A novel by Teresia Unander-Scharin
"Une lettre pour vous mademoiselle."
Marion lowered her sword and took the letter from the young mans hand.
"Merci, she thanked him."
It was from England. From her father. She decided to read it in her room later and returned to her training.
That evening, as she sat in her room, with a candle as the only light, she opened it and read. Then she tossed it on the table and quickly left the room. In the corridor she ran into Celeste.
"Hey Marion! Slow down. What is it?"
"I got a letter."
"I saw that. From who?"
"He wants you to come home and get married."
"How did you know?"
"It’s always the same. Unless we join the Amazons, we’re always sent for sooner or later, when someone they think is good enough have asked for our hands. What are you going to do?"
"Go back I guess."
"Is that what you want?"
"If it is the man, I hope it is, that has asked for my hand, then I want nothing else."
"And if it isn't?"
"I want no one but him."
"I see. But if you go back and find out that it isn't him, that he’s already married to someone else and have five children running round his feet?"
"I do not know."
"You’d better think about that."
"I rather not."
"I know it’s hard, but you have to."
"No, I do not. He has not married someone else. Nor have he any children. He is waiting for me. I have to go."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I am."
"All right then. Now come on. There’s news from England down stairs. I have heard that there is someone who actually has met Robin Hood!"
Marion stepped off the boat and placed herself in the waiting carriage that was waiting to take her to her father’s castle.
During the trip, she thought a lot about Robin, was he now the knight he had always wanted to become? Did he still live at Locksley? Was it he that had made her father call her back? Did he love her the way she still loved him?
After a long trip, without any further problems she reached her childhood home. The first thing she noticed was that it didn’t look as wealthy as it did when she left. The guards let them pass, they only needed a short look at her. She was showed straight in to her father. He looked very old and weak. There was much pain, bitterness, grief and sorrow in his eyes and the little light that begun to shine within them when she entered the room only made him look more miserable.
"You came. How was your trip?"
"I guess you have heard about the tragic losses we have suffered here since you left?"
"What do you mean father?"
"Sir Gisborne has been betrayed and murdered. We still do not know who did it, but most of us are suspicious about his son."
Marion rose her hand to her moth, unable to say anything.
"Then there is poor Locksley."
"Lo... Locksley? uttered Marion and thought immediate of Robin."
Her heart began to beat faster and suddenly there seemed to be much less oxygen in the room.
"Yes, Prince Johns men, with Sir Hugo in the lead, attacked Locksley shortly after you had left. They killed Locksley, robbed and burned Locksley castle."
"What about Robin?"
Marion could only whisper.
"He escaped. Ran into Sherwood Forrest. Honey, you must have heard about Robin Hood."
"Is Robin Hood, Robert of Locksley?"
"At least he was. He is now the most wanted outlaw in England."
"Robin is an outlaw?"
Poor Marion could not believe her ears.
"He is. He now makes a living out of robbing rich Normans to give the money to the poor people in the villages."
"What about Guy?"
"He is in the holy land, the crusades..."
"Good. Well, now Marion dear, it was not because of all this I called you back. You are a woman now. No longer young and innocent and since you turned down the offer about becoming an Amazon I decided to make sure you where married before the day I will pass away."
"Married to who?"
"I am sure you will like him. Now you go and change to something more appropriate for dinner and I will call you when it is time to dine."
He looked with dislike on her short dress, suited for fighting. Marion slowly left the room and walked up the stairs to her old room. Luckily she knew the way, or else she would had gotten lost. Her thoughts where deep in Sherwood Forrest. Searching for the heart of the man she loved more than her own life.
"Robin," she whispered. "Robin are you out there? If you hear me please answer me."
* * *
At the same time, in Sherwood Forrest, a young man sat by a slowly running river, pretending to be fishing. Suddenly he heard a silent voice in his heart:
"Robin?' it said.
"Robin are you out there? If you hear me please answer me."
"I’m here Marion. Where are you?"
He looked around, but, of course, he saw no one, except from a young deer standing on the other side of the river staring at him with big eyes. He heard no more, but the calmness of his heart was forever gone.
* * *
Marion stood by her window when she heard his voice in her heart. Right then and there she knew she would never be able to marry anyone else. She would rather live alone for the rest of her life.
She quickly turned to face the woman asking.
Marion run over and embraced the older woman who had been her nurse and playmate as well as her best friend through her childhood.
"Ah I am so glad to see you again. How are you?"
"I am nothing but fine. I have found myself a wonderful husband and we have got a wonderful daughter who I have named Marion."
"That is very sweet of you Claudia. I am moved."
