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Chapter 1: Giants Fall


“Don't you be afraid
Of giants in your way
With God you know that anything's possible
So step into the fight
He's right there by your side”

-Francesca Battistelli

 

 

            Aria was startled awake when a bucket of cold water was thrown on her. “What the hell was that for?” she exclaimed, as she sat up and wiped her wet hair from her face, she saw a snickering Sheriff and a smirking Guy on the other side of the bars. In a flash everything came back to her, the fight between the gang, and Guy. How she had misjudged an attack from Guy, which had resulted in her being taken as a hostage.

            “Good you are finally awake, now we can talk about how you will tell me what I want to know” The Sheriff said to Aria.

Aria just looked at The Sheriff in confusion, “Tell you about what?”

            “Robin Hood of course! What else would I want to know about, how to cook a chicken, or what the weather is like? A clue, no!” The Sheriff replied.

“You already know so much about him. What could I possibly tell you that would be of any use to the two of you?” Aria stated, like she would tell that vile man anything!

            “Flattery will get you no where outlaw” The Sheriff snarled, “Now tell me what I want to know before I loose my temper.” The Sheriff turned towards Guy before continuing, “This is why women will never amount to anything Gisborne, they think flattery will save them” he gestured towards Aria.
“Point taken m’lord” Guy stated with a look of indifference on his face.          

            Aria tried to keep her face passive at the blatant jab towards her sexes intelligence, but something must have shown through as Guy looked at her and discreetly raised his eyebrows in amusement.

           

            “Now then woman, tell me where your precious leaders hideout is, where he plans on striking next, so on and so forth.” The Sheriff asked Aria again, trying not to loose his patience with the lack of intelligence this outlaw was showing.

 

“Do you honestly expect be to betray my family? A clue, Sheriff, no! Honestly I would have thought you would have figured this out by now, we will NEVER betray each other. But then again, men like you don’t seem able to grasp the concept of loyalty. Find your information elsewhere, as you won’t be getting it from me!” Aria stated definitely, crossing her arms over her chest and glaring at The Sheriff. She was half tempted to tell him to fuck off but figured it would only land her in more trouble, so Arian decided to keep her mouth shut.

            Guy had to give her props; the only other woman to stand up to The Sheriff was Marian. It was quite amazing to see The Sheriff flustered all because of some woman. Well, not just a woman, but an outlaw he thought to him self.

 

            The Sheriff smirked at Aria’s answer, causing her to question as to what could be so funny. “I was rather hoping you’d say something like that. It makes my job so much more fun!” The Sheriff clapped his hands and grinned like a little child before continuing to speak. “I have been wondering what to give the people of Nottingham for a Christmas gift; and now I know, a public punishment. For their enjoyment you see, and of course mine. You shall be publicly flogged in the square in two days time. Enjoy your stay girlie, Gisborne and I have plans to make in your honor.” Then, gesturing towards Guy to follow him, left the prison.

 

            ‘Publicly flogged’? Aria thought to herself, once the men left, shuddering at the thought of everything that might include. She knew that when men were flogged they usually wore only their breaches and were chained, or tied, to a pole while the torturer choose a whip and applied the “appropriate amount of lashes” to the man.

Aria had told Robin not to worry about her, and to not attempt in rescueing her. Could she even bear the thought of the man she loved risking his life to save her’s? No. Never! This was a situation she had to resolve on her own. Aria wasn’t sure she would be able to survive a flogging planned by The Sheriff, she needed strength and a clear head. Her emotions would do her no good right now, taking a deep breath and exhaling, she bowed her head and started to pray.

            “Dear Lord, please give me the strength and courage I need to face this trial I am to go through. I know I can’t do this on my own, please give me the knowledge I need in order to over come this. I know you are always with me and never give us more than we can handle, we might bend but we won’t break. Please don’t let Robin do anything rash and keep him safe above all else. Amen.”

 

            Aria felt her self-calming down and a sense of peace falling over her. This was all in God’s hands and she needed to have faith that everything would work it’s self out. A song lyric came to her at that moment that talked about God having a bigger picture in mind that we (his children) couldn’t see. We don’t have to change the world, but just trust in him. We needed to remember that he is our creator and is working out his plan though us, with this thought Aria set to devising a plan of escape.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2: At The Beginning

 

We were strangers, starting out on a journey

Never dreaming, what we’d have to go through

Now here we are, I’m suddenly standing

At the beginning with you.”

- Richard Marx

 

 

            Gisborne wasn’t really paying attention as The Sheriff rambled on about how he was planning on trapping hood at the event in two days time. Guy had been around since day one of operation “Capture Hood” had been put into effect, and it had always been the same old plan and it always ended up in failure. What Guy was more focused on was this strange feeling of guilt that seemed to be creeping it’s way into his heart. He wasn’t sure why this feeling was present; after all he was the one doing the right thing. He had captured Robin’s woman, who was also an outlaw, and was wanted for her crimes against the crown.

            ‘But she is a woman and are her crimes really crimes that are deserving of such a punishment? Think of Marian, would you allow something like this to happen to her?’ a voice seemed to whisper to him.

‘Of course not!’ Marian was his world and he would die before letting something like this happen to her. ‘Besides she’s not in league with Hood. Yes, they may have been childhood friends, but Marian is a smart woman and she wouldn’t get involved with an outlaw like Robin, again.’ She had promised him that when she agreed to stay in Nottingham with him.’ Guy argued with the voice.

           

            Gisborne figured it was all the stress from the recent events that caused him to hear this voice in his head. Nothing that a few drinks at the local tavern and/or a hard ride on his stallion, Donahue, couldn’t fix he mused to himself. Gisborne was brought back to the present when he heard The Sheriff yell his name. Slightly annoyed that The Sheriff was still going on about his plan of capturing Robin Hood, he reluctantly turned his attention back to The Sheriff.

            “What was the question again Sheriff?” Guy asked, upon seeing The Sheriff’s annoyed expression.

“Why must I always repeat my self to you Gisborne? I asked if you would be ready with your men in two days time and have everything ready for my little party” The Sheriff reiterated to Guy.

            “Of course m’lord Sheriff. Everything will be ready in time, just leave it to me.” Guy replied, itching to get out The Sheriff’s company.

“It had better be or you will be joining the outlaw front and center. I do not tolerate failure, especially from one in your position. Now get out of my sight before I decide to throw you in the cell with her” The Sheriff threatened.

 

            Gisborne had to keep from rolling his eyes, if there was one thing he had learned over the years of working for The Sheriff, was that the threats made against him were empty ones. Not once had Vaisey actually followed through on any of the threats that had been made over the years since they had been working together.

“As you like Sheriff. I will go start the preparations for your festival at once” Gisborne stated. He turned and left the room, trying not to appear happy that he was leaving.

 

~/~

 

            “…and make sure there are extra guards at the platform where the punishment is to be given. Hood will no doubt try and rescue his companion before we even start. I also want extra men at the entrance of the dungeon. No one is to visit the outlaw without my permission, is that clear?” Guy asked the captain of the guard.

“Yes sir! No one will get near the girl while I’m in charge.” The Captain responded with a salute

            “Just see that that remains true. If something were to happen to the outlaw, your loss of a job would be the least of your worries” Gisborne stated, dismissing the captain with a wave of his hand. Turning his attention towards the outlaw, and walking towards her cell.

 

            “Enjoying your stay so far outlaw” Gisborne asked as he approached the cell.

“You know I do have a name, and it isn’t ‘woman’ or ‘outlaw’, Sir Guy” Aria said, annoyed that no one seemed to call her by her name, but only by her current occupation or her sex. ‘Honestly, how would they like it if I just called them “man” when I addressed them?’ She further thought to her self.

            “Everyone has a name, woman, but if you are called by your given name, or not, is of no concern to me. I will address you as I see fit, and unless I’m wrong you have no say in this matter currently” Guy continued baiting her, he couldn’t help it, it was in his nature to be rude. He paused waiting to see what the outlaw’s response would be, and he thankfully didn’t have to wait long; however, it wasn’t the response he had been expecting.

 

“Has it been decided on how many lashes I am to receive at this ‘festival’ ” Aria asked, her voice slightly breaking, giving away her façade of being unbreakable.

            “That is not something that has been discussed yet. However, know this outlaw, you will not be shown mercy because of your sex, in fact you will be treated harsher than a man might have been because you are a women.” Gisborne explained, watching Aria’s face for any hint of fear with this new knowledge she had been given. Up until a few moments ago Guy had noticed that Aria had been able to hide her emotions from him and The Sheriff. He had figured it was just a matter of time before she cracked under the pressure just like every other prisoner did. Then seeing the flash of fear in her eyes only confirmed his theory.

 

            Guy then did something that surprised himself as much as it surprised Aria. Guy looked around the room, checking to make sure no one was within ear shot of them, and then walked closer to Aria’s cell and spoke quietly. “I might be able to convince The Sheriff to lessen your punishment if you become my spy. You give me the information I want on various happenings of Hood, and in return I can protect you from The Sheriff.”

            ‘What was he doing?’ This was nothing like the Guy she had come to know over the years. It almost sounded as if he wanted to help her, and was doing so the only way he knew how. Aria mulled over this information for a few moments before speaking, she wanted Guy to understand where she was coming from on this. She felt that she owed him that much if indeed he was trying to help her.

 

            “Sir Guy, while working for you I’m sure has its advantages I could never betray someone I love. Someone who has shown me kindness, accepted me as I am, given me a home and a family when I had none all those years ago. Besides, don’t you have Allan for that?” She motioned Guy to come closer to her, as what she was about to say was for his ears alone. Guy complied and came closer to the cell, and waited with baited breath for her to continue.

“It would be like me asking you to betray Marian, to spy on her comings and goings, reporting everything back to me. Giving me the power to do what I wished with the said information.” Aria finished speaking and drew away to sit back against the corner of the cell, figuring there was nothing left to say now between them.

 

            Guy stood there seething in rage, his thoughts racing around inside his head. He wanted to kill the outlaw right then and there, how dare she bring his beloved Marian into this! He knew he could kill her and no one would blame him for it, for he was known to be a ruthless killer; for he had killed people for simply looking at him wrong. Or he could easily frame one of the stupid men who worked for him, he could say they left a dangerous prisoners door unlocked and the said prisoner escaped and choose Aria as his victim. Interrupting his plans almost as soon as they started, was the voice from earlier in the day, “Gisborne, ‘I approve of the godly, but hate the wicked and those who love to do violence.’ (Psalm 11:5 NELTB)* I know what is in your heart and violence seeks you not the other way around, so be wise and judge with your heart.”

 

            Guy growled softly in frustration, he did not need some voice telling him what he should or should not do with this woman. He was a man after all and women were merely property. They were to be dealt with as deemed fit, his mind reasoned with him. His heart however seemed to have a different idea, telling him that the outlaw had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. He should show her compassion and not condemn her for some fictitious charge that The Sheriff had pinned on her.

Guy was brought back to reality when he heard Aria coughing and seeming to gasp for air. He grabbed the nearest torch from the wall and held it close to the cell so he could better see the outlaw, what he saw didn’t surprise him. Her clothes were still damp from earlier this afternoon, and the said clothes weren’t exactly made for keeping the chill from the dungeon out. Aria hunched over as the coughs continued to rack her body. He called for the keys to the cell to be brought to him as well as a bucket of drinking water. Once he had the keys he opened the cell door and walked in towards Aria, she tried to shrink away from him but the coughing fit kept Aria immonile. She looked up at Guy in suspicion as he handed her a cup of water.

            “I am not going to strike you if that is what you fear from me. I bring you water so that you can quite that incessant cough you seem to have developed, nothing more and nothing less” Guy said, a little bit more harshly than he had intended to. This was why he gave up on being nice to most people; he always came off as rude or indifferent when he sincerely tried. Dipping the cup back into the water bucket he handed it to her, urging her to drink more. She complied but did not take her eyes off him, not fully trusting his intentions.

 

After the coughing subsided, Aria handed the cup back to Guy, thanking him in the process.

 

            “I will leave the water here, not because I care about your health mind you, but because the jailer will complain to me if you are coughing non-stop over the next few days. I’d rather not waste time listening to him complain as I have enough to do over the next few day’s all thanks to you.” Guy said, trying to cover his random act of kindness. “I will be back in the morning to see if you have changed your mind.” Guy stood up and exited her cell, making sure it was locked, leaving behind a confused Aria. Guy then went to find the jailer to give the keys back, who he found sitting at a table near the entrance of the dungeon, appearing to be slacking off judging by the surprised look on his face when Guy appeared.

