Suddenly it is Midsummer and a huge festival is planned in the fairgrounds outside Nottingham’s walls. Since she is a Lady and the daughter of the former Sheriff and
after all a prisoner, it will be expected, she points out, that she will attend the day’s celebrations. The Sheriff grimaces, but thanks to Robin’s interventions as of late, he can ill afford to slight the shire’s gentry in even this small way, and he agrees – provided of course that she is accompanied by a retinue of guards for her escort. Guy does not like it, she can tell, but then she cares little for his likes and dislikes these days.
So there she is, baking under the hot June sun, but outside at least (at last ). The music and the bustle and the stream of people moving to and fro, happy and carefree for the time being, invigorates her, and reminds her of what she is fighting for. She waits, smiling pleasantly at her guards, until a brawl near one of the pie stands draws their attention away and then there he is, in a swirl of cloak and she is running, twirling, hand in hand until they duck behind a hay shed and are lost from sight. She breathes in and for this short little while, can feel free.
“Robin.” She laughs and throws her arms around his neck and it is: Kiss “I thought-“ Kiss “-I’d have to wait-“ Kiss “-Until the sun went down.”
“Had a bit of trouble getting in the entrance.” He growls against her lips, beard tickling her chin in a way that is just beginning to become familiar. “Seems someone’s put up warnings about us.”
She is tempted to retort with something marginally witty – or at least sarcastic – but his hands are pressing her closer to him and his hair is hot between her fingertips and it’s been weeks . She’s embarrassed to admit it, but she’s missed him. Before she knows it, they are tumbling into the hay itself and his knee is pressing between her legs and for a moment she thinks ‘why not?’ Selfishly, she is tired of worrying about her father, England, and of constant plots of the Sheriff and Guy. She just wants Robin (now, now, now some part of her cries). But in her heart she knows better. There will be a time, but it is not today.
“Robin…” she says, and presses a hand to his shoulder, and he sighs, and rests his head on her neck, but does not push further.
After a moment, he rolls unto his back, one arm folded beneath his head, and the other curving around her back as she shifts to be closer to him. “There was one summer,” he says, and his eyes close on the memory, “where my father found you soundly beating me at swordplay in the hayfield.” (I always did, she thinks, for a while at least) “And he told me afterwards that I should never let go of a lady like that.”
Dimly she remembers Robin’s father: a kind man with the same crinkly-eyed smile. He kept nuts hidden in his pockets that she and Robin would pour through excitedly to find.
“I sometimes wonder what he would make of me now?”
Marian doesn’t think this question is entirely directed at her, but she leans across his chest to meet his eyes and answers it anyway. “Your father was a good man, Robin, he was kind to his people.” Her own father, filling in the gaps her childhood memory had lost. “He would have been proud.”
“Proud?” His eyebrows raise, teasing slightly, but also that same need (always there) to be reaffirmed.
“Yes.” She looks away and begins to draw patterns on his chest. “We are doing the right thing.”
“I know.” He nods into her hair. “But it isn’t always easy, is it?”
Her eyes close. “No.”
The sun is truly beginning to set now, and she knows that she can only make up a reasonable excuse for her absence for a little while longer. So for the short time remaining to them, she simply holds unto him tighter and hopes for that time when it will last.