Part 7 & 8 / Part 9 & 10 / Part 11& 12
A hush seemed to fill the air in Sherwood. Robin was to have returned several days ago and when he didn't show, Marion rode out with a group to search for him. They found nothing. Of course, they had no way of knowing that he had taken a different route than expected, and then had been gone even farther astray, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
Marion sat in Robin's quarters, curled up on his bed, her arms hugging his pillow to her chest. She heard Friar Tuck enter the room, but didn't look at him. "Anything?" Marion asked.
"No," Tuck replied, his voice hushed and his heart heavy. "It's as if Robin has disappeared." He waited for a response and sighed when Marion remained silent. "What about Olwyn?" Tuck ventured. "Maybe we should talk to him."
"You go," Marion replied, as tears filled her eyes. She couldn't explain it, but something deep inside of her...some womanly instinct...was certain that Robin was lost to them. Forever.
Tuck didn't argue. He knew that Marion needed to be alone, so he left the room and went in search of Little John. They would seek out Olwyn, and Tuck prayed that the magician could help them locate Robin. For if they did not find their friend and bring him back...soon. The good Friar feared that they would lose Marion as well.
.....What are you doin'? Spyin' on us, Robbie?.....
Robin's head tossed from side to side on the pillow, dark hair spraying over his face, as he tried to drown out the voices that echoed in his mind.
.....I 'ere Marion is quite a laydee.....
"No!" Robin hissed, as his fingers clutched the bedcovers.
....Warden? See ya in 'ell......
....Spyin' on us, Robbie?....
The name echoed in Robin's head. Robbie. He didn't know that he whispered it out-loud.
Lord Drake came awake as he heard Matthew speaking. He left his chair to sit on the side of the bed, one hand reaching out to smooth dark hair off of his son's pale face. Matthew's skin was slick with a cold sweat. "Shhh...." Lord Drake whispered, his voice soft and his touch soothing. "It's only a dream, Matthew. Only a dream."
"NO!" Robin shouted, suddenly bolting upright, resisting the hands that pressed against his chest. He locked eyes with Lord Drake and hissed, "I'm not Matthew! I'm...." At this point all the fire died out of Robin and he collapsed into the Earl's arms. "I don't know who I am..." Robin whispered, brokenly.
"You're my son," Lord Drake replied, as he hugged the younger man to him, fiercely. "I don't care what name I call you, nor do I care about your past. You're present is here and now, with me and Johanna. And the future is what you chose to make of it."
Robin closed his eyes and hot tears spilled down his cheeks. But he didn't let them fall for long. He swiped at them with the back of one hand, then pulled out of the Earl's embrace. Locking eyes with the other man, Robin asked softly, "What if I should turn out to be a killer?"
Lord Drake smooth sable hair out of his son's eyes. "You saved my life, and Johanna's life without a thought to your own. You're no killer, my boy. I'm sure of it."
"I want to believe that," Robin replied, as he lay back against the pillows. He didn't have the strength to hold himself erect. But then he shook his head. "What about my...memories? I killed a man....my twin."
"Memories are funny things," Lord Drake replied. "We can't ever be sure just how true they are. Sometimes what we remember is more what we want to be true, than what is the actual truth."
Robin sighed. He knew Lord Drake was trying to help, but now he was more confused than ever. "But...I don't want to remember killing someone," he whispered.
The Earl echoed Matthew's sigh. "I know that," he acknowledged. "I'm just trying to point out that your dreams...or memories...aren't necessarily accurate. I know you want your memory back, my son. But that may never happen. Your past life may be lost to you forever. Let it go. Be happy with your life here. Be happy with us. Me and Johanna."
"I am happy here," Robin replied. He smiled at Lord Drake. "I feel safe here...and as if I belong. But...I don't ever want to bring harm to you...or Johanna. I'm afraid that I might hurt you someday."
"You won't," the Earl declared firmly. And of that he was certain. He stood up and fussed with the covers, drawing them up to Matthew's chin. "Get some sleep, son," he beseeched, bending to press a kiss to the damp forehead. "Sweet dreams, Matthew."
Robin frowned then said, "Call me...Robert." He was thinking of how familiar the name Robbie had seemed in his dreams. Not quite right, but like an old friend. Robert seemed like a happy medium.
The Earl nodded. "Robert it is," he said, and it somehow felt right to him as well.
"Goodnight...Father," Robin replied. And, to his surprise, his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep.
Robin slept for nearly a day without awakening. His body and mind had both been exhausted, and the sleep helped him to heal. When he awoke, it was to find Johanna entering the room with a tray of food.