           

            “The outlaw is to be kept in solitary confinement until I say otherwise. Is this understood?” Guy asked the jailer. The jailer simply nodded in response, too afraid of Guy and the intimidating figure he cast to utter any sound.

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 3: Love

 

“I won't give up on You
Cuz You don't give up on me
Going all out for each other
We can make it last forever”

-Joshua Micah

 

           Marian was busy preparing for a few days stay in the forest with Robin and his gang, when there came a knock upon her door followed by Sir Guy’s voice, “Marian, are you in there? It’s Guy.”

Trying not to panic she replied, in what she dearly hoped, was a calm voice, “Yes, but give me just a moment please!” She quickly smoothed her dress and tried to still her heart as it was racing a mile a minuet; Something that seemed to happen quiet often when Sir Guy was near her. Marian walked to the door and opened it genuinely happy to see the man before her, but also curious as to what could be so important that he came to see her this late in the evening.

            “Sir Guy. This is a surprise, to what do I owe to the pleasure of your company?” She asked, praying that he could not hear how loud her heart was beating.

“May I come in? There is something I wish to discuss with you that would be best kept from prying eyes and ears.” He asked gesturing towards the inside of her room.

            “Ummm…” Marian bit her bottom lip in uncertainty, how would she explain her half packed bag?

Misinterpreting her hesitation for annoyance he tried to plead in his own fashion. He wasn’t sure how much longer his idea would hold out in his mind before he decided against it all together. “My intentions are not un chivalrous if that is what you are concerned about Marian. Know that I would never put your reputation at risk.” Guy tried to explain to her.

            ‘Oh Guy, that is the least of my worries around you! If you only knew the depth of my feelings for you.’ Marian thought to her self, before responding to Guy, who was still standing in front of her waiting on a reply. “I never doubted you, my room is simply a mess right now and I am embarrassed to let you see it in such a state. However, if we are unable to go elsewhere you may enter, but you must agree not to judge me for it.” She stated as she opened her door wider to let him pass.

 

            This was just the excuse Gisborne had wanted to hear, this must be a sign that his plan was foolish and he was out of his mind for even thinking it could work. He would simply tell Marian that it wasn’t that important, and then he would excuse himself from her and his intrusion would be forgotten. Gisborne replied before he even knew what he was doing “I will not judge you, for there is no where else to go that we would not be noticed, and raise suspicion.”

Gisborne could not believe the words that came out of his mouth as Marian ushered him into her room. It was as if someone else was speaking for him, he did not understand what was happening to him, he did not have the time to ponder this though as Marian was now looking at him expectantly. ‘Now how to explain my idea to her without giving away my true intentions’ Gisborne mused to himself.

            “Tell her the truth, for ‘…the truth will set you free.’ “ (John 8:32 KJV), the now annoying and familiar voice coached him.

“The truth? The truth would frighten her half to death at the very least, most likely though, she would hate me, and vow to never speak to me again. Then where would I be? I’ve worked so hard to gain her trust, and shield her from the horrors I’ve committed in my life, I cannot risk loosing her! I could not survive if she were not in my life!” He stated, wishing this voice would leave him the hell alone. It kept appearing at the most inopportune times and contradicting what he had learned over the years.

            ‘ “Fear not; for I am with you…” ‘ (Isaiah 41:10 NKJV), the voice spoke again.

‘Who are you?!’ Gisborne demanded of the voice. After receiving no reply he turned his attention back to the task at hand.

 

            “The Sheriff has a prisoner in the dungeons, an outlaw from Robin ooHoods gang. She is to be publicly punished in two days time. Her clothes though offer her little to no protection against the damp and the cold, and it wouldn’t do for her to fall ill before her punishment can be carried out. You know I cannot be seen giving her, or any other prisoner, a cloak or food. The jailer has been instructed that no one is to see the outlaw with out my permission, but when there is a change in the guard, prisoners are often left unsupervised for periods of time. If one were to sneak into the dungeons, that would be the time” Guy explained to Marian and waited for a sign that she understood what he was asking of her.

            Marians eyes widened in shock at what Sir Guy was telling her. She had never thought Guy capable of asking for help in anything, especially a female outlaw from his arch nemesis gang. She wondered whom it was they had captured, Gisborne had said ‘her’ so it had to either be Jaq or Aria, but she would find out soon enough she supposed. The more important matter at hand was finding out when the next change in guard was going to be so she could give the needed items to her fellow companion, without raising suspicion.

 

“Guy, what form of punishment is the outlaw to receive?” Marian asked.

            “One that is appropriate for her crimes according to The Sheriff. I will say no more on this subject, Marian, as I have all ready said more than I should have.” He stated to her. ‘But you always seemed to have that effect on me, didn’t you, no matter how much I tried to resist you.’ Gisborne thought as he turned away from the woman he loved and started towards the door, knowing he had crossed the point of no return. There was no going back now, what was done was done. Only time would tell if he would later regret his choice. As he opened Marians door to leave he paused and turned around, walking back towards her. He reached out and cupped her face lovingly and kissed her before pulling away, “Be careful Marian, if you are caught I do not know that I will be able to save you.” Then without giving Marian a chance to respond, he pulled his hands away from her face and turned, walking out the door.

           

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: Quit Talking


“No one can tell me what's next
Or just how much time I got left
Hourglass half full of sand
But I know it's all in Your hands”

-Aaron Cole

 

           

            “Robin, why haven’t we gone back for Aria?” Much asked his master.

“We can’t just barge in there without a plan, that’s what The Sheriff wants, you know that Much. He knows that I would do anything to keep this family together, and he will use that to his advantage knowing him. I’m working on a plan, I just need a little more time, by morning I should have all the details worked out. In the mean time, you and everyone else, should try and get some sleep; it’s been a long day for us all.” Robin explained to the gang.

            What wasn’t said though was the fact that he felt like something was wrong with the whole situation. The Sheriff by now would have sent some sort of messenger with a ransom note. However, nothing had arrived and it had been a full day since Aria was captured. Robin sighed in defeat, there was nothing else he could really do at this point expect to try and get some sleep. As he lied down and closed his eyes his mind replayed the scene of Aria’s capture over and over again, taunting him that he could have saved her that he should have saved her, and yet he hadn’t.

 

            “Hood! Drop your weapons or your whore dies.” Guy had yelled.

Robin’s heart dropped as he saw a dagger being held up against Aria’s throat. Robin wasn’t stupid and knew Guy could follow through with his threat, should he chose to. Robin, along with his men, had dropped their weapons, obeying Gisbornes orders.

            “Wise move Hood. Now get on the ground with your hands on the back of your head” Guy ordered.

Robin slightly hesitated trying to access the situation and to see if there was anyway he could safely get Aria out Gisbornes arms.

            Gisborne, seeing Robin hesitate, dragged the dagger across Aria’s neck, pressing just hard enough to cause a line of blood to appear. “I will follow through with my threat Hood do not push me!” Gisborne yelled as he tightened his grip on Aria.

            Aria, becoming concerned for Robin’s safety, knew she had to act quickly before Robin did something that would get him killed. She pleaded with him, “Robin, do as he say’s please! Don’t try to be the hero this time; everything will be fine, you’ll see. I’ll come back to you, I always do.”

            Guy seizing this moment of distraction hit Aria upon the back of the head, rendering her unconscious. In one swift move he threw her over his saddle before he himself climbed onto his horse and started riding away in the direction of the castle. Just before Gisborne was out of ear shot he turned around and shouted at Robin, “You loose Hood, remember this day. The day you were unable to save the person that mattered the most to you!”

 

~/~

            The next morning Guy, true to his word, came to visit Aria in her cell. He watched her for a few moments while trying to get his thoughts together. He almost felt what could be described as remorse as he saw her tiny frame shiver from the cold even though she had a cloak on her now. The dungeons weren’t a place for a woman to be, let alone one who looked so helpless right now. Gone was the fierce and proud warrior he had seen in the past, she had been replaced with someone who was vulnerable. Guy figured he had been standing there long enough in thought, he wanted answers and he was not known for being a patient man. Guy cleared his throat hoping to wake Aria, and after a few moments of nothing happening he spoke in a harsh tone “Woman, wake up!”

            Aria awoke with a start as she looked around her cell in a panic only to realize it was Guy. For many people this would not have eased their fear only increased it; however, Aria had felt there was nothing to fear from this man himself. He had not ordered her flogging, he had simply been doing his job and following orders from The Sheriff.

She slowly got up, her body acing from sleeping on the stone floor, combined with the events of yesterday and a little midnight encounter. Aria limped her way over to where Gisborne was standing in front of her cell door, tugging the cloak closer to her body in an attempt to still her shaking hands and hide the bruises on her arms.

            “You came back, why?” Aria asked Guy before he could speak. She hadn’t expected him to come, she had figured he would forget and she wouldn’t see him till the day of her punishment.

“I came to ask if you had reconsidered my offer from yesterday…what happened to your face?” Gisborne asked, as the flame from the torch danced across Aria’s bruised face.

            “Nothing I couldn’t handle. Besides it doesn’t matter, it’s not like I am under your protection.” Aria stated with a shrug of her shoulders.

“Come here and let me get a closer look at you.” Guy demanded in a gruff voice. “As far as protection goes, you are my responsibility until the festival. I never ask for something twice, now tell me what happened” Guy demanded of Aria, as he grabbed her chin and turned her face side to side to assess the damage. It looked as if someone had used her face as a punching bag. She had what appeared to be a black eye and hand shaped bruises on her neck. She could have more injuries, but these were simply the ones visible to Guy at this point.

 

            Guy had to struggle to keep his anger from showing, he had put her in solitary confinement to keep her safe, he even specifically made it known that no one was to see her with out his permission. He had done everything, short of locking her in his chambers to keep her safe. It looked like it had not been enough; he would have to rethink his plan apparently. Why were women always so much trouble? He thought to him self as he finished examining Aria’s face.

            Aria spoke once Guy released his grip on her face “Let’s just say there was a difference of opinion on what ‘No’ meant with one of your guards last night.” She gave a little laugh before a coughing fit took hold of her. After a few moments she was able to catch her breath and continue speaking “As I said, nothing I couldn’t handle.”

 

            “I will speak to the jailer about this, as there were strict orders that no one was to come see you with out my permission” Guy had felt the need to explain to the outlaw. “You still have not answered my original question, woman, and I grow tired of waiting. Have you, or have you not, reconsidered my offer? I will not offer this again, nor will I come down here to check on you.” He asked, hoping she would take the offer so he could protect her and then maybe he would stop feeling guilty.

“I have thought it over, my answer stays the same, no.” Aria replied, wishing he would just drop the subject already.

            “So be it then. Just remember if things go wrong, I will not interfere as you had your chance at protection. My last piece of advice for you is this, The Sheriff might come down for a visit later today, you need to either hide the cloak or make a reasonable excuse as to how you got it.” Guy said in a voice full of disappointment, turning and leaving Aria alone in the suffocating darkness, pondering on what had just happened.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: Voices


“Do what you can with all you have, wherever you are.”

-Theodore Roosevelt

 

            Robin had just finished explaining his plan of rescue to the gang when Marian came galloping in on her horse. Before he even had a chance to open his mouth Marian franticly started speaking, “The Sheriff has Aria locked in the dungeon. He plans on having her publicly flogged at the festival tomorrow; as far as I know it has not been decided on how many lashings she is to be given; however, knowing The Sheriff it will not be a light punishment. We have to get her out of there now, before he decides to do something else to her! I would be surprised if she hasn’t already fallen ill. When I snuck her a cloak and food last night, her face was so white and her hands were like ice, I was frightened for her Robin.”

“Marian, slow down and start from the beginning” Robin stated, trying to make sense of what he had just heard.

 

            Marian dismounted her horse and proceeded to tell everyone how she came to find out about Aria being in the dungeons, via Guy, and his strange behavior towards Aria. She explained how it had been his idea to sneak Aria a cloak and food. Once Marian had finished explaining the events, she waited for Robin’s response.

            Everyone just stared at each other; they couldn’t believe what they had just heard! Gisborne, their sworn enemy, was helping their comrade whom he had taken hostage the day before. Why would he do this, it just didn’t make any sense. Allan was the first to speak after Marian’s explanation, “Look I’m not tryin’ to be funny, but this doesn’t sound like the Gisborne we know. How do we know he isn’t stringing you along Marian, you know, to make him self-look good in your eye’s. What does he gain from helping Aria? It’s not like it’s a secret, that the two of you fancy each other.”

