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Fic: Whispers

Title: Whispers
Rating: PG-13
Characters: Guy/Marian, Robin, The Sheriff
Spoilers: Up to 2x10, Walkabout.
Summary: Sometimes, when Marian lay asleep, the wind whispered secrets. And sometimes, a man was not always what he first appeared to be.

Yay, I finished this in time! I was so worried that I wouldn't get it done before Saturday, and then it would be all uncanon. But tis finished, all... ridiculously large number of words of it! First fic in quite a while, and first time writing anything Robin Hood, so I really hope it came out OK! Any comments/criticisms would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

Thanks, of course, to to_overload for being my ever-patient beta once again. He doesn't realise that this is all a clever ruse to brainwash him into watching the show, and his declaration that "Robin should go away, cos he's ruining the OTP" just proves that it's already beginning to work... *insert evil laugh here* Love you, James!

Anyway, the fic:


Whispers

Sometimes, when Marian lay asleep, the wind crept in and whispered secrets.

Her dreams wandered the castle halls, and she trembled in the midnight chill, until she reached Guy of Gisborne’s door. Her actions were audacious, and she knew she should protest, but she could not help the thrill that ran through her as he appeared. He spoke the words of daylight, of love and trust and complete devotion, but her voice conjured images her waking mind had never entertained before, and the rational part of her mind became lost somehow as she tumbled downwards.

I love you,” Guy would say, as his fingers ran across the curve of her cheek.

She smiled and blushed, but could not reply. “Kiss me,” she said instead, and he gave her everything that she asked, without caveat, without restraint. And it was like blackmail, like distraction, as she gently removed his gloves and slipped in close, except that there were no justifications or judging eyes to hide from now. She would always do what was best for Robin, and for the people, but sometimes, sometimes she ached to give in to desires barely formed. Her dreams wandered the castle halls, and Marian tumbled into Guy of Gisborne’s bed.

She woke up alone in her chambers, chilled by the wind, and fought to forget what she had seen.

***


The wind was treacherous, Marian told herself, as she settled in for the night. She could hear it pounding against the castle walls, rushed into a storm that seemed more fitting than the calmness of the day. Nottingham had almost been razed to the ground, and Guy had stood by her, refusing escape to die by her side. Yet the sun had shone, and not a single breath disturbed the air. The wind knew nothing of her feelings.

A knock sounded against the door, sharp and yet somehow tentative, and although Marian knew instinctively who had made it, she could not help playing the damsel once more.

“Who’s there?”

“It’s me,” Guy said. “I need to speak with you.”

She got up slowly, settling the churn in her stomach as she grabbed her robe. Her bare feet swept across the cold stone floor, and the shiver ran all the way up to her fingertips.

“I was about to fall asleep,” she said, as she opened the door. “It hardly seems proper for us to be speaking now.”

Marian.” She frowned at his tone, and he paused. “I apologise for the lateness of the hour, but this really could not wait.”

She considered him for a moment, her eyes tracing the intensity of his face, and then stood aside. He moved swiftly into the room, and there was a definite tenseness defining his shoulders as he looked around.

“I trust you are well,” he said finally.

She blinked. “Quite well, thank you.”

“It has been a strenuous day,” he said. “It would be understandable if - ” His eyes held hers for a moment, questioning. “But you are not. Of course you are not.”

“I am not quite sure I understand what you mean, Sir Guy,” she said, trying to sustain a measured tone, that level of professionalism that defined her exchanges with this man. “I can assure you that I have not been harmed.”

“That much is clear,” he said, “and yet I cannot help but worry about you, Lady Marian.” He spoke with earnestness, as though he had let slip his reservations, just for a moment.

“Thank you for your concern, Sir Guy,” she said, “but it is truly unnecessary.” The wind slipped in through the cracks in the wall, and whispered Sir Guy, Sir Guy, Sir Guy, as though mocking her for her propriety. She shivered again.

“We live in dangerous times, Marian,” he said. “I wish you would let me protect you.”

“I can protect myself,” she said, and began to turn away, but his hand reached out and grabbed the crook of her arm, turning her back. When he spoke, his voice was almost raw with emotion.

“But you cannot,” he said. “Why are you so stubborn, so wilful, that you refuse to see it? Not one week ago, you were kidnapped by Robin Hood! And yet you insist on maintaining some level of respect for him and his efforts. I see it in your eyes when we speak of him!”

“This is not about Hood, Sir Guy.”

