Willow saw Robin enter the cavern. He looked around him, but he didn't seem to see her. Willow's legs were still moving very slowly, but she was making progress. Something told her that she had to get to the fire first. Something told her that it would harm Robin, and she could not allow that. She saw Robin start toward the fire. She called out, "No! Stop!"
Robin froze. He knew that voice. "Willow!" He spun around, looking for her.
"Willow where are you?" He received no answer and began to walk toward the fire again.
Willow made it to the ring of flame. She looked up and saw Robin moving toward it again. She yelled at him. "No! Don't come any closer!"
Robin stopped again. Was he crazy or did the voice come from the ring of flames. Unwilling to chance anything, he picked up a small stone and tossed it into the flames. The stone exploded on contact, sending shards all over. So not only was the flame hot, it was combustible.
Willow knew the flame could not hurt her. She was after all born of nature. Fire was a part of nature, just like soil, water, wind, and so on. Slowly, she stepped through the fire, her clothes evaporating into flames. (Perhaps it was a good thing Robin couldn't see her.) When she reached the plant, she gingerly pulled it from the rock floor it clung to.
Robin watched in awe as the red plant rose up from the cave floor all by itself and moved through the flames without anything burning. It stopped before him and slowly floated to the ground. Robin took it, being careful not to harm the leaves or roots, and rushed back to Lionel's cave.
Willow awoke to an awful odor. She opened her eyes to see a mug in her face. Lionel and Robin sat on either side of her. Lionel pressed the mug to her lips. "Drink." Reluctantly, Willow sipped the brewed beverage. As the liquid made its way into her system, she felt very warm. The warmth permeated her body. Lionel looked pleased. "She will be fine now." Robin sighed. "Thank God."
When the sun rose, Willow and Robin left and began their hike back to where Guy left their horses. Lionel waved to them. When they were out of earshot,
Olwyn the magician appeared beside Lionel, a look of displeasure on his face. "You didn't need to pry into their lives, Pan. They would have found each other eventually." Lionel changed form and became Pan, god of nature. "I found my daughter a wonderful man who will care for her and love her for his entire life." Olwyn shook his head. "Had they known who you really were, they would have not allowed you to help them." Pan nodded. "That is why I disguised myself." Olwyn grumbled angrily. "You didn't have to give her the fever in the first place. You played with her naivete so you could ensure that she admit her feelings." Pan smiled contentedly. "And she did. Now she and Robin Hood are forever bonded." With that, Pan disappeared. Olwyn shook his head. He knew this would lead to trouble.
From where Guy sat, a smile crossed his features. He could see Robin, hiking with the girl, and completely unaware of the danger that surrounded them.
Guy ordered his troops to encompass the outlaws, trapping them. He would not let them out of his grasp again. He had been humiliated only a day before and he would not allow that to happen again. Robin Hood would be captured that day. Guy would hand him over to Prince John, with the girl as an added bonus, and graciously accept one thousand gold pieces.
Robin and Willow trekked through the forest. So far as Robin could tell his sudden relationship with this beautiful young woman was going well. He caught her smiling at him several times and giving him "the eyes." He knew that Willow had shared a very intimate part of herself with him and he felt good now that he knew her feelings. There was no fear in her eyes anymore. No regret. No anger. No pain. She seemed content at having spilled her soul to him. A great weight had left her shoulders. Robin could see this in her demeanor. Willow was much calmer and more relaxed. She was surrounded by her beloved forest and the man she loved.
Robin didn't know if he loved her yet. He was still not sure how he felt about all that had happened. Over the course of their hike, a long discussion between them led them to an agreement. They would let whatever was meant to happen go and relax about it. If Robin decided he didn't love her, Willow was fine with that. Her burden was loving him and not being able to tell him. Now that burden was gone and the two outlaws were drawn to each other as they never had been before.
They sat to rest on a log. Willow massaged her sore ankle with one hand and her sore neck with the other. Robin couldn't get over how beautiful she was. Her hair was so flowing and smooth. (He found himself reaching to touch it, but pulled back.) Her eyes were bewitching. Her skin was so silky. Even now when she was dirty, sweaty, and tired, she was beautiful.
Willow stopped massaging her joints and stood. "We better keep moving." Robin nodded his agreement and climbed to his feet. They hadn't gotten two steps from the tree trunk when they realized they were not alone.
Soldiers circled them on foot, greatly outnumbering the two outlaws. Guy of Gisborne appeared from behind a tree, a huge grin on his face. "Well now.
Thought you could out-smart me, Robin Hood? Thought I would let you get away?
Now you see where your foolishness has led you." Robin and Willow immediately moved closer together, anticipating a grueling fight that they might not live through.
They didn't have a chance to attack or defend. Just as the soldiers charged, a blinding light rose up around the two outlaws. Willow squealed at Robin. "Cover your eyes!" Robin obeyed, but the soldiers were not so lucky. The light became hotter, boiling. The soldiers cried in agony as their eyes burned. Guy hid behind the same tree he had appeared from, sparing his eyes, but still momentarily blinded.
After a minute the light faded away. Willow grabbed Robin by the tunic and pulled him into a run. "We have to go!" The soldiers vainly tried to follow her voice, but they were far too disoriented. Guy was not much better off. Though, unlike his soldiers, his blinding was only temporary. By the time Guy recovered, his prey was gone and his soldiers were useless.
"That woman!" he cried. "She must be a witch! I will get her for this! And
Robin Hood! Count your days Outlaws! I will kill you both in due time!" Guy began his plans there in the forest, as he leaned against the tree for support.
