"Or...perhaps I could make her one of us," Ahava continued, when Robin remained silent. She let one, long, fingernail tap the artery in Marion's throat. "She would become my sister of night."
Robin closed his eyes at the thought, for it was unbearable. But he knew that he could not hide from this moment. Knew that fate had brought him to this choice, and so he opened his eyes and locked them on Marion's beautiful face. With his own eyes, Robin said to her, all that was in his heart. He watched as Marion smiled at him, trust and understanding shining in her gaze. Robin then whispered, "...All other love I flee for this. To find myself within your heart. To you I promise my first kiss. And with it swear...we'll never part."
Ahava listened to his pretty words, then she laughed. The silvery sound echoed in the air even as her eyes blazed red.
"Chose now, Robin Hood. Come to me, or watch her die."
"I have chosen," Robin whispered. He glanced over at Tuck and smiled. "Forgive me," Robin said, hoping that his friend would understand what he was about to do. Then, eyes flickering back to Ahava, Robin moved with preternatural speed. His fingers closed over the dagger on his belt then he flung it at Marion.
She gasped as the blade thudded into her chest, then fell silent as darkness claimed her. But Marion's last breath was a whisper. "Robin..."
Ahava snarled as she dropped the woman, then faced Robin. "The choice is now made!" she hissed. "You are mine!"
"Tuck!" Robin shouted, then he reached out and snagged the crucifix the Friar tossed to him. As Ahava hurtled towards him, Robin held his ground. When she slammed him back into the wall and it collapsed beneath their weight, Robin hit the ground with the Queen vampire on top of him.
"NO!" Ahava screamed. She glided back off of Robin, standing up and staring down at the cross that was buried in her heart. A wooden stake of the most symbolic kind.
Robin sat up and watched in stunned horror as Ahava began to melt in front of him. Her flesh seemed to pour from her bones to puddle on the ground, then her bones melted as well. Then they burst into flames that soon died out leaving glowing, red, embers that faded into silver ash.
Tuck was stunned and he crept over to kick at the ashes. "My God.." he whispered, making the sign of the cross in the air.
"Marion..." Robin was by her side in a flash, pulling the dagger from her chest then lifting her in his arms. He blinked back tears as he bent his head and pressed a kiss to her soft lips.
"Robin.." Tuck came to stand beside his friends, his heart heavy. But then he gasped as Robin suddenly collapsed, slumping over with Marion still in his arms. "NO!" Tuck cried as he stared at the blood that stained the ground. It flowed from Robin's wrists and the Friar realized that his friend had used the dagger to slice them open again. In a selfless act of mercy, Robin had spared both Marion and himself from an eternity in hell. But that did not make their death's any less painful.
Little John came running into Tuck's room but skidded to a halt when he saw Robin and Marion lying on the floor. "What happened?" he beseeched, glaring at the Friar.
Tuck wiped tears off his face and was about to respond when a white light shimmered in the air. "Now what?" he whispered, feeling unable to handle any more tragedy tonight.
"Keep your faith, Friar," said a deep voice. Then Olwyn appeared before them. He stood over Robin and Marion and waved one hand.
"Look at that.." Little John breathed, as a silvery-white light suddenly engulfed his friend's still forms. Then it flashed, blindingly bright, and Little John blinked his eyes to bring them back into focus.
Olwyn smiled down at Robin, then whispered, "Well done, young man." Turning to Tuck he said, "They must rest now. Watch over them."
Tuck gasped as he knelt beside Robin and felt for a pulse. He did the same for Marion. "They're....alive.." he breathed in wonderment.
"Of course they are," Olwyn countered, with a touch of indignation. "Did you doubt that the purity of Robin's heart and soul would not defeat the darkness of his blood?"
"I....um...of course not," Tuck replied, feeling more than a little confused. "But...how?" he queried.
Olwyn sighed. "Love heals all wounds...." he whispered, then he vanished in a shimmer of light.
Little John shook his head, feeling as if he were trapped in some kind of dream. He looked over at Tuck. "I think I'm confused," he admitted, even as he knelt down beside his friends. Gently, Little John lifted Robin into his arms the rose to his feet.
"Join the club," Tuck replied, as he knelt to pick up Marion. "Let's get them to bed. Then we'll try and sort things out."
"Sounds good to me," Little John replied, then he walked out into the
night, stepping through the pile of silver ash on the ground and scattering
it into the wind.
Two days passed before Marion awoke, and her first thought was for Robin. She rose from her bed feeling strong and refreshed, and ran to Robin's hut. She found Little John asleep on a pallet in the corner, and Tuck patting Robin's face with a damp cloth. "How is he?" Marion asked, as she moved to the side of the bed.