“No, it is not. It is about you! You, and your refusal to see that you are constantly in danger, from the outlaws, from the Sheriff, from the Prince himself! Every moment, you are putting yourself at risk, and yet you refuse the help of those who could give it.” He paused suddenly, and then continued with a softer tone. “You refuse me, it seems, simply to be harsh, and you would throw away your own life before accepting my assistance.”

Marian felt a twinge, somewhere deep in her bones. “We both know that is not true, Sir Guy.”

“But you do not love me.”

Marian looked away, her eyes falling to trace the lines of the wall. The wind whispered, but she could not speak. The repulsion, she noted, that such a statement would once have evoked had gone, leaving confusion to grovel in its place. She thought of soldiers, of desperate attempts to save her, and a cry: “to arms!”

“I respect you,” she said eventually, unsure whether this really captured anything of her feelings. “And I thank you for returning today. It was ... a noble thing to do.”

“I did not do it to be noble,” Guy said, and there was a note of something indescribable, some quashed pain and awakened hope, in his voice.

“That does not make it any less so,” Marian said. “I often find that the more a man aims to be noble, the less good he actually does. Is it not curious?”

“You are trying to appease me,” Guy said.

“You know me too well for that, Sir Guy,” Marian said, and once again, the wind seemed to mock and repeat that little word, her last attempt at distance. “You can be a noble man, whatever else you may choose to believe.”

He nodded, and half turned away. He seemed to be struggling with something, gathering the courage to say words that were too heavy to casually cast aside. “I know you may never marry me,” he said eventually, keeping his face in shadow, “but would you have been willing to die at my side?”

Marian found herself resting her hand on his arm, contemplating his question. It was so unexpected that she was temporarily lost in the idea of it. This man was placed against everything that she stood for, and yet, curiously, she could not say no. She did not know what she wanted to say any more.

“Do not think of such things,” she said finally. “No good can come from dwelling.” The silence pulsed between them, heaving with expectation. “It is late,” she said, rather reluctantly, and stepped away. “I must rest.”

“Of course,” he said, all propriety once more. “I am sorry to have disturbed you.” Grasping her hand in his, he pressed a light kiss against her fingers. “Goodnight, Lady Marian.”

By the time she had thought to reply, he had already gone, leaving her alone with the whispers of the wind.

***


She was riding in the forest when Robin caught up with her, and she felt a little twist of guilt in her stomach despite the innocence of all her actions. Her fiancé (was such a word applicable, given the circumstances?) waited for her at the side of the path, casually leaning against a tree as though he could have waited all day.

“You should be careful, riding in the forest alone, Miss,” he said, smirking. “I hear there are outlaws about.”

“Outlaws, you say?” she said, guiding her horse to a stop and dismounting beside him. “What could they want with me?”

“Everything,” Robin said, and then he was kissing her, softly and sweetly. Marian sighed, revelling in the safety of it. Kissing Robin in the shade of the trees was like coming home, back in a more innocent time where her father could greet her and the words Sheriff of Nottingham were not enough to make her throat clench. Certainly, his kisses did not make her toes curl, did not cause her heart to race as it did in her dreams, but such things were fantasies of foolish girls. Robin was somehow both risk and safety, and that was enough.

The kiss ended gently, as it had begun, and she was left to stare into her fiancé’s eyes. “I am glad to see you too,” she said, and he laughed.

They talked amongst the trees for a while, about relief efforts and Much’s cooking, carefully avoiding the topic of the close-call a few days before. When Marian finally asked where he had found the Sheriff, Robin told her the story, but there was a slight narrowing in his eyes as he spoke, and the words were suddenly more measured than before.

“Will told me that Guy proposed again,” he said, in a would-be casual voice, but his smile a little too stretched, a little too thin. “Getting pretty desperate, isn’t he?”

Marian scoffed. “It wasn’t like that,” she said, the words leaving her mouth before she had time to consider them. “He was only trying to save me.”

Robin’s smile vanished. “You’re defending him?”

“Of course I am not defending him!” she said. “But he only proposed to allow me safe passage out of Nottingham. A misguided attempt, and certainly not a path I ever would have taken, but he was working towards the same end as you. You cannot condemn him for that!”

“Which end?” Robin said, his voice bitter. “Protecting you, or marrying you?”

“Both, I suppose!” Marian felt the pressure of anger building up in her chest, and moved away from Robin in an attempt to calm her thoughts. He grabbed her arm and held her back, his face clouded.

“And would you have accepted? If it hadn’t meant leaving Nottingham, would you have accepted?”

Marian opened her mouth to protest, her heart buzzing with indignation, but then words seemed to caress her on the breeze, bringing with them weighty memories.