She smiled when she saw Robert rubbing sleep from his eyes. Her father had told her about the new name, and she thought it suited her *Brother*. "How do you feel, Robert?" Johanna queried, as she set the tray down upon his lap.
"Hungry," he replied with a laugh, and his eyes went wide as he stared at all the food laid out before him. "I hope you don't expect me to eat all of this by myself," Robin protested.
"Not all of it," Johanna teased. "I'll help." She reached for a ripe strawberry and held it to Robert's lips. "You start," she whispered.
Robin took a bite of the berry, sighing with pleasure as the luscious fruit melted on his tongue. He was unaware that a droplet of juice rolled down his chin.
Johanna noticed it however and, without thinking, she leaned forward
and kissed it from his soft whiskers. A moment later, her lips were brushing
Robert's mouth, then her tongue was tasting the sweetness of the strawberry
as he kissed her back.
Prince John was ecstatic. He smiled at his guest and raised a goblet of wine in a toast. "It will be as you ask, Girard. A thousand gold pieces for bringing me the information on Robin Hood's location. And for letting me know that Lord Drake sympathizes with my brother, King Richard. Since that makes him my enemy, I'll have to seize his lands. You may buy them from me for one thousand pieces of gold. Sound fair?"
Girard clinked glasses with Prince John. "Perfectly fair, sire. My thanks to you." He rose from his chair and offered a bow. "I should be going now. Your men will be capturing Robin tonight you said?"
"That's right," Prince John confirmed. "Tonight Robin will be sleeping in my dungeon."
"You aren't going to kill him?" Girard countered, the smile on his face fading. He wanted Robin Hood dead.
Prince John shook his head. "Heavens no, man!" he shouted. "If I kill
Robin Hood, then he becomes a martyr. A symbol for the Saxons and more
of them will rise up to take his place. No...I have other plans for Robin
Hood." Prince John took a sip of wine then his laughed, and it was a cold,
cruel, sound. "By the time I've finished with him, Robert of Locksley will
wish he was dead."
Robins kiss lingered on Johanna’s soft lips for a moment as if it were always meant to be. Then Robin pulled away with a start.
"What is it Robert"? She asked with surprise.
"Something is wrong," he replied visibly shaken.
'Are you ok" Johanna asked with concern.
"Yes, fine I think. I don’t know" Robin looked down at his blankets, "This somehow feels wrong" Johanna reached up and brushed his hair back out of his eyes staring deep into the soft brown orbs.
"Robert, its ok. You know we are not blood brother and sister" She said sweetly,
"And the emotions I have been feeling for you I believe you have felt for me also".
"Yes, I realize that" he softly replied, "But there is someone else"
Johanna’s eyes widened, "You are married"?
"I don’t know, I cant remember" he said putting his hand to his forehead. As soon as his hand touched his head he could see a beautiful redhead stooped down to the ground and could hear his voice shouting "Marion"! and seeing in the distance a man ready, arrow notched, ready to shoot her. That vision faded into him handing a daisy to the same beautiful woman with her smiling a warm smile in return.
"Robert, what is it? What do you see" Johanna pleaded.
"A woman with red hair. I believe we we’re close" Robin sighed, "But I think she is dead now. Lord did I kill her too"? with this he dropped his face into his hands.
"Robert, surely every memory you are having cant be all bad" Johanna said taking him into her arms his head softly resting on her shoulder.
"But it is Johanna. Every memory involves some kind of violence. How can I be the good man your father thinks me to be if every action I take is with the same results? To end someone’s life?"
Johanna sat rubbing his back, "Robert, no matter what you were, I love you for who you are now".
Robin pulled away again. He stared into her blue eyes blinking back tears. "Johanna, don’t fall in love with me. You don’t know what you may be getting into..." he paused and looked away "I think its better if you go right now" She looked at him and touched his face gently trying to turn in towards her but when he resisted she gathered up her skirts and ran for the door sobbing as she left.
Marion walked down to the pond very silently her head filled with memories of the many times she had taken this same walk with Robin by her side. "Where are you Robin" she whispered. Her thoughts took a negative turn, "What if I never see you again? I never really told you how I feel about you. You never gave me that chance! Don’t you dare leave me now Robin Hood... don’t you dare" Finally she succumbed to the wash of sorrow that had been clouding her very being for days now and as she slowly sank to her knees her face in her hands crying so hard as to be hardly able to breath. She felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and spun around hoping to see it was someone else, instead it was Friar Tuck.
"Don’t worry, we will find him" the Friar said gently.
"I know" Marion returned bluntly wiping the tears from her cheeks and straightening out her cloths. Tuck took her damp palms in his hands and held them tight.