"I'm not sure," Tuck admitted, rising from the chair so that Marion could take his place. "Olwyn said that the two of you needed to rest, but Robin hasn't yet stirred, and he's burning up."
"It's the blood lust," said a soft voice.
Marion whirled around to see a beautiful woman with pale skin and fiery hair standing before her. She recognized her from Robin's description. "Jackquel?" Marion questioned.
Nodding, the vampire glided forward to stare down at Robin. He was beautiful in slumber and she felt a stirring deep inside her. But she had not come here to claim him. Looking at Marion and the others, she attempted to explain her comment. "The fever is the result of the fire of our immortal *blood lust* burning out of Robin. His blood is purifying itself."
"Expelling your..evil," Tuck offered, helpfully.
"More or less," Jackquel allowed, taking no offense. But when she glanced over at the holy man, she caught sight of the cross dangling from his neck and stepped back, hissing.
Tuck realized what caused the vampire's reaction, so he tucked the crucifix inside his collar. "Sorry about that," he apologized.
Jackquel nodded, then returned to the bed. She reached out to finger Robin's silky hair. It felt soft and cool and she smiled. "He will belong to you again," she whispered.
"Why did you come here?" Marion asked, feeling the need to be blunt. If the vampire thought to take Robin away from them again, she had another thing coming.
"I came to say goodbye," Jackquel replied. She turned to face Marion, seeing the fire of love burning in the mortal woman's eyes. It was not an emotion that Jackquel remembered, but she could understand it none the less.
It was Little John, who came awake in time to notice Robin stirring on the bed. "He's awake!" the giant cried out, as he rose to his feet.
Marion bit her lip as she whirled around and saw Robin's eyes flutter open. She whispered his name then reached for his hand. "How do you feel?" Marion asked.
"Strange," Robin replied as he moved to sit up. He felt a bit weak and dizziness washed over him, but he made another attempt.
"Let me help," Little John offered, slipping one arm behind Robin's back and lifting him with ease. Robin patted the giant's arm. "Thank you, my friend," he said, before focusing on Marion. "How are you?" Robin asked, his voice barely a whisper. He remembered his last glimpse of her as she lay limp in his arms.
Marion knew what Robin was thinking and she reached out to touch his face. "I'm fine," she told him. "Never better." It hadn't occurred to her yet to wonder how they had survived. Marion had trusted in Robin to save them, and so he had. That was all that mattered to her.
"Jackquel?" Robin now glanced over Marion's shoulder and saw the red-haired vampire standing there. "What...?"
"I came to say goodbye, Robin," Jackquel explained, as she had to his friends.
Robin shook his head. "I don't understand. Why? I killed your Queen. You don't want revenge?"
Jackquel shook her head then laughed. "You are a formidable foe, for a mortal, Robin," she told him. And her praise was genuine. "I could...almost...regret my immortality. Almost."
"Thank you...I think," Robin replied.
"I cannot speak for the rest of my kind," Jackquel said, as she reached out to take Robin's hand and pressed her cool lips to his warm palm in a *goodbye* kiss. "But...if you ever have need of my...services...call, and I will come."
Robin nodded, touched by her offer. He knew that it did not come easily. "But only at...night?" he countered, with a smile.
Jackquel nodded. "I don't do days," she confirmed. "You know what they say, sunlight is bad for your skin." With that she glided out of the room and took to the sky, leaving the echo of her laughter behind.
"Interesting...woman," Marion drawled. She watched as Tuck and Little John ran outside, eyes locked on the sky.
"Very interesting," Robin allowed, as he slid his legs over the side of the bed and stood up. "But...she doesn't hold a candle to you, Marion," he whispered, sincerity deeping his voice. But then Robin wobbled and nearly fell.
Marion caught him and settled him back down on the bed. She tucked a sable lock of hair behind Robin's ear then bent to kiss his cheek. "Don't ever forget it," Marion teased, as she pulled the blanket back over him. "Sleep, Robin," she beseeched him, for she could see that he was exhausted.
He caught her hand, pulling her down to the side of the bed. "Don't leave me," Robin begged her, for he was half afraid that he was trapped in a dream and that, should he close his eyes, Marion would disappear...forever.
"I won't leave you," Marion promised. She brushed her fingertips across
Robin's forehead in a soothing caress until his eyes closed and she heard
his breathing change. Once she was certain Robin was asleep, Marion cuddled
up beside him, making certain that she stayed on top of the blanket. But
she rested her head on Robin's chest so that she could listen to the beating
of his heart. Then she whispered, "...I swear that we will never part..."
Closing her own eyes, Marion drifted off to sleep as well. And a soft smile
curved her lips.