By Lisa Prusok
Robin traveled quickly. The road to Catrina’s home was little traveled. Robin did not have to worry about being met by anyone. As he rode on he began to remember the first time that he and Catrina had met. She had landed on him and thrown him off of his horse. Robin chuckled to himself at the memory. Now that the memory of the pain had long since faded, it was funny.
It was well past dark when he finally reached Cat’s small cottage nestled in the forest. Robin could see the dim glow of light that came through the open window. He brought his horse up and jumped down. Although it was dark, Robin instinctively scanned the area. He was satisfied that there was no threat and walked to the door.
Robin pushed the door open and stepped inside. It was as he had remembered it. There were a few more nick-knacks, bottles and trinkets laying about, but it was generally the same. The feeling was the same, warm and cozy. It felt like Cat. The one thing that was missing was Catrina.
Robin began to close the door when he heard a wild scream behind him. Before he could turn, he felt a heavy object attach itself to his back. Cold sharp steel now bit at his throat as a knife was laid against it. The split second it happened his first instinct was to throw the weight over his head. But realization hit him as to just what was clinging to his back. "I thought you would be too old for a piggy back ride?" he said drolly.
The blade was instantly removed from his throat. The weight was still holding on though. Only now his threat were the arms that wrapped around his throat in a hug cutting his air off. And deafness from the squeal of his name in his ear.
Robin patted her arm, "Could you get down now. I need to breath every other day for my health."
Cat let go and slid down his back to the floor. Hopping around to face him, she grabbed his waist and hugged some more. She was so happy to see him. It filled her to the brim with joy.
Robin held her in his arms for a moment. He really was happy to see her too. But he was also a little bit upset with her. At this thought, Robin pulled her from his body and held her shoulders in his hands. He gave her a cross look.
Catrina’s happiness blew away when she saw the angry look on his face. "What is it? What’s wrong Robin?" she asked very concerned.
In a low steady voice, "Why did you do it? What was your reasoning behind what you have done to me?"
Cat’s eyes opened wide and she began to shake her head in confusion, "What are you talking about?"
Robin let go of her, afraid if he held on he might shake her to death. "The spell Cat, the spell!" he yelled.
Cat saw how upset he was and mimicked his emotion, "What spell? What are
you talking about Robin?"
He could see that she did not understand him. He calmed down a little, but only a little. "Olwyn told us that a spell had been invoked upon me. He said "The two are as one".
Cat still shook her head that she didn’t understand, "I don’t know what you are talking about. I...oops," she said in a very tiny voice.
"Oops! What do you mean oops?" Robin demanded.
Catrina looked down at the floor. She just couldn’t look him in the eyes right now. "I had no idea. I didn’t mean to invoke a spell. I was just afraid and the thought of you gave me solace."
"Why were you afraid?" he asked as his voice softened.
"He told me that if I didn’t do what he wanted, he would beat and whip me."
Robin placed his hand under her chin and lifted her head up. He looked her in the eyes, "Who threatened you?"
"It was Count Lanis. I was his sorceress and he wanted me to make him a pile of gold. I couldn’t do it. You just can’t make gold appear!" Tears welled up in her eyes at the memory.
As a tear began to roll down her cheek, Robin wiped it away with his finger.
Cat closed her eyes as his hand brushed her cheek. All of the things that she had bottled up inside herself now came to the surface. Without any warning she began to sob. She was unable to control the flood of tears. She was releasing all of her problems all at once. And Robin was there to comfort her.
Robin had no idea what to do as she began to cry in heaving sobs. The only thing he knew to do was to just hold her to him. This was his offering of comfort to his friend.
Cat held on to him like she had never held on to another human being. He didn’t speak a word, but his arms around her and body against her said so much. She felt herself being rocked gently back and forth. No one else in the world could do so much with such a small gesture.
Slowly the tears began to subside. All that was left were the short breaths she made and a shaking that she couldn’t control yet. Cat release him from her arms and turned away from him.
Robin let her go, "Is there anything that I can get for you?"
"No thank you. I’ll be all right in a minute. I’m sorry I put all of this on you. I didn’t realize that when I wasn’t feeling anything that you would be," she said as she turned to face him. At the thought of him being beaten and whipped, she started to cry again. Then she realized what she had done to him with her little tests. "Oh Robin! I had no idea!" she said as she put her hands to her mouth.