Marian blushed, she hadn’t thought that the feelings she had for Guy were so obvious!

            “Guy’s not that clever Allan, no offence Marian. I believe what Marian says is true, but there is no time to ponder the reason behind his intentions right now. We have to focus on getting Aria out of there before this festival” Robin stated.

 

~/~

 

            Guy was pacing back and forth in this room. He had hoped to see Marian, but had been informed by her servant that she had gone to see family in the next town over and might be gone for the next few days. This did not sit well with Gisborne; he needed to see Marian, as she was the one stable thing in his life recently while everything else was chaotic.

            The Sheriff had been in an awfully cheerful mood when he had gone to report the outlaws physical and mental state earlier this afternoon to him. When Guy had mentioned that one of the guards had used her as a punching bag, The Sheriff hadn’t seemed surprised in the least. This had confirmed Guy’s suspicion that The Sheriff had planned on the guard visiting the outlaw. Also weighing on his mind was that there had been no rescue attempt made by Hood, and they were nearing the end of day two with the outlaw being imprisoned. Usually Hood wouldn’t even wait half a day to rescue his comrades; maybe he had misjudged this woman’s importance to Hood. That couldn’t be right he thought to himself. He remembered what the woman had said to Robin “I’ll come back to you, I always do.” That did not sound like a statement for just anyone, so why had Hood not shown up?

            Gisborne pinched the bridge of his nose as he could feel a headache starting from the stress of everything. He honestly wasn’t sure how much more he could take of this. He already felt like he was standing on the edge, waiting for someone to give the final push and send him toppling over. This was why he needed Marian, for she was the only one who could bring him back from the ledge, who could save him from his demons. She would bring him the peace his soul longed for, he was sure of it.

            “Gisborne, Marian can never sate your thirst, only I can. ‘Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest’ “ (Matthew 11:28 NIV). The now all too familiar voice said.

Guy leaned his head upon a pillar of his bed as he replied to the voice and sighed, “I don’t know how much longer I can keep doing this. I’ve done so many things that haunt me at night, giving me no rest at night. This incident with the outlaw has become almost more than I can bear. I feel it would be easier if…” Gisborne was unable to finish his reply to the voice, as there came a knock upon his door.

            “Sir Guy? The Sheriff requires your presence in the dungeon.” A guard said through the door.

“Tell him I will be there shortly.” Gisborne snapped at the guard. Was there no end to this? He just wanted a few minutes of peace, was that too much to ask for?

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: Punishment

 

“Sometimes I don't think I'm gonna make it.
The world around me a little too weighted.
My shoulders a little too jaded to carry it all on my own.”

-3FOR3

 

 

            “Ahh finally Gisborne, I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show. The rest of you can leave us now.” The Sheriff waved to the small group of guards that were stationed near Aria’s cell. Once the men were gone The Sheriff turned to face Gisborne again and spoke. “ I have been giving some thought to the matter on how our friend over here, “ he gestured towards Aria with out looking at her, “hasn’t given us any information on Hood yet. I came to the realization that we’ve been too lenient with her. I’ve been thinking of ways to help loosen that tongue of hers before the festival tomorrow, and I believe I have the perfect idea. It’s really a win win situation you see Gisborne. I want you to fuck her, this way you finally get laid and I get my information. It’s really quite brilliant if I do say so myself.” The Sheriff finished, looking an awfully lot like the cat that swallowed the canary.

 

“Yes, yes, that sounds---- wait what? My lord Sheriff you can’t be serious about this? Can she not wait for the punishment that she is to receive tomorrow?” Gisborne asked. He had known The Sheriff to be a cruel man, after all he had had peoples tongues cut out before, simply because it amused him; but raping a woman? That seemed extreme even for The Sheriff. Gisborne chanced a glance at Aria and saw the petrified look on the outlaws face. Guy figured The Sheriff was testing his loyalties, but why now and why in this way? What had caused The Sheriff to doubt his loyalties? Guy wondered in alarm. Guy knew that if he refused not only would The Sheriff pick someone else to rape her, but he also would loose everything that he had worked for over the years. He had to tread carefully here and play his cards right or both he and the outlaw would suffer the conesquenses.

 

            “NO! Please Sir Guy don’t do this. Pick any other form of punishment and I’ll accept, but not this, please! Please Sir Guy” Aria finished in a whisper.

 

            Guy steeled his heart, knowing what he must do, and hating himself all the more for it. He silently asked Aria to forgive him for what he was about to do. He tore his gaze away from her and focused his attention on The Sheriff, “As you wish Sheriff, on one condition. I am free to take her to Locksley Manor and return her in the morning after I am finished with her” Gisborne stated.

The Sheriff seemed to think about the request for a moment before speaking “Fine. Just make sure you have all the information that I want in the morning, or I will have a new deputy faster than you can blink; and you will be joining the outlaw at the festival. Do I make myself clear?” The Sheriff demanded of Gisborne.

            “Perfectly” Gisborne replied.

 

~/~

            Before returning to the dungeons, to collect the outlaw and take her to the manor, Gisborne went back to his room for a few things. He wanted to leave Marian a message in case she came back tonight about where she could find him. He didn’t feel safe leaving any detailed information as he felt he was being watched, so he opted for something that would seem innocent enough:

Locksley Manor.

Guy

 

He sealed the note and went to slip it under her door. Standing in front of her door, he looked longingly at it, wishing above all else it was Marian. He had somehow gotten him self into some major trouble, and he needed her presence to make his feeling of shame and guilt disappear for a little while. Running a hand through his hair in frustration he let out a deep sigh. He had better get a move on if he was going to get his task done by the morrow.

~/~

            Gisborne approached the cell Aria was in with rope and the cell key in one hand and one of his heavy cloaks in the other. As he unlocked the cell door he spoke “Put on the cloak, I do not need you for you to freeze to death before we reach the manor, besides you’ve got appointments to keep in the morning.”

“Go to hell you bastard! I thought you could/had changed, but I see I was wrong. It’s true then, a leopard can’t change its spots. I hope you can live with the guilt that will plague you for the rest of your life!” Aria snarled at him. She knew there was little chance of escape now, but that didn’t mean she was going to be compliant about all this. Especially after hearing The Sheriff’s additional plans for her, Aria promised herself that she wouldn’t go down with out a fight.

 

            Aria saw Gisbornes jaw tick at her words, misinterpreting that as a sign of annoyance she continued speaking. “Hit a nerve did I? Good, someone needs to stand up to you and tell you the truth. You’re nothing but a monster, and understand this Sir Guy, Marian won’t love you when she finds out the truth, she won’t want anything to do with a rapist!” She spat at him.

Aria didn’t care anymore who knew the depth of Gisborne and Marian’s relationship. She was going to die, but hell if she was going to take Guy’s secrets to her grave!

            There was a loud thud as Aria landed across the cell from the force of Gisbornes blow to the side of her face. Her head was spinning, her ears were ringing as Gisborne crouched down in front of her and spoke in a low hiss “You will not speak of things you know nothing about. Consider this, a warning. The next time I will not be so gentle in my corrections.” He finished as he traced her split lip with his thumb and then started to bind her hands in front of her. “If I hear one more foul thing from your mouth I will gag you. I would prefer to cut your tongue out but The Sheriff wants to be able to hear your screams tomorrow, so consider your self-lucky. Am I understood?” Gisborne asked as he finished tying her hands.

Aria just nodded, deciding to take heed the warning Gisborne gave her. Gisborne gave a sharp tug on the bindings, causing Aria to hiss in pain. He roughly pulled her up by her arm and placed the cloak around her shoulders. He turned and looked at the small crowd that had gathered around them to watch the scene play out, “What are you standing around for? There is still much work to be done before tomorrow. Unless you’d rather join the outlaw in the festival tomorrow?” Gisborne asked them. They all shook their heads and left Gisborne alone with Aria.

 

            “My horse is saddled and waiting in the stables. It is about an hours ride to the manor and it is starting to snow. You will keep your cloak on at all times, and the hood up; you will also keep quite on the ride there. Do not think for a moment that I will not follow through on my threat to gag you” Gisborne explained as he all but yanked Aria off her feet. In doing so she stumbled into Guy, causing him to drop a piece of paper he had been holding.

“Watch it outlaw! What little patience I have is waning thin, one more wrong move and a split lip will seem like a small scrape compared to what will be next” Guy growled at her.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: The Letter

 

“If you boil it down, just because someone else does the wrong thing we are not exempt from doing what’s right.” 
― 
E.A. Bucchianeri Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

 

            Aria couldn’t believe what was happening! She had been so sure that Guy wasn’t the villain, not that she had thought he would be the hero either, but how wrong she had been. Gone was the almost caring man she had seen in the dungeons, he had been replaced with a cold and heartless bastard. She feared her only hope now was Robin, but she doubted he would know where to find her at this point, or if he would even be able to get to her in time. Aria’s thoughts were interrupted when Guy pulled his horse to a stop. She looked around her and noticed they weren’t in Nottingham anymore, but Hardwick Village*, the next town over. They weren’t anywhere near Locksley manor either, but they had stopped in front of a tavern by the looks of it. She turned around in the saddle and gave guy a questioning look.

            “I have some business to attend to here first. You will be blindfolded as I do not need you knowing my business. You will contemplate all the different meanings of the phrase ‘silent as a mouse’. I’d rather not bring you. However, seeing as I don’t trust anyone, and I can’t very well leave you tied up out here, it seems that I have no choice but to bring you along.” Guy stated in a tone that left no room for interpretation. Aria just nodded, it wasn’t like she really had a choice in the matter.

Gisborne reached into the pocket of his jacket and pulled out a piece of fabric and tied it around Aria’s eyes. Once satisfied she couldn’t see anything, he dismounted from behind her and reached up to help her down from Donahue. With her feet on the ground he lead her into the noisy tavern and then into what she figured was a backroom, where Gisborne lead her across the room, and ordered her to sit down.

            “Remember, outlaw, what I told you earlier. Not a sound out of you, no matter what happens.” Gisborne reminded Aria, then before she could reply, a voice spoke from the outside of the room.

“What is so urgent that you couldn’t have summoned me the way you normally do?” The voice asked.

            Aria perked up and almost jumped from her chair, she knew that voice! It was Allan from the gang; he could help save her if he knew she was here, she had completely forgotten that he was a double agent! However, Gisborne anticipated her move and pushed her down with a firm hand on her shoulder, “Do not even think about it, one more attempt and I will have him killed!” Gisborne whispered in her ear. Aria’s heart continued to pound in her chest, there had to be someway she could let Allan know it was SHE that was being held hostage. She would have to be sly about it as Gisborne had warned her what he would do if he caught her attempting communication.

            Gisborne focused his attention on Allan. “I have a letter for Hood that I need you to deliver to him for me. It contains important information that Hood should get sooner rather than later. The content inside is for his eyes only and what he does with it afterwards is of little concern to me. Do not get caught with this letter on you, if you are caught you must destroy the letter at once. Do I make my self clear?” He finished, looking directly at Allan, leaving Aria’s side and handing him the letter.

            “How am I supposed to explain how I got this letter to ‘im?” Allan asked in reply, taking the letter from Gisborne. It wasn’t as if Allan could tell Robin the truth, that he was a double agent.

“That is not my problem.” Guy stated.

            Just then Aria started coughing, she honestly hadn’t planned it, but it worked to draw attention to her-self. Guy and Allan looked at her, both with completely different expressions on their faces. Allan had a look of confusion on his face, as if he was just noticing Aria in the room. Guy had a look that could be described as a cross between annoyance and utter rage.

            “Ehh, who you got o’er there?” Allan gestured towards Aria.

“No one of importance to you right now.” Guy snapped, this meeting had gone on long enough and it needed to end now.

            “Easy Guy, I was just askin’ ” Allan said

“We are done here. GO and do your job, I will contact you should I need you before then.” Guy said to Allan, pulling a small bag of coins from his jacket and tossing them onto the table.

Allan took the bag of coins and went to leave the room, but not before pausing and looking back at Aria. He almost considered pushing the point in finding out this person’s identity, but he decided against it and walked away, his mind turning on what to say to Robin about the letter.