“Marry me now, and make it the last thing we do. Let’s steal that from them at least.”

The words twisted her stomach, and a ghost of a smile spread on her lips. There was something romantic about it, something peaceful in all the desperation, and it brought with it possibility, and a question.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” she said, fighting to keep her eyes steady. “I am engaged to you, Robin of Locksley, and I don’t expect that to change. Certainly not for any Guy of Gisborne!”

She could not help feeling the sting of guilt as she rode back to the castle, and that night, she dreamed again. As she wandered the castle halls, she passed lines of the poor, the hungry, begging, pleading, crying, but her feet marched past them, unconcerned. She turned a corner, and Robin stood there, frowning. She kissed him, a heart pounding, toe curling kiss, but then the wind whispered “traitor” and she looked again to see Guy of Gisborne, pulling her close against him.

She awoke with her skin prickled, and it was a while before she could sleep again.

***


When Guy pulled back the Night Watchman’s mask, a thousand thoughts ran through his eyes. Marian could see them flickering, cycling through every nuance of shock and pain, until they settled on an anger that seemed to burn right through her. He had knocked her to the floor, a sword pressed against her throat, and although it was rather terrifying to be held in place by a man who had tried to kill her (or at least her alias) on more than one occasion, she could at least control her expression and stare back at him defiantly. She would not apologise for this.

“What,” Guy said, speaking through gritted teeth as he leaned down over her, “are you doing?”

“Fighting for my life.” She was pleased to note that her voice barely shook. She merely sounded slightly annoyed, as though harried by the need to explain such an obvious point to him.

Guy’s eyes burned into hers for another moment, and then he withdrew his sword and threw it across the room. It crashed against a dresser and fell onto the floor with a clatter. Another moment, and he was on his feet.

“Tell me this isn’t true,” he said. “You are trying to trick me, you are covering for Hood!” He sounded almost wild, and he began to pace, like a tiger thrown into a cage. “Tell me!”

“I – I cannot,” she said, all of her muscles poised to run, despite the knowledge that it was pointless. It was all lost now.

“No, it is not possible,” Guy said. “You could not - ” He stopped pacing then, and advanced on her with desperate eyes. “Have you gone completely insane?”

The question was so unexpected that Marian took a moment to reply. “Is it insane to want to help people? I am merely doing my part!”

“You are going to get yourself hanged! Is that what you want, Marian? Are you so repulsed by me that you must be so foolish?”

“Foolish?” Despite the danger of her situation, Marian felt anger begin to pulse across her chest, and any consideration for cautiousness was lost. “You are the one who should be repulsed! There are people out there, dying, and you show them nothing! You steal from them and worsen their suffering, and someone has to help them!”

“You cannot help them! Why do you refuse to see that? You betray me, mock all my care for you, for nothing!”

“You are not listening to me, Guy,” she said, her voice suddenly deathly still. “You are corrupt. You blindly follow the Sheriff, and you cause the suffering of all the people in your care, for nothing! You are betraying yourself!”

“Am I corrupt, as you so delicately phrase it, for caring about my own livelihood? For working my hardest, for you, Marian? I have no money, no land, no status of my own! I need this!”

“You do not!” Marian said. “You cannot value stolen lands and ill-gained goods above the lives of all those around you.” She paused, her head spinning with possibilities. The adrenaline rush of being caught was keeping her on a knife’s edge, and, once again, she felt that her true feelings had been pulled bare in what could be a final moment of freedom. “As much as I once would have loathed to see it, you can be a good man, Guy. You do not need the Sheriff, and you certainly do not need all of the power you seem to crave.”

His anger wavered, and suddenly he was watching her with a vulnerability she could never have imagined. When he spoke, it was almost a whisper. “If I did not need it, would I have you?”

The air froze, and Marian felt her breath expand in her throat. There was no answer that she could give, no certain path her imagination could take. If Guy did not crave power, they never would have met, and she would have married Robin as the fairytale required. And now... now, how could she forget all the evil that he had done? The hairs on the back of her neck prickled as an unexpected draft trickled past, and she felt the sudden wicked urge to declare that, in some world, somewhere, she was already his.

“Am I to be hung?” she asked instead, fighting to keep her voice measured. “It is rather a pointless discussion if I am to be turned over to the Sheriff at dawn.”

The stillness of the air shattered. He looked deep into her eyes for one, long, painful moment, as though fighting to extract her thoughts. “You must stop this,” he gestured with the mask still clutched in his hand, “at once. I will not protect you again.”

