the meal.

By the time Guy returned with Marian she was barely standing on her own. She allowed him to help her but only as little as possible, and when they reached their chambers she jerked away from him to stagger through the door. Sarah stood from tending the fire and hurried over to her.

“Mi’lady!”

“I’m fine, I’m merely tired.” Marian said as she was lowered into a chair. Sarah started on the laces at the back of her dress, as Marian slumped over onto the table.

“I’ll tell the Sheriff that you need to be at Locksley.”

“I’m fine.”

“You cannot be here. He wants to upset you and put our child in danger.”

“I can handle him.”

“No you cannot. Sarah, tomorrow when you wake you will start packing her things.”

“Yes mi’lord.” She replied as her fingers flew through the fine laces of Marian’s gown opening it to the waist.

“Alan will accompany you.”

“Alan!” Marian stood and twisted her head around to look at him, while Sarah undid the fastenings at her wrists and helped her remove the dress. “Alan is an idiot!”

“Perhaps, but he’s a trustworthy idiot.”

“What nonsense.” She muttered before seating herself again, clad now in only her thin under chemise, and rubbing her brow tiredly.

He wanted nothing more than to go to her, rub her tired shoulders and take her into his arms. He watched her small, strong hands rub the back of her neck and then averted his gaze, lest he do something foolish. Like beg to touch her. “Alan goes.” He looked at Sarah who was watching him strangely. “And so will you girl; you and Elise. If anything should happen, any news or any change at all you write to me here.”

“Yes mi’lord.” She said, still clutching Marian’s gown in her hands. His eyes fell to it.

“Give that to me, help Lady Marian to bed and then retire.”

“Thank you mi’lord.” She gave him the gown and then turned back to Marian. “Come on mi’lady, let’s get you off to bed.” He watched her take hold of Marian’s arm and lead her away and then walked over to her chest in the corner of the room. Before he put the dress away he brought it to his nose and inhaled the scent of warm, milky roses that always lingered around her. The ever present ache in his heart sharpened for one nearly unbearable moment and then faded as he laid the dress on top the carved chest. He heard the door close and knew that Sarah was gone. It had been such a short period of time but he’d grown used to having her there. He’d grown used to seeing her gowns and slippers, her brushes and half closed pots on the vanity. As long as they were forced into each other’s company there was a chance for them. Just the night before the fight had been different. It seemed that she was running out of accusations to throw at him. If she had been there longer he could have shown her more of what was possible between them. Show her now very much he truly cared for her. But now that the sheriff knew that she was with child he would play havoc with her as much as possible. This was his one chance, Guy knew that well. This could very well be his only chance for a child or a family. Whatever it cost him, there was no risk worth taking if it could lose him that.

When Marian awoke the sun was shining and Guy was gone. It had been that way since the day they were married. Besides the morning after their wedding night she had never seen him asleep. The second thing to occur to her was that she was very close to throwing up. She stumbled out of bed and ran for the basin on the floor, before emptying the contents of her stomach into it. There wasn’t much in it and before long she was simply dry heaving and her hands curled into fists. She felt so very weak and a cold sweat had settled over her skin. That combined with the icy, stone floor had her shivering before long despite the warmth of the fire. The thought of nine months of mornings like this was enough to bring tears to her eyes.

The door opened and she heard soft footsteps enter.

“Oh mi’lady, you’ll catch your death down there!”

“I feel ill.”

“Yes, Sir Guy said you’d be poorly so he had me brew a tisane from the bag the midwife left.” Sarah helped her into a chair and brought a cup of cool water for her. “Here rinse your mouth out,”

“I know what to do.” Marian grumbled. She rinsed her mouth and spit the sickness back into the cup before reaching for the steaming cup that Sarah had placed on the table next to a platter of bread and cheese.

“Does your head ache mi’lady?”

“No.” she sipped the mixture tentatively and then sighed closing her eyes. It wasn’t nearly as bad as other medicinal concoctions she’d had.

“Sir Guy said that you should try to eat something, even if it’s a bit of bread.”

“Sir Guy can go hang.” She heard a small snort and opened her eyes to see Sarah hiding a smile. “Perhaps that is unkind of me.”

“He’s a brute of a man to be sure mi’lady but he was ever so concerned for you.”

“He should be. This is his doing.” Marian smirked, thinking of the midwife Matilda and the way she’d spoken to him. She’d never seen anything like that small woman glaring her tall, terrifying husband into submission.

“I have most of your things packed already mi’lady.”

“Are we leaving already then?”

“Sir Guy said to wait for him to get permission. I’m to help you get dressed in the meanwhile.”

“Nothing too fitting I hope.”

“No mi’lady. It’s the brown, woolen bliaunt you got with the flowers on the sleeves.”

“That laces in the front?”

“Yes mi’lady.” Sarah walked to the chair by the fire and presented Marian with the chemise and bliaunt

Marian stood and slipped on the white linen chemise with long fitted sleeves and tied the draw string at the collar, before allowing Sarah to drop the heavy bliaunt over her head. The material was warm and thick, offering immediate relief from the chilly morning, and the cheerfully colored flowers stitched onto the flowing elbow length sleeves brightened her spirits a bit.  She sat at her vanity with her cooling tisane and sipped it while Sarah brushed the tangles out of her hair and tied the top of it back with a piece of ribbon.

There was a sharp knock on the door before Guy entered. From the mirror she could see the rapidly forming bruise on his cheek and barely noticed her fingers tighten on her cup. “Run into a right hand again?” she asked evenly.

He stared at her and then sighed shaking his head. “The Sheriff has given you permission to return to Locksley. The carriage has been called for.” His eyes shifted to Sarah. “Is everything prepared?”

“Aye mi’lord.”

He nodded and then looked at the food on the table. “You’ve not eaten?”

“I wasn’t hungry.” Marian replied.

“You must eat." His voice was just short of authoritative. She wondered if he had slept at all the previous night. "Alan is waiting by the carriage.”

“Oh God, not him,”

“We’ve already discussed this Marian, I need someone I can trust to-”

“Keep an eye on me?”

He let out another sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers, as if to fight off a headache. “I was going to say look out for any trouble.”

“Are you alright mi’lord?” Sarah asked hesitantly.

“I’m fine, girl.”

Marian let out a fitful sigh and pushed herself to her feet, turning to face him. “I will not subject myself to Alan’s company.  I’m drinking that witches brew that Matilda left, be content with that.”

“Matilda?”

“The mid wife, Guy. The impudent one.”

He gave his head a quick shake and then let out a sigh. “Of course. Chamomile and fennel is hardly a witch brew, my mother always used it.”

She stared at him, not bothering to point out that it was a sad attempt at a joke. He wasn’t paying attention to her. His mind seemed to be everywhere at once. She glanced at Sarah and saw that even she appeared to be concerned by this version of Guy. Suddenly he snapped himself out of a trance for the second time since he’d entered and refocused on her.

“Alan may be ridiculous but he is loyal to me. And he worries about you nearly as much as I do. If the Sheriff makes moves against you he’ll catch it. If he pays a servant to spy on you, which he isn’t above doing by the way, Alan will know. Like it or not he goes.”

Marian rolled her eyes and looked out the window, taking a sip of her tisane.

"I’ll send men for the trunks. Take the food with you; you may get hungry on the road.” He turned and left shutting the door firmly behind him.

“Fine,” She replied softly, too tired to argue with him

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What time has told: Chapter Five [Feb. 23rd, 2012|09:58 pm]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , , , ]
[Current Location |Home]
[mood |accomplished]
[music |La Fee Verte]


Chapter 5

 

Three Weeks Later…

 

Marian received the missive from her father’s overseer during her luncheon meal. The maid curtsied and left while Marian broke her father’s seal. Within the first few words her stomach was churning, and he mouth had gone dry. Sir Edward was ailing. Leaving her meal half eaten, she rose and strode to Guy’s office. Vaszey had decided against allowing Marian to return home, judging her to be too dangerous to be left to her own devices. She was not under house arrest but it was always tricky for her to escape from the stifling oppression of Nottingham Castle. Guy had still managed to avoid her whenever possible. Once the Black Knights had left, he had taken to sleeping elsewhere. They never discussed where he slept, and Marian refused to ask, telling herself that it didn’t matter. The further he was from her the better.

She found him at work as always, one hand clenched in his hair and the other furiously scrawling over a piece of parchment. She shut the door firmly behind her and he threw down his quill, lifting his head to reveal a face like thunder. When he saw that it was her, he closed his eyes and let out a slow breath, rolling the temper out of his shoulders.

“Marian.” His tone was even, revealing nothing of how he felt to see her.

“I am leaving.”

“I beg your pardon?” he paused in picking back up his quill and stared at her as if she were mad.

“I am needed at Knighton.”

“You cannot leave.”

“You’ll find that I can.” She replied turning to leave. Before she had taken a step she heard the scrape of his chair on the stone floor and then felt his hand encircle his upper arm in a firm grip. He ushered her past the two clerks who were feigning disinterest and propelled her out the door, slamming it behind him. Halfway down the hall, Marian groped for the skirts of her crimson gown with cunning silver edging on the flowing sleeves and along the hem. Guy ignored Allen who decided against asking his question and instead gave Marian a look that was part concern and part reprimand, carving a path among servants and guards who all stared at them with trepidation.  When they reached their chambers he all but flung her forward barking out a dismissal to the three chamber maids who hastened to obey him. Marian watched them leave and steeled herself to face Guy’s stone face. She at the very least, was no coward.

“You cannot contradict me in public.”

“I am not a serf for you to command.” She replied.

His eyes flashed and she watching him take his second calming breath in the last ten minutes. His hands flexed and he strode past her to look out the window. “Your safety rests on the Sheriff’s belief that you have been brought to heel.”

“Brought to heel?!” She wanted to rip him apart.

“Any information that contradicts that belief-”

“Is that how you speak of your wife?”

“-whether it be witnessed by guards, servants or clerics who happen to be in the bloody room,” he continued over her, his voice steadily raising in volume, “is an opportunity for him to make your life hell.”

“My life already is hell.”

His flat laugh as he turned to face her again made her blood crawl. “My naïve, simple wife.”

Her jaw clenched.

“Believe me you know nothing of hell, and if you plan to keep it that way I suggest you mind what you say, how you say it, and most importantly who hears it, am I understood?”

“As you wish.” She replied sarcastically.

“No, as you wish Marian. The deaths of your friends, or your father will not be on my head if you continue to act like a selfish stupid child-”

“Selfish!”

“and ignore the situation you are in. The Sheriff ordered you to be here at the castle and so you shall be.”

She stared at his hateful face wanting nothing more than to rip it to shreds.

“What is so urgent that you insist on leaving?”

 “My father is ill. His cough has worsened, they think he is dying.”

His face did not soften as he continued to stare at her. “When did you hear this?”

“Today. I received word.” She held up the crumpled missive in her hand.

He strode forward and took it from her, reading the message for himself. She felt the indignation that he didn’t believe her burn her throat and chest even as he handed it back to her. She watching him walk a distance away running a hand over his face, letting it hover over his mouth before finally letting his arm drop to his side.

When he spoke again his voice was stern but not as unkind. “Be back for dinner.” Then he left shutting the door firmly behind him.

Marian wasted no time in changing her velvet gown for a pale blue linen one and pulling one of her new riding over dresses. As Sarah entered with a panicked expression Marian was switching her slippers for sturdy riding boots.

