By Jeannie

Part 11

Marion was pacing the hall. She threw herself down in a chair placed near the fire, only to jump up immediately and begin pacing again. Her thoughts were in turmoil. So fast and furious were her every-changing thoughts, she did not immediately realize she was being watched. Will had gone to the great hall with the intention of furthering his plans to help Robin and Marion. He stood at the entrance to the room, silently watching Marion's frantic movements. This woman was fascinating to watch. She moved with a grace that belied her strength and determination. Although she was beautiful in both face and form, it was her vitality that drew him. She possessed an energy and zest for life that he had never witnessed in a woman before, and, he realized, in not too many men.

"Lady Marion" Will said.

Marion, startled, halted her movements and turned to face Will. He watched as her expression changed, as if she had donned a mask.

"Good evening Sir William. If you are looking for Guy, I have not seen him since earlier today."

"Actually I was looking for you. It would appear my search has been successful."

Marion, determined to appear relaxed despite her wariness, asked "And why were you seeking me out, Sir William?"

"Please call me Will. I’ve just come from your friend."

Marion’s look of wariness turned to one of surprised interest. He saw she was trying hard not to react to the mention of Robin. "My friend? And which one would that be? I have many friends."

Will noted the touch of sarcasm in her tone. "Why Robin Hood, of course." With an air of nonchalance that she was far from feeling, Marion asked how Robin was doing.

"I'm afraid he is still in much pain and making a very slow recovery." With a look of anguish as if she were the one experiencing the pain, Marion turned to face the fire. She began to clench and unclench her hands. In a calm voice that was inconsistent with her reaction to his statement, Marion replied, "Guy promised to have his physician do everything in his power to make Robin well."

Will was aware of a growing tension in Marion as they discussed Robin. She tried to make light of her concern for Robin as if she was not more than a casual friend, but her eyes and body language gave her away. This woman had very deep feelings for the man known as Robin Hood. Then why was she willing to give herself to Guy? It had to be more than just an exchange for Robin’s safety. If all he had heard of Robin Hood and his Outlaws were true, Marion would surely have been working on a plan to get Robin back to Sherwood without Guy’s help. He sensed other, more complex reasons for Marion’s decision. He felt sure she had no feelings for Guy. Could he be wrong? He decided to probe a little.

"I understand from Guy that the two of you have been friends for many years. In fact, Guy tells me that he has been in love with you for a very long time and had even asked for your hand in marriage but you refused."

"That was many years ago. I was young and unsure of my feelings."

"Are you saying that you are sure of your feelings for Guy now?" Marion wondered at these questions from Will. Had Guy put him up to this? She didn’t trust him and knew she must be cautious in her response.

"Yes, I love Guy and plan to stay with him." Will heard her utter those words but somehow they rang hollow. Not by word, inflection or facial expression did Marion convince him of her love for Guy.

"What of your work with Robin Hood?"

"Robin’s cause is wonderful. He has pledged to help those in need. I have tried to do my part to aid him in his cause. I have begun to weary of the constant struggle with Prince John and the life of an outlaw has become drudgery. With these feelings ever present, my usefulness is nearing an end. It is time I began to concentrate on my relationship with Guy."

He sensed some semblance of truth in her words. Oh not the part regarding her relationship with Guy. He still did not feel there was a true connection there. Her talk of weariness of her lifestyle with Robin seemed to ring true. Could her reason for proclaiming her love for Guy be simply a need for a life of riches and luxuries? Will thought of himself as a good judge of a person’s character and this did not ring true of Marion Fitzwalter. Marion was a very complex person. He felt drawn to her and had this growing need to get to know her better. Will could sense her unease with him and his questions.

He could not deal with her in the straightforward manner he used with Robin.

He needed to gain her trust first.

Marion felt a compelling need to be alone. "I bid you good evening Will. It has been a long day and I am very weary."

Marion left and went outside to think. She was not comfortable with Will’s questioning. He was stirring up feelings she believed had been dealt with already. How many times must she go over these same thoughts? Her love for Robin was as strong as ever. For that reason alone she knew she could stay with Guy. Marion knew that Guy loved her and she believed that love was the key to Robin's safety. Never did she doubt that Guy would do anything in his power to make her happy, even she believed, helping Robin to heal and then releasing him. She felt nothing but loathing for Guy, or did she? He was the reason she was caged in the inn and Robin almost lost his life. She needed to get past that if she was to stay with Guy. She would do it for Robin and she would do it for herself.

