"So, are you having fun?" Tom asked Robin as he slapped him on the back.
"Oh, um yes." Robin sipped on the punch. "Great party."
Tom sat next to Robin. Placing his hands on the table, he gripped them tightly. The two quietly watched the dancers. Tom was the first to break the silence. "I think Marion looks very happy." He said.
Robin just silently nodded to this. "Robin, can I ask you something?"
"Sure." Robin replied, he was watching a forth Lord dancing with Marion.
"Do you ever fear for Marion?" Robin turned to look at Tom.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, I know if it was Iris, I would want her somewhere where she would be safe."
Robin slowly turned his head away from Tom, not replying to his remark. Tom noticed the silence and realized it was something that Robin didn’t want to talk about. Slowly rising Tom excused himself.
"I see Iris wants to dance. I’ll leave you alone."
Robin just nodded his approval. For most of the night, Robin watched as Marion danced and enjoyed the party. Many young men gave her goblets of punch. She did look happy, for the first time since Marion pledged herself to Robin’s cause, he had thoughts of whether he should have agreed to it. He was so pleased that she felt as strongly about helping the poor - as he had, that he never had a thought for her safety.
He saw the joy in her eyes, as the aristocracy gathered around her, she was the most beautiful woman at the party, and all the young Lords were drawn to her, like bees to honey. It was then, Robin realized that she belonged here! Not in Sherwood, living like a thief in the night, but wearing gowns, and dancing until the sun rose. As the night wore on, Robin came to a fateful decision, a decision that he should have made years ago. Swallowing hard, he knew he was about to do something, that would tear his heart out, but he also knew, it had to be done.
After dancing for hours, Marion’s head started spinning. Looking for Robin, she saw him still sitting at the table. Slowly she made her way towards him. She had noticed earlier that after he had finished talking to a pleasant looking young man, he had a look on him that Marion knew all too well. Something was wrong. As she moved closer to Robin, she excused herself from the lord she was dancing with, and quickly sat next to him. He gave her a small smile.
"What’s wrong?" she asked.
"Nothing’s wrong," Robin said, he noticed that Marion looked a little intoxicated.
"I know that look Robin, I’ve seen it many times before," gently placing her hand on his arm, she asked. "Are you worried about something?"
Robin was about to respond to her, but stopped himself. Holding her hand, he quietly asked her.
"Marion, can we go some place to talk?"
"Now?" she cried out, pointing at the large fireplace crowded with family members, "But I think they are ready to start opening the gifts." She saw Tom and Iris giving her a come-hither look.
"Please!" Robin pleaded with her, "We need to talk."
"Oh, very well!" Marion relinquished to him, she quickly stood up, and soon regretted it. As she instantly plopped back down in the chair, using the fan to cool herself down, she began to giggle like a young girl. Giving Robin a sheepish grin; she placed her index finger and thumb slightly apart, saying.
"I think I drank a liiittle to much."
Robin tried to help her stand. She half-smiled up at him as he pondered on what part to grab, to help her up. Clutching her waist, he pulled her up, steadying her as she wavered where she stood, Marion’s giggling continued, as she slurred, "I guessss I made up for lossst time!"
Helping her stagger out of the grand ballroom, Robin mumbled. "I think you’ve made up for the both of us!"
Slowly they made their way to Marion’s room. Marion caught her hand on one of the torches in the hallway, gripping it tightly she shouted out, "Wait a minute!" Marion said in a stern voice. She looked around the empty hallway and realized they were no longer at the ball.
"Where are we going Robin? I want to dance some more!" She whined, Robin had to uncurl her fingers from the torch, taking her by both shoulders. He pushed her down the hallway.
"Marion, you’re in no condition to dance anymore tonight!"
Marion let out a disappointed sigh, her bottom lip pouting out, "But I love to dance." She grumped, "I hadn’t danced like that in so long." Her head fell back, seeing Robin upside down, she smiled up at him, as he continued to push her to her room.