He threw the piece of cloth at her and stormed away. The restless air settled slowly into whispers, and Marian realised that she was not to die this night after all.

***


The Sheriff summoned her the very next morning, and she walked to his hall with trepidation shuddering through her limbs.

“You asked to see me?” she said as she entered, her heart sinking further when she saw Guy standing in the corner, eyeing her carefully.

“Yes!” The Sheriff got to his feet with worrying buoyancy. “Interesting thing, Marian. Very interesting thing. Turns out that the Night Watchman was active again last night.”

Her eyes flickered involuntarily to Guy’s. He stood completely still, impassive.

“Oh?” she said, for want of anything better to say.

“Strange, isn’t it? Thought we’d got rid of that purge, thought we’d cleansed the town of such vermin, but no. No. Someone felt the urge to go for a night-time stroll last night, steal some of my food supply and deposit it in the homes of the needy.”

“It is very odd,” Marian said.

“Mmm, yes.” The Sheriff nodded, and then moved away from the table, closing the distance between them. “It is rather odd. The timing of it.” He waved his hand casually, as though discussing unseasonable weather. “Odd how, when your father was kept captive in the dungeon, the Night Watchman was nowhere to be seen. When you were away from the castle, “grieving,” as you called it, he seemed to be in permanent retirement. And once our Lady Marian returns... why, the Night Watchman reappears! Strange how these coincidences happen, isn’t it?”

“If you are suggesting that I am the Night Watchman, you are seriously mistaken,” she said, taking an involuntary step backwards. “I can assure you, I spent the entire of the night asleep in bed.”

The Sheriff’s temper snapped suddenly, until he was shouting, spitting in her face, the vein throbbing on his balding forehead. “Do you really think I am that stupid?” She flinched, and his voice fell, calm and dangerously low. “Guards went to your room last night, sent to check on you on my orders, and do you know what they found? Was it you, asleep in bed like a good little rebel? A clue?” He shook his head slowly. “No.”

“She was with me!” Guy said suddenly. “She spent the evening in my chambers.”

The Sheriff stepped back. “What?” he said.

“Marian spent the entire night with me,” Guy said again. “I can vouch for her. Unless she is capable of being in two places at the same moment, she cannot be the Night Watchman.”

“Well, these women, they can be dangerously tricky,” the Sheriff said, his voice that same, low hum of danger. “Are you sure she didn’t... slip out while you were otherwise distracted?”

“I can assure you, my Lord.”

The Sheriff laughed, the tension broken, but there was still a rather evil glint in his eye that made Marian nervous. “I’m sure you can, Gisborne,” he said. “I’m sure you can.” He then turned to Marian. She kept her back straight, her eyes meeting his with determination. “Tut tut, Lady Marian, what would your father say?”

“I am sure he would be pleased that I am not about to be hung, my Lord.”

“But to face such shame, his only daughter, behaving like this. You and Gisborne are hardly married, are you? Or are my messengers so poor these days that I missed the invitation?”

“No, my Lord,” she said, feeling her cheeks begin to flush. “We are not married.”

“Oh dear,” he said, his voice dripping with sarcasm. “A scandal in the castle! Just think what would happen if news of this got out.” He paused for a moment, a look of pantomimed pondering on his face. “Pity.”

“My Lord -”

“Enough!” the Sheriff snapped. “I came here for a hanging! I am not interested in your pathetic little power play, or role play, or whatever in God’s name you two are doing!” He narrowed his eyes at Marian, and then waved a dismissive hand at her. “Get out, before I decide to hang you anyway. There’s no father to take the punishment for you now, Marian, is there? Remember that.”

She looked at him for a moment longer, feeling as though she was about to burst with anger, and then turned and headed for the door.

“Wait for me outside, Marian,” Guy said as she retreated. “I wish to speak with you.” She considered turning back, telling him that she certainly would not wait, but her logic could appreciate this lucky escape, and she remained quiet.

There was a definite chill in the air as Marian stood in the corridor, goose bumps crawling up her bare arms. Guy emerged a few minutes later, looking very serious.

“Marian -”

“How dare you?” she said, once the door was closed, her chest tightening with anger. “How dare you suggest such things to the Sheriff?”

He looked entirely taken aback. “We should not speak about this here,” he said, and took hold of her arm to lead her elsewhere. She shook him off, her anger too strong to accept even this little gesture, and marched after him, their footsteps echoing angrily down the hall.

“You cannot possibly blame me for this,” Guy said, once they had reached a more private nook in the wall.