What would life be like without Robin? Marion knew she had to face that and it had to be soon. Since Robin's near death from the explosion, life had been difficult. Marion was unable to relax if Robin was not around. She went around in a constant state of worry. Lately, the tension between them had escalated to the point where they were always snapping at each other. What kind of existence was that? How long could they continue like that? Here at Guy's castle, Marion began to remember what life had been like when her parents were alive. She had never before dwelt on what she had given up when she chose to follow Robin. She did now.

Guy found Marion sitting on the bench in the garden deep in thought. It was on this very bench that he kissed her not long ago.

"What are you doing out here at this time of the evening, Marion?"

"It is such a beautiful night, I decided to take a stroll before retiring. I felt drawn to this spot."

As soon as Marion said these words, she realized the truth behind them. This setting evoked memories of a better Guy. Marion was trying to draw on those memories to help ease her journey into the future she had planned with Guy. She had felt drawn to Guy that day in the garden. When he had spoken of his time in the crusades, she heard the desolation in his voice at what he had seen. Guy had gone to fight beside his King and that had to count for something. Maybe with her at his side to pull him in the right direction, the goodness in Guy would emerge. If not, her life would be unbearable.

Guy was thrilled at Marion’s words because she spoke them with a conviction that rang true. He did not believe Marion’s profession of love for him, but believed time with him at the castle could bring about a change in her feelings. The fact that she was drawn to this very place where they had talked and then kissed, gave him hope. Guy thought to test just how deep her feelings for him were.

"I have been told that your friends have been searching for you and Robin. I think only of Robin’s safety when I tell you it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to continue." Marion’s eyes narrowed at this veiled threat.

"What do you mean by that Guy?"

"My dear I only mean that if word came to me of their search it could also reach Prince John. You know how thrilled he would be to learn of Robin’s injuries and where he is to be found. You must stop their search. It will give Robin time to heal and us time to renew our friendship."

Marion did not trust these words of Guy’s. She felt he was testing her and knew she had to comply with his wishes if Robin was to remain safe. Would Guy actually tell Prince John about Robin despite her promise to him? She couldn’t take that chance.

"How do you propose I stop them Guy? Little John can be very stubborn once his mind is made up."

"You need to write to them and convince them that they must wait for Robin to heal. Tell them you will send for them when the time is right for Robin’s return to Sherwood. I will see that the message is delivered." Guy stood and put out his hand to assist Marion in rising. "Come my dear, the hour grows late. Go off and write your letter. I will have it delivered immediately you are finished." Marion let Guy escort her back to her room. Unbeknownst to them, Will had been watching them from the very spot where Robin stood when he had witnessed their kiss.

Once again in her room, Marion sat at the writing desk pondering what she would say to her friends. She must convince them that Robin was safe with

Guy, not an easy task. Although Marion did not believe Guy’s concern that Robin’s whereabouts and his current condition be kept hidden because of Prince John, this was an excuse that just might work with Little John and Tuck. They would never believe she was returning to Guy of her free will though. She must carefully word her letter so that they never suspected her decision to stay.

Marion picked up the quill and started to write. Once she began the words seemed to flow. She told them of the extent of Robin’s injuries and how Guy had rescued them. She spoke of Guy’s surprise at Master Ika’s return and how he swore ignorance of this. Marion went on to explain that Robin was too weak to travel back to camp and she feared Prince John’s learning of their whereabouts. She led them to believe that Robin was aware of her writing and he asked that they stay and take care of things at the camp while he was away. It would be best if everyone stayed at camp for the present time.

Marion promised to write again if there was any change in Robin’s condition. She closed her letter with a request that they take care of each other, signed it simply Marion, folded it and set the wax to seal it. She then went to the door and summoned the maid Guy had provided her and asked her to deliver her message to Guy. Marion then closed the door and went to sit by the fire. She had just said goodbye to her family. As she stared into the fire, tears slowly started to flow.

The maid delivered Marion’s note to Sir Guy. He quickly broke the seal and read what Marion had written. He just as quickly threw it into the fireplace and watched it burn. Guy knew enough about Robin’s men to realize they would not sit idle for long. Well he would be prepared for them when they came. Once he dealt with Little John, Friar Tuck and Kemal, there would only be Robin left, but not for long. He may be onto Guy’s scheme to poison him, but there were other ways to eliminate him. Guy sat tapping his finger against his lips. Things were progressing quite nicely, quite nicely indeed.

End of Part Eleven

Part Twelve
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