"Do you remember when we met at Queen Eleanor’s ball?" A wicked smile creased her face at the memory, "God! I thought you were so handsome." Quickly she turned in his arms, gulping she added…"Not that you aren’t now!" Robin grimaced at this. Slightly nodding his head in appreciation, he said.
"Why thank you Marion, but right now I need to get you to bed!"
Marion whirled around, her head laid on her shoulder, as she sighed, "Finally!"
Robin blushed at her remark, this was not going the way he had intended.
As they reached the room, he propped her up against the wall and opened the door. Marion began to use her fan, "Whew, is it me, or is it hot in here?"
"It’s you Marion, now come on." Robin grabbed her by the waist, she let out a high pitched giggle, as he pulled her into the room. Marion flew from his arms and started dancing around the room. She pulled her mask off, as she floated across the floor. Robin closed the door and silently stood by it, watching her closely. He slowly took his mask off, pulling his hat off, his eyes followed the woman that he loved.
"It’s been so long since I danced like that, I forgot how good it felt!" Turning she looked back at Robin. He was so princely looking tonight. She suddenly felt a thrill rush up her spine. If she were sober, she wouldn’t have pursued this feeling, but tonight had been just so perfect. Robin slowly walked up to Marion, gently taking her hands in his, she felt that shiver run up her spine again!
"Marion," Robin softly said, "We have to talk."
She loved to hear him talk softly. Thinking to herself, there seemed to be many things she loved about him tonight! Her hand reached up, gently stroking his hair she whispered back, "I know, I’ve waited long for this night." Grabbing his hat, she flung it behind her, it landed on the bed.
"How fortuitous," Marion sighed, Robin quickly gripped her hand, clutching it tightly in his, he said, "No Marion, about something else!"
She made a long face, stamping her foot she wailed, "Is there something wrong with me?"
"I have never seen you more beautiful than tonight!" He whispered.
Marion fell into Robins arms laughing, "Then what are we waiting for!"
Grabbing Robin’s wrists, she started dragging him towards the bed. Robins eyes went wild when he realized what Marion had in mind. He dug his heels into the carpet, saying aloud.
"No Marion! Not like this!"
Realizing she wasn’t going to be able to drag him any further. She snickered "O.K.!" and suddenly let go. Robin immediately fell to the ground. Marion giggled and dived to join him on the floor.
"I thought you didn’t want to play!" she quickly wrapped her arms around his neck, and started nibbling on his ear. Robin jerked back and tried to break her hold.
"Marion please!" When she refused to listen, he mumbled under his breath, "I thought I would never say this." Grabbing her arms, he shouted out, "Marion, I’m not in the mood!"
Robin tried to break her iron hold on him, but soon found - her intoxicated condition gave her increased strength.
"Oh Robin." she sighed, "This is what I have always dreamed of." Slowly her hands made their way down his body. Stopping at his thick, studded belt, she began to loosen the ties. Robins eyes went wide in shock, he fumbled, trying to grab her hands. She snickered, "I love it when they play hard to get."
Robin tried to find some inner strength to push her away. Her training in fighting proved to make it more difficult to fend off her amorous attack. She managed to take his belt off, and starting working on removing his tunic.
"Oh Robin," She slurred, "Thish will be a night that we will alwayss remember."
Robin tried to fight her off, but he couldn’t think of a way of doing it, and not harm her. He then remembered a secret she had told him of years ago. Pulling her curly hair away from her ear, he slowly started blowing into it. Marion had told him of how sensitive she was to this, the trick worked. Giggling uncontrollably, Marion suddenly released Robin. Quickly Standing, Robin staggered back a few steps, getting far enough away from Marion’s reach. He tugged his shirt down and grabbed his belt from the floor. Fumbling with it, he tried to tie it back on. "Let me help you with that," Marion laughed as she struggled to stand up. Panting, Robin pointed at her; stammering.
"Ma...Ma...Marion, you stay down there!"
"Robin," Marion sighed, "I won’t bite, let me help," She jumped up from the floor, crossing her heart, "I promise."