“Lord Gisbourne said you were leaving for the day mi’lady.”

“Yes I am leaving now, have my new blue gown prepared for the banquet tonight.”

“Yes mi’lady.”

Marian headed for the stables at a run, finding that her mare Esther had already been saddled under Guy’s orders. She didn’t take time to consider what it meant as she pounded out the gates of Nottingham Castle and headed for home. She was at Knighton within the hour, leaping from Ester and throwing the reins at a startled stable boy as she called for Gregory. He met her at the entrance taking her hands in his.

“Milady you’ve forgotten you gloves.”

“Hang the gloves Gregory, how is my father? Is he worse?”

“Not since I sent for you milady but he hasn’t much improved.”

“Have you called a physician?” she asked as she headed up the stairs.

“He’s been, he gave medicine but…”

“Well?”

“He says that Sir Edward doesn’t have much time left. The Masters health has been poor for a while now, and with this sudden turn.”

“Is there nothing to be done?”

“He said that it was hopeless. He said to prepare for the end.”

“He comes here, declares my father a lost cause and leaves?” she could feel anger and sick fear building within her. How dare he? How dare he give up hope without even trying? “You may leave Gregory, thank you. I will see to my father myself.”

Gregory bowed and left. Marian watched him go and then pushed open the door to her father’s room, unsure of what to expect. At first glance her mind told her that her father wasn’t in that bed. That frail old man couldn’t possibly be her father, the man to had trained her, taught her and loved her so well. Then his eyes opened and his face creased in a smile.

“Marian, my girl.”

She fought back her tears and strode forward, taking one of his cold, wrinkled hands in hers and pressing a kiss to the back of it. “Father.”

“Does Guy know that you are here?”

“Let us not speak of him.” She stroked the paper thin skin on his face and the silver, disheveled hair on his head. “How are you feeling?”

“Not so good today. I was doing better before but…” he shrugged. “I’ll rally again, you’ll see.”

“Of course you will.” She forced herself to smile. “Dear Father.”

“Don’t worry so darling. I’ll be alright.”

“You’re all I have. You must try papa, I couldn’t bear to lose you.”

“Nonsense girl, you have Robin. And you have Guy as well. He can and will protect you.”

“Yes, I do have Robin, but do try.”

“I will daughter, you’ll see.”

She smiled, taking a restorative breath before patting his hand gently with hers. “When was the last time you ate?”

“I couldn’t keep anything down of late.”

“Well you’ll try again now.” She rose and went to the door, calling for food and drink.

 

*****************

 

Guy could feel his anxiety grow with every passing minute. He had known that it was a mistake to let Marian leave the castle even as he ordered her horse to be saddled. However, he couldn’t have forced her to stay knowing how dangerously close Edward was to the grave, ad knowing how much Marian and he had and still did rely on each other. As the sun set, he tried not to panic as he entered their chamber. Her maid Sarah entered took right after him, one look at the empty room and paled.

“Has mi’lady not returned?” she asked in a tremulous voice.

“No. She hasn’t.” he replied. “Which gown have you prepared for tonight?”

“The teal silk one mi’lord, with the golden pleats.”

“Is it easy to get on?”

“Easier than most of them, mi’lord.”

“Good.” He tapped a finger on his leg and then looked back at the girl beside him who seemed more nervous than he was. “I’m sure she will be here soon, Thank you Sarah.”

She dipped into a quick curtsey and then left and Guy offered up a quick prayer. If Marian was late, the Sheriff would not be kind.

 

It was halfway through the game course before Marian arrived. Guy heard the music and conversation grind to a pregnant halt and looked up to see his wife enter in the teal gown, her hair brushed over one shoulder and secured with a jeweled comb. She looked tired and apprehensive, but even as he wanted to strangle her, he could not fault her beauty.

“Your leper is late Gisbourne.”

Guy looked over to the Sheriff to see his eyes alive with gleefully mad anger.

“I beg pardon my lord.” Guy rose to pull out her chair and then reseated himself beside her.

“Is she too stupid to be capable of promptness?”

“My father is ill my lord Sheriff.” Marian said, her tone tense.

“Your father is rarely well Lady Gisbourne, one wonders why he doesn’t just kick off and do us all a favor.”

Her head snapped up, her eyes flashing fire. “My father is ten times the man you are you vicious troll!”

“Marian!” Guy grabbed her arm and in warning, vision of her dangling from a noose in his head.

“Your father is a weak, deposed piece of decaying flesh.” Vaszey replied rising to his feet and leaning over his plate.

She began to shoot to her feet but Guy yanked her back down into her seat so forcefully that is tilted backwards. “Be still.” He growled.

“You listen to your husband Lady Leper, or I might feel charitable enough to help Sir Crusty into that wooden box.”

Guy felt the muscles in her arm flexing under his hand as she fought no doubt to not to carve out his sneering eyes with a knife. His heart broke for her and as he glanced around the room he saw the gentry seated there wearing combinations of amusement and sympathy.

“Perhaps you need a lesson in obedience.” Vaszey hissed and Guy felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up.

“No my lord, I am sure time simply got away from her. It will not happen again.”

“Don’t try to placate me Gisbourne!” Vaszey roared. “That lying bitch needs a hand raised to her twice a day whether it’s coming to her or not.”

“My lord please.” Guy swallowed back the growing anger that was steadily replacing fear. There were limits to what he would endure in the name of keeping peace.

“You keep her in line Gizzy. If you are too soft for it then I will.”

“Yes my lord.” Guy replied his gaze hot even as they met Vaszey’s cold black eyes. When he was sure that Marian would not say or do anything suicidal, he released her arm. She said nothing as the entertainment started back up, eating and drinking little, keeping her hands in her lap and her eyes fixed on her plate. When the evening was finally over, Guy went to lead her out the hall but she spun around her fist clenched, her eyes full of angry tears. He froze, and deigned to follow her out of the hall to their chamber, fighting back another wave of anger. How dare she have the nerve to be angry with him?

He shut their chamber door behind him, turned and felt her hand make stinging contact with the side to his face. Somehow he kept his hands to himself with the knowledge that if he touched her he would not be able to stay rational.

“How dare you-”

“How dare I?” he exclaimed. “Where the devil were you?!”

“I was with my father, where I should have been not here with you and that... that monster you so eagerly call master.”

“Keep your voice down woman, for God’s sake!” Guy hissed, striding towards her. She backed away, stumbling into the desk and he froze, knowing that she feared violence from him. Jesu she thought him low enough to strike her. “I allowed you to leave under the condition that you returned for dinner.”

“I did return.”

On time. You were over a bloody hour late! He could have thrown you into the stocks for disobeying a direct order.”

“I received no direct orders from him.”

“Do you want to see your father suffer?”

She was struck silent for a moment, before rage had her hands clenching into fists. “You would dare to threaten my father!”

“Not me Marian, him, and believe me he would dare a great deal more. Every time you act against him you put your father’s life in peril and after all he has done and given and risked for you he deserves more than a daughter who cannot control herself if only for his sake. Think on that, if your own neck isn’t reason enough.”

He stormed away, narrowly avoiding the pitcher that smashed against the chamber door.

 

Guy could feel the red closing in on his vision as he strode down the corridor towards Vaszey’s chambers. Insulting Marian to his face was one thing, but doing it in front of the court of the shire was another thing completely. He found Vaszey staring into the fire, sitting in his great chair.

“My lord I would have a word with you.”

“If it’s about that leper then forget it.”

“That leper as you insist on calling her is my wife and deserves to be treated with respect.”

“Don’t you tell me what that two faced bitch deserves!” he exploded, his chair flying backwards as he surged to his feet. “You’re lucky she hasn’t accidentally fallen off of her horse on one of those forest forages she enjoys so much.”

“Don’t you dare threaten her.” Guy growled, feeling his blood heat and his hands twitching, ready to wreck havoc.

“Or what?”

“Or I’ll slit your throat in your sleep and let this whole damned city burn.”

The smile that split Vaszey’s face was chilling. “Good.” He crooned, moving towards Guy with measured steps, the storm of violence now passed. “There’s that poison, that anger, that murderous hate.” He took Guys face in his hands with a grip that had Guy fighting not to strike out. “That’s what I want. Glad to see you back Gisbourne, I’m going to need that kind of mindset for what I have in mind.”

“My lord?” The caution was back now.

“Plan’s Gizzy. Plans that will bring us glory and riches beyond belief.” He released Guy’s face and strode towards the fire again, staring into it as if hypnotized.

“I don’t understand you.”

“We are going for the head Gisbourne.”

“The head?”

“We won’t fail this time, the head is the key.”

“Are you talking about Richard?” Guy asked, feeling increasingly sick.

“And his whore of a mother. Our patron needs them eliminated.” Suddenly those black eyes fixed on Guy again and Guy felt the weight of it like a yolk on his back. “We must not fail him Gisbourne.”

Guy held his gaze, feeling as though he were looking into the pits of hell. There was something beyond ambition, beyond greed lurking in those eyes. Something deeply, darkly twisted, full of genius and the cold fire of madness. He thought of Marian, with her wild idealism and Edward with his failing health and waning hope and saw the path that he had to take. The only path that he could live with. “No we must not.” He swallowed hard, against the bile in his throat and took two steps forward.  “We must make him proud.”

“It’s there Gisbourne. If we don’t take it someone else will.”

“Yes.” There was no other alternative. He was playing with the worst sort of fire, there was no assurances now and perhaps there never had been. Vaszey was all but possessed, Prince John was a coward with a heart full of greed and Richard was half a world away. He knew what it was to have no hope or help or chance of peace or security. He knew what it was to be unprotected and alone, with a stomach cramping with hunger and nothing but a lifetime of toil and drudgery stretched out before him. He knew what it was to be forgotten. There was no creed or ideal that was worth Marian alive in that hell. He would go to hell instead.

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Secret Santa Number 3. I finished it!! [Dec. 24th, 2010|11:15 pm]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[music |Zat you Santa Claus? Louis Amrstrong]

FIC PROMPT
Genre: angst, dark
Rating: any
Prompt:
Special Instructions: The darker, the darker- I like it a little rough ;)

Genre: angst

Rating: PG-13 possibly stronger...

Prompt: A songfic based on Sarah McLachlan's "Possession"

Setting: 2X03 it’s been done before I know. We know what she did but well all know what she wanted to do… *wink, wink*

 

 

Through this world I’ve stumbled
So many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word
To find the truth enslaved
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
You speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath
You words keep me alive

-          Possession, Sarah McLachlan

 

 

                        She has always felt his eyes on her like a physical touch. He makes her react like no one ever has. Standing before her in only his trousers with the firelight rendering his alabaster skin golden, he no longer looks like an impenetrable tower of anger and strength. He is a man, a beautiful man with blue ice for eyes and the face of a fallen angel. She asks if there is hope for reconciliation partly for her own ends and partly because she truly does not like him angry with her. His face is a mixture of suspicion, hope and hurt. He wants this to be real more than anything, and she can see it in his eyes despite his words. He looks away, as if he knows that he shows too much, his mouth curves into a wry smile. She cannot stop staring at his neck, the elegant sweep of his collarbone. She feels an unnatural urge to bite it, to see if he is as strong as he looks. She wants to see if that golden skin is as smooth to the touch as she imagines. She wants him under her hands.