“Perhaps I am mistaken, Sir Guy, but I do not see how I could blame anyone else! I can’t believe you would be so vindictive as to tell the Sheriff about last night’s events, just so that you can compromise me in this way!”

“Believe me, Marian, I did not tell the Sheriff what I know.”

“And yet you have destroyed my reputation! This may not have been your plan, but you certainly took advantage of the situation!”

“I saved your life! Perhaps you are forgetting, Marian, but it was your reputation or your neck!”

“Some women would argue that a good reputation is worth dying for. We have little else in our favour.”

Guy frowned, and when he spoke, his voice rang with frustration. “And you think that being exposed as the Night Watchman would have saved your reputation? You would have been known as a traitor to all of Nottingham.”

“I would have died with honour,” Marian said. “I may have been a traitor to the Sheriff, but at least my conscience would have been clear.”

Guy shook his head, and his frustration seemed to melt from his eyes, leaving a burst of desperate emotion. “I will not let you die, Marian,” he said. “Do not ask it of me.”

Marian paused, strangely struck by his words. Her arms were still laced with goose bumps, but now she felt frozen in time, as though she had just discovered something vital and the world was waiting for her to process it. Yet she was only aware of the ice of the wind, and the pounding of her heart in her chest, confirming, most definitely, that his concerns were at least currently unfounded.

“Forgive me,” she said carefully, once she felt in control of herself again. “I do not wish to be ungrateful.”

“I only wish to help you, Marian,” he said, raising his hand to brush his thumb across the line of her chin. His words were soft, caressing, and she could not help leaning into them slightly, feeling the thrill of their honesty, their vulnerability.

She stepped back suddenly, and Marian watched his face close, the emotion forced back from his eyes. “I must go,” he said, rather abruptly. “I have business to perform for the Sheriff.”

“Of course,” Marian said. He turned to go, and as he walked away, Marian felt the wind twist around her, goading her onwards. “Sir Guy!” she shouted after him, and he paused. “Thank you,” she said. They were perhaps the most sincere words she had ever spoken to him.

He nodded, once, and left.

From somewhere deep inside her, the wind whispered its approval.

***


Robin pulled her aside in the marketplace a few days later. The Sheriff had been true to his implication, and even the outlaw had heard of her illicit activities – although Marian suspected that this particular rumour had been delivered personally. Robin was suspicious, indignant, almost petulant in his interrogation, and when she explained events, he was not even slightly calmed. A quiet but furious argument ensued, where he insisted that she leave the castle with him for the safety of the forest, and she returned to her chambers feeling even more frustrated with the actions of men.

However, Robin’s reaction was the least of her problems. Whispering voices and pointed looks followed her wherever she went in the castle, and although she conducted herself with as much dignity as she could muster, a little voice still niggled in her brain, indignant that she was being punished for trying to help. Guy had avoided her since that encounter, perhaps fearing another outburst, and she was grateful. Although she did not feel the need to attack him for protecting her again, her feelings were too confused to articulate, even in her usual rituals of propriety and politeness. The people whispered that she was Gisborne’s whore, and the wind chased their voices, offering tantalising hints of what might be.

***


Lightning flashed across the sky as she hurried through the castle one night, several days later. She had been caught out in the storm, walking in the streets of the town a little too long, and she was soaked down to her underclothes. Her skin shuddered with the chill as she slipped her way towards her chambers, and she was so distracted with making speedy progress that she almost collided head first with a guard that blocked the way.

“Forgive me,” she said. “I didn’t see you.”

She waited for the guard to move out of the way, but he did not. He simply stared down at her, smiling that sinister, sycophantic smile she often associated with the Sheriff’s men.

“Excuse me,” she said, in what she hoped was a calm, reasonable sort of voice. “I wish to pass.”

The guard laughed. “Well, what you wish and what’s going to happen ain’t always the same thing, now, is it?” She stared at him, and he laughed again. “I’ve been ‘earing stories about you,” he said. “Mighty interesting they’ve been, too.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Marian said. “Now will you please let me pass?”

The guard shook his head. “Not before we’ve had a little talk. What I want to know is, how come you’re not too good for Gisborne, but you think you’re too good for the likes of us?”

“You’re mistaken,” she said, her arms now shaking quite violently with cold. “The Sheriff would be most displeased if he heard that you weren’t doing your job, looking for the Night Watchman or even Hood! He is desperate for a hanging, and it would be rather unfortunate if - ”

“The Sheriff’s said you’re fair game,” the guard said, “and like you said, I do hate to displease the Sheriff. Besides,” he said, moving forwards with hulking strides and forcing her backwards until she hit the stonewall opposite, “you’ve needed putting in your place for ages.”