Robin knew that she had just come to realize all of the things that she had really done to him. He didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t say that it was okay, because it wasn’t. Instead of just standing there, Robin went to a chair at the table and sat down. She was going to have to come to grips with this herself. He couldn’t hug this away. This time it was too serious to just shrug it off.
Cat turned away from him again. She walked to the open window. Placing her arms on the sill, she stared out at the night. Tears still roll down her face. It was her fault once more that Robin had been hurt. An "I’m sorry" was not going to cut it this time. She could have killed him with her little stunts, not to mention what Count Lanis had done. Then she thought about all of the stupid things that she had done in the last two days. Tripping, stubbing her toes, bumping into things and on and on.
He had helped her with her powers to become what she was today, a sorceress. She had power that she never thought possible and it was all because of him. Yet he never asked for anything in return. He gave selflessly. The limits to his kindness knew no bounds. Cat made a move to turn around to face him. As she did, she heard him yelp.
"Ouch!" Robin said as his hand went to his forearm. He took his hand away and saw a small trickle of blood coming from an open wound. He placed his hand back over the wound to try to stop the bleeding. "What did you do to yourself now!"
Cat looked down at her forearm. There was a big splinter sticking out of the skin. Quickly she pulled it from where it was buried.
"Ow!" Robin said as he felt it pull free. Then the pain began to subside.
Cat got a cloth. She pulled against his hand that held his arm, "Let me see it!" she said sternly.
Robin relented and allowed her to see the wound. As she was cleaning the blood off, the wound slowly closed and disappeared. She smoothed her hand over his arm in disbelief.
"That’s what happens. It just heals itself after a few minutes," he said casually.
"How can you be so indifferent? Why aren’t you screaming at me? Why don’t you just hit me? I’d hit me if I were you. I’m mad enough at myself to do it for you."
Robin quickly said, "No don’t! If you hit yourself, if I were to hit you I would only be causing myself pain. Plus, that kind of violence never solves anything. The rule is you never hit a woman. That is a good rule to follow. Remember it! That means you can’t go around hitting yourself. Do you understand me?"
"Yes I understand. But I don’t see how you can remain so calm and collected after all of the things that you have been through. I would be hopping mad. I would want to lash out at the world. I probably would. I couldn’t and wouldn’t be so understanding with someone like me. I wouldn’t even want to be my friend any more. I would stay as far away from me as possible."
Robin motioned for her to sit down in the chair opposite him. She sat down heavily. Her entire body mirrored how she felt inside.
"Catrina I will always be your friend. I love you as a friend. I have to admit that I am upset. I can’t deny that. I won’t deny that. But that does not mean that I love you any less. I think that I love you more than you do. You need to accept your faults and then get over it. Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes."
"You don’t," she said quietly.
"What was that?" he asked not quite hearing her.
"I said ‘you don’t!’"
Robin had to laugh. "Cat I can’t tell you how many mistakes I have made!" he said smiling.
"I don’t believe that. You are very nearly perfect!"
"Perfect? Ha! I am not perfect. I have a lot of faults. But I know what my weakness are and I try to improve on them. I keep trying. I never give up."
"That’s easy for you to say," she told him as she continued to play with the cloth in her hand.
Robin placed his hand over hers to still them. "No it isn’t."
Cat looked at his face, shocked at what he had just said. Her eyes asked him so many questions that her mouth could not form.
"Listen to me. I..." he stopped. His past welled up before him. His privileged childhood. The siege at Locksley and the subsequent death of his father. All of the difficult time he spent training with Olwyn. All of the time from then until now.
"I’m listening." Cat urged him on.
A tear came to the brink of his lower eyelash, "I have never told anyone this. This will be between just the two of us."
Cat nodded her head in agreement.
"There has been so much unhappiness and death in my life. The pain and suffering I see every day from the people I try to help. The pain and suffering that I have been through. It all just gets to be over-whelming at times. There are some days that I don’t want to get up to face it for one more minute. I have my doubts at my leadership and just how much help I can be. I am responsible for so many people. They depend on me. Any mistake that I make not only effects me but so many others. I have to keep trying for them, for England. It is not easy. The life I lead, I choose to lead is not easy. I do it not because I have to, but because I want to. I know that if I can help just one person feel the oppression ease just a little then it is worth it."