                        She tells him that she offers friendship, but even as it leaves her lips she knows it to be a paltry offer compared to what he was willing to give. He offered his heart and his soul, his hand and his life and she only has friendship. With all his crimes and all his cruelty, it is not a fair exchange. And despite the vulnerability in him she cannot walk away. The heat of him tickles her fingertips as they hover before his chest. She wants more than anything to have the right, or perhaps the spine to touch him. When he takes her hand in his she notices them for the first time. Sans the bulky black gloves he always wears, they are strong but slender, beautifully formed, refined. They shouldn’t belong to him. These unexpected discoveries of beauty make her want to know more. She wants the truth behind the leather and the cold eyes. His eyes meet hers and she is a captive. He is searching for something, something that she doesn’t know is within her to give but he is closer now, closer than before and she doesn’t remember when he moved. He is leaning in, she can hear her uneven breath, her thundering heart beat. Her skin is on fire from one touch and it’s not fair.

                        When his mouth brushes hers she closes her eyes and waits, unable to move. She knows that she should move away, that she should run from this man with a black heart and an angel’s face but it is different now. There is a truth in this, just as the truth of his hands beneath his gloves and she cannot shake the feeling that beneath the cruel, crass, ugly shell is something smooth, beautiful and golden. Something she wants to sink her teeth into, run her hands over, taste on her tongue. With all the lies she must tell, to others, to herself, lies that she must believe for her own sanity she feels like she needs the honesty of his body. She needs to let him kiss her, let him trace her jaw with his fingertips, let him draw her flush against him so she can feel the heat of that glorious body against hers. She feels the hard ridge of his sex pressed low on her belly and the answering response in her. She feels swollen, lush, insatiable; as if she cannot and will not be able to get enough of him.

                        All her fine words, the lies on the tip of her tongue that she always finds so easy to tell to him are stolen and she lets her body do what it has wanted to for years. Her hands run over his shoulders, up his neck to fist in his hair, and he kisses her harder, his fingers clutching her to him hard, his body bending hers backward even as she lifts onto her toes. His greed for her is unexpectedly thrilling. He takes her in gulps and gasps, his hands hard on her skin, his mouth ravenous. She clings, lets his moth drift over her neck and shoulders, revels in the sensations. There is no need to play a part with him not the chaste maiden or the moral warrior. The freedom of it is strange and unexpected. Freedom to her has always been linked to having her way and going where she chose. It never occurred to her that freedom could come from not having to play a part outside of that of a lover. It never occurs to her that she may enjoy feeling helpless and out of control for once. She presses her mouth against his neck and he shivers against her. Her tongue sweeps over the warm skin and she feels him break out into goose flesh beneath her fingertips. His breath wafts over her ear and she hears her name whispered over and over. She cannot draw enough air to answer him so instead she presses tighter, squirms against him and returns his greedy, delicious kisses.

                        “Stay with me.” He pulls away and pins her with his gaze. She doesn’t want to answer, doesn’t want to think about what is going to happen and what it will mean. She leans in for him, her mouth parting before she even meets his but he jerks back.

                        “Kiss me.” Her voice is unrecognizable to her ears. All she can think is that if he sends her away she will not be responsible for her actions.

                        “Tell me first.” He is almost pleading and the desperation in his eyes is slowly filtering through. He needs her to be here with him, now and always, he needs the assurance.

“I’ll stay.” The feeling is slipping away; that glorious fiery sensation in her legs and the pit of her stomach, the haze in her brain, the sensitivity in her body.

“For how long?” Somehow he knows that it is not binding. That she is a master at saying what people want to hear without promising anything.

“Guy,” she doesn’t want to answer. Even here and now with this need for him raging through her she doesn’t want to bind herself to him. Instead she tries to squirm closer but his hands are like iron and he will not let her. The desperation turns to hurt and then resignation. He pushes her back away from himself and turns away. The room is colder now, her body is aching and listless, it’s source of sensation now gone. “Guy,” she says his name again and he shakes his head covering his face with his hands. His shoulders shake and for one horrifying moment she is afraid that he is crying. Then he turns to face her and his face is a study of bitter mirth.

“Go home Marian.”

“I don’t want to go.”

“I’m not giving you a choice.”

“Take me upstairs.” She walks up to him, bold and desperate. The game is over; all she wants is to take that horrible look out of his eyes. “Take me.”

“Take what?” he reaches out, runs his hand over the curve of her breast, caresses the firm soft mound gently. She sucks in a breath against the shiver of pleasure as her eyes flutter close. “Take this?”

His hand is gone. As the streaking pleasure dissipates she looks at him again. He is unmoved, the hurt is more apparent.

“That’s not what I want Marian.”

“Then what do you want?” she grabs his arm to turn him back around. She wants to see his face now that she is looking for the first time.

“I want you. You.” The words seem torn from his soul. His eyes burn her and she doesn’t know what to say. That is something else that she never understood. That someone like him could see all of her and want it all, not the image in his head, or the role he wanted her to fill or only the good parts but all of it. “I don’t want a night that we will both regret tomorrow I want you, till I die. And I want you to want me with no strings or games or motive.” At her lack of response he laughs again. “You left me.”

“I’m sorry.” Her eyes are on fire and filling with tears. She looks down at her clasped hands unwilling to let him see.

“You’re not, if you had it to do over you’d do no differently.”

“That’s not true.” Not now at least.

“Yes it is. You don’t want to be with me. I didn’t want to believe it but it’s true. I wanted to believe this, I wanted to think you had finally decided to be mine but you haven’t. Anything else is a lie.”

“I want to begin again.”

“You want to be free. I can’t give you that. So you see you have abased yourself to no purpose.”

“Don’t send me away.” She walked closer and took his face in her hands. He closed his eyes at her touch, let out a sigh. “Ask me again.”

He shook his head. “There’s no point.”

“Ask me again.”

He opened his eyes and for the first time there was hope. “Stay.”

“Forever.”

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Secret Santa Number 2 [Dec. 24th, 2010|09:42 pm]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , , , , ]
[music |Zat you Santa Claus? Louis Amrstrong]

Prompt: #1: FIC PROMPT
Genre:Guy/Marian, Guy/AU
Rating:any, prefer a good romance and some hotness is always appreciated (NC17 or R is ok), alternate universe is fine, even an alternate love interest is fine. Love a good story.

Author: Katrushkalupin

Rating: PG-13

Genre: Guy/Marian AU

Summary: Guy is late coming home.

 

He is meant to arrive that night. His letter was not terse precisely but very much like him; short, to the point and oddly affectionate. He never signs them as Robin had Love, Robin. Whether they be short notes or letters, he always signs them Your husband, and for some reason those words in his precise almost elegant scroll sets her heart racing. Only she knows that it is the equivalent of signing it your lover or your love or the knight of your heart, because only she knows that for him they are all one and the same. His affections are only plain to those who know him well; his steward, Allen, her. To others they seem like nothing.  It was her first lesson in marriage; that everything she thought she knew was wrong.  Nothing is as she expected. She finds herself the captor not the captive, the lover not the servant, a treasure rather than a possession. For him the title wife is dearer than any other endearment because for him the role is something like salvation. In a short time she finds herself increasingly unable to sleep without him, missing his hand on the small of her back, his eyes on her, his rough deep voice.  She misses the feeling of wanting others to know that she belongs to him.

When she received the missive saying to expect him in a week she’d ran her fingers over the last two words imagining him saying them to her. She allowed herself to feel the sharp ache of missing him and then sets to work cleaning the house. It is the longest he has ever been away from her, two months, and she wants everything to be perfect. She spends more time than usual dressing, choosing a gown of iridescent silvery blue to set off her eyes and brushing out her hair until it flows like silk. She seats herself in the main hall and sends the servants to bed. She doesn’t know when he shall arrive, and she doesn’t want to keep them.

The maid wakes her before dawn, and as she becomes aware she notices that she is in the great hall, dinner is still there and more importantly, her husband is missing. She takes the disappointment in stride, tells herself that travel is precarious and one day’s delay is nothing. A week later she is not so sure. In three days it shall be Christmas, and he is nowhere to be found. There has been no letter explaining his absence, no word whatever.  She tries to tell herself that her husband is a capable and intelligent man. That he is able to handle himself, that he promised to come home to her and he has never broken a promise to her in six years of marriage. But the hours slip into days and as the silence continues it grows harder to believe that all is well.  It is harder to hold back the fear and ignore the sympathetic stares from the other nobles, servants villagers.  They all think him dead. At night the space beside her in their med is like a gaping wound. She remembers the last time she saw him; at night with the fire glowing off of his skin, his mouth soft and his fingertips rough. She’d clung to him as he made love to her trying to get him deeper, kiss his harder, so that she would feel him long after he is gone. He’d laughed, accused her of trying to kill him and kissed her sweetly. When her tears slipped free her clutched her close comforting her with long smooth strokes of his hands over her body and the steady beat of her heart. It is the last thing she remembers of him. She cries herself to sleep and clings to one of his tunics breathing him in. Outside, it begins to snow.

He finally arrives Christmas night. She is in the fur lined woolen robe he had made for her, her hair is unbrushed, her eyes are red and her skin is pale. He enters, their home, brushing snow off of his cloak in an irritated fashion. When she stares at him in shock he pauses and tilts his head. She believes him to be some sort of dream

“Marian?”

The sound of his voice has tears springing to her eyes but she cannot move. The amused look on his face shifts to concern and he moves forward crouching before her to take her hands in his.

“Dearest? This is a fine welcome. Marian why are you crying?”

She begins to sob and he pulls her down into his lap holding her as tightly as he can. The sound of his voice, his scent, the feel of him around her hurts, like the pain of heat when her fingers grow too cold.

“Marian for god’s sake what is it?”

“Y-you are n-nearly two weeks late!” She sounds like a crazed child even to her ears.

“I’m sorry,” he rocks her back and forth, “There was a delay, It couldn’t be avoided.” He pulls back slightly and she has to fight to urge to burrow into his chest like a child. “But that isn’t a reason for this, you would have known.”

“How would I have known?” she wants to slap him.

“My letter,” he looks confused now.

Delay? “Your letter said nothing of a delay.”

“Yes it-” he pauses staring at her carefully. “Marian how many letters did you receive from me?”

“Just the one,”

“There were two.”

“I have had no second letter, I thought you were dead.”

He blinks for a moment and then nods slowly. “Well that explains a few things.” Suddenly his eyes are wickedly amused. “Were you planning your wedding to my rival?”

“That is not funny.” She says moving to stand up and walk away. He grabs hold of her hand and yanks her back down into his lap.

“I find it rather amusing.” He nuzzles the side of her neck, the scrape of his beard something that she had missed sorely.  “The poor bastard doesn’t stand a chance.”

“It would serve you right if I did marry someone else.”

“You’d never make it out the house let alone to the alter.” He growls against her shoulder and she shivers.

Her response is caught by his mouth. It is firm, passionate and demanding like his hands on her waist, hips and back. He steals her breath and sends her heart racing. He makes her feel gloriously weak.  She cannot help the low moan that escapes her throat or the way her body curls into his, her hands fisting his thick, dark hair. He removes his cloak and lowers her on top of it, settling himself between her legs.

“Guy, we can’t do this here.” She gasps out as his hands unhook the clasps of her coat, find the hem of her night gown and begin a slow journey up her legs.