He pressed one hand against her shoulder and clasped the other tightly over her mouth, but just as she raised her foot to retrieve the dagger concealed in her boot, the guard flew away from her as though struck by a boulder. A moment later, a leather-clad fist pounded into the man’s face again, sending him sprawling to the floor.

“Guy!” she said, her heart leaping up to her throat and back down again so fast that she felt light-headed.

“How dare you?” Guy said, sending another fist flying into the cowering guard’s skull. “How dare you touch Lady Marian?” Another fist crashed into the man, who left out a sharp groan and twitched at the contact.

“Guy, don’t!” Marian said, running forwards and grabbing him by the arm.

“Why not?” Guy said, getting to his feet, but aiming a kick at the guard’s poorly protected side. “Filth like this don’t deserve to breathe.”

“Perhaps not, but you cannot be the one to decide that.”

“Marian, he was attacking you!” Fury burned behind his eyes.

“I realise that. But please, Sir Guy. I am very cold, and I would rather return to my bed without the knowledge that a man has died because of me tonight. If you continue, I fear it will not be so.”

Guy looked torn. “Very well,” he said. “I will escort you back to your room.” He shot a look of utter contempt at the figure below. “And you,” he said, in a harsh whisper that Marian wasn’t entirely sure she was supposed to hear, “I will deal with you later.” There was a tightening in his face, as though anger was going to overtake him again, and then he turned and, placing a firm hand at the small of her back, began to lead her away.

“Thank you, Sir Guy,” she said, after a few minutes of walking. “Once again, I am in your debt.”

“You are never in my debt, Marian,” he said, his voice almost distractedly diplomatic. “You must stop thinking of our relationship as a series of deals, transactions to be balanced when the opportunity arises. You must know that you mean much more to me than that.”

“I – I do,” Marian said, ducking her head. She shivered again, and Guy stopped, looking concerned.

“You’re cold,” he said.

“It’s nothing,” she began to say, but he had already removed his jacket, draping it carefully around her shoulders. “Thank you,” she said instead, feeling that the words were becoming too common an occurrence between the two of them.

They continued their walk to her chambers in silence, but Marian could feel the tenseness rolling off Guy in waves. He was containing it, rather uncharacteristically, she thought, but he was full of more anger than she had ever seen in him before.

He stopped her just in front of her door, and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. “You are in such great danger, Marian,” he began, and Marian felt her body tighten, preparing itself for what was to come.

“This is nothing new, Guy,” she said.

“Even the men hired to protect you are a threat to you,” he said, his words desperate, almost pleading. “If I had not been there - ”

“I would have taken care of myself.”

“Why are you so stubborn? Why do you refuse to see that your life hangs in the balance at every moment, that you cannot possibly fight this alone? There have been too many coincidences, too many last minute saves, to avoid the Sheriff’s notice, Marian, and one day, he will punish you for it. I cannot – I will not – allow that to happen. Please, Marian. Allow me to protect you.”

“I... I cannot, Sir Guy. Please do not ask this of me.”

An anguish look crossed over his face, and then he stood straight, dignified, apparently controlling his feelings with great effort. “Very well,” he said, his voice deep and level. “I will leave you.”

He turned abruptly and walked away.

***


Sleep would not come to her that night. The storm still raged outside the castle walls, wind and rain pounding against the battlements like cannon fire, but she was barely aware of the sound. There had been a time, not too long ago, when she had been certain that everything in her life would come out well, in the end. It might be a distant end, oft dreamed of, rarely glimpsed, but one day it would come. Yet her life, she knew, was not a fairy tale. Her father was dead, and there was nothing tragic or beautiful in her sorrow. A hollowness had settled into the pit of her stomach, and she often felt that it would never be whole again. The Sheriff lived on, the people suffered more every day, and she slid further and further down in the world as she struggled, desperately, painfully, to help. There was to be no comfort in this place, and she would always fight alone.

Yet this was not entirely true. Even within these castle walls, a man cared for her, and despite his allegiances, he held a spark of goodness that was hard to ignore.

Hopelessness gnawed at her insides, dulling the bubble of loneliness expanding in her chest, and she slipped out from under her bedclothes into the cold of the night. Robin never seemed to feel hopeless, or lack the surety of himself or his success, and he considered any suggestion to the contrary as weakness, as defection from the cause. Perhaps it was a betrayal to think of it, but Guy understood what was to feel hopeless, to know that nothing could ever be quite right again. Her understood her, the darker side that Robin refused to see, and somehow, despite everything, he loved her.