 

            Once Allan was out of earshot Guy turned around to face Aria “Care to explain what just happened? I told you to stay quiet and not draw attention to yourself! We’re leaving, now.” Guy ripped the blindfold off and proceeded to pull Aria up to her feet, dragging her back outside into the cold winter air. Aria remained silent as Guy placed her back up on Donahue. He climbed up behind her and urged the stallion into a gallop towards Locksley Manor, his anger barely staying in check due to Aria’s little stunt back there. Did the woman ever listen?

~/~

            Before Aria knew it they had arrived at Locksley Manor, the moment it had come into view she started shaking in fear, knowing what was about to befall her.

Gisborne pulled his stallion to a stop in front of the stables and dismounted, taking the reigns in his hand and walking the outlaw and stallion towards a stall inside the barn.

            “There are no servants here tonight just you and I.” He said as he pulled Aria from the saddle and placed her on the ground, “I wanted no one to interrupt us during our…time together” Guy explained to Aria, tying her to the nearest post and proceeding to un-tack Donahue.

           

            Aria waited until Guy’s back was turned to her before she started rubbing her bonds up and down the post in a feeble attempt to free herself before it was too late. She did not fully believe that God would allow Gisborne to rape her, there just had to be another reason they were here. Aria slipped a hiss as the rope suddenly bit into a particular raw spot on her wrist. She mentally cursed herself for blowing her cover clear out of the water. Looking up from her bonds towards Guy, Aria knew there was no hope in escaping and dreaded what was to follow now that she had been discovered.

 

            Gisborne whirled around as he heard Aria hiss in pain. What he saw didn’t surprise him but rather further irritated him, had she no sense? Where would she run? Did she not realize that The Sheriff would easily hunt her down and do far worse things to her than he would? With a look that could kill, Guy stomped over to Aria using everything he had to intimidate her ever further.

“Knock it off, you aren’t going anywhere until the morrow. Face the music outlaw and stop getting your-self into further trouble. Between your little stunt earlier this evening and now I’m tempted to end everything right now!” Guy growled at her as he grabbed her chin and forced her to look directly in his eyes, he could see the look of pure terror in them. ‘Good, let her be afraid of me. Maybe it will keep her form doing anything else stupid. I swear though one more thing and I’m knocking her out cold.’ Gisborne thought to himself as he pushed Aria away from him, walking back towards Donahue.

 

~/~

            Robin had re-read the letter her had received from Gisborne again and again, hell he even had Marian read it as he felt for sure his eyes were deceiving him. This just did not seem like something Gisborne would do, Gisborne was The Sheriff’s right hand man, but the letter had an almost sympathetic tone to it but was written in Guy’s handwriting.

 

Robin,

If you are reading this then there is hope that your woman can still be saved. Take the facts written below and use them to plan your rescue mission.

Aria is to be publicly punished by order of The Sheriff on the morrow. He has hired a well-known torturer for this task of flogging her. The Sheriff has divulged that he has planned for the flogging to continue until she finally talks and betrays you, or more likely, until she passes out from the pain or loss of blood. There will be guards posted at the main gate and around the platform where the flogging will take place. They will not be stationed elsewhere as it is not expected for you to have gained access into the castle. The guards will be heavily armed and ordered to take no prisoners should you attempt to confront them at any point during the festival.

Aria is not in the castle tonight, as The Sheriff has ordered her to be punished before her flogging. He wants answers to his questions sooner rather than later. Be advised that she is in no danger while she remains with me, but should she escape there is no where she can run to that The Sheriff won’t find her. She MUST show up to the festival tomorrow for me to not be a suspect in her rescue. She has not committed a heinous enough crime to deserve this punishment The Sheriff has sentenced her to.

I have arranged for your woman to be escorted in the morning back to the castle, as I do not plan on being there at the festival.

Destroy this letter after reading so it does not fall into the wrong hands. Do not fail me Robin and allow all my hard work to fail.

- Sir Guy of Gisborne

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8: Doing the right thing

 

“Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”

-Mark Twain

 

            Robin groaned in frustration, this letter was full of riddles and Robin had never been good at solving those. There were so many factors in this equation with so little time to solve, if ever there was a time he needed to rely on his team, this was the night. He stood up from where he had been sitting by the fire and addressed his gang. “As you all know we have received a letter from Sir Guy with helpful information on Aria’s situation. However, there are so many unanswered questions/riddles in here, I am unsure as to what to make of them. I feel we will have to trust Guy in order to save Aria, which does not sit well with me but I do not feel that we have any other choice in the matter. I simply don’t see any other way to help free Aria. This just might also prove to be our hardest rescue mission yet, we will all need to work together as team if not we will fail and Aria may not be the only one executed. With that being said though, here is my plan for rescuing Aria…”

~/~

            Once Gisborne had finished with Donahue he had dragged Aria inside the manor and deposited her in front of the fireplace in the kitchen, telling her to stay there until told otherwise. Guy then went to build up the fire to ward off the chill of this December night, satisfied that the fire was to his liking, he turned to Aria, “I have to run upstairs quickly, I am trusting you to remain here and to stay out of trouble. Do not betray my trust or you will be sleeping outside.” Guy promised Aria, before exiting the kitchen and heading upstairs.

Aria simply nodded as her teeth were chattering too hard for her to speak anything coherent. She kept wishing Guy would just get the ordeal over with so she could move on with her plan of escaping, maybe it was his sick idea of fun to drag it out; similar to a cat playing with it’s meal before killing it. She scooted closer to the fire, grateful for the warmth it provided. Since she was stuck here she figured she might as well soak up as much warmth as she could.

~/~

           

            Gisborne, yet again, surprised him self by caring about the outlaws health. He really needed to stop this, it wasn’t as if he was going to see her rescued or in the day’s that followed. So why did he care so much? He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts, rummaging through the drawers in his room; he was looking for something that might fit the outlaws thin frame. Finally he found something that might work, a simple woolen dress and a thick winter cloak that he had made for Marian. He had planned on giving it to her when they were married, but that was never happening now, so he might as well give it to someone who would benefit from it.

Gisborne sighed heavily as he grabbed the dress and cloak, heading back down stairs. He wished his life had turned out much differently, but God had played a cruel joke on him; never fully giving him what he wanted, always keeping it just out of reach.

            “Gisborne, I have many wonderful things planned for you, many blessings on which I wish to bestow upon you. You just need to trust in me, trust that I will always provide.” The voice spoke.

Gisborne spat back at the voice, “If you are who I think you are, I want no part! Where were you when my mother was dying, unable to work and therefore unable to buy food for us? Where were you when I had to sell Isabella to the highest bidder so she wouldn’t continue to starve? If you are as all powerful as your teachings claim, why didn’t you do something the times I cried out to you?”

            “I did, I made you.” The voice replied to Gisborne.

That one sentence stopped Gisborne right in his tracks.

            “I made you with a purpose in mind. I made you so you could do good things in my name. You were not meant to be who you believe you have become. You can still change, it’s not too late.” The voice spoke in a kind fatherly tone.

 

Gisborne sneered and then shouted out at the voice, “It is too late, I lost all faith in you the day Isabella was shipped off to her husband and I never heard from her again. I lost faith in you when you did not save those innocent miners The Sheriff let die. No more, I will not stand for this. Leave me alone!” Gisbornes voice seemed to echo off the walls, and instead of feeling better about himself he only felt worse. He pushed the thought aside as he reached the kitchen, he had bigger fish to fry at this point anyways he mused to himself.

 

~/~

Aria was startled out of her musings when Gisborne cleared his throat to get her attention.            “Put these on and hang your wet clothes here by the fire, they should be dry by the time you leave tomorrow” he said as he threw the clothes at her; when she didn’t move but just started at him in confusion, he finally lost the temper that he had been trying to keep in check the past few days.

Gisborne grabbed Aria by the shoulders and started shaking her and yelling in her face,      “Fine, you don’t want them, you want to freeze to death? I can arrange that, gladly, and loose no sleep over it. I do not offer my help to people often, and never have I offered my help an outlaw! I offered you my help and protection, yet you threw it back in my face you ungrateful wench.” With that last statement Guy threw Aria against the wall, in disgust and disbelief. Before leaving the kitchen fully, he turned back around and said in a low voice, “a guard will be here in the morning to take you back to the castle.” Finishing his statement Guy slammed the door shut that he had been holding open, sending a loud crack through the air, and leaving a stunned Aria on the floor.

 

            Aria just sat there on the floor in silence trying to comprehend everything that had just happened. Guy had taken her by surprise, again, by bringing her dry clothes and allowing her to dry her damp ones by the fire overnight. She didn’t understand why he would even bother since she figured she’d be naked most of the night. She then heard his last statement replay over and over in her head; “A guard will be here in the morning to take you back to the castle…” Why did she have a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that he was hinting at something? ‘He couldn’t possibly be thinking…’ Aria didn’t even finish her thought process before bolting up and running after Guy, hoping and praying she wasn’t too late.

            “Please God, don’t let him do anything stupid! Please let me find him before it’s too late, and please God, oh please, keep us safe in this storm we are about to enter.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 9: Death

 

“And death’s knockin’ on the front door

Pain’s creepin’ through the back

Fear’s crawlin’ through the windows

Waiting for em’ to attack”

-Lecrae

 

            Guy was blinded by the flurry of snow that hit his face as he opened the back door and headed towards the stable. The storm seemed to match his current emotional state perfectly he thought before cursing as he fell into a hole covered by the snow, this day could not end fast enough for him at this rate.

He soon reached the stables and was able to pry the door open just wide enough for him to slip through inside. Once inside, he waited for his eyes to adjust to the dim light before making his way over to Donahue’s stall. He wanted to spend sometime with his faithful companion before continuing on with his task.

            Donahue nickered in a welcoming fashion when he saw his master enter his stall, walking over to nudge him for some treats that seemed to always be in those pockets.

Guy immediately felt himself calming down as he picked up a brush and started brushing the stallion. He began to speak to his companion about what was on his mind as he had so often done over the years they had spent together.

            “This will be the last time you and I will be able to ‘talk’ my friend. I do not know what will happen to you after tonight, you may end up running free as I have longed to do for so long. I cannot carry out this task The Sheriff has asked of me, I am tired of taking orders, I am tired of chasing dreams that I will never catch. I’ve wanted Marian for as long as I can remember, but something always seems to get in the way of us. My heart has been broken too many times to attempt to sew it back together again, it’s been a long road traveled and I’m done.”

 

            Gisborne sighed as he turned from his horse and put the brush away. It seemed like such a silly thing to do at this point, but it had always irked him when things were not put in their proper place, or if things did not fit perfectly the way he felt they should in life. Gisborne then walked towards his saddlebag where he had left it earlier this evening. Opening it he took out a long piece of rope and set it aside. He started rummaging through the bag looking for the letter he had written to Marian. Gisborne let fly a few curses as he emptied the saddlebag onto the ground, ‘Where is it?’ he thought in frustration. He remembered having it when he left with the outlaw, but now it was missing. That letter had valuable information in it for Marian, and it had been written from the depths of his heart, well what was left of it anyways. It had taken quite sometime to compose and he did not have the energy to go inside and deal with the outlaw just to rewrite the letter.

            Gisborne kicked at the pile on the ground, swearing in frustration. Marian, he figured, was a smart women. But he was unsure if she would be able to comprehend everything he had done for her without the letter. He then picked up the rope and walked over to the main part of the barn where the support beams were the strongest, and threw one end of the rope up and over it. He tied the end into a noose that would fit over his head, making the other end into a loop that would secure the rope to the beam. Gisborne climbed the ladder and stepped out onto the beam, staring at the ground below him, he closed his eyes and placed the noose around his neck preparing to jump.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Broken Heart

 

“How can you mend a broken man?

How can a loser ever win?

Please help me mend my broken heart

And let me live again.”

-Michael Buble

            Aria rushed out after Gisborne, not even sure where to start looking and knowing if her hunch was correct she didn’t have much time to find him. She had figured the barn would be the most logical place to start, and so she headed off in what she hoped was the correct direction, it was so hard to see in this storm, with the wind blowing the snow in every possible direction. She would have found the storm a mesmerizing display of God’s power on any other day if she hadn’t been so preoccupied in finding Gisborne. After a few moments of searching the ground for traces of Gisborne she caught a trail of footprints leading away from the house, sadly as soon as she had spotted them they vanished into the abyss thanks to the storm. Aria couldn’t help but feel that God was giving her the sign that she was going the correct way after all.

            Aria continued running in the direction of where the footprints had been and before she knew it, she had reached the barn. She struggled to pull open the door as it seemed to be stuck, or worse locked. She pounded on the door yelling at Gisborne, “Guy, if you’re in there please don’t do anything rash! Open this door; don’t kill your self, please. I think I finally understand what you’ve been hinting at this entire time. Please lets just talk about this.” She started to sob as she kept pulling on the door, becoming more and more frantic by the moment. Then with one last pull, the door finally opened.

 

~/~

 

            Marian arrived back at the castle later than she had expected. The meeting with Robin had gone on much longer than anticipated, as no one had been able to agree on a plan to rescue their fellow comrade. Finally having enough, Robin put his foot down, stating that with the information that they had received, they would rescue Aria at the festival. Since it seemed like it was the only real option at this point, Robin had then taken the time to explain the plan he had formed in his head to the gang, which had been dubbed operation Aria by Much.

As per the usual Marian could not partake directly in the rescue, as it could compromise her position in the castle and put her safety at risk, something neither Robin, or Guy, would ever allow. So Marian’s job was to find out more information about Aria’s predicament and pass it along to Robin at first light. Marian hated not being able to join in on the actual fight, but understood just how important her job was. Plus it wasn’t like the job didn’t have its perks. She did get to interact with Gisborne on a daily basis…

            Marian stopped dead in her tracks, Sir Guy! He has seemed upset when he came to her, she wondered now if that had something to do with Aria. The letter he had written to Robin would be proof enough she thought. She turned around and quickly made her way down to the dungeons where Aria had been. In what seemed like no time at all she reached the dungeons and was prepared to make any number of excuses as to why she needed to see the prisoner if the guards questioned her. However, as she rounded the corner, she noticed that no one seemed to be around. Not wanting to blow this opportunity given to her, she made her way to Aria’s cell. When she arrived though, she found it to be empty and after a few moments of trying to think where Aria could have been moved to, Marian remembered something Gisborne had said, “Aria is not in the castle tonight…”

Marian looked around the cell for clues as to Aria’s whereabouts, not holding her breath that she would find any. Then, just as she was getting ready to leave the cell empty handed, she spotted a piece of paper on the floor with her name on it. Looking around to make sure no one was around, she bent down and picked up the paper tucking it into her skirts, and walked back to her room. Once inside her room she lit a candle to help her navigate the dark room. She made her way over to her fireplace and quickly started a fire, adding more light and warmth to her room.

As more light spread across the room, she noticed another letter with her name on it that appeared to have been shoved under the door. She went to pick up the newest find and set it on the dresser, deciding that the first letter was more important. Pulling out the first letter, she opened it and started reading its contents.

Dearest Marian,

If you are reading this then you already know I am no longer here. I apologize that I was not able to say a proper goodbye, but with circumstances being what they were, I was unable to. I have loved you from the start and wished more than anything for us to be together; however, fate had other plans for us it seemed.

I could not go on anymore following The Sheriffs orders, because of him I have committed horrible crimes that I have kept hidden from you. These dealings with the outlaw, Aria, were the final straw. The Sheriff commanded me to punish her in a way that I could never bring my self to do, and I simply could not bear these burdens anymore.

I have tried to make amends the only way I know how. I have left Locksley Manor and everything I owned to be at your disposal, so that you might not want for anything in my absence. I have arranged for my guards to be at your beck and call so that you will always be protected.

Marian, please heed my words, tread carefully around The Sheriff, he is not a man to be trusted. Without me around there will be no one to protect you should he decide to toy with you. He is a vile man who will stop at nothing to see that his plan succeeds.

I wish I could spare you the ordeal you now have ahead of you, but I see no other way to stop my pain. Try not to grieve for me, for I never could stand to see you cry while I was there with you.

I’ve never told anyone this before as I could never bring my self to say the words out loud, but I am scared Marian. Scared of the man I’ve become over the years working for The Sheriff, and what might happen if I continue on with my life…

So I end it all now, as there is no hope left for me, and if I’m lucky, I will finally find peace in death.

I love you,

Sir Guy of Gisborne

 

Marian couldn’t comprehend what she just read, had Guy really written a suicide note to her? Had he really felt that he had no one to turn to, and that death had been the only answer? It all made sense now she thought ironically, the odd request to help Aria, the letter to Robin…Guy had been trying to mend his ways and she had over looked his plea for help. That night in her room when he had paused before leaving, he had looked as if he had wanted to say more; but the fool that she was, she had simply pushed him out the door so she could go and play hero’s with Robin and the gang. She could have saved him, she could have talked him down from the ledge he had been standing on. Now she would never hear his laugh again, never would she feel his strong embrace enfolding her again.

            Marian was startled when she head soft plops coming from in front of her. She looked down in confusion and realized the noise was coming from the tears that were streaming down her face. She hadn’t noticed she had started to cry, so engrossed in her thoughts was she. She slowly brought a hand up to her mouth to stifle the sob that was coming from her and before she knew what was happening she collapsed in front of the fireplace, sobbing uncontrollably, and clutching the note in her free hand. Her heart was shattered into a million pieces, and all she could think about was Guy.

 

 

Chapter Text

Disclaimer: I don't own Robin Hood BBC, I can dream can't I? I only own the people/things you didn't find in the series.
Should also point out that this chapter is pretty dark, and may not be up everyone's ally, as it talks about attempted suicide throughout the chapter. So you have been warned! 


 

Chapter 11: Fear

 

“When love broke thru

You found me in the darkness

Wanderin’ thru the desert

I was a hopeless fool…”

-TobyMac

           

            Aria stumbled into the barn, her eyes immediately scanning the area, looking for any sign of Gisborne. Seeing nothing on the ground she thought he might not be in the barn after all, but she wasn’t going to give up her search just yet. She had a feeling in her gut that he was in here, somewhere.

As Aria continued scanning the area she heard a noise come from above her, looking up she saw Gisborne on a rafter with a rope around his neck. With a sudden realization that he meant to hang himself she knew she really only had one shot at saving him. Not wasting anytime she cried out to him, “Gisborne, please don’t do this! Whatever is going on let me help you, ending your life surely isn’t the answer. Please, lets just talk about this, there must be another way to solve your problems.”

            Gisborne just glared at the outlaw, even in his final moments he apparently would find no solitude. “Damn it Outlaw, even in my final moments you find a way to meddle in my affairs. Leave me the hell alone, for there is nothing you can say that will change my mind. I cannot go on anymore, I can’t live with what I’ve done. Take pleasure in knowing you had the last laugh. That you saw the ever powerful Guy reduced to nothing! Go now and leave me in peace outlaw!” Guy waited a few moments for Aria to leave; however, instead of leaving as he thought she would, she continued pleading with him.

            “Does it look like I am finding any of this a laughing matter? I do not find death funny, nor do I get pleasure out of other peoples deaths. We may not see eye to eye, but that does not mean I wish death upon you.”

Guy couldn’t stand it anymore, if she wanted to stay and watch his death so be it. However, he was done living, with that final thought Guy stepped off the rafter, expecting to fall to his death.

~/~

 

            Aria screamed as she watched Gisborne jump ‘Dear God NO!’ she thought as she ran towards the falling figure, knowing full well she would never reach him in time. However, instead of a sudden stop as both parties expected, the support beam cracked in two, thus causing Guy to crash into the ground. Pieces of the beam scattering around him as the dust settled. Guy let out a curse as a jagged piece from the beam sliced into his skull, leaving a trail of blood running down his face. As soon as Aria reached Gisborne, she tore off a piece of her dress and used it to apply pressure to his wound.

 

            “Guy are you ok? Does anything feel like it’s broken?” Aria asked. Scanning his body, looking for obvious trauma and sighing in relief as she saw none.

“Just leave me alone Outlaw, let me die. I can’t take this anymore, my soul; if I still have one, is so weary. I just want to die so my pain will end.” Gisbornes voice broke as he started sobbing, he didn’t know why he was sharing all this with the outlaw. It wasn’t like she could do anything.

            “Oh Guy, there is so much to live for; it’s never too late to ask for forgiveness. I think I finally understand why you were able to capture me. God knew you were hurting and what you might do. I was sent here to prevent you from killing yourself and to lead you back to him. Guy, he can take all you pain away, he’s a pain taker. When you’re lost and alone he’s a way maker.1 You still have a heart and want to do good, why else would you do everything in your power to keep me safe? You could have left me in the dungeons with the criminals and let them have their way with me, but you didn’t. You could have followed The Sherriff’s orders to rape me, you certainly had enough chances to, but you chose to bring me here and make The Sherriff think his orders were being carried out. There has to be a bigger picture here than we originally thought.” Aria said to Guy as she gently lifted the fabric from his head, mentally grimacing as she saw that the wound would need stitches.

            “God wouldn’t take me back, not after all I’ve done. He wouldn’t want to forgive a sinner like me, a no body. Besides, I wouldn’t even know where to start.” Gisborne confessed. Aria knew it was now or never, Guy had already attempted to take his life once and she feared if she didn’t do something soon that he would try again and succeed. Aria prayed a quick prayer asking God to give her the wisdom and grace to show Guy that he was loved and that it was never too late to come home.

“Guy, Jesus died for this exact reason, he took the worlds sin so we may have forgiveness and salvation. God is so much more than you think. He wants us to come to him with our troubles and woes. If you want to know how many times he has said we are forgiven, it’s more than the drops in the ocean.2 Gisborne, ‘…God takes an active role as a father to every human being. His most striking feature …is his relentless, all-consuming love.’3 There is no right or wrong way to pray, if you feel more comfortable addressing him formally than pray that way. If you don’t feel comfortable praying on your own than I will be more than happy to pray for you.” Aria explained.

            Guy’s sobs had stopped and now just tears were streaming down his face as he looked up at Aria and spoke in a voice full of sorrow and confusion, “Why are you helping me? After everything I’ve done to you. You should hate me and leave me here to die alone. Yet you are here, I don’t understand.”

Aria replied to his statement “You are correct in assuming I should hate you, and I should either kill you or let you die alone after everything. But that’s exactly what God could have done, instead he sent his only son down to be sacrificed so we, his children, could be set free. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and not hate them. Hate will get me nowhere and won’t solve the problem, forgiveness and mercy will though. I am not perfect, and never will I be. However, if I admit I was wrong and ask for forgiveness I will be granted it. I want you to know peace Gisborne, truly I do. What say you? Are you ready to be free, to have these chains that bind you be broken?”

 

            Gisborne was silent for several moments; taking in all that Aria had said. Could he really be forgiven just like that? Aria made God sound like a loving father, but he had grown up hearing the preachers talk about hell and how he would burn in eternal fires if he did not repent and live a perfect life. He had been taught that God was to be feared and respected; there had never been talk of God as being kind, or of wanting a relationship with his children. Could he really have a loving relationship with God, was what Aria said true?

 

Gisborne had grown up without a father for the majority of his life, as his father died when he had been a young lad. The memories he had of his father though weren’t the most pleasant. His father hadn’t been abusive to him, or the family per-say (in his mind), just extremely firm. His father had believed in raising a strong family, a family that didn’t let their emotions get the better of them. His father had been born and raised as a catholic and had expected his family to follow that tradition, any deviation from this had resulted in many forms of physical punishment. His fathers preferred method was generally hard manual labor that was from before sunup, and finished well after sundown. His father would make them work with little to no rest breaks in all types of weather. This had included, but was not limited to, blistering heat or snow blizzards. Their mother had often been too sickly to interfere with these punishements. When she did though, she was rewarded for her bravery with her husband locking her in her room for days. With little food or water until her husband felt she had learned her lesson. If the manual labor didn’t satisfy his father, often more times than not, there was a sound thrashing with the horse whip as well. So it came as no surprise that Guy would have trouble grasping the concept of a loving and trusting relationship with a father figure. Guy supposed anything was possible though and the voice he had been hearing of late could be the voice of God. “Before I commit to anything, I want some answers” Guy stated trying to sound like his normal authoritative self.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 12: The God I Know

 

“And then I threw my hands up, worries down

I remember when He showed me how

To breakup with my doubt…

I want you to know, The God I know…”

-Love & The Outcome

 

            A few hours later, Guy had the answer he was seeking. He was ready to rise up and be free, to let go of his burdens and break the chains binding him. Having no idea how to do so, he hesitantly asked Aria what to do next.

            Aria couldn’t believe her ears! Gisborne was ready to repent and lay down all his burdens. She had to tread carefully now, so as to not overwhelm him. “Well,” She started “It’s fairly simple to be honest. You simply pray asking God to come into your life and that you are ready to lay your burdens down at his feet and accept the grace he has for you. Or something along those lines, there really isn’t a right or wrong way to go about it.”

“There is no formal prayer that I have to recite? No ritual I have to preform or go through? It can’t be as simple as you have said.” Gisborne protested.

            “But it is! If you like I can pray for you, I don’t mind” Aria countered.

“Would you, could you1?” Gisborne asked, still in disbelief. How could she still be willing to do this for him, after everything he had done to her over the years, hell even tonight? He just couldn’t wrap his head around it!

            “Of course, I would be honored to. If you will bow your head and close your eye’s I will start, and if you want to join in at anytime feel free to.
Dear Lord, thank you so much for this night. I just want to pray for Gisborne, Lord and all the hurt and sorrow he has been through. He is ready to lay everything down at your feet and just be held in your loving arms. He is ready to leave everything behind and start anew. God, I pray that you help him understand your love and all the happiness you will bring him. Let him find the support that he needs on this journey and let him never feel alone, unloved, or unwanted again. In your name I pray, amen.” Aria finished and glanced up to see Gisborne’s head still bowed. She didn’t say anything however as she didn’t want to interrupt him if he was praying. She figured when he was done he would look up or say something (she knew she would wait until he was ready). As she was waiting, one of the songs she used to hear on the radio came to her and she quietly hummed it.

           

            When Guy looked up after awhile Aria couldn’t believe the change she saw in his eyes. No longer did she see the sorrow and the pain there once was, it had been replaced with a look of determination and a sense of what could only be described as relief. After a few moments of staring at each other, Guy was the first to break the silence. “Thank you, Aria. No one has ever shown me such kindness with out wanting something in return…” he paused for a moment as he contemplated as to whether or not he should finish his sentence, deciding he should he continued speaking. “What happens now, where do we, I, go from here?”

“First things first lets get you inside and stitched up, as that piece of wood left a nice gash on your head. Do you think you can stand and lean on me?” Aria asked and waited for Guy to answer, if he couldn’t stand this might present a problem. Aria knew she was strong for her size, but she wasn’t sure she would be able to carry Guy all the way from the barn to the house by herself. As she imagined her self-carrying Guy, she couldn’t help but laugh as the scene from Ever After came to mind. Danielle had been given The Gypsy leaders word that she, Danielle, could have whatever she could carry, and so she put Henry, the crown prince of France, over her shoulders and started walking off with him.
            “Aye, I can stand. What is it that amuses you so though?” Guy asked as he slowly rose to his feet. His legs however apparently weren’t quite ready to hold his intimidating frame, as they started to buckle under him. Thankfully Aria was able to catch him in time and help keep him up right as he found his balance.

“It’s nothing really. Just a scene from one of my favorite movies…err plays. From one of the plays that I saw growing up.” Aria explained, hoping Guy didn’t question her about what a movie was, as no one but Robin and Marian knew she was from a different time. “Now lets get you inside and warmed up, your hands are freezing!”

 

~//~

 

            Once inside Aria helped Guy over to a chair near the fire where he could warm his half frozen body out. Aria was never really one to worry about her own health or safety, so she brushed aside that she was shivering quite violently and that the pesky cough, that she had picked up from her previous quarters, had returned.

“Where do you keep needles and thread? I’ll need them to stitch you up. I’ll also need a rag to wash the blood away so I can better see the gash.” She asked.

           Guy wasn’t sure where supplies like that would be kept as he hardly ever did the mending of his clothes. That was left to the servants or more recently, Marian. “They might be in the drawer over there, but I’m not sure though as I’m not one to mend my clothes.” Guy gestured towards a drawer across the room to the right of the stove.

            Aria walked across the kitchen towards the drawer Guy had suggested she try, opening it she found kitchen utensils but no needle and thread. She started rummaging through the other drawers and her frustration increasing with each failed attempt, just as she was about to give up and go pluck some hairs from Guys horse she found what she was looking for. In the very last drawer, and at the other side of the kitchen, she found the needle and thread “Score! I found them, took me long enough though!” she exclaimed to Guy, who just rolled his eyes.

            Returning to Guy, she took the needle and stuck it in the fire so it would be as sanitary is possible, with penicillin not being invented for another 830 plus years, she had to make due with what she had. Deciding that enough time had passed, she pulled out the now red-hot needle, and waited for it to cool. As they were waiting a sudden realization came to Aria, she hadn’t numbed the area where she was going to stitch. She didn’t think they had anything in this time period that would numb the area, unless they used the snow; however, they had wasted enough time already and dawn was fast approaching. She threaded the needle and spoke to Guy “This might hurt, I didn’t see anything I could numb the area with. This has to be stitched though or it won’t heal properly and can become infected.”
            “It’s fine, do what you have to do. I’ve had to stitch myself up many a time, this one pails in comparison to others I’ve had.” Guy shrugged and stated nonchalantly. Aria nearly balked at Gisbornes statement. She knew he had been wounded many time before, but if he was implying what she thought he was, Guy had had a much rougher life than anyone could have guessed.

            Aria wanting to know more about Guys stitches comment, and Guy wanting to know more about Christ; however, both parties remained silent as Aria stitched up Gisborne’s wound. Neither of them knew what to say to each other at this point in their newfound relationship. Aria finished her stitches and tied the last bit into a knot. She then cut the string with a dagger Guy had given her after she had started closing the wound.

“I’d wait at least two weeks before having those removed. Also try to keep it clean so it doesn’t become infected.” Aria stated as she walked back to the drawer and placed the needle and thread back where she had originally gotten them. Turning around, she walked back towards Guy and picking up a chair she turned it around so the back of the chair faced Guy and sat down resting her arms on the back of the chair placing her chin on them, looking at Guy.
            Guy looked at Aria with a smirk and a raised eyebrow, what possessed her to sit in such an odd manner? The more time he spent with her the more he realized that her mannerisms were so much different from the other women he’d known over the years. At times she acted just as headstrong as his Marian, other times she acted like she was almost from another era.

“What? It’s more comfortable this way, don’t judge me.” Aria laughed lightly. Just then the rooster crowed killing the cheerful mood. Both Aria and Guy looked towards the window where the morning sun would soon be shining through. With everything that had happened that night they both had momentarily forgotten what was to happen in the morning. Guy was the first to shake himself free from his thoughts, bringing him back to the present., “Aria. We don’t have much time until The Sheriff sends the armed escort to collect you. Listen to what I say, I have written to Robin explaining your predicament and have given him details on what to expect should he attempt to rescue you…”
            Aria interrupted him “YOU wrote to Robin?” she asked him incredulously. Why on earth would he do something like that? Had she misjudged him all these years, could it be he didn’t hate Robin as much as he made everyone believe? No, she knew that both Robin and Guy hated each other. She had, on more than one occasion, seen them attempt to kill each other.
“As I was saying, I wrote to Robin and explained your situation. The Sheriff needs to believe that I raped you if we are to escape all of this. Once we leave here there will be little I can do to keep you safe with out giving my self away. I will have to appear as my old self, cold and uncaring. Do not turn to me for help should you get yourself into trouble, outlaw.” Gisborne finished, using outlaw in a much more friendly tone than had been used in the past. He now used it almost as a nickname for Aria.

            “Do we know what will happen to me after I am escorted back to the castle?” Aria asked, feeling she should get as much information as she could from Guy before The Sheriff showed his ugly vulture like face.

“Most likely you will be thrown in the dungeon until the actual event is to start. When The Sheriff is ready he will have you escorted out of the dungeon and paraded through the streets for all to see as he wants to make an example out of you. Once you reach the platform you will be tied to a post and from there you will be whipped until The Sheriff is pleased.

If Robin is to have any chance in rescuing you it will have to be then, if he shows I will do what I can to keep The Sheriff busy so that you may slip away.” Guy finished with a voice full of sorrow, it was his fault that Aria was in this mess and might very well die. Some man he was! He might not even be able to save the one who he owed his life to Gisborne thought to himself.

            “Guy, I understand and hold no malice in my heart against you. You are doing what you can to keep the situation from getting any worse than it already is. Now we need to collaborate about last night…” Aria replied.

Chapter Text

Chapter 13: Details

 

“Don’t worry

He will make your heavy light

Don’t worry at all

Worry at all

His Love is always right on time”

-Aaron Cole

 

A few hours later…

            There was a loud banging at the front door followed by yelling “Gizzy, time to wake up. We have work to do.” It was The Sheriff, there was no mistaking that voice.

Gisborne looked over at Aria whose face, like a mask, showed no emotion, but her eyes shone with fear. “Remember what we talked about. We must both play our parts if you have any chance in surviving this.”

            Aria didn’t miss his meaning, she understood all to well that he did not plan on living past the end of the day. She hoped, and prayed, that it would not come to that, she wasn’t sure she could live knowing he had died to save her. She could only imagine what Marian would do to her once she found out Guy was dead, all because of her. She shook her head to clear those thoughts, determined to not let that happen. If it came down to her or Guy, it would be her life that was taken. After all she was the outsider, someone from another time who probably shouldn’t have ever come, ‘not like I had a choice in that matter though’ she thought to her self. She was pulled from her thoughts when Guy roughly grabbed her by the arm and strode towards the door where The Sheriff waited on the other side with an armed escort.

 

“M’lord, I wasn’t expecting you, I assumed you would be at the castle preparing for this afternoons event.” Gisborne said as he opened the door.

            “Well Gizzy, someone has to make sure you don’t screw this up. You don’t have the best track record when it comes to following through with orders, need I remind you of the coal mines?” The Sheriff quibbed. “I’ve also taken the liberty of having your beast saddled up and ready to go. With the pace you are moving at so far, it’s a good thing I did, otherwise we might miss the festival altogether.”

‘Neither do you’ Gisborne thought to himself. “Well I am sure your adoring public awaits you, so lets not keep them waiting any longer than we need to lord Sheriff” Gisborne shot back. He couldn’t stand more than five minuets in the presence of this man with out wanting to punch him in the face, and thus wiping that smug grin off his vulture like face.

            Gisborne pushed Aria out the door towards the guards while he shut the door behind him. When he turned around and saw that the group was still standing there he motioned for them to start moving instead of standing there gawking, ‘idiots’, Gisborne thought to himself as he moved towards his stallion and mounted up, extending his hand towards Aria so she could mount behind him. The sooner they were on their way the better, as Guy wasn’t sure how much more of The Sheriff he could stand.

 

            The group was silent for quite some time as they made their way towards the castle, no one daring to speak for fear of reprisal from both The Sheriff and Gisborne. Finally The Sheriff broke the silence, he slowed his horse down so that it matched the pace of Gisbornes horse and spoke directly to Aria. “ You’re awfully quite today girly. What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” laughing for a moment before turning to the guards who were silent “Well? Laugh you idiots!”1 and so they did, not daring to refuse an order from The Sheriff.

            Before Aria could speak, Guy spoke for her, “In a manner of speaking m’lord, yes. She has learned her place and learned to hold her tongue in a man’s presence, she should no longer be trouble to any man.”

“I see, well for once in your life it seems you have done something right. It seems that my idea of punishment worked for both parties, don’t you agree? The outlaw learned that men are in charge and you obviously seem to be more agreeable after fucking her.” The Sheriff stated all to cheerfully.

It took all of Gisbornes self control to not strangle the vile man that was in front of him, but he had to let The Sheriff think these things if Aria was going to survive. The Sheriff continued with his questions; however, this time he directed them towards Gisborne. “What information were you able to extract from the outlaw, do we know what Robins next move will be?”

            Gisborne took a moment to collect his thought, he had to be careful with his words here, least he give away the fact that he had learned nothing about Robin last night. If The Sheriff found out what had really happened between the two of them, they would both meet their maker before the day’s end. “I was indeed able to learn information from the outlaw. Robin’s keep is in Sherwood forest and has been depleted by my men. Robin now has nothing stored for winter and will be unable to give anything to his people.

            “Yes, yes. We already know this information Gisborne. Tell me something I don’t know.” The Sheriff interrupted Guy.

Guy just rolled his eyes in annoyance and continued, “Robin plans on removing you from power anyway that he can, he has a man on the inside who is feeding him information on your plans. This is why he has been able to defeat us; sadly the outlaw has never seen his face of this informer, as she ,and the rest of the gang, were not permitted to accompany Hood during these meetings. Apparently he thought it too much of a risk and allowed no one to come with him. Hood has been in contact with The King and has informed him of everything you have done. Hood has boasted that King Richard plans on removing you from your station when he returns from the crusades.”