It is the look in his eyes more than the cool air on her bare legs that makes her shiver, and suddenly she doesn’t give a damn who enters the room so long as he doesn’t leave her.

“I’m after a proper welcome wife,” his voice is low and dark with delicious promise. “you’d do well to oblige me.”

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Secret Santa Number 1 [Dec. 24th, 2010|09:40 pm]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , , , ]
[music |Zat you Santa Claus? Louis Amrstrong]


#1: FIC PROMPT
Genre:Guy/Marian, Guy/AU
Rating:any, prefer a good romance and some hotness is always appreciated (NC17 or R is ok), alternate universe is fine, even an alternate love interest is fine. Love a good story.

 

Author: Katrushkalupin

Genre: Guy/ Marian AU

Rating: PG

Summary: Marian is sneaking and gets more than she bargains for.

 

 

 

 

Revelation 

 

When Marian found the chest in his room, she had expected to find coins. It wasn’t a particularly sizable chest, and had been placed within the larger one at the foot of his bed. There were no elaborate markings upon it, nothing to hint at the contents. Robin had told her of a pact that the Black Knights had been drafting and had sent her after it. He and the others would check the Sheriff’s study, she was to search Guy’s rooms, and they would rendezvous in her room.

Sneaking in had been wondrously easy. Guy was off on business, which meant that he’d be gone the entire day, and the maids had already come and gone. She knelt and opened the larger chest, sifted through scrolls, some books and shirts, first finding a leather tunic that she recalled from their disastrous wedding attempt and another made of dark blue velvet that she had never seen before. Her eyes fell on one part of the bottom of the chest that seemed uneven. Prodding produced a false bottom that revealed the smaller chest and a dozen slender journals. Within seconds she had lifted the smaller chest from its confines and placed it in her lap.

Inside were two clusters of letters, one bound by leather and marked by official seals, and the other bound with red ribbon and marked with his own. Three rings, two amulets for St. Michael and St. Sebastian, and the most unusual article by far, a braided lock of hair, made up the rest of the contents. She picked it up and felt the first icy wave of shock upon realizing that the lock of hair belonged to her. She knew that she had never given him a token. The only explanation was that he had kept what the Sheriff had removed for her own humiliation. She had wanted to keep it herself but had never been able to go after it. Both ends of the braid had been bound with a black leather tie and placed beneath the journal. Next, her eyes fell on the three rings. One she recognized as her intended wedding ring, another, their betrothal ring. She remembered him going to retrieve it. She remembered stopping Robin from doing the unforgivable. Something inside her had said that if harm came to Guy, she would feel the effects in a way she’d never before considered.

The third ring was made of gold, and it was old, scarred and heavy.   The words fidelitas, vires et veneratio had been etched around the edge of the seal and in the center was a snarling wolf within an ornate ‘G’. With a flash of recognition, she realized that she was holding Guy’s family crest. Loyalty, strength and honor. It did not surprise her. Guy prized all three attributes, holding loyalty high above the other two. It was with a pang of guilt that she remembered the many times that she had betrayed him, most of them without his knowing. And still he gave his forgiveness to her and endeavored to offer the love and protection that she did not want, at least not from him. She glanced at the remaining articles within the chest and frowned. Why would he put a lock of her hair and wedding band in the same container as his family crest? Surely he did not harbor dreams of their marriage.

She looked at the journals and picked one up. Inside was Guy’s sprawling script, covering pages and pages. She paused and bit her lip at this breach of privacy. She had no love for him, but this was beyond sneaking, and beyond betrayal. This was an invasion of his most private thoughts. The first entry was dated when he had first arrived in Nottingham three years ago. It told of him meeting her and her father, and his first impressions of the both of them. She skimmed it and then placed it back down before looking back at the chest. It would do no good to start from the end. Half curious, half excited, she reached in for the rest of the journals, starting with the one at the bottom. The first entry was dated 11th of December 1181: Today I turn fifteen. A horse got loose and I was beaten. Friar Benedict tended to me and gave me this journal. He told me writing would bleed me of my bitterness. I think I will die here. I have set this work down as my life as it happened or how I remember it. Perhaps when I die there will be someone to read and remember me…

 

She was horrified as she read the next pages, which told of the day King Henry’s troops came to seize his family home, the disgrace of his father and the death of his parents. Only he and his sister remained. She was three and he had been eight. She had been named Gloriana, which meant ‘glorious grace’, because she had been born on the feast day of the coronation of the Holy Mother. He had called her his ‘Little Annie’. She felt sick as she read that no one had been willing to take on the children of known traitors and by the winter she had starved to death.  He was found half dead, clutching his sister’s corpse, by Friar Benedict, who had then brought him to Vaszey. Her throat burned for the young boy who didn’t know whose hands he had fallen into and the beloved sister that he had lost. He saw a chance at survival and took it with both hands, swearing loyalty and fealty to Vaszey in exchange for food, board and a chance at life. The fifteen year old didn’t seem to yet recognize his misfortune in his new patronage. 

The rest of the journal left her shaken as she read of his mistreatment and his killing of a man at age sixteen, a little less than a year later. She read of beatings, sickness, starvation and fear. She read of the twisting of a young mind over hard cruel years. She read of hope. Hope that one day the lands that his parents had lost in fealty to the King’s son would be given back to him. He had not been good about writing often. There were entire months missed and sometimes a whole year. By the time she had reached the third journal Richard had been crowned King of England.

 

28th of June, 1189; Richard will be King. I am now three and twenty years of age, a good age to take back what is mine. My life with Vaszey has been hard but it has taught me to be strong and to think. I must be patient. I will pray for the strength to endure and do what I must until he comes for me.

 

 His hope had grown, but in secret this time. Vaszey had not been pleased to hear of Guy’s hope of breaking away from him. He had been whipped for his ingratitude till his back ran with blood. For one year Guy wrote to the dowager Queen with regards to his family estate and waited for the messenger that would tell him of his hopes being answered. By August of the following year his wishes were shattered;

 

30th of August, 1190; A messenger came from Queen Eleanor today. Vaszey is called to court. There was no mention of Gisborough save to say that my family home is not for sale. Count Vaszey may be a devil but it seems that the devil’s rule, not the angels. Tomorrow I will pray for strength.

 

More months went by. Slowly she saw him twist and harden into a man that was more recognizable to her; a man who was willing to take his due by force if he could not get it by right, a man who had no love for the King and followed his Master loyally. A man tormented by sleepless nights over past deeds done by or to him, who prayed almost daily for the strength to endure until he could choose his fate. 

 

2nd of June 1191; Today I was upgraded. I no longer have to work in the stables or as valet as the others do. I will have my own horse, my own rooms and important duties to see to. Vaszey says that he sees a great future for me. I only care for one future: to return to my home, rich, strong and victorious. We are to go to a place called Nottingham. Vaszey is to be the new Sheriff under Prince John’s protection.  I received another letter. That bastard King will not give me back what my parents lost in service to him. He has forgotten me, but I will make him remember…

 

She glanced at the stack of letters embossed with the royal seal of state. Was that what they were? Endless petitions for the return of what should have been given to him years before. With trembling hands she picked up the first stack of letters bound in leather and noted the seals of King Richard and Prince John. She opened them one after the other, reading the same missive over and over. At first the Gisborough estate was not available for sale, then the money offered was not enough, and finally that it had gone to another. The dates of the letters ranged back from the first few months of Richards reign, long before he and Vaszey had arrived at Nottingham to a few months ago.

She had believed that all the aristocracy who had lost lands in the attempted coup had been compensated. She had never wondered why Guy, with a title, was a servant to Vaszey. She had never wondered what would have made him need a patron. She picked up the first journal that she had picked up. She read of his wishes to marry a noblewoman and carry on the Gisborne line and his fear that he would die before ever attaining that goal. Then a few months later she saw her name,

 

31st of July 1191; I watched her dance and I swear there was nothing else but her. She is of noble birth which is good. Her father was the Sheriff before Vaszey. She has the sweetest face, although she rarely smiles. Sometimes I can catch the end of one but it is never aimed at me. She is passionate and willful although she tries to hide it. She hates me I think, that she does not try to hide so easily. I cannot fault her. She will know me in time, and she will see me as I am.

 

She saw his hopes change over the course of their slipshod courtship, saw his frustration with his inability to make her understand. She read of his sadness at her coldness and his determination to make it work. She saw the entry speaking of the day he had given her the horse:

 

1st of September, 1191, She smiled at me today. Not a fake or half-hearted one but a real smile. She was surprised and well-pleased at the gift. I would beggar myself to keep such pleasure on her face.

 

Her breathing hitched in her throat at that last line.  Robin had never spoken such words to her. She wondered at the change in Guy from the time he arrived in Nottinghamshire. He had not wanted love but someone with whom he could build the life that he had always wanted. Within two months his focus seemed to be turned to winning her favor. He wrote of Robin’s return and the beginning of their long feud. He wrote of the peasant girl Annie and his bastard son Seth. He expressed regret over his actions, as well as the necessity for them. He expressed fear for the first time in over a year; fear that his drive to resurrect the name of Gisborne had rendered his soul as black as the leather he wore. Fear that the blood on his hands had shamed his family. Fear that he had pushed himself beyond the redemption of God. She would never have believed him to have such things inside of him. She read of the hope that she had come to mean for him:

 

4th of April, 1192, Tomorrow we are to wed. Tomorrow the bulk of my dreams will be realized. She is so pure even in her hatred. She will cleanse me. She could wash this blackness from my soul. I will love her and in earning her love I will atone for my sins. If she can love me, all is not lost. I have dreams of her swollen with my child, walking with me on my land, our land. I have dreams of holding our first born in my arms. It will happen; tomorrow my life will begin again.

 

She saw the entry for their wedding and her eyes blurred with tears.

 

5th of April, 1192, She left me. I will never forget her eyes when she found out. I tried to force her and she struck me. I did not have the heart to stop her. Perhaps there is nothing left within me to love. Can I blame her if she did not want to saddle herself with a demon? If she cannot love me then there is no point in hoping for forgiveness.

 

            So much pain followed in the days after. Then the pain turned into anger; bitter anger that turned his thoughts black and his heart to stone. He wrote of nightmares of being torn apart by the innocent who had died at his hand, or drowning in the blood of his enemies, dreams of dying alone with no love, no hope and no peace. He dreamt of his little sister, long dead, being left in the hands of Vaszey. He dreamt of being young, afraid and alone. He dreamt of Vaszey’s colleagues coming for him while he screamed. He dreamt of hell. She stopped reading then, the horrifying images replaying themselves in her head and behind her eyes when she closed them. She glanced over at the second stack of letters and picked them up, oblivious to the tears on her cheeks.

They were letters to her. Dozens of letters that expressed what he didn’t have the courage to say in person. He spoke of his deepest hope that somehow she would seek to reclaim what she had thrown away a year ago. That she would learn to love him, or at the very least try.