The stone floor was so cold that it burned, but she forced her feet onwards, relishing it as she slipped out of the door.

She wandered the castle halls, trembling in the midnight chill, until she arrived at Guy of Gisborne’s door. Her actions were audacious, and she knew she should protest, but she could not help the thrill that ran through her as he appeared. She kissed him, forcefully, and he almost stumbled backwards, before raising his hands to run them through her hair. He spoke the words of daylight, of love and trust and complete devotion, but her voice conjured images never entertained before, and the rational part of her mind became lost somehow as she tumbled downwards.

“I love you,” Guy said, as his fingers ran across the curve of her cheek.

She smiled and blushed, but could not reply. “Kiss me,” she said instead, and he gave her everything that she asked, without caveat, without restraint. And it was like blackmail, like distraction, as she gently removed his gloves and slipped in close, except that there were no justifications or judging eyes, and all that was true was laid bare. She would always do what was best for Robin, and for the people, but her body ached to give into desires barely formed, and she was tired of denying herself. Guy muttered words, unintelligible, caressing, and she muttered back, with no real sense of what she was saying or why. She was hurtling towards some inevitable conclusion, a horror that she could not prevent, but for a moment she could be still, be protected, be free.

And through it all, the wind whispered.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
dollsome
Dec. 14th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
!!! I am FREAKING OUT with love for this. I so desperately wish that I could manage to be articulate about it, but that seems very, very unlikely. So just know, first and foremost, that OH MY GOD, THIS IS AMAZING AND PERFECT IN ALL WAYS.

Ahem. Coherence. Right. I CAN DO THIS!

I just . . . love the way that you've gotten into Marian's head here, first and foremost. It's so hard to walk that fine line, to figure out what she feels for Guy and make it plausible, and not romanticize it or exaggerate it just because we want her to feel so much for him -- this just NAILED IT, perfectly. I love the observation, too, that Guy knows what it is to feel hopeless and Robin doesn't; I think that's such a big part of Guy/Marian vs. Robin/Marian, that Robin/Marian seems to be holding out for that perfect fairytale ending circumstance, but Guy and Marian connect on the level that no, this world is not perfect, it is not ideal, it will never be as good as Robin's cause strives for it to be, and it's like . . . they are mature enough and jaded enough that they can both consider finding some fragment of contentment in a bleak and far less than perfect world.

I looove the way that you depicted her relationship with Robin, too; you didn't cheapen her feelings for him to make the story work, which I really admire because, again, it's so easy to just write them off to make the story work. I particularly loved the line Robin was somehow both risk and safety, and that was enough. It rings so true.

And, just, gosh, what else to say? The whole plot was just AMAZING. I got so ridiculously swept up in it. The way that you handled the scene where he found out Marian was the Night Watchman just TORE ME TO PIECES. Guy's reaction just . . . oh, God, I was ruined! It was so perfect. “Tell me this isn’t true,” he said. “You are trying to trick me, you are covering for Hood!” He sounded almost wild, and he began to pace, like a tiger thrown into a cage. “Tell me!” RUINED ME.

And then “If I did not need it, would I have you?” . . . just . . . DEAD. I was dead. So painful and aching and completely Guy.

And then OMG, the scene with the Sheriff! First, I know that you were having a bit of trouble writing him (and who wouldn't?), but he was PERFECT, so props for that. And then WHEN GUY SAID MARIAN HAD BEEN WITH HIM. I freaked the hell out like crazy, dude!! (I am so articulate.) That was just . . . like a slap in the face, the impact that twist had, and the repercussions of it were GENIUS.

Love-love-loved the scene with the skeezy guard -- seriously, I was so entirely freaking out; you are excellent at suspense! -- and then Guy showing up and his reaction were just PERFECT.

And I love that at the end there is this sense of succumbing, of giving up, of Marian embracing that life is complex and there are shades of gray and she cannot be strong all the time, that she's somehow too grown up to see the world the way that Robin does without it eventually exhausting her -- and the way that her feelings for Guy just fit into that truth so well. It's not really a happy ending, but it's not sad either; it's weary and bittersweet and somehow defiant and feels so right for them.

And, er, now that I have rambled insanely, let me just say that I may now be forced to bug you to write more Guy/Marian fic UNTIL THE END OF TIME. Yep. That's right. Until the end. Of time.