"I thought that there would be, no name to suite her better. She is just like miss where. Very curious and intense."
"Now miss I am asked to help you find an appropriate dress for the evening. Follow me please."
"Sit down my dear," her father showed her to the chair next to him.
"Unfortunately your fiancé were not able to show up until tomorrow. So you will have to wait to see him until dinner tomorrow."
"My fiancé? Am I already engaged?"
"Well, not officially, but you will be, soon enough."
His words made Marion loose all her appetite. As soon as she had got a chance, she ran to her room and fell crying on the bed.
Soon there was a knock on the door and Claudia entered the room.
"Lady Marion? Not to cry miss. There is no need. He will be here by tomorrow."
"Yes he will! That is why I cry!"
"It is Robert of Locksley, am I right? Follow my advice miss and forget all about that boy. He is an outlaw, definitely not suitable for miss. This fiancé of yours is very wealthy and will be a good husband for miss."
"How can I forget about the boy who stole my heart over ten years ago and have held it since?"
"Miss has to. Miss has no use for him. He is as good as dead already. When Prince Johns soldiers find him they will kill him immediately, you know that."
"What if they do not?"
"They will, trust me miss. Every outlaw will be found and killed sooner or later. Besides you do not know weather you are still in his heart. He probably forgot about you as soon as you left England. Now miss should get her beauty sleep. Remember: fiancé is coming tomorrow. Then we are to be good-looking then, aren’t we?"
Marion just keeps staring at the person she thought was her friend. She has never felt more betrayed in her whole life.
"Leave me, is all she manages to say. Just leave me. I do not want you anywhere near me. Go."
She turns away.
"Lady Marion, be reasonable..."
Claudia gets up and leaves the room in silence. This is when Marion decides, she have to find Robin. She needs him.
Early next morning she goes to get her horse in the stable and she does not return until late in the afternoon. She dresses in a dress that is not even close to suiting her, leaves her hair un-brushed and walks down to the dining room. When she enters there is a man talking to her father. She does not pay him much notice, but as her father introduces her she feels all the blood leave her face.
"Sir Gordon this is my daughter Marion. Marion this is your fiancé sir Gordon."
She can not do nothing but stare, first at her father, then at the man standing right next to her. He has to be twice her age and with small, mean eyes, that looks at her as a piece of meat at a market. A distant memory slowly climbs into her mind. Was it not Sir Gordon who has had four young wives that all has disappeared and never been found again? She gives her father a last look and the she leaves the room. No way she is going to marry that man!
That night she makes her decision. She has to go. She has to go now! Her luggage is still standing packed in the corner of her room. It is not much. Not more than she can take with her. Quickly she repacked it all into saddlebags. Then she sneaked down to the kitchen and took some food for the journey. She left a note outside her father’s door and as the sun slowly rose she mounted her heavy loaded horse and left her former home without a glimpse back.
She knew pretty well where he should be right now. She had been to all the villages nearby and got all the information she needed. But still she knew it would be hard to find him. There for she tried to fallow the way her heart told her to go. She knew that it would lead her to him.
Much later, when it was already dark, she found an Inn and decided to stay there. She slept in the stable, next to her horse. Everything she owned was packed on it and she did not want to loose anything. As she waited for the sleep to come, she thought of what her new life would be, she came to think about Robins cause. To protect the people from the tyrant Prince John and make their life as good as possible until King Richard came back from the crusades. That was good. During this day she had seen a lot of the miserable life many of the people in the small villages lived and her heart ached to help them. But first she had to find Robin.
After one and a half days searching she reached a small village just outside Sherwood Forrest. As soon as she rode into it, she felt that she had found him. She could feel the presence of his heart calling for hers. Tense but convinced, she dismounted her horse and led it by the hand through the crowd on the main street. She stopped a lady and asked her who was Robin Hood. The lady pointed towards a tall, well-trained good-looking man with thick dark hair. Marion just stared at the man. Was that the same skinny teenager she left two years ago? She was so shocked she even forgot to thank the lady. When the shock finally had left her mind she tied her horse to a pole and then she slowly walked through the crowd, towards him. She did not stop until she was right next to him. He stood with his back towards her.
"That’s me," he said, turned around and froze. He stared at her without blinking, as he could not believe his own eyes.
"Yes Robin, it is me."
He looked amused and he pulled her to his chest in a warm embrace.
"Marion," he whispered, "You came back."
"I did," she answered, holding him just as tight as he held her.
When he released her from his embrace he had a big smile on his face.
"How come you came back?"
"My father sent for me. But I would rather join you than participate in his plans."