…if you would but seek me out I would lay the world at your feet. I would walk through the torments of hell if I could know for one moment that my hope wasn’t in vain…

…I have loved you the only way I know how to love, but I have loved you with my whole self. I see my life stretched out before me and it fills me with terror and anguish to believe that I must spend those long years without love. Without you…

… I wish I knew how to carve you from my soul so that you could not hurt me as you do. I wish I had the strength to be ice and rock to you. I wish that I had never let you lay claim to so much of me. I wish I never saw your face…

 

This was not the man that she knew as her enemy. This was the man that he had tried to show again and again, the part of him that he had wanted her to find and nurture. This was the little boy who had never been rescued, the young man who had had his future stolen. This was the man who wanted her to save him. This was what she had spat on and thrown away with both hands. She didn’t feel the tears, or hear her unsteady breaths. She didn’t feel the cold of the floor, or the chill of nightfall. She sat there in shock, greedily taking in word after word of the heart of the man who loved her beyond reason and despite betrayal.

The door opened, but she didn’t become aware of the other occupant until rough hands ripped the current letter from her numb fingers and grabbed hold of her arms.

“What are you doing in here?” Guy demanded, his eyes full of angry fire.

She looked at him blankly, her eyes full of tears.

“What right do you have going through my things?” His eyes fell on what she’d had in her hands and he froze before looking at the debris around her. He shoved her away in the next instant and went scrambling to replace it all.

            “What are you doing?” she asked as he reached for the last two letters in her lap.

            “You had no right to read this.” He hissed.

She refused to let go of them, pulling against his hold. “Let go!” she cried in consternation, appalled that he would try to hide the rest of himself.

            “These are not for you.” He replied jerking them out of her hand. “They were written for someone else.”

            “My name is on them,” She protested.

            “These were written a long time ago.”

“Half of these were written within the last two months.”

He couldn’t meet her eyes. If he saw pity there he’d throw himself out the window. “You were never meant to read them.”

            She lowered her voice and tried again. “Give them back.”

            “No,” he replied flatly, as he replaced the journals, the rings, and her lock of hair. Grabbing the letters in his hand, he turned to the fire place. Seeing his intent, she lunged forward trying to wrestle them out of his hands.

            “Don’t you dare burn them!” she cried angrily, ripping them out of his hands. “These are mine, all of them. You wrote them for me.”

He stared at her, his eyes wary, confused and embarrassed. She had nearly cost them both everything with what little knowledge she had of her hold over him. Now, now he was terrified because she knew everything, and she could break him with it. Even worse was the knowledge that he couldn’t trust her. He couldn’t trust her not to use every word to strip him bare, even when everything inside him wanted to grasp at the straws she gave him.

            “What could you want with them?” he asked.

She didn’t reply. She didn’t know what she wanted with the letters. All she knew was that she couldn’t let him destroy them.

“They are mine.” Her voice was soft, and her eyes stung inexplicably with tears.

He turned away and pulled off his heavy, black gloves, throwing them onto the desk. “Have them then, and leave me alone.” The damage was done and there was nothing left for him to salvage.

            Marian stood there awkwardly, clutching the folded and sealed pieces of parchment. She could see the tension in his shoulders. Something was keeping her there. Something absolutely forbade her from leaving him now. “Why did you not tell me?”

            “Tell you want?” he growled.

“About your family, about your home” She replied. “That trunk of money you have-- it was for Gisborough, wasn’t it?”

“No, that was for you.” He replied. “The rest was for Gisborough.” The anger was gone. His voice was flat now.

“You should have told me.”

“Why?” he asked spinning around. “You have never cared before.”

“Because I didn’t know.”

“You could have known. As your husband I would have shared everything with you. Everything.”

The intensity of his expression left her breathless.

“You never showed me this.”

“I tried! I didn’t-” he closed his eyes and looked away with a depreciating smile. “I didn’t know how to show you. Every time I tried to, you spurned me. You didn’t want to see what I had inside of me.”

“That’s not true.” She whispered.

He let out a broken laugh, running his hand over his mouth roughly.  “I have a question for you,” he started with empty humor in his eyes. “When you lie, do you even know that you’re doing it?”

She watched him cross to stand in front of his desk and lean back against it, folding his arms over his chest.

“I mean, just then,” he gestured towards her with his chin, “Did that lie just come out or was that a manifestation of your need to contradict me?”

She looked down at the parchment in her hands and felt her eyes fill with tears born of anger and frustration. She had always considered herself capable. But now faced with his questions, and his heart spilt over onto the crumpled papers in her hands and this almost painful yet indescribable feeling within her, she did not know what to do. She could bear to stay or bring herself to leave; she wanted to go to him but didn’t want to give him more false hope.

“Is this another way to torment me?”

Her head snapped up. “No.”

“Why are you here?” he asked “I’m certain it wasn’t because you missed me.”

“I was…” Another lie. She could all but feel it forming in her throat.

“You were spying on me.” It wasn’t a question. “Looking for something to use against the sheriff? Well you won’t find anything of his here. I am not in his favor as I once was.” He turned away again and walked to the window looking out of it.

“Why not?”

“Because of you. He does not approve of this ridiculous fixation that I have on a woman who only wishes to be my ruin.”

“I do not want that.” She moved forward and placed the letters on the scarred surface of the oak table. “I am your friend.”

His laugh was heart breaking. “My friend?” he didn’t look at her. “No, we are not friends, Marian. We aren’t friends, or lovers. We are more than acquaintances and you would have me believe that we are not enemies. So what are we?”

Again she couldn’t answer

“You’ve always had my heart, even if you didn’t want to look inside of it. And now you have looked, now you have everything, and I have less than nothing.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you.”

“Yes, well. It’s never stopped you before has it?” 

“I’m sorry.”

“Sometimes I think you take a delight in tormenting me.”

“I-” the denial was on her lips but she couldn’t say it. Another lie. She remembered the kiss, remembered his arms around her waist and his mouth moving feverishly against hers. Her stomach had been coiled in knots, her blood had been hot, racing through her veins. She remembered thinking wildly that this is how a man kisses his wife, not the chaste kisses of betrothal that she and Robin had exchanged. Guy’s wife would have that, his love and his lust, his fierce loyalty and his temper. Honey and vinegar.  Sides. Not all of it palatable but all of it hers.

 He had made a choice to love her and stay true despite the lies and the mistrust and the rejection. The moonlight filtered through the narrow window, and the firelight threw shadows on his face. She knew how to deal with Gisborne, the right hand of the Sheriff. She knew how to deal with Sir Guy, the possessive, tyrannical lord who sought to have her for his own. But this man… This man who stared silently with his worst secrets in the hands of his betrayer, this man who grace and good fortune had chosen to evade, this man of shades who was forced to keep his true beauty locked within two chests; she did not know what to do with him. He glanced over at her and she registered surprise.

“What, are you still here?” his voice was soft and wary. That rough silk had so many tones; one day she would know what all of them meant. “What do you want Marian?”

“I don’t know.” She whispered. A tear rolled down her cheek and she closed her eyes.

“Why are you crying?” he asked.

“I don’t know.”  She watched him come towards her as if in slow motion. His eyes were sad and afraid. When he took her face into his hands, she did not jerk away or stiffen.

“Marian,” His breaths wafted over her nose and forehead, and then she felt his lips, soft and warm against both, before moving to her eyes and cheeks. The gentleness brought more tears. She knew that she should pull away, but she could not bring herself to. It was too sweet. She half-expected to feel him kiss her mouth next but instead he stopped at her temple, breathing in her hair. He said her name again and she shivered, feeling it down in her bones. “Stay with me,” he whispered, and a breath of air escaped her lips. Next came her answer. She felt him pull away and look down at her, his calloused thumbs gentle against the skin of her cheekbones. His soft eyes were like blue crystal.

“Marian?” Will you stay, truly, and help me render this hell into heaven? The answer to all was simple, drawn forth by the contrast of the fierce hope in his eyes, and the feather soft touch of his hands.

“Yes.”

 

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(no subject) [Dec. 3rd, 2010|12:24 am]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |couch]
[mood |exhaustedexhausted]
[music |My Favorite Game, The Cardigans]

Chapter 4


 

Guy found his teeth continuously on edge. He knew what his wife looked like; he knew that she was beautiful. It was what had drawn his attention to her to begin with. If, however, one more noble gave her the once over, he was going to run him through. Marian seemed to be equally uncomfortable with the attention. She sat with her back ramrod straight and her hands clenched in her lap. Her obvious discomfort was the only thing that detracted from her beauty. The dark velvet made her skin look luminous, and the cut seemed to accentuate her lush figure. The moment he’d seen her in their rooms he’d had to fight the urge to go to her, had to remind himself that the vision before him was not his.

It hadn’t taken long once they entered for the lecherous stares to begin. She was the only woman in the room save for the maids. All the other knights either weren’t required to bring their wives or were simply without them. Which meant that Guy, or perhaps Marian was being singled out yet again. What truly made his blood boil however, was that the Sheriff was encouraging the stares and the smirks. Between the bawdy jokes and the constant references to her, Marian became more conspicuous than she already was. The best Guy could do is glare ominously and hope that they got the idea.

Vaszey sat at in his chair and smirked nastily at Marian in particular, waiting for her to snap, or for Guy to snap perhaps. Guy stayed close to her, unwilling to leave her side for even a moment. Without warning the sheriff backhanded a terrified serving boy who took to long to pour his wine. The sound of the slap echoed in the hall and Marian surged to her feet. Guy reached out lightening fast and jerked her back into her seat, meeting her outraged glare with one of caution. He waited for her arm to relax before removing his hand and his gaze. He the next looked to the sheriff however, it was to see him smiling at them. Guy swallowed back the instant nausea and tried to take a deep breath.

“Trouble Lady Gisbourne?”

Marian didn’t answer but her eyes were fixed on his.

“Silence? Gisbourne it appears your wife has learned her lessons too well. Perhaps Lady Marian needs help remembering how to talk.”

Guy took her hand in his under the table and she sucked in a breath.

“There is no trouble my lord.” Her voice was strained but even.

Vaszey smirked. “Good.”

Marian pulled her hand from Guy’s and he returned his to his sword.

“You may leave now.”

Marian rose to her feet and Guy stood with her prepared to take her back to their rooms.

“Just the leper Gisbourne. You stay here.”

Guy took a quick look at the men in the room, at their darkly amused faces. A bit too amused. As if they wanted her alone. As if this was some plan that he knew nothing of. “I will return in a few minutes my Lord.”

“You will stay here.”

Marian looked up at him over her shoulder. “What is it?” she whispered. Guy took her arm and led her to the door. While she watched, Guy pulled out his curved blade and pressed it into her palm.

“You go straight to the room.” He murmured

“Where else would I go?” she replied defensively.

“For God’s sake woman,” Why did every blessed thing have to be a battle with her?

“Whenever you’re ready Gisbourne,” The Sheriff drawled, his tone laced with steel.

“Lock the door once you are there. Do not leave, not for any reason.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“They are planning something.”

“They are always planning something.”

“Marian,” his hand tightened around hers and the dagger within it. “Now is not the time for you to argue. Just do as I say.”

Her eyes flashed, “Of course husband.” She hissed out. He let her jerk her arm out of his grasp, watched her push open the doors and stride away. The two guards closed it back, and the sound of them closing churned his stomach into knots.

 

*****************

 

When Marian woke up the next morning she was alone. The space next to her on the bed was stone cold. Either Guy had come back late and left early, or he had never come back to the room. She had heeded his warning to lock the door after herself, however much she had disliked his order to obey and not asked questions. She had seen the looks passed around that table, and she had been just as uneasy as he was. She had hoped however that she would have been allowed to stay while they discussed their plans.