Prepare yourself, honey.
noodlesishere
Dec. 14th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
excellent!!
angel932
Dec. 14th, 2007 10:40 pm (UTC)
I'm so impressed by the way you've captured the characters so beautifully, especially Marian.

Also, you've sustained the mood of the piece so that nothing interrupts the flow of the story; every word is well-chosen and drifts perfectly into place.

Well done!
gelbes_gilatier
Dec. 14th, 2007 11:21 pm (UTC)
Very, very beautiful. A little confusing at first, but in the end it did make sense. I really liked it :)
to_overload
Dec. 14th, 2007 11:27 pm (UTC)
It's almost enough to make me start watching, but then I'd have to put up with Robin ruining the OTP, and I don't think I could deal.

soft_creations
Dec. 14th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
I'm utterly impressed!!

Cant wait to read more...
boy_named_susie
Dec. 14th, 2007 11:53 pm (UTC)
I love this so much. I love how you brought the story full circle, starting out with her dream and ending with her actually acting it out. And the way you wove the theme of the wind whispering to Marian all throughout was awesome - really tied the story together and really worked well as for your characterization of Marian and her feelings towards Guy. Gah - I just adore this fic so much! I hope you write more Guy/Marian fics because this one was just gorgeous.
gisbornesgirl
Dec. 15th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC)
Oh my God. I love. LOVE. lovelovelove this story!!! It was incredible!! PLEASE WRITE MORE!!!
alasse_fae
Dec. 15th, 2007 01:51 am (UTC)
Oo lovely! Just the right amount of tension, and *ahem* giving in :) More please :)
solitude_82
Dec. 15th, 2007 04:54 am (UTC)
I love this. I saw it recced on dollsome's journal and I knew I had to read it and I'm not sorry. Amazing!
artemis_issoria
Dec. 15th, 2007 10:07 am (UTC)
wow. this was almost like poetry -- it was written so beautifully. i absolutely loved it.
marketchippie
Dec. 15th, 2007 03:05 pm (UTC)
WOW. this...this is quite literally stunning. the characters are so perfect and in character and the relationships are spot on. I love the plot; it's all so taut and perfectly crafted. And your writing style is GORGEOUS and, oh. you captured all of their complexities, Marian's and Guy's, and their voices were absolutely perfect. it was all just so right.

amazing, fantastic, beautiful fic. write more.
tardisgroupie
Dec. 16th, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)
ooooooo I'm going through a full body squee with the spazums and all big love big big huge love for this and you. Huge squeeness!!!

I remember watching Booby and the beast and wishing that Guy had been the one to beat up the guard and now he has yeyness!
bj_4ever
Dec. 16th, 2007 06:19 pm (UTC)
All I have right now in mind is :

PERFECT <3

Please, write more.
cobra_judy
Dec. 17th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC)
Really lovely; I love glimpses into Marian's head because she's so tantalizingly opaque on the show--all ambiguity and concealment. Which is really her only choice under the circumstances, but it makes stories that speak in her voice, very hard to get right, imo. She sounds just like herself here. Thank you for sharing!
teenwitch77
Dec. 17th, 2007 06:46 am (UTC)
Oh I just stumbled across this, in my search for some Guy/Marian works. Absolutely lovely!! You've captured the conflict in Marian perfectly, that attraction to Guy and the innocence and safety in her feelings for Robin. It's so nice to see both relationships treated fairly, in a way that I'd imagine Marian to be torn. I really like how you've weaved in the dream at the end, the giving in and the darkness and hopelessness that they seem to understand and recognise in one another. Memming this for sure.
bournespeed
Dec. 17th, 2007 08:33 pm (UTC)
That was lovely, just perfect. Please write more.
cleo_eurydike
Dec. 9th, 2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
I love this story. I wish you would continue writing; it's so great. The characterizations are splendid, it's hot, and the organization is wonderful.
an_lagat_glas
Jul. 19th, 2009 06:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, I LOVE this! I love in the second scene how there's so much going on beneath the surface (and how you dive into that through the rest of the fic), and how it comes full circle.

Guy understood what was to feel hopeless, to know that nothing could ever be quite right again. Her understood her, the darker side that Robin refused to see, and somehow, despite everything, he loved her.


This this this this this ♥
ballsandbullets
May. 16th, 2011 08:23 am (UTC)
You write ridiculously well, and you write about all my favorite semi-obscure fandoms. I think I might love you just a little bit.
lillianschild
Sep. 14th, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
This is one of the best Guy/Marian fics I've ever read.

Thanks for posting it. I'm definitely adding it to my collection.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )