First Love, First Hate

By Virginia Cavazos

Chapter Five

Andrew MacGregor drew his horse alongside the maple tree. Philip was gone. Pulling up on the reins, MacGregor followed the trail Philip had left. It led to a small stream, then stopped. MacGregor signed. He would try another approach.

He made his way into a patch of woods on the East side of the meadow. A little way into the woods, MacGregor found an unconscious man. Jumping down, he examined the man. Aside from the slight bruise on his forehead, he seemed to be okay. Trained to track, MacGregor studied the tracks around the man and concluded that Robin had not been involved with this fight. He could detect two sets of footprints, both of them from grown men.

He got to his feet and spotted Robin's bow and quiver of arrows, and saw a fresh cut in the leather strap. Robin would not have let that go easily. He looked around for clues, and his suspicions were confirmed by the scuffed earth and broken branches. Closing his eyes, he thanked God that Robin was still alive."

All the while that Robin had been missing, he had forced himself to focus on finding the children, not on what might happen them. But, he had been a guard for the King and knew what evil men were capable of.

His fear for the boy was great, but finding Robin's bow brought him hope that he would find the boy and the other children alive. He continued to search the ground and found a small pair of tracks. He knew these had to belong to Robin. The small tracks were followed by large ones. This confirmed that there was yet a third kidnapper for MacGregor to find. Then, he would find his Robin.

Mounting his horse, he heard a shout. He pulled out his sword, prepared to do battle. Out of the forest stumbled an exhausted Marion and Guy.

"Master MacGregor!" Marion exclaimed.

MacGregor ran to the two children and held them close. They fell exhausted into his protective arms. At least these two were safe.

"Where have you been?" Guy asked. "We were kidnapped. I thought you were the Captain of the King's guard? Why didn't you come find us?" his voice cracked at the last word.

"I'm sorry, son. I had no idea where you were. Your father received a ransom note stating you would be harmed if the money was not paid. Neither of us wanted to risk that; we had to play by at least some of their rules."

"Where is Robin?" Marion asked. She saw the bow in MacGregor's hands.

"Tell me children. How many men abducted you?"

"Three, sir." Marion softly said confirming his suspicions. Guy nodded his agreement.

"I disposed of one, another one is there," he pointed, "so the other must be after Robin."

Marion gasped when she noticed the still form of André. Standing up, MacGregor knew he had to make sure these two were safely home first. Then he could rescue Robin. Pulling his horse next to the two children, he first strapped Robin's bow to the saddle, then helped Marion and then Guy up on his mount.

"I want you two to go back to the castle." He told them sternly.

"But what about Robin?" Marion asked.

"Don't worry about him." MacGregor looked grim. "I'll find him."

MacGregor took out his green cloak from his pack, and put it on. He then took out a small dagger and placed it in his belt. His sword was placed back in its scabbard. Pulling up his hood, he blended in the forest.

Don't worry about Robin. I'll have him back by nightfall." He stepped back. "Hold on tight," he recommended. When they complied, he smacked the horse's flank, and the horse galloped away.

MacGregor watched until they were out of sight, and began to track Robin.

* * * * *

Robin ran as fast as he could. His hands were still tied in front of him, hampering his movements. He knew if he gave Master MacGregor enough time he would be able to find him, but in the meantime, Jimmy was close behind. He had to do something to slow him down.

He ran deeper into the forest, using the same trick that he used when Jimmy first ran after him.

Jimmy was wise this time. He ran at the outskirts of the thick foliage, all the while keeping Robin in his line of vision.

Robin sighed to himself. He had to think of something else.

He came up to a very steep hill, too steep to climb with his hands tied. He

turned to run back the way he had come.

Realizing that he had Robin trapped, Jimmy blocked his exit.

"No where to go, is there?" Jimmy grinned.

"I'm not going with you!" Robin shouted. Looking from side to side, he realized he had no avenue of escape.

"Yes you are." Jimmy's look was more predatory now. Slowly he walked towards Robin. "We're going far away from here. So your father can never find us. You'll see. Before you know it, you won't even miss your father."

Robin was getting more agitated. Jimmy was now within arms length. "Don't worry," he said in a soothing tone. "I'll take good care of you, just like Johnny. Only I won't let anyone take you from me like they did him."

Jimmy reached out to grab the rope that was tied to Robin's wrists. Robin pulled back. Jimmy grabbed again and caught hold of the rope. He pulled Robin towards him. Robin dug in his heels, but Jimmy was much stronger and had little trouble. He put his arm around Robin's waist, and lifting him high into the air. Robin fought fiercely; Jimmy laughed at the boys resistance.

"Don't fight me!"

Throwing Robin over his shoulder, he carried Robin out of the thick brush.

Robin continued to hit Jimmy with his fists. "I'm not going with you!" "Now you stop that. You're coming with me and that's final!" He shook Robin's legs. "No use fussing. Its' just going to make things worse on you."

Robin's head fell in frustration. His body went slack. He knew it was hopeless. The man was so much bigger and stronger. A knight, he told himself, had to wait for his best chance of escape, and he must take his opponent by surprise.

As he hung on Jimmy's back, Robin felt the man's body tense. Someone was coming.

Jimmy squeezed Robin's legs warning him. "You keep quiet, or I'll deal with you later," Jimmy hissed.

Robin readied himself to scream for help. He might not get another chance. He waited to hear the stranger's voice.

"Well good day to you, sir." Jimmy gave the stranger a pleasant greeting. He smacked Robin's backside. "My son here run off, I'm taking him back home."

Robin twisted around to see who Jimmy was talking to. He saw a man in a green cape. His penetrating dark eyes gazed out from the hood.

"Master MacGregor." Robin said in a small tired voice.

Jimmy cringed. The boy recognized the man.

Andrew MacGregor had found Robin. He had to control his anger until Robin was safe. He kept his voice calm.

"Let the boy go." He said in a deep commanding voice.

Jimmy quickly brought Robin down, using him as a shield.

"I'm not going to let you take him!" Jimmy growled.

"If you let the boy go now, I'll let you live," MacGregor stated coldly.

As he watched MacGregor, JImmy saw some movement behind the cloaked man. A mischievous smile creased his face.

"Of course I'll let the boy go."

Robin heard the noise, too. He had to warn Master MacGregor, without Jimmy's knowledge. Looking at him, he said softly. "Master MacGregor, chipmunks."

MacGregor gave Robin a knowing smile, then in one quick movement, whirled around and taking his knife from his belt threw it, catching Philip in the chest. He collapsed on the ground. MacGregor whirled back to face Jimmy.

Jimmy managed to get his dagger and threw it at MacGregor.

Robin cried out as the dagger made its way towards his teacher. The dagger disappeared within the folds of the cloak.

"If he dies, I'll kill you!" Robin screamed.

MacGregor fell to the ground. Pushing Robin aside, Jimmy went to finish the job. As Jimmy reached the fallen man, MacGregor rose up, sword in hand. Robin flung himself at Jimmy. Jimmy grabbed the enraged boy and threw him at MacGregor. MacGregor caught Robin, dropping his sword on to the ground. Jimmy quickly snatched it up.

"After I kill you, the boy comes with me."

MacGregor pushed Robin behind him. He stood bravely in front of the man.

Jimmy smiled. "Now I know where the boy gets it from. Well, Sir Knight, I think this is the last day you will see the sun rise." He kissed the blade, raised his arms to plunge the sword into MacGregor, and dropped the sword. He looked at his hand, dumbfounded. An arrow was clean through it.

MacGregor picked up the dropped weapon. He called back over his shoulder. "Whomever you are, I thank you for firing that arrow."

"Your welcome, sir," answered a shy voice.

Andrew MacGregor turned to face Marion and Guy a few yards back. They were standing next to MacGregor's horse. Marion carried Robin's bow in hand. She smiled at Robin; he grinned from ear to ear.

Interrupting the reunion, Jimmy moaned out loudly, the arrow still in his hand.

"We'll have to get that out before we take you back to the castle," MacGregor said.

Jimmy waved him off, broke the arrow off short, and with a grunt, pulled it through. Blood ran heavily. "Knights aren't the only brave ones!" he weakly said weakly MacGregor tore off a piece of Jimmy's shirt and wrapped his wound with it. Taking a piece of the rope, he tied Jimmy's wrists together. Once he was

secure, MacGregor turned his attention to Robin.

MacGregor dropped to his knee and held out his arms. Robin ran into his embrace and sobbed softly.

"It's all right now, Robin." MacGregor said as he held him tightly.

"Master MacGregor. I wasn't a true knight."

MacGregor took Robin by the shoulders and looked into his eyes. "Of course you were, Robin. You used your wits, and helped your friends escape."

"But I was so afraid."

"I was afraid, too. A knight must not let his enemies know he is afraid, but it's not bad to be afraid."

"Really?"

"Yes, really."

Robin sniffed, and another tear ran down his cheek. "I thought he killed you when he threw that knife."

MacGregor held up one arm, the lower portion covered by a metal gauntlet. "A soldier's trick," he grinned.

Robin rubbed his wet eyes with his bound hands.

"Let me get that," MacGregor said and cut Robin's hands.

Marion and Guy join them. Robin looked embarrassed.

Marion smiled at him. "I was so scared for you, Robin. Are you all right?"

"I"m okay!" Robin replied.

Guy was standing next to Marion, his arm around her shoulders. As Robin looked at the two together, he felt anger. He didn't like seeing Guy with Marion.

"I think I'd better get you all back to the castle," MacGregor interrupted. "There's a ball tomorrow for you to attend."

"Oh yes, the ball!" Marion enthused.

"Yes, sir, replied Robin.

Guy rolled his eyes. He really wasn't in the mood to go to a ball now.

MacGregor chuckled, then lifted Jimmy by his arm. "After you!" Jimmy nodded and walked ahead.

"We'll stop by and get the other man."

"He's not there!" Marion said. "When we returned to follow you he was already gone."

"Good!" said Robin.

The three turned to Robin.

"Well, he tried to save my life. I'm glad he got away!"

"If he did that, then I won't go after him." MacGregor said.

"Thank you, Master MacGregor. He really is a good outlaw."

MacGregor chuckled. "A good outlaw. I don't think there is such a thing!"

* * * * *

When they returned to the castle, the children were met with hugs and cheers. Gisborne tried not to show it but they could tell how happy he was to see Guy. His hug lasted a little longer than Guy was comfortable with.

Blushing the Guy asked to be excused. Lord Gisborne let him go, giving his son a lingering look as he made his way into the castle, he then looked at the man that kidnapped his son.

"Why did you do this?" he asked his voice strained to keep from showing his anger.

Jimmy did not answer.

Lord Gisborne motioned for some men to seize Jimmy. As he was led away, he looked back at Robin. Robin tried to avoid his eyes.

"Andrew MacGregor," he continued. "Whatever you want is yours!"

"I should tell you," MacGregor began. "There is one man in the forest. I had to kill him to get Robin.

Lord Gisborne waved his hand. "Don't give it a thought." He clapped the other man on the back. "I thank you for returning the children safely."

"Thank God that none of them were hurt."

"We'd better get them something to eat and put them to bed.

MacGregor laughed happily, and ruffled Robin's dark brown hair. "Are you hungry?" he teased.

"Yes, please," grinned Robin.

* * * * *

The castle had been in a flurry of activity all day, getting ready for the ball, and then, it began. Marion watched, wide-eyed, as the lords and ladies arrived. Each one more beautiful than the last. Marion had taken special care with her appearance. She wore a celestial blue gown, and a ribbon had been threaded through her dark curls.

She looked for Robin, amongst the guests, wanting to share the moment with him. When she couldn't find him in the great hall, she went out into the garden. There she found him, sitting quietly.

* * * * *

Lord Gisborne had at last agreed to Guy's pleas of exhaustion and had allowed him to in his chamber that evening. It was a beautiful and clear night. The moon was full and the garden was almost as bright as day. Guy sat on his balcony, enjoying the peace and quiet.

He saw Robin enter the garden and had nearly called down to him. Then, when Marion joined Robin, and Guy stepped back into the shadows.

* * * * *

"Robin," Marion called softly.

Deep in thought, he did not hear her.

"Robin," she called again.

He looked up at her, his large brown eyes unusually solemn. He nervously brushed his freshly cut hair with his hand. "I hate it!" He grumbled.

Marion smiled. "You look very nice."

He blushed, and smiled back. "So do you."

In the background, they could hear the music from the ball. Marion took Robin's hand. "Would you like to dance?"

Robin bowing from the waist. "Of course, fair maiden," He replied and began to whirl a giggling Marion around the garden.

* * * * *

Guy watched from his place on the balcony. He did not like what he saw; Robin had won yet again. "I will never forgive you, Robert of Locksley. You will pay for stealing her," Guy swore, he then turned and went back into his chamber.

* * * * *

The music finished, and Robin released Marion's hand, he bowed. "I thank you for the dance."

"Your most welcome." Marion smiled shyly. "Here," she said, handing him a small piece of paper. Covering her mouth, she giggled again and ran from the garden.

Robin sat on the bench, and unfolded the paper. He read it through, then read it again. Marion had heard everything he said about the moon, the flowers and her love. It was all there. He stuffed it inside his tunic, making a vow to keep it with him always.

Marion came back out into the garden. "Robin, let's go inside."

He smiled at her. "It shall always be as you wish, Marion."

* * * * *

Robin awoke in a dark place. It took him a minute to remember why he was in the small cellar. "The explosion," he said to himself and wondered if it was safe to exit.

"Only one way to find out," he said, and felt around till he found the trap door. Once he did, he carefully popped open the door and peeped out. The smoke had cleared, so he pulled himself out of the hole.

The tavern was a shambles, and the fire had all but gutted the building. It was dark now, which meant it had been several hours since the explosion.

Robin got himself out of the ruin, and began the walk towards Guy's castle. He was sure the two had gotten away, but there was just enough doubt that he hurried along his way. "Just like old times." he thought. "Marion in trouble because of Guy! And Guy probably mad at me."

He reached into his tunic and touched a small piece of paper he carried there. He didn't have to look it, he knew what it said. He smiled at the memory. "Yes he thought to himself, like old times!

The End

Chapter One
 Chapter Two
 Chapter Three
 Chapter Four
 Chapter Five the Conclusion

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