            “So Hood thinks he can outsmart me then, is that so girly? Well he is mistaken as I have the backing of King Richards’s brother, Prince John, and all the power he has at his disposable. ‘King Richard’ hasn’t been here for his people and when I remind them of this they will see everything I have done has been to their benefit, starting with you. A dangerous criminal who is in league with someone who is wanted for treason against the crown, murder, and thieving among other things.” The Sheriff prattled on.

            Aria couldn’t help her self, blame it on her heritage if you wanted to but she had to defend Robin, the man she loved. “Robin is not guilty of treason and you know it! He isn’t a thief either, he only takes back what was stolen from his people.” Aria shot back.

 

            Guy inwardly groaned, would Aria ever learn to keep her mouth shut? The Sheriff wasn’t going to take kindly to her outburst, he knew this from past experinces. He turned around in the saddle and glared at her, trying to convey the importance of shutting up for once in her life. He made a move as if to strike her, feeling guilty when she flinched from his raised hand. “Have I taught you nothing woman? Be silent unless you are addressed! Next time I will not be so lenient with my discipline, remember what I have said and act upon it.” He finished, praying that the outlaw caught his meaning. Thankfully a small nod from Aria made him believe that she would keep her temper in check for the duration of the trip.

“I see the whore still has a little temper left, this I like. It’s no fun to torture someone who won’t cooperate with your games. Understand this though outlaw you will learn to behave when I am through with you, for I am not as weak as Gisborne is here.” The Sheriff replied over his shoulder, ignoring his second in commands glare at the insult.

 

The group continued their trek back to the castle; surprisingly with out any further outbursts from Aria, no matter how much The Sheriff irked her. She knew things would only become worse for her should she cause a scene, so instead she pondered how Robin could even gain access to the festival. Gisborne had mentioned that guards were to be posted all around the castle and to take no prisoners should trouble emerge.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 14: Trust In You

 

“Truth is You know what tomorrow brings

There’s not a day ahead You have not seen

So in all things be my life and breath

I want what You want Lord and nothing less”

-Lauren Daigle

 

Back at the castle (same morning)

 

            Marian saw the sun creep through her window, spreading warm rays across the room that she did not feel, so heart broken was she. Her fireplace glowed ever so slightly as the wind blew across the remaining embers from the previous nights fire. She had not bothered adding more wood to the fire, as there was no point in keeping warm or for the light it provided. She had memorized Guys letter to her and therefore needed no light to cut through the darkness of the night. Her beloved was gone and she wasn’t sure she wanted a life without him. She knew her father needed her still, as he was getting older his health declining, but a life without Gisborne? A fresh wave of tears started streaming down her already tear stained face at the mere thought of the man she had loved, just then a thought came to her. Guy had mentioned Robin’s woman, Aria, and how The Sherriff had wanted to punish her before the festival.
            “Aria!” Marian had forgotten all about getting more information on what exactly was going to happen to her and how she, Marian, was to also report to Robin this morning. The more Marian though about it there could only be one solution to all this. In order to save Aria and avenge Sir Guy, The Night Watchman would have to come out of retirement to make one final stand in the fight against The Sheriff. She would join forces with Robin, whether he liked it or not. With that thought she stood up and walked over to the foot of her bed and opened the chest that rested there. Carefully removing it’s contents, she removed the false bottom, revealing her Night Watchman clothes, she then proceeded to put the false bottom back and all it’s contents. Closing the lid she walked to her wardrobe. Opening the doors she pulled out her saddlebag, shoving her clothes inside, silently asking Guy to forgive her for breaking her promise to him. She had to avenge his death, consequences be damned, she thought! Without another thought Marian threw the saddle bag under some things in her dresser and left to meet up with Robin and his fellow outlaws.

~//~

 

            “Much, if you complain one more time I will gladly use you as live bait when The Sheriff sends his dogs after us.” Robin groaned, he really did love his friend and loyal servant, but sometimes he was downright annoying. Honestly one would think with the way Much was complaining, that their plans never worked! Robin would be the first to admit that his plans ended up with the gang improvising at times, but when all was said and done everyone made it back to camp in one piece.

 

“But Master, I am simply pointing out the flaws in this plan. Maybe you should reconsider it? Besides you would never do such a thing to me, therefore I don’t believe you.” Much countered.

            “Yea, but if he doesn’t one of us will!” Allan said, growing just as tired of Much’s complaining and arguing as the rest of the group.
“Well I never…Master you wouldn’t let them do this would you? My master wouldn’t let you do that…” Much stammered in reply to Allan’s threat, looking to Robin for reassurance and upon receiving none, he huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. This caused Robin to smirk and making much look more like a two year old who hadn’t gotten his way, rather than the adult that he was. The phrase “act your age” apparently wasn’t applicable at this time.

 

“Alright enough fooling around. We need to head into the castle, remember we are to meet up with Marian just outside the stables. Once we get the latest information we will commence our rescue mission. Once we have Aria we exit the castle at once, I do not want to fight The Sheriff because we won’t know what shape Aria will be in. Do not engage unless you have to, I cannot stress the importance of this being a rescue mission not a tactile mission. Does everyone understand?” Robin asked looking around at his gang, when it appeared no one had questions he lead them towards the castle.

 

~//~

 

Marian paced back and forth like a caged animal. She couldn’t help but wonder where Robin was, seeing as the sun had been up for several hours now and he was still nowhere to be found; thus creating a very anxious Marian. Just as she thought she was going to create a trench from all her pacing, a small pebble hit the back of her head.

            “Ouch!” Marin hissed as she rubbed where the pebble hit her. She looked towards the direction where the pebble had come from and saw a cloaked figure standing there. Once they made eye contact with each other, the clocked figure moved behind a small grove of trees in the horse pasture. Figuring it was finally Robin, she grabbed an apple that was sitting on the railing and walked towards the grove she had last seen the cloaked figure. This way if anyone were to ask her where she was going, she could tell them she was going to go give her mare; a gift from Gisborne, a treat. Marian had figured this was a good plan with all the heightened security due to today’s event. As Marian walked behind a hedge she was greeted by a hooded figure with their back towards her. Marian spoke to the figure “I am here, what did you want?” She had to be certain it was Robin before she divulged any information.

 

The hooded figure turned around to face her and lowered their hood, “You Marian, it has always been you my heart aches for!” Robin said laughing and making dramatic gestures.

           

            “I am in no mood for your jokes, Robin!” Marian replied in a clipped tone. She wondered sometimes if her best friend would ever stop acting so childish.
“If you aren’t going to take rescuing Aria seriously then I will have to take matters into my own hands, seeing as someone ought to care!!” Marian’s voice faltered as a guilty conscience snuck up on her.

‘ You should have shown Sir Guy that you truly cared more for him. You could have saved him if you had tried, if you really cared about him. Instead you failed him in his darkest hour.’ A snide voice whispered in her ear.

“Marian what’s wrong, what’s happened?” Robin immediately became concerned for her, walking towards her and putting a hand on her shoulder and the other under her chin, gently lifting it up to meet his eyes. What he saw broke his heart, the normally calm and levelheaded one of the friendship looked dejected, almost defeated. There were tears in her eyes and her lips were quivering, her voice full of sorrow as she quietly spoke, her eyes filling up with tears.

            “Sir Guy is dead Robin. I should have been there for him, but instead I pushed him out my door in his hour of need. Now, because of me, he is dead!”

 

All Robin heard was “Sir Guy. Dead.” could it really be true, his enemy of so many years be gone? If what Marian was saying was true, then everyone’s lives just got a whole lot easier, well most everyone’s.

“Marian, what happened, how do you know Guy is dead?” Robin asked.

 

            “I found a letter in Aria’s empty cell when I arrived back at the castle last night, it was his suicide note. Here, I’ve already memorized every word.” Marian said, reaching into her dress to procure the letter, handing it to Robin.

 

Robin took a few moments to read the letter. His concern for Aria grew when he came to the part about The Sheriff wanting Aria to be punished further by Guy. He handed the letter back to Marian and wrapped her in a hug and planted a gentle kiss on her forehead.
“I am sorry Marian; I know how you cared for him. There will be a time to grieve, but for now I need you to help us rescue Aria.” he finished, letting go of her.

           

            “I plan on joining you in the fight, I have to avenge Guy’s death. I have decided that The Night Watchman will make one final show, come what may of it. I cannot and will not let The Sheriff win this one, not if it’s the last thing I do! You can either let me assist you, or I will go after The Sheriff alone and make him pay for what he caused Guy to do.” Marian replied defiantly, daring Robin to tell her no.

 

            Robin sighed in frustration, he wanted Marian to stay away from all the fighting so she would remain safe and they could still use her to get information from The Sheriff. He knew though, that once she put her mind to something, she was as stubborn as a mule when it came to changing it. The only way he figured he could keep his best friend safe was to include her in his plan, that way he could keep an eye on her and possibly keep her out of trouble.

 

“Fine, you win Marian. But please promise me you will stick to the plan? I can’t afford for anyone else to be captured. Go and grab your things and meet us by the hounds, we move out as soon as you are ready.” Robin said.

            “I will Robin, together we will get Aria back.” Marian replied, and gave Robin a quick kiss on his cheek, before turning on her heel to go and gather what she needed.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 15: I Will Not Bow

“Watch the end through dying eyes
Now the dark is taking over
Show me where forever dies
Take the fall and run to Heaven”

-Breaking Benjamin

 

 

            Upon their arrival back at the castle Aria, felt sick to her stomach, time was running out for her to escape what the The Sheriff had planned.

So caught up in her own world that she failed to notice that they’d stopped or that Guy had said anything. Seeing that Aria was not paying attention to him, or her surroundings, Guy roughly shook her shoulders to try and snap her out of her thoughts. Only when he saw that she was paying attention to him did he repeat himself, “We have arrived back at the castle, you will be escorted to the dungeons and remain there until you are sent for. I expect there will be no trouble from you?” not really expecting a verbal answer from her, Guy continued when Aria shook her head side to side. “Good, as you don’t want a repeat of last night I’m sure.” He implied, trying to keep up the charade of having followed The Sheriff’s orders.

 

            “Gisborne, see to it that our guest, is shown to her quarters for the remained of her stay with us. When that is done come find me in the hall, we still have a few last minuet details that we need to discuss before the festivities begin.” The Sheriff said as he dismounted, handing his horses reigns to the stable boy, and continued walking away from the group with his guards following closely behind him, thus leaving Aria and Guy alone.

 

            Gisborne dismounted from his horse, landing with a thud when his boots hit the ground. He then reached up to grab Aria by the waist to help her dismount; however, the woman apparently had other ideas. As his hands reached her waist she smacked them away “Don’t touch me, I can get down from a horse without your help.” Aria hissed. She wasn’t an invalid for Pete’s sake, plus she was determined to keep some of her pride intact.

“Careful outlaw, I am still in charge of you and can discipline you how I see fit. You are free only after you pay the price for your crimes.” Gisborne reminded her. He may be on her side now, but that didn’t mean she could disrespect him or continue to challenge his authority.

 

            Guy stepped slightly away, so Aria could dismount, while thinking she best remember that she wasn’t out of the woods yet. In her haste to be done with Gisborne, she had misjudged the distance from the ground to the saddle, and upon landing, lost her balance and stumbled into Guy, where he simply held on to her until she regained her balance. Guy tightened his grip on her arm and pulled her close to him when she attempted to pull away from him, “I thought you said you didn’t need my help?” he asked, chuckling lightly when he saw the murderous glare directed towards him. Releasing his grip on her arm he turned his attention back towards the castle and saw that the stable lad was still standing there observing the scene he had just witnessed.

            “You boy! Why are you still standing there? You are paid to take care of the horses, not to stand around and gawk all day. Unless you’d like to be relieved of your duties, I’d suggest you leave…now!” Gisborne barked at the boy, whose whole demeanor changed and attempted to stutter out an apology before disappearing altogether with the horses.

 

“And they say I’m the one with the temper? Really Gisborne he’s just a child, did you really think it necessary to be so gruff with him?” Aria asked as they made their way down to the dungeons. Gisborne moaned, why did this woman have to question everything? Couldn’t she just let things be for once in her annoying existence? “Not everyone here is as innocent as you believe, and you’d best be aware that the castle is full of The Sheriff’s spies.” Guy explained as they entered the castle and he steered her towards the left and down the stairs.