With a suspicious raise of his left eyebrow, he continued to tie the belt on. Taking this as a yes, Marion ran to Robin, her fingers soon joined his. As he laced one string in, he found Marion pulling the other out. They both wrestled with the strings, Marion found herself giggling uncontrollably as she tied one of the strings on Robin’s fingers. "Oh Robin, you look so funny!" She snickered as she stumbled back, plopping down on the floor.
"This is not what I brought you here for!" Robin said through gritted teeth, as he finished tying his belt on. Marion began to pout, looking up at Robin she asked, "Then why did you bring me here?"
Robin started pacing the room, his hands motioning as he tried to stress his point.
"Marion, I have something I need to tell you. Something that’s been on my mind for many months now."
"What’s that Robin?" Marion asked, in an innocent voice.
Robin stopped pacing, taking in a deep breath; he gazed at the woman he would give his life for. He knew he had to say it, had to do it - for her.
"I’ve been thinking Marion. When we were staying at Guys castle. He told me something that made me realize that perhaps what I was doing was wrong."
Hearing this, Marion suddenly started to sober up.
"What’s that Robin?" she asked, as she slowly rose from the floor. The tone of his voice made her realize that he was serious.
As he looked at her, she felt a shiver deep inside. She loved this man so much.
He then gave her a look that scared her to her very bones. There was something wrong, something terribly wrong. Why hadn’t she seen it earlier?
"During our stay at Guy’s castle, we spoke of his time in the Crusades. After speaking to Guy, I’ve begun to realize that perhaps I may be wrong about staying here to fight Prince John. That I should be with King Richard, helping him with fight the crusades." Marion’s face fell with these words, it was the last thing she expected to hear from him. Ignoring the shocked look, Robin continued. "It wouldn’t do us any good if he was killed over there. Then we would be fighting Prince John for the rest of our lives."
He stopped and waited for her to absorb this.
Searching in Robin’s eyes, she blushed; realizing that she had totally misread what he wanted. She now became embarrassed by what she had tried to attempt earlier. If Robin had not been such a gentleman…well she knew any other man would have taken advantage of her. Her love for the man grew even stronger.
"Robin, if you left, what would happen to the people we protect?" She tried to reason with him, "What of Little John, Tuck." adding in a subdued voice. "Me?"
Robin smiled that warm smile that Marion had grown to love.
"The way the camp is set up right now. They can manage very well without me. Marion, I see that this is right for me, I feel that I need to go now. King Richard needs me to fight for his cause, something that he feels strongly for. As for you Marion?" He took her chin in hand, a half grin parting his lips, "You are the one I least worry about. If in need, your family will take you in. You’re a very strong person. I know you will be fine."
Marion gazed down at the carpet, slowly toeing it, not wanting to see those deep and soulful eyes. Robin gently brought her head up.
"Will you wait for me, until I return?" He whispered
"Always!" She sighed.
"Well then, I’ll be off." He released her chin, a look of determinations painted on his expressive face. Marion, now fully sober; stammered
"Of course no time like the present." Robin gave her his widest grin.
"But Robin you can’t go now." Robin could see the anguish in her face, he began to have second thoughts about what he was doing. "What will I…um, I mean; the others do when you are gone?" Tears began to unashamedly run down her face.
Robin wondered if he was right in what he was doing, until he recalled how happy she looked at the dance. When she looked at him as she was dancing, he had never seen her happier in his life. Giving her a look that melted her heart, he whispered, "If you love someone, you will set them free."
As she gave him a cryptic look, he added with a sad smile, "Don’t worry about me Marion. I’ll be back. This I promise."
Spinning around, he quickly walked out of the room, he had to force each step to the door. As he closed the door, he heard Marion cry out, "Robin, you can’t…Wait!"
Robin rushed down the cold, dark corridors, turning the corner he leaned up against the wall. He could swear his heart was breaking in two. Softly he whispered, "Merry Christmas Marion."
End of Chapter Two
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