Robin and Willow made it back to camp in time for the celebration only to find it had been postponed. Marion explained, "When you didn't come back, we feared the worst. We were about to go searching for you ourselves." However, when news of Willow and Robin's return made its way around camp, the celebratory spirit kicked in full force and the celebration was rescheduled for the next night.
All the camp was happy and joyous. Now that Robin could dance, he happily joined in the festivities. At one point in the celebration, Marion approached him and inquired if he had seen Willow. He hadn't, but promised to look for her.
Robin made his way along the creek. He eventually spied Willow by the creek bed, sitting on a patch of grass. Robin nonchalantly sat beside her and gazed across the creek. Willow didn't look at him or say anything so he took it upon himself to start a conversation. "So, why aren't you at the dance circle. You did teach me after all." Willow looked across the water. "I didn't make the light. I didn't blind those men. My father did." Robin wasn't expecting her to bring up the incident, but he had to admit he had wondered how it happened. "Is that why you are sitting out here all by yourself?"
Willow drew her knees to her chest and buried her face in them. "I don't know who I am!" Robin was perplexed. "What? What do you mean? You are Willow. Well actually Elizabeth, but still. That's who you are." Willow rolled to her feet, her face laced with tears. "That is not me. I'm me. That is all I know." Robin could see she was getting very upset. "Willow calm down." He tried to take her hands, but she pulled away. Turning away from camp she ran into the creek and began to swim. Robin called after her, but in vain. She was all ready out of earshot.
Willow's mind told her that swimming late in the afternoon in freezing cold water was not a good idea. However, as stubborn as she was, she didn't listen. All she knew was that she had to get away from everyone. The creek was the first available option. Her legs and arms now numb, Willow pulled herself out of the water. She looked around her and saw that she had traveled a considerable distance. Robin had not followed her.
She was happy about this. Robin didn't need to worry himself with her. She imagined his voice. "Oh, Willow. Why do you do this to yourself?" She didn't know the answer. Her identity was gone. Everything she thought she understood about herself was gone. She didn't even have the precious secret of her love for Robin Hood. It was all gone.
Willow had spent most of the afternoon thinking of what she had gotten herself into. If Robin decided he didn't love her, everything was fine. But if he decided he did love her, everything was wrong. How could she explain his sudden infatuation with her to Marion, Tuck, and Little John? The rest of camp would be just as difficult. "Robin Hood in love with a teenager? Did you say ten years younger? Cradle robber!"
Willow lay back on the grass, shaking with cold, her limbs still numb. She closed her eyes and let sleep take her. Almost immediately after her eyes closed, her dreams transported her to Avalon. She walked along a glowing path. A long, white robe replaced her soggy pants and tunic. Her feet lost touch with the path and she began to float along. After a moment, a familiar stranger joined her.
It was a young man, dressed similar to her. His hair glowed golden and his eyes were bright blue. "Do you know who I am, child?" Willow didn't need to look at him. She knew very well. "You are Pan." The man nodded. "That is correct Elizabeth. You have learned a lot these last few weeks. Do you know why you are here?" Willow shook her head. "You sent for me, most likely. But I don't know why." Pan put his hand on her shoulder. "I brought you here because I want to show you something. Come."
Before them, a tall mirror materialized. Willow gazed into it, scrutinizing her reflection. "I know what I look like." Pan smiled. "Yes. I know you do. That isn't what I want you to see." He touched his hand to the mirror, causing a rippling change in the reflection. "This is." Willow looked into the mirror and saw Robin running along the creek. It was daylight by this time and the poor man looked exhausted. Robin called for her again and again, but in vain.
Willow turned her head away, trying to hide her compassion for Robin. "Why are you showing me this?" Pan touched her cheek. "Whether or not you want to believe it, you are still the same person you were yesterday and the day before that. You are the same person you were the day you were born. Not Willow. Not Elizabeth. Not my daughter. Not Marion's sister. You are Robin Hood's true love. You were always meant to be with him and so you shall." Willow felt a heat within her, a longing to be where she belonged. "I don't know that he loves me, Father."
Pan turned her back to the mirror. "Look at this man. Do you believe her would travel all night to find you only to tell you he doesn't love you? Would he have carried you all that way if he didn't love you? Would he have laid beside you in the cave, giving up his own body heat to keep you warm, if he didn't love you?" Willow glared at Pan. "How do you know about that?!" Pan smiled. "I know everything, my dear."
Pan faded into nothing as the dream faded. Willow awoke to a bright morning. He clothes and hair were dry. She jumped to her feet and ran as fast as she could. She knew where Robin was and she had to tell him a few things.
Robin sank to his feet, exhaustion and despair overwhelming him. Seeing Willow run from his embrace had hurt him terribly. He knew this was not a hurt he could feel if he didn't care for her deeply. He knew that he would not have searched for her this long with no help or rest if he didn't love her. He did love her.
Robin pulled himself to his feet again. He did love her and he was going to find her and tell her so. He didn't have to wait long. Just as he rounded another bend in the creek, he saw her. She was running toward him as fast as she could. Robin ran too, awash with relief at seeing her in one piece. He met her half way.
They embraced, holding each other so tightly they were like one person. Willow broke the hug first. "Robin. I don't know how long I will be on this earth or how long I will age. I don't know if I can have children. I just know that I love you." Robin's heart melted. "I love you too. Nothing else matters." They embraced again, feeling their separate heats join together. After a moment, Robin lifted Willow's head and kissed her tenderly. She kissed him back, the thrill of it all making her tremble with happiness. They were finally together.
Robin and Willow stayed there by the creek for most of the day, talking and holding each other. They didn't notice, but Pan watched them for most of the day. The god smiled with satisfaction. He couldn't wait to see what the future would hold for his daughter and England's chosen champion.