Her first order of business was to find her husband before going to find Robin. She washed her face and pulled on one of her new riding habits. The green over coat fell over the black skirt like a second dress the train flowing out behind her. The long sleeves fit her arms snugly with golden embroidery at her wrists. She fastened the golden clasps that ran down to her waist and tucked Guy’s curved blade into an inner pocket. She twisted her hair into three knots at the base of her head and left the room.

She was surprised and a little disappointed to find him in the first place she looked, his office. Even more surprising was the way she found him; asleep. It was one of the many injustices of the world that a man with such a black soul could seem angel while he slept. His head and hands were flat on his desk a quill caught between his ink stained fingers. She clenched her fists against an urge to brush back the ink black hair over his brow. Instead she turned her eyes to the document he was lying on, moving down his careful almost elegant scroll. It appeared to be a catalogue of money collected. Based on the amounts noted it seemed to be from nobles, but she couldn’t see any names.

She wouldn’t get anything while he was still asleep on it. She sighed, strode over to the window and yanked back the heavy curtains. Nothing. She turned and strode back to him. “Guy.” He didn’t budge. Momentarily distracted by the shadow of a beard growing on his face, she reached out and brushed his cheek with her fingertips. He came awake instantly, his eyes snapping open. She jerked back as he lifted his head, rubbing at his neck. His bleary eyes caught sight of her and he sighed, leaning back in his chair. The clasps on his jacket were undone to reveal the black, skin tight under shirt he wore.

“Marian.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“This is my office.” He grumbled with his eyes half closed.

“Did you sleep here?”

“What’s that to you?” he rose to his feet, stretched mightily before walking to the window and looking out.

“I thought you meant to sleep in our rooms that’s all.” Her eyes glanced over the accounts, names of aristocracy sure enough, but no names she recognized.

“And I didn’t. I can’t see how that warranted a visit.”

“Perhaps I was worried.” Were these funds needed or funds already gained? She wouldn’t get that answer staring at the parchment. There was silence from his end. When she looked over at him his eyes searched her face. Whatever he saw there made him scoff.

“Perhaps not.” He pushed away from the wall and walked towards her with his arms folded across his chest. “Is that a new one?”

“Yes. Do you like it?” she ran her hands down the front of her bodice, keeping her eyes innocent.

“It’ll do.” He replied evenly. “So, you are going for a ride it seems.”

“Yes.” She smiled clasping her hands behind her back. His eyes roamed down her front as she’d intended.

“Where to?”

“No where in particular, just through the forest, perhaps to check on Knighton, Locksley and my father.”

“That’s half a day’s work.” He sat back down at his desk, still rubbing at his neck.

“Perhaps. I don’t like being here.”

“Neither do I, but I have no choice. You’ll need to be back for the banquet.”

“I know.” She replied lightly turning to saunter to the window again. He reached out and grabbed her arm, forcing her to focus on him again.

“You’ll conveniently forget.” His gaze was stern. “To do that would put not only yourself at risk but your father as well.”

“I know.” She could feel the ire rising in her at his presumption to lecture her and put his hands on her. One of these days she’d break one of them or both. Guy smirked and she jerked her arm out of his grasp.

“There you are. Good morning Marian.”

She wanted to slap him. Instead she walked around to the opposite side of his desk and sat in the chair. “Guy.”

He nodded in acknowledgement and waited patiently.

“Were you working on taxes last night?”

“Why do you ask?”

“I just saw it on your desk.”

“No they are not taxes. The Black knights are raising funds again.”

“To aid Prince John,”

“Yes.” He pushed himself to his feet and walked over to the window, turning his back to her.

“You think that prudent?”

“I thought you were going for a ride.”

She gritted her teeth, took a deep breath and stood, brushing some imaginary substance off of her skirts. “I am.”

“Give your father my regards when you see him, if you do indeed see him.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” she demanded, cold dread twisting her stomach into knots.

He turned to face her, frowning at her agitation. “Nothing, if you actually intend to visit Knighton.”

“I said that I do.”

“You say many things Marian, few of which are probably true.”

“You assume everyone is a liar because you are a liar.”

“Not everyone Marian.” He replied softly.

It bothered her that he thought her a liar. She didn’t know why, but it did. Swallowing back a torrent of words that would hinder her cause, she turned and walked to the door.

“Be back by 5.”

She slammed the door behind her.

 

 **********************

Since she was a little girl Marian had always enjoyed riding. To her it gave a sense of freedom akin to flying. She’d always ridden recklessly fast, pushing both her mount and herself to take sharper turns, leap higher, and run faster. Her chestnut mare, Ester, was always a pleasure to ride. For all Guy’s faults, and there were a prodigious amount, he did have fine taste in horses. She’s always admired his black stallion, even when he was on it. The skirt of her riding habit flowed out behind her as she sped along the forest trail. Fifteen minutes in she drew Ester down to a trot, taking note of where she was. She checked the sun, then turned east at a gallop. It wasn’t long before she was at the camp.

She saw him leaning against a tree, teasing Much with a small smirk on his face. At her approach he looked up and smiled.

“Marian!”

She leapt from Esters back and flung herself into his arms burying her face in his chest. “Robin.”

His arms came around her tightly, stroking her hair and back, offering comfort. This was what she wanted; love that was undemanding, pure and true not the dark snarl of emotion and sensation that Guy offered.

“Marian what is it?”

She shook her head and then lifted her face to gaze into his eyes. “Nothing, I just missed you that’s all.”

“It hasn’t been that long.”

Two weeks isn’t that long? “It’s different now.”

“Has he hurt you?”

“No.” she ducked her head now, somehow unable to look at him when discussing Guy. “No he hasn’t hurt me.”

“You know that if he tried I’d kill him.”

She met his eyes again, lifted her hand and rested it against his bearded cheek. “I know, but there is no need. I came to tell you that he Black Knights are at the castle.”

 Much asked. “What, all of them?”

Marian looked to him and saw that the rest of them were watching. Slightly embarrassed she pulled away although she kept her arm around his waist. “Most of them. Vaszey is collecting money to aid Prince John.”

Robin growled. “Prince John is a traitor.”

“I know,”

“You shouldn’t be with them. It isn’t safe for you. Come away with me.”

“Guy would burn the forest to the ground to find me, and Vaszey would torture the villagers. They have so much to bear as it is, I can bare this.”

“You have borne enough already.”

“I am a lot better off than most. No harm will come to me there, not with Guy as my husband.”

“What does that mean?”

“For all his faults, my position as his wife is a safe one. I can move about freely, and no one will dare harm me. They are too afraid of him.”

“I could protect you as well.”

“Not from Vaszey or Prince John.” He started to argue but she place her fingertips over his mouth. “You couldn’t Robin, not without risking the lives of too many people. Let it alone.”

“Your sacrifices will not be in vain I swear it. We will see justice done, for England and for you and your father.”

“I know. What do you want me to do?”

“Nothing for now. I’ll be by soon to see what I can. How long will they be there?”

“A week I think, possibly longer.”

“Tomorrow I’ll be there. What of Gisbourne, can you get anything out of him?”

“Not anytime soon. He and I are not on friendly terms.”

“See what you can do. He may just be simple enough to be of service.” Robin snarked, then his face turned serious, and his eyes tender. “But be careful Marian.”

Marian smiled up at him but in her mind she couldn’t help thinking that Guy was perhaps not as simple as Robin believed. “I will, I promise."

                                             

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Chapter 3 [May. 25th, 2010|12:41 am]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , ]

Chapter 3

 

            Guy had been run beyond ragged by the time Marian arrived. He didn’t have the energy to fight or spar with her. She had taken her sweet time as he’d assumed she would, just to be contrary. He had watched her arrive on her horse with the carriage behind her and congratulated himself on the foresight to avoid her. He loved her terribly, but she seemed determined to rid him of whatever sanity had survived Vaszey. He recognized the travel dress she wore and a terrifying thought took hold. Over a week ago he had given her money to buy new dresses, but he had not seen any new ones since. It would have been just like her to give the money away and arrive in her dated dresses. She took a perverse delight in humiliating him. She caught his eye and he held her gaze before turning away and walking back towards his office. He couldn’t think of that now. If she hadn’t gone there was nothing for it, if she had then it was silly to worry. He was quickly learning that life with Marian required four contingencies: the expected, the unexpected, the hoped for and the undesired; all had to be planned for to avoid disappointment or surprise. Marian and Vaszey could be endured for as long as necessary; all Guy needed was to develop a thicker skin for him and a harder heart for his wife. Neither were what he had hoped for but his sense of self preservation was too engrained for him to make himself into a martyr.  Upon opening the door he saw Vaszey sitting behind his desk perusing his papers. Guy paused, mentally going over what he had left there and then moved forward, keeping his face blank.

            “My lord.”

            “Gisbourne, I trust the leper has arrived.”

            “My wife is here, yes.”

            “She had better not cause any trouble.”

            “She won’t.”

“It would be a shame if something happened to her.” He drawled rising to his feet. “I know her father was part of the plot to depose me. Her doe eyes may have bewitched you but I know her kind.”

Guy’s eyes snapped to him and he fought the panic that always seemed to arise in him whenever the sheriff noticed Marian. It was truly remarkable how quickly he went from forced apathy to fierce protectiveness where she was concerned. “Leave her alone.”

“She is trouble.”

“She is mine.” Guy replied his eyes flashing. “And you will not touch her.”

“Well la di-da,” Vaszey raised an eyebrow and strolled around the desk to stand at Guy’s side. Guy could feel his eyes on him like oily unwanted fingers, triggering unwanted memories. “Careful Gisbourne,” came the soft response.

When the door closed behind him Guy let out the breath he’d been holding and reminded himself for the millionth time that Vaszey was worth it.

 

Later that night when he came up to his room he found Marian reading. He paused in the doorway taking in the sight she created in her night gown and wrapper, her hair hanging in a braid down her back. She looked so wholesome and sweet framed in the glow of the fire, two words that he would never ascribe to her. She looked up at him and went on an instant alert.

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“This is my room Marian.” He replied as he started to remove his jacket and boots. It took him a moment to register the utter lack of sound and as he removed his pants he glanced over at her to see her concentrating fiercely on her book. It didn’t say much that he lacked the energy to be amused. Instead he found a pair of linen pants in his trunk, pulled them on and tried not to stagger on the way to the bed. He would be able to get three hours before the nightmares came. After that it was all up to God’s good humor. He never slept well when Vaszey was in the middle of one of his schemes.

“Why am I here?”

“Here?” What was she talking about now?

“In the castle,”

“Vaszey wants you where he can keep an eye on you.”

“On me?”

“He says you but he means both of us. It’s another test.” He drew down the covers, and lay down, turning onto his side to face the door.

“And if you fail?”

“Let’s avoid that eventuality shall we?” he replied glancing over his shoulder.

“What is happening? Why does he suddenly want me here?”

He paused, something wondering precisely why she wanted to know. Then again, she was horribly inquisitive and his paranoia was no doubt a result of a day with the Sheriff. “There will be a meeting of the Black Knights. You are meant to be hostess and reflect well upon us.”

“Upon a traitor?” her tone was incredulous.

“I never said you had to like it.” He heard an annoyed exhalation and felt the bed shift. “Did you go to the dressmaker as I asked?” The silence had him about ready to grind his teeth, but eventually a response came.

“Yes.”  

He allowed that at least to comfort him as he drifted off to sleep, unable to keep his eyes open any longer.