"Yes. So please Robin can I become one of you?"
"Do you want to become an outlaw?"
"If I get to fight for justice by your side."
"Live in Sherwood Forrest in a hut? No servants, no nothing?"
"Yes. Robin, I have been the lady-in-waiting to the Queen of Aquitaine, Eleanor, for two years. I was even offered an opportunity to become an Amazon if I wanted to. I am used to some discomfort."
"Then you are welcome to join us."
He smiled towards her. Suddenly a huge, blonde man showed up behind Robin.
"Well, Robin when are you to introduce Tuck and me to this fair lady?"
"I’m sorry Little John. Little John this is Marion Fitzwalter, a childhood friend of mine. Marion, this is John Little, known as Little John. And this is Friar Tuck our friar and healer."
The second man was much shorter than the first and was quite thick, but with a friendly look on his face. They both greeted her warmly.
"Well, Robin said after a while, we better get going if we are to reach the camp before it gets dark. I suppose you have a horse Marion."
"Of course I do. She stands right over there."
"Good. Go and get her. I’ll wait here."
All the way back to the camp, through Sherwood Forrest, Marion rode by Robins side.
"So who was it that your father thought you should marry? Was it someone special or was it just the fact that he wanted you to marry?"
"There was someone. He had picked a man for me."
"Who? Can we expect this man to come and look for you?"
"His name is Sir Gordon and I would not be surprised if he did."
"More problems," he muttered.
"Sir Gordon has already caused us quite a lot of trouble, now there will be even more."
"So you think I should have married him and become his fifth wife that disappears and never will be found again, rather than to runaway and save myself?"
"Of course not Marion! I never want anything to happen to you, but we’ll have to expect a fight with Sir Gordons men pretty soon I’m afraid."
As soon as they rode in to the camp, Robin ordered that a hut should be put up for Marion and then he showed her around and introduced her to the people that lived there.
"Robin, I am impressed. I had no idea there was such a big camp inside the forest."
"Of course you didn’t. No one, who shouldn’t, knows. Come on. I’ll show you my favourite place."
He took her hand and led her out from the camp, down to the bank of a slowly running river.
"Whenever I need to relax, this is where I go."
"It is beautiful."
He nodded, but suddenly he looked serious. He stood right in front of her. So close she could see all the different shades of brown in his eyes. Having him so close made her knees weak, but she forced herself to stand up.
"Marion, there is one thing I need to ask you."
"This might sound ridiculous, but as I sat here, one evening about three or four nights ago, I suddenly heard a voice call my name. I looked around, but saw no one. Then it called again, inside of me. It asked if I could hear it and where I was. Marion, it was your voice."
"I know. Last Monday, when I had just returned to my father, I called you in my heart Robin. And you answered me."
"You heard that?"
"I did. It made me realise I could not stay and get married to someone else. I had to find you."
"How did you find me?"
"I followed my heart. Everyone told me that I should forget about you. That you now were an outlaw that was not worthy of my heart. That you had found someone else. That you had forgotten about me as soon as I left England. Tell me that is not true."
He looked down on her with warm, gentle eyes for a long time before he answered.
"No, that is not true Marion. I could never forget about you. I could never love someone else."
His fingers stroke her hair.
"And I never doubted that Robin. Just as I never doubted my feelings for you."
Slowly the distance between them decreased and his lip came close to hers. He kissed so softly, she almost did not feel it. Then he looked at her as to see if she approved or not. What he saw must have satisfied him because soon he leaned forward again and this time she answered his kisses. She felt his arms around her waist and buried her fingers in his soft hair. Suddenly he stopped.
"What is it?"
She was confused.
"Marion we can’t."
"Why not? Robin we..."
"Marion I can’t marry you until this fight has reached its end, until King Richard returns."
"Robin that is okay."
"No! It’s not. You deserve a husband. But as much as I want to be that husband I can’t. Every day I’m doing this I’m risking my life. If I married you I would risk making you a widow every day. I don’t want to do that Marion."
Marion just stared at him.
"Marion I’m sorry, but I think it’s better if we keep it low until King Richard returns, but then nothing on earth will come between us."
He could see the disappointment in her eyes.
"Will you still stay with me Marion?"
"Robin, whatever happens I will always be at your side. To fight for you, to support you, to be you friend, to love you."
"Marion... You’re making this so hard for me, you know that?"
He leaned forward once more and kissed her before he let her go and gave her a smile.
"I think we better go back. I can smell the dinner in the air."
And so they walked together back to the camp, unknowing of all the adventures that waited for them.
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