"Its good to cry. The Bible says it cleanses your soul"
"I'll be fine" Marion returned attempting to smile, but instead just turned and ran up the hill away from Tuck.
"I don’t think so" Tuck mumbled after her.
The sun was just beginning to dip below the mountain range when Prince John walked out into the Court Yard to see ten of his finest men mounted with Girard ready to set out for Lord Drakes castle. Raising a goblet of wine into the air he said to the group "Do you realize what today means? When you bring back the notorious outlaw Robin Hood this will secure my rights to the throne. With no one to defend King Richard here in England, my worthless brother will have nothing to return to. England will be mine forever"! His laugh even shook Girard as he sat in his saddle watching Prince John laugh hysterically. The Prince spun on his heels, satin robes swinging behind him and ascended the stairs back into the castle shouting over his shoulder
"Do not fail me gentlemen, or you will be sleeping in my dungeons instead tonight"
"Fear not sire, I will see to it that Robin Hood sits in your dungeons tonight no matter what. It is only his destruction I am concerned with" Girard whispered as he dug his heels into the flanks of his mare.
Robert descended the stairs conscious of his father and sister watching every move he made. Now freshly bathed and clothed, his long dark hair flowing over his shoulders, Johanna pulled in extra air just watching him walk. This did not go unnoticed by her father as he watched her gaze into his eyes and he into hers.
"How are you feeling son?" Lord Drake asked tentatively. "Better thank you father" Robin replied. "I have come to a decision"
"Which is"? his father asked anxiously.
"You both are right. My destiny is here with you both right now. Whatever my past might be, I have both of you now and am very grateful for that" Robin said with a smile.
"Here here" his father returned with a smile "Thank God Robert. And Johanna and I will do everything in our power to assist you. I am sure there will be dark days ahead but we will handle them together, as a family" . "Thank you Father. And I love you both too" Robin returned looking at Johanna. The three stood looking at each other with quiet contentment until the front doors crashed open with Girard marching in with ten soldiers behind him. "Lord Drake" he said pulling a document from his waistband, "It is by order of Prince John that I seize this castle and all of its contents in the name of tyranny against Prince John and the Crown. You, and your daughter must Vacate the premises" he said in a harsh voice.
"What? What?" Lord Drake looked up dumbfounded. With this Robin leaped over a table and grabbed a sword off the wall rushing Girard.
"You will do no such thing" Robin thrust forward nicking Girard in the arm causing him to drop the decree. The soldiers who to this point remained idle, rushed forward grabbing Robin by both arms and holding him fast. Girard rubbed his arm and picked up the decree walking over to Robin who was struggling with everything he had to get free but was so outnumbered there was nothing he could do.
"And you, Matthew, you are under arrest" he spit into Robins face.
"Arrest? What for?" exclaimed Johanna rushing forward.
"Because your precious brother is none other than Robin Hood" Girard replied laughing, "And Prince John has many wonderful things in store for him"
With this Robin stopped struggling and just looked blankly at Girard and muttered "Robin Hood"? Robin stood silently trying to put things together in his mind until he watched one of the guards grab Johanna roughly by the arm and she cried out in pain.
"No"! screamed Robin suddenly remembering seeing Marion about to be shot by an arrow. Through a haze he pulled himself free from the guards and rushed the guard holding Johanna pushing him from his feet and landing squarely on his chest started pounding his fists into his face while shouting "Marion Run!!"
Six of the remaining guards rushed Robin pulling him from the guards bloodied face and holding him in place while Girard came over. Looking at him in amusement he began laughing saying "My time has come Robin Hood" and with that he started beating on Robin. He began slowly punching him in the stomach and doubling him over, then grabbing him by his hair and pulling him back upright and punching him in the mouth, then the nose, then back in the chest again. You could hear the ribs crack that had just began to heal doubling Robin over again. Lord Drake stood helpless while Girard sought to kill Robin, crying out
"You can have the castle and all the lands, just spare my sons life"!
Johanna just stood crying watching the display before her. Finally with one well placed punch to the cheek Robin went down like a sack of oats in a pile on the floor. Johanna pulled away from the guard that was holding her and rushed to his side crying uncontrollably bending over him trying to arouse him.
"How could I have ever loved a man like you" she sobbed looking up through tears at Girard who was looking down at Robin with nothing but satisfaction.
"How could you ever love an outlaw?" Girard returned.
"He is more of a man than you could ever hope to be" she hissed turning and burying her face in Robins shirt sleeve.
"Take them" ordered Girard turning and leaving the castle, "I'll finish you off later Robin, when no one is watching"
The End of Part 10
Part 7 & 8 / Part 9 & 10 / Part 11& 12
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