 

***********

            Marian spent the rest of the next day preparing for the arrival of the knights. Guy had already seen to most of them but as he had since given the task over to her, she had taken it upon herself to insure that there were no mishaps. Guy had been gone when she had awoken at dawn. He couldn’t have gotten much rest, and he had been all but falling over the night before. She had been worried at first that he would impose his rights again but it seemed to be the thing least on his mind. Now she stood before her trunk wondering which dress she should wear to greet her enemies. There was a tentative knock on the door, and Sarah entered.

“Good afternoon mi’lady.” She curtsied at the door before continuing in.

“Sarah, I can’t decide on a dress.”

“To greet the soldiers?”

“How do you know they are soldiers?” Marian asked sharply.

“Cook was talking about locking the door to our quarters. Sometimes they sneak in.”

Marian fought back the disturbing mental image that came up and looked at the trunk of new dresses. “Perhaps the light blue one?” she picked up the shimmering, silk, gown and fingered the matching, embroidered, velvet bodice.

“It’s a pretty one miss, but wouldn’t you want to show more that you belong to Sir Guy?”

“What do you mean Sarah?”

“It’s just the way the servants talk here. Sometimes they, the knights I mean, take liberties, and the sheriff let’s them. Perhaps the black and silver one would make you look more like-”

“My husbands wife.”

“I hope it’s not too forward to say.”

“No it’s a good point. I had not considered that.” Marian placed back the blue gown and selected the black and silver one in question. The sleeves were long and fitted, the neckline was wide and low, showing off her shoulders and just the barest hint of cleavage. The rich velvet clung to her upper body and then flowed out at her hips in a voluminous skirt complete with a train. The edges of the neckline and sleeves were trimmed with silver and a silver embroidered belt fastened about her hips. It would be flattering to be sure, and would immediately set her apart as Guy’s, but the only issue was that she would never want to be considered his. Ever. The very idea made her blood go cold. The alternative at this particular event however was even less pleasing if that was at all possible, and she did like the dress.

Despite her unwillingness to be part of the game, she could admit to being excited to wear her new gowns. The money Guy had given her could have easily financed an entire new wardrobe, but she couldn’t bring herself to spend all of it. She spent much of it and not just on herself either, but what had remained over had been distributed to the needy at Knighton. She had bought him new shirts and more tunics not made of leather. Honestly, it was as if the man had never heard of the concept of cloth. The thought of him had her lips pursing as Sarah helped her into her gown and laced up the back of it. She knew that there were worse men, but to her he was the antithesis of what she could possibly desire in a husband, regardless of the way he looked shirtless in the firelight. She sat at the vanity as Sarah started on her hair, taking it down from its moorings and brushing it till it gleamed about her shoulders.

When Guy entered the room she was affixing a circlet to her head with an obsidian drop resting in the center of her forehead. He paused in the doorway, something he always did now, as if he wasn’t sure if should be in the same room as her. Good, know you aren’t wanted.  His eyes flicked over her and then shot to Sarah who was trying to disappear as quickly as possible.

“Sarah,” he grated out in greeting.

“Sir Guy,” she dipped into a deep curtsey.

“You’ll want to get your supper now, after the Sheriffs guests arrive you won’t have time.”

“Aye mi’lord, thank you.” She hurried out the room and Marian watched her go, feeling as if her only ally had just deserted her in the field.

“You would only really be expected to be there during the arrivals,” Guy began after the door shut again. “And the banquets.”

“Is that supposed to comfort me?” she asked, all the while wondering when she could sneak out to tell Robin. The fact that he hadn’t shown up yet meant that he wasn’t aware of their presence. Guy didn’t reply, simply began to remove his jacket and sword. He turned to his trunk and she rose walking over to the closet. “I had new tunics made for you.”

“Did you?”

“Yes. You only had two.” She reached in the fingered the sleeve of two of them.

“They served me well enough, and the money I gave you was for you not me.” He replied testily and she rolled her eyes. Honestly, why had she even bothered? It’s not as if she cared what the devil he wore as long as he kept his distance.

“Would you have me burn them?” she replied eyeing the flame in the hearth.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” He snapped.

She pulled out the navy blue velvet tunic and turned to face him. He was seated on the edge of the bed, rubbing the back of his neck wearily, his eyes closed. It wouldn’t do to focus on how tired he looked. He always looked tired lately it seemed. She strode over to him and proffered the tunic. Eventually his eyes opened and he frowned in confusion as he took it from her.

“It is not black.” He commented, inspecting it.

“How very observant you are.” She replied crossing her arms over her chest. For some reason it bothered her that he didn’t seem overly pleased. “Is that a problem?”

“No.” he replied rather quickly. “Thank you.”

“Yes well, part of the charade of playing the dutiful wife is ensuring that one’s husband does not wear one color alone.”

He didn’t reply to that, but stood and pulled on the tunic testing out the fit of it while he fastened the small golden clasps that closed the front.

“How long will they be here?” she asked observing the fit. They had done a fine job of it, the material fit close to his frame but not overly so.

“A week, two at most,” He replied shoving back a wayward lock of hair from his face.

“Eating the poor out of house and home no doubt.”

“Marian I don’t have the energy to argue with you tonight.”

“You’d find the energy to torment those who cannot help themselves if that evil little troll asked, I’m sure.” She walked away from him closing their trunks and replacing the blanket that covered it.

“Marian-”

“I must admit Guy, I find it hard to believe you so invested in our future when you are so very eager to please him.”

“We all cater to someone higher than ourselves. Before you get up on your high horse Marian I’d look in the mirror if I were you.”

“I serve what is good and right.” She spun around to face him, her eyes flashing

“What you think to be good and right.” He pointed out.

“Yes.”

“And you do it without question.”

 “You do the same thing.”

“No, I do not.” He replied strolling to her, “I am well aware of Vaszey’s faults and limitations. I know them better than you do.”

“And still you call him master.”

“Yes. I call him master because he is the only thing between me and the ruin of everyone and everything I hold dear. I serve him because I must.”

“You serve him for money and power.” She sneered at him.

“I do.” He replied baldly, “And that money and power has kept you and your fathers head from the noose more times than you know.”

“What do you want, gratitude? I never asked for your protection.”

“I am very much aware of it but, when you care for someone, you don’t wait for them to ask for help before giving it. You give it because you want the best for them always. I gave it because I cared for you.”

“I doubt that very seriously.” Her voice was cold. Something flashed in his eyes; it could have been anger or frustration. It could have been hurt. She didn’t care. When they went flat again and he looked away she let out a breath.

“Another half hour of my life wasted.” He snarked, strapping his sword around his hips and striding to the door. He opened it and gestured for her to go ahead of him. “Lady Gisbourne,” he bowed mockingly, his tone thick with irony.

She glared at him and strode past with her head high. Tomorrow she would ride out and tell Robin that the Sheriff had plans afoot.

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Chapter 2 [Apr. 5th, 2010|11:18 pm]
katrushkalupin
[Tags|, , , , , , , ]

Chapter 2

 

Guy awoke with the sun. Even as he pushed himself up and out of the bed he knew that everything was different. A glanced to his left showed that Marian was no longer beside him. He remembered her tears the night before, the way that she had curled into herself away from his touch. He had not hurt her. He knew that he had not. She had moved against him, she had been wet for him; he’d made sure of it. But afterwards… afterwards she had wept as if her heart were breaking. The wedding had not been what he had wanted. In all his dreams of marriage, forcing her had never entered into it. He remembered the way he had gripped her arm, forcing her to stay. He had prayed never to have to do that to her and now that it was over, his only consolation was that he hadn’t seriously injured her. Her strength had caught him by surprise, and his only hope had been to twist her arm and trust that the threat of injury would be enough. He knew that he had had little choice; he knew that as angry as she was sure to be with him, he had saved her and protected her father. Vaszey wouldn’t dare come near them now. The rest could and would be dealt with, no matter how long it took. A glance about the room revealed her sitting in a chair, gazing out of the window. She had dressed in her shift and robe, her arms folded tightly across her chest. Her hair was tangled around her shoulders and her face was unusually pale. She looked like a small lost child.

“Marian,”

Her head turned and her eyes caught his. They were blank and cold, but dry. Somehow he imagined that her hate would have been more welcoming.

“Why are you awake?”

She held his gaze for a moment and then turned her gaze back to the window. “I was done sleeping.”

Guy pulled on his braies from the night before and walked over to her resting his hands on her shoulders. She stiffened and rose to her feet walking towards the window.

“I’m sure that you have many important duties to see to.” She continued in that flat, stale voice, “Good day.” 

He felt those words like a physical blow, decided that if he was going to be forced into an argument he’d best have some clothes on. “I need to speak to you.”

“There is nothing to say.”

“I feel that there is.” She needed to understand. If she understood then they could move past this, whatever the hell this was. Finally she turned to face him. There was a hard anger in her beautiful blue-grey eyes. He swallowed back the dryness in his throat and fought for courage, “Marian-”

“What could you possibly have to say to me? You forced me to marry you. You blackmailed me into accepting your proposals and then broke your promise to me and lied about it so that I would marry you-”

“-I did not want it to be like that-”

“-When I learned of your deception, you man-handled me and threatened me until the deed was complete.”

“And last night?” he sneered, “Did I force you then as well?”

Her cheeks flushed with either anger or shame. “Last night you took advantage of my inexperience. Now I am trapped in a marriage to a man that I do not and cannot respect or care for.”

He scoffed and tugged on his pants. “Yes, and I am the very devil, and now you curse the day that you ever met me.”

“Do not mock me.” Her voice was low and threatening.

He grabbed a shirt from his trunk and pulled it over his head. “There is no other response. You are so intent on your own desires that there is no room for anyone else’s-”

“How dare you!”

“-not even you fathers.” He continued over her outburst. That shocked her into outraged silence. “Do you think nothing of him?”

“How dare you even pretend to care more for him than I do?!” She moved forward, her eyes flashing. “I have cared for him my whole life! I cared for him when your precious Sheriff came here and stole away everything that we had!”

“Yes, and because of the Sheriff your protection was no longer enough.” He replied. “You needed a husband-”

She scoffed and turned away.

“-A husband who can give you the protection that you and your father need. Your father understood the truth of this. I can protect you from Vaszey better than anyone else in Nottingham; I have the wealth and security to ensure that you will want for nothing.”

“Yes,” she mocked, “wealth and security that you have taken by the blood and sweat of others.”

“Yes, just like everyone else, even your precious King.”

“How can you speak ill of the King!” She was in full outrage now. It would have been entertaining if he wasn’t the one dealing with it.

“How can I not speak ill of him?” he exclaimed. “You claim to be a champion of the people but you serve the biggest despot of all.”

“You have no right to-”

“Oh no, he is our sovereign ruler and therefore must be revered and respected no matter how much blood is on his hands. All his sins are pardoned.”

“It is not for us to question his motives or actions.”

“You are a hypocrite and a fool to follow one man so blindly when the injustices you are so opposed to are caused by him.”

“The injustices I fight against were caused by men like Vaszey!”

“The war your King started opened the door to men like Vaszey! Who do you think put him in charge?”

She paused and stared at him with wide eyes full of shock. He watched the shock turn to disbelief and then the familiar cold anger. “You are a liar.”

He stared at her, wondering how on earth he ended up fighting with her. He had meant to wake up and see to their breakfast. They would have a cordial if not loving meal and he would leave for Nottingham. Now they stood there, his nerves were frayed already and he’d not been awake an hour. He didn’t have the time to argue with her, or explain his motives. She wasn’t interested in his reasons. He sighed and shook his head grabbing his jacket, boots and sword, heading for the door. “Good day Marian.”

 

Two days later Guy returned home from a long day to see the house in a bustle. Servants were cleaning and re-arranging the whole interior of his manor, carrying furniture or vases of flowers or towels.  Amidst the clamor was his wife. She wore a tunic the colour of fresh, peach roses underneath a sleeveless bliaunt of brown wool that laced up at her sides. Ribbon the color of violets was wrapped around her upper arms and her dark hair was covered by a pale peach scarf. Locks of hair had escaped their confines, curling against her neck and forehead and falling into her eyes. She looked fresh and in her element, giving orders, supervising and even demonstrating when necessary. She laughed with a maid and joked with a foot man. When she turned and saw him, the light in her eyes died, and her smile melted away like the morning mist under the sun. He buried the hurt, told himself that he’d better get used to it and took another step into his house.

“Good evening Marian,” he gave a slight bow.

“Guy,” she replied and then turned her attention to one of her ladies maids.

“I see you have found something to keep yourself busy.” He side stepped another servant with a chair and looked around.

“Your manor was in need of a thorough cleaning. I may be forced to live here but I am not forced to deal with your lax ideas of house cleaning.”

He noted the not so subtle barb but didn’t respond to it. “I am glad you found an occupation.”

“Is that all?” she asked.

He felt his temper spike but he forced it back. She wanted a response and he’d be dammed if he gave it to her. “When you find time go to the dress makers, you need clothes.”

“My dresses are fine.”

“They were fine for a maiden. Now you are a married woman of means and property and you must look the part. As my wife you will need to make appearances at the castle.”

“I’d rather not be reminded of that just yet.” She replied evenly. “The day began with such promise.”

To hell with it. His temper snapped and he grabbed her wrist turning her palm upwards before dropping the purse of coins into it. “Have dresses made.”

She winced at his grip and he shoved her hand back at her, turned, and stalked up the stairs unwilling to spend another second with her.

“Where are you going?” she called after him, but he made no reply. He very much doubted that she truly cared whether he slept in the castle, their bedroom or the damn woods.

 

Marian stared after him, an odd mix of anger, guilt and resentment burning and coiling her insides. Have dresses made, as if she were some doll to ornament.  A glance to the left revealed a group of servants watching her carefully. She raised an eyebrow and they resumed their tasks with single minded determination. Her hand closed around the satin purse and for a moment she had a mind to use the money to feed the people. She didn’t want to obey him, but he was right. Her clothes were not those of a wealthy member of the gentry. There was enough vanity in her to feel frumpy and small in her threadbare clothes while the other courtiers paraded their silks and velvets, and for all her bravado, a part of her was afraid of what Guy would do if she dishonored him publicly. He was not a man to cross on any subject. 

She wanted to ignore the look in his eyes when she met them at the door. He had seemed pleased to see her leaving her mark. Within minutes of their eyes meeting, the tender regard had faded into the blank mask she knew and hated. She knew that her words were partly to blame, but she hadn’t been able to stop them. The sight of him had brought to mind their wedding night, and just like that the anger was back. The only thing she had left was her resentment, and she would cling with both hands before she let him make her shame herself again. She heard his thudding footsteps again and knew that he had seen his trunk. Rather than create another scene in front of the servants, she walked up the stairs. Guy stood at the top of the stairs with his arms crossed before his chest. His jacket and undershirt was gone, leaving him in only his leather pants and the scowl on his face.

“Marian.” His voice was clipped. “Where are the rest of my shirts?”

“Can you not find them?” she asked, trying not to focus on his naked torso. For a moment it looked as if he might strangle her but he instead turned and walked back to their bedroom. She followed him, closing the door behind them.

“Evidently not,” He replied once they were alone.

She toyed with the idea of playing a game and then decided against it. Now was not the time. “They are being washed.”

“What, all of them?” Exasperation was better than anger.

“Yes, though some of them are only fit for rags.”

“Rags?”

She crossed over to the bed where blankets needed to be folded and started on them, needing something to do. “Yes, some could be mended but not all.”

“I have no shirts.” His tone was flat, as if he was still processing the idea.

“I did not expect you back,” she picked up another blanket and started on it. “You’ve not been here for two days now.”

“And I am sure you missed me terribly.” His tone was drier than dust.

“How was I to know that you’d return today demanding a shirt?”

“Am I to call ahead for arrival to my own house?”

“Only if you require a shirt,” She replied evenly.

“This is ridiculous.” He grumbled rummaging through his trunk. “The sheriff expects me back in two hours, and I have no clothes.”

“You are not staying here tonight?”

“I think it’s best if I stay at the castle don’t you?”

“I don’t care either way.” She kept her tone light. “Stay where you like.” He paused and then shook his head rising to his feet. She heard him leave, closing the door behind him.

It would be near upon two weeks before she saw him again.

 

Three days after Guy left Robin came to her. She had gone up to bed, seen him standing there and her eyes had filled with tears. In three strides he had her in his arms, kissing her hair, whispering sweet nothings to her. She let herself exhale as her fingers curled into the material of his tunic, and felt her world right itself.

“I’m sorry.” He whispered and she closed her eyes shivering against him. “I’m so sorry,” His arms tightened, and he kissed her hair again.

“It wasn’t your fault.” She replied softly, breathing in his scent of woodlands.

“I’m meant to protect you.”

“You couldn’t have stopped it.”

“I should have stopped it!” he pulled away his expression fierce and took her face in his hands. “What good is it protecting the people of Nottingham if I cannot protect you?”

“They need more protection than I do.” She tried to hold back her tears, her trepidation. She didn’t want him feeling worse than he did already.

“My brave Marian,” he whispered fondly, gently sweeping his rough thumbs over her cheek bones. She smiled slightly and shrugged. “Has he hurt you?”

She looked down and shook her head in the negative.

“Has he… taken you?”

She bit her lip, and when she met his eyes, a fresh wave of guilt had fresh tears brewing.

“I’ll kill him.” The rage was ice cold.

“Don’t.” she gripped his arms. “He didn’t hurt me.”

“He must have.”

She didn’t want to dwell on that. He hadn’t hurt her and she had done more than bare his touch stoically. “He didn’t. He wouldn’t, he wants me to love him.”

“We will fix this. You will not have to stay married to him, when Richard returns we will fix this, I swear to you.”

“Fix it how?”

“Do you want to stay married to him?”

“No.” she didn’t hesitate, even as flashes of their wedding night sent her heart racing.

“Then I’ll find a way.”

She smiled and leaned into his kiss, allowing herself to believe that he could and would fix it all.

 

A week later Marian paid a visit to Knighton. She had received a note from Guy, tersely instructing her to pay a visit to her father as he was growing ill. She fought back the initial desire to go against anything he asked of her and instead took perverse delight in burning the letter, telling herself that she would be rid of him soon. She picked one of her older riding habits, simply because she knew it would annoy Guy. The top was separate from the bottom which allowed for either piece to be mixed and matched with others. The skirt was a golden tan and full enough for riding a horse the short distance to Knighton and the tunic was the color of dark raspberries with forest green edging. The collar was high, although wide enough to show her shoulders.  Her maid braided a section of her hair and coiled it around her head as a sort of band to keep the rest of her hair out of her face and curled the ends. She packed an extra dress intending to spend the night. If Guy was not there she saw no reason for her to be stuck in his morose house. No matter how many changes she made it would never be her home until she shared it with Robin.

The ride to Knighton was uneventful and as the manor came into sight she picked up her speed, anticipation building within her. She had not seen her father since before her wedding and it had not occurred to her until then how much she had missed him. Sir Edward came out to greet her before she had even come to a stop. She swung down from her mount and allowed him to welcome her with a fierce hug, something he had not done in quite some time. He looked older. Perhaps it was because of worry, perhaps it was more to do with sickness but either way it bothered her. After they had settled within, she expressed her concern.

“Father I’ve been told you are worsening.”

He shook his head. “It was a slight cough, it’s all but gone now. I am more worried for you.”

“Don’t be worried for me.” She took his hand in hers, noticing for the first time how frail it was.

“You married to that man.” He shook his head and sighed, “It was not what I wanted for you.”

“It was not what I wanted for myself, but as you said I could have done worse.”

“I wanted you to be happy.”

“I will be happy father.” She replied thinking of Robin and his promise. “Do not worry, I am well cared for.”

He smiled at her and covered her hand with his. “I have missed you daughter; you always were a help and comfort to me.”

She smiled at him. “I am sure I was neither father.”

“Oh you are wild to be sure and willful even to a fault but I have never regretted you.”

“Am I so very willful?” she asked. Edward’s laugh ended on a cough but it was no less amused.

“Just ask your husband.”

Marian started to answer and then pursed her lips and rolled her eyes. “I will stay the night here with you.”

“Guy will not mind?”

“Guy is away. He has not been home in almost two weeks.”

“I hope he is not neglecting you.” He was concerned again.

“I find that I can bear the solitude quite cheerfully.” Marian replied lightly. “He has his duties, and I do not require his company. It suits me well.”

“I do not want you to be lonely.” He began.

“Never when you are here father,” She replied warmly, leaning over to kiss his cheek.

 

 

The next day, as they broke their fast, there came a pounding at the door. Edward answered it and saw Guy standing there, looking tired and harried. There were dark smudges under his eyes, his color was paler than usual and the set of his mouth was tight.

“Is Marian here?” he asked, his voice rough but low.

“Yes my daughter is here.” Edward replied already anxious as to the response. Guy sighed and rubbed his eyes before closing them for a moment. For a reason he could not understand, Edward felt a strange sense of sympathy for the man. He knew him to be he looked simply exhausted and tense. “Do you wish to see her?”

Guy let out a short laugh and shook his head. “No I’d rather not until I have to.  Tell her that she is needed at the castle immediately. She will need clothing for at least a week, and four of her dresses had better be fit for court.”

“What is going on?” her voice came and Guy let out an explosive sigh and rolled his eyes up to the heavens. “Father, what is it?” She caught sight of him and her face fell. “Oh, it’s you.”

Guy wondered for a moment if her general reaction to him would ever stop hurting and then pushed it aside. “You are needed at the castle.”

“I had already made plans to spend my day here.”

“I had made plans for five hours of uninterrupted sleep last night but that didn’t happen and probably won’t happen for another week. I will see you there tonight. A carriage will be waiting for you at Locksley along with an escort.”

“And what if I refuse?”

“Marian-” Edward began but Guy shook his head to stop him.

“Then I will have to come back, hog tie you and drag you there myself, but either way my lady you will be in Nottingham Castle by nightfall. Good day Sir Edward.” He gave him a brief nod and stalked back to his horse, swinging up onto the steed with an ease that spoke of experience and riding off.

Marian gritted her teeth and considered for a brief moment refusing just to make him have to come back. If he was going to make her life miserable the least she could do is return the favor.

“You should try not to anger him Marian.” Edward began and she glanced at him, “It is foolish and not worth the risk.”

“I wanted to spend the day with you father.”
            “There will be other visits.” He replied with a smile. “I’m not going anywhere.”

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