"Robin I had no idea. I guess I am just so wrapped up in my little world that I don’t see beyond it. My problems seem so insignificant now. You have really opened my eyes."
"Good. Just remember to keep trying. And give yourself a little credit for all of the things that you do right. Forget the mistakes. They are not that important if you can learn from them. You are a terrific person and don’t you forget it. Do you understand me?" he said the last with emphasis.
Cat smiled, "Yes Robin I understand."
"Do you feel better?"
Smiling even more, "Yes I do." Cat wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled his head to hers. They touched foreheads, "Thank you Robin."
"You are very welcome. Now that that is settled, would you please take this spell off of me."
She let his neck go, "Oh yes. Of course. How could I forget?"
"That is why I am here. To remind you."
Cat got up and began to bustle around the small cottage. She picked up various items and took them to where Robin sat.
On her fifth trip, Robin grabbed her wrist before she could move away, "You can take the spell off can’t you?"
"Of course I can. No problem," she told him.
He let her go and as she was walking away, "Well at least I don’t think there is a problem." Then she quickly changed her answer, "No there is no problem. None at all. I can do this."
Robin put his elbow up on the table and put his forehead in his hand. He shook his head from side to side. And if his eyes had been open, they would have rolled.
Finally she was ready.
There were twenty-five small stones on the table. They all had intricate designs carved in one side. Cat pushed them over to Robin, mixing them as she pushed. "I want you to form these rune stones into a circle. Save one for the center of the circle."
Robin did as she asked.
Cat took a small twig from the fire and lit a 3"x6" candle on the table. As she lit the candle she spoke, "I burn this candle as a token of the spell that binds my love. Let the magick now be broken by the power of the gods above."
Robin sat fascinated at what she was doing.
Cat then took a cord that was three feet long into her hands. As she knotted she spoke, "By the knot of one the spells begun.
By the knot of two it cometh true.
By the knot of three thus it shall be.
By the knot of four it’s strengthened more.
By the knot of five the spell shall thrive.
By the knot of six this spell I fix.
By the knot of seven the stars of heaven.
By the knot of eight the hand of fate.
By the knot of nine what’s done is mine."
Once she finished the ninth knot she kissed the cord and placed it under the cloth of her dress by her heart. Then she just sat and smiled at Robin.
"Is that it?" he questioned warily.
"That’s it!" she chirped.
"Pardon me if I’m a bit skeptical. But..."
"Do you want to test it out?"
"Yes and no. I want to try it, but I don’t want the test to hurt too much."
Cat laughed at him. "I won’t. How about a little needle prick. That doesn’t
hurt too much."
Cat got a needle and poised it over the palm of her hand. She looked at Robin. His face and body was so tense she could not help giggle a little. "Are you ready?" she said taunting him a little.
"Yes I’m ready. Just do it!" he said impatiently.
"Here goes!" she said as the needle descended on her palm.
Robin prepared himself for the prick but instead was startled by Cat’s cry of pain. He jumped.
"Ouch!" Rubbing her palm, "I guess it worked."
Smiling broadly, "It sure did. Thank you Cat."
"Your welcome Robin and I will try my best to never do that again."
"I appreciate it. Hey, now that I think about it, is everything okay with you and the Count?"
"I’m not sure. I left a little abruptly. I didn’t give him a chance to fire me, I quit. I’m never going back there again."
"I’m glad. You don’t need to work for a man like that. You are too special to ever be treated like that by anyone, even yourself," he said looking at her with one eyebrow cocked up.
Cat smiled, "I know that now thanks to you. Hey, are you hungry?"
"Come to think of it, I am."
The two had a nice late supper and talked until the wee hours of the morning. Robin slept in the chairs since it was too late for him to start back to camp at that hour. When the sun rose, the two friends talked over breakfast and enjoyed their time together.
Then it was time that Robin left.
Once again, Cat’s heart felt heavy at the thought of him leaving her. She knew that she would see him again, but she already missed him.
The two said their good-byes with a hug. Robin mounted his horse. With a wave, he was headed back Sherwood.
Unbeknownst to our hero and Cat, an evil dark force sat high above them in a tree. Watching...Waiting...
But that’s another story.
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