            Aria ceased walking not long after descending the stairs, she was back where it had all started. Where a guard had tried to rape her, where fellow prisoners had made many derogatory comments to her in addition to attempting to assault her, and where ultimately she had learned of her fate. She wasn’t sure she could handle being back here, what if she was put in the general population cell, could she defend her self against so many people? She knew in all reality that she wouldn’t survive if it came to defending herself against so many people, also the odds were not in her favor, not in the least. Just as she felt like she might be on the edge of a nervous breakdown she heard a voice break through her thoughts ‘remember child, I am always here for you. I will never abandon you, you can do all things through me.’

           

            Almost running into Aria as she ceased walking upon seeing the entrance to the dungeon, Guy was about to scold her when he noticed that she was violently shaking. He mused she was scared, not that he blamed her, for everything that had happened down here was his fault. He still didn’t understand how Aria could forgive him for all the wrong he had done to her. She said his past was in the past and that he was a new man. That he was a man who had a fresh start, a man that could do good deeds and not evil ones. He vowed to God right then and there that he would willingly lay down his own life for this woman. She had shown him kindness and forgiveness when he was so undeserving of it. He would do everything in his power to keep her safe until Robin came to the rescue, because that was what Robin was, a hero; and he was not. At best he was just a man who was trying to do right, and to make up for all the wrong he’d done in the past; he wasn’t fooling anyone though, he could never be the hero in any story.

            Guy decided it was time to bring Aria back to the present, and knowing they were being watched, he stepped in front of her and locked eyes with her. He leaned in close and spoke quietly in her ear, “I will do everything in my power to keep you safe, this I promise you. I will stall The Sheriff as long as I can once we are out in the square, please understand that what I say is only to appease The Sheriff and draw a reaction from the crowd to buy you more time. If everything goes to plan, to cause a distraction so Robin can help you escape. You, a woman of all people, have given me hope and a reason to live. Therefore if it comes down to your life or mine, I will gladly give my life for yours. Now is not the time to argue as I am expected elsewhere. I will need for you to act like you are afraid of me, after all we have to keep up with appearances.” Gisborne said with a wink before turning back around to face the entrance of the dungeon.

           

            Not having time to comprehend the words that Gisborne had spoken to her, she saw him turn away from her and focus on The Jailer, whom had appeared during their conversation. This was probably her last chance at escape she thought as her body shifted ever so slightly, ready to run as far away from here as it possibly could, but her head saw reason. She knew there was no hope in escaping with out help at this point, she also knew she had to trust in God’s plan and that this was part of a bigger picture that she couldn’t see; That it was way beyond her understanding. God had already shown her a plan that included Guy, what the details of this plan were though she had no idea, as per the usual, Gods plans remained a mystery to her until He deemed it otherwise.

 

            Standing there waiting for instructions on what to do next, Aria’s already abused body began to violently shiver, the cold was starting to have an effect on her, and try as she might to suppress these actions, she couldn’t. She worried that this would draw unwanted attention unto her, but thankfully, no one seemed to notice or care.

            Gisborne walked Aria towards her cell keeping a hand on her shoulder in attempt to comfort her, and without it being obvious to others. He waited while The Jailer opened the cell door, and glared at the other prisoners when they started cat calling and making lewd comments towards Aria. When glaring did not seem to get the point across he spoke addressing anyone and everyone who would listen, “The outlaw is our guest for a little while longer. The Sheriff will deal with her, personally, later. Until then he has instructed she be kept alive and unharmed until he comes to collect her. She is not to have any contact with the others in here, least they be working for Robin. Is this clear?” He asked, the last part of the question being directed at The Jailer, and not expecting anyone to question his authority on this matter.

“But what if...” The Jailer started to ask Gisborne. “No contact with anyone else! If it is found out that there was contact, you and whoever else made contact, will hang alongside the outlaw!” Gisborne reiterated. This seemed to make everyone think twice before saying anything to Aria, as they all seemed suddenly to have lost their voices and all valued their lives too much to go against Sir Guy.

 

            Aria simply stared at Guy; he kept surprising her again and again. He had said she was on her own, but here he was defending her against these men. She would have smiled at the gesture had her situation been any different.

            Gisborne turned his attention back to Aria, “This goes for you as well, woman. Should you attempt conversation or help from anyone your punishment will become so much worse than what is currently planned. In fact it would look like mere child’s play in comparison. Heed my warning and do not make trouble for yourself.” ‘Or for me!’ The last part going unsaid as he shrugged off his jacket and tossed it casually to the ground. He turned from her and started rolling up the sleeves of his shirt as he exited the cell. If The Jailer, or anyone else, questioned Sir Guy leaving his jacket behind, they kept it to themselves. Then without saying another word, Gisborne simply kept walking towards the entrance of the dungeons, his mind trying to come up with excuses that he could use to get out of this meeting with The Sheriff. For he would much rather be working on a plan for Aria’s escape, as that was more important to him than dealing with the pompous sheriff.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 16: Face Your Fears

 

"Staring down the face of fear

Gotta keep breathing

When the negative is all you hear

Gotta keep believing”

-Hannah Kerr

 

Sherwood Forest:

 

            “So lets go over the plan one more time. I want to make sure everyone knows their role, especially now that we have Marian with us. As I have mentioned before, this is a rescue mission, do not engage the enemy unless you have to. Make sure that your escape route is clear and have a back up plan. If you fight, then fight to disarm and to give Aria a fighting chance. I cannot afford anyone else getting captured, so please be careful. Marian will be disguised as The Night Watchman, who has recently come out of retirement, and has graciously agreed to assist us with the rescue.” Robin said with a wink in Marian’s direction, she simply rolled her eyes and muttered something about men and their egos, eliciting a quite chuckle from ‘Jaq.

As Robin continued going over the plan Will came riding back into camp, steering his steed towards the group and speaking directly to Robin, “The torturer is en route towards the castle, he should arrive with in the next few hours. He does not have an escort though, which I find odd.” He finished and waited for Robin to answer. Thankfully this was one scenario that Robin had planned for, so it didn’t throw a wrench in his plans, as Aria would say.

            “Thanks Will. Right then, gather what you need and be ready to go in five minuets, we meet back here.” When Robin finished speaking, everyone broke from the gathering any last minuet supplies they thought they might need, and everyone’s mind focused on rescuing their friend from the despicable Sheriff.

 

~//~

           

            Gisborne looked out into the courtyard for what was at least the millionth time since he had been dismissed from The Sheriff’s quarters. He was looking for some sign of Robin and the gang, he thought for sure that they would have come to rescue their companion. If not the gang, than surely Robin would have come for his lover? Gisborne growled in frustration, and he slammed his fist against the stone wall, his eyes saw nothing out of the ordinary as they continued sweeping over the people who had gathered for this “festival”. He only saw the peasants, the usual merchants selling their goods and the ever-present guards. He heard the clock tower strike one causing him to tear his gaze away from the window, turning his back towards the window he started making his way to retrieve the outlaw from her quarters. He had spent more time in that damn dungeon over the past few days then he had in the past six months, he had humored a thought of moving his personal quarters down there at the rate everything was going.

 

Walking along the familiar path he let his mind wander over the events of the past few days, he decided that it couldn’t hurt to pray and ask that God allow Aria to be saved. Guy had barley started to pray when someone ran into him, startling him.

            “Sir Guy! So sorry sir… wait, you’re alive?” one of the two soldiers immediately exclaimed upon realizing whom they had run into.

Gisborne glared at them as he spoke “Watch where you’re going, imbeciles! Why, pray tell, are you still standing here, shouldn’t you be out in the court yard with the rest of the guard?”

            “Yes Sir, on our way Sir! We just finished our debriefing with The Sheriff on the orders for today.” The other solider explained, rather hurriedly Gisborne noted.

“Does it look like I care to hear your excuses? Get down there now before I arrange for the two of you to each be a head shorter!” Gisborne threatened, something was off with these two guards; something he couldn’t quit put his finger on. He simply brushed it off as paranoia due to what was about to happen.

            “Yes Sir!” They said in unison, and before scurrying off one of them had the audacity to wink at him. If they hadn’t scrambled off as fast as they did he probably would have strangled them for their impudence.

Gisbrone let loose a string of curses, could nothing go the way it was supposed to, even just in the slightest bit? He thought to him self. When all was said and done he planned to take a long vacation and drink these memories away. He hadn’t killed anyone, yet, but the day was still young and he only had so much patience left in him.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 17: Helplessly Hoping

 

“You’ll never stop me, I’m a warrior

When I fall down I get stronger

Faith is my shield, His love is the armor”

-Hannah Kerr

 

            Aria had been staring out into space, not really thinking about anything when she heard familiar footsteps approaching her; she looked up to see Guy standing outside her cell. She knew why he was here and that he meant her no harm, but that didn’t suppress the shudder that coursed through her body. It wasn’t a side effect of the cold and dampness of the cell, Guy’s jacket had provided enough warmth that she didn’t feel the cold as she had before. It was simply a side effect Sir Guy had always had on people, ever since he became an adult. Wincing in pain she slowly rose to her feet, her joints protesting from being in one position for too long. She had long ago decided that if she were to die today she wouldn’t do it as a coward. No, she would face death with her head held high, for she knew that death in it’s self wasn’t the end. However, that thought did little to comfort her at this point.

            As Guy approached the outlaws cell he passed a few guards who watched him through sideways glances, judging his every move. He unhooked the keys that were attached to his pants and unlocked her cell, steeling his heart and putting on a mask of indifference towards what he was about to do. He spoke in a harsh and unkind tone, almost as if speaking to Aria was the worst thing that could have been asked of him.

“Your time has finally come outlaw. Justice will be served and the people will rejoice in knowing that a dangerous criminal will no longer roam the streets preying on the innocent.” If Aria hadn’t known better she would have been offended that he felt so superior towards her. “Now, you will not be needing this.” Gisborne forcefully stripped his jacket from Aria, causing the sleeve of her dress to tear leaving it barely attached. Her already tattered dress looked like it would fall off her thin frame at any moment and leave her exposed for all of Nottingham to see.

 

            Guy looked at Aria, his eyes betraying what he was truly feeling at the moment. Guy threw his jacket on hastily and then pulled a rope from the pocket of his pants, and using more force than was necessary, grabbed Aria’s wrists and pulled her close to him. As he bound her hands together, he spoke quickly and quietly in her ear, as they were being watched and he could not risk raising suspicion. “I stalled for as long as I could, it seems I have failed you though as Robin has not shown up yet. I tried to save you.” And with the last word he pushed her away from him, his face showing disgust as if the mere sight of her repulsed him. Yanking on her bonds, to make sure she couldn’t slip out of them, he started dragging her away from her cell up towards the stairs that would lead to the courtyard.

 

            Before Aria realized it she was out in the courtyard, the afternoon sun blinding her sensitive eyes. Aria tripped over what she assumed was a rock and fell to the ground, scraping her knees and elbows.

“Get up!” Guy commanded as he tried to pull the outlaw up by her bonds. When she did not comply he took hold of her arm and all but yanked it out of the socket. Aria felt a snap and then a sudden sharp stabbing pain in her ankle, she cried out in surprise. Gisborne immediately let go of her arm and Aria crumpled to the ground, attempting not to cry out as the movement jostled her ankle.

            Gisborne, becoming concerned, attempted to figure out what had happened and where Aria was hurt. He hadn’t felt her shoulder pop when he had grabbed her arm, so he figured it wasn’t dislocated. Not wanting to blow their cover, but knowing they couldn’t continue on until her found out where she was injured, he kneeled down and spoke to her. “Aria look at me.” When she did not comply with his command he repeated it, leaving no room to disobey.

Aria looked up at him, her eyes filled with unshed tears and her lips quivering, she was bound and determined to not show any weakness. Not now, not after she had come so far in denying The Sheriff what he wanted. She spoke, trying her best to keep her voice steady “My ankle…I felt it snap when you pulled me, and then…and then there was a sharp stabbing pain.”

 

            Gisborne looked down to her ankle and saw it was trapped between two stones; he pulled it out as gently as he could and saw that it was bent at an odd angle, which suggested it was broken. Before Gisborne had a chance to react to his observation though a voice behind him spoke, “Gizzy, what seems to be the hold up? I sent you to fetch the outlaw sometime ago, must I always babysit you for every task?”

            “My lord Sheriff, the outlaw seems to have broken her ankle, which is slowing us down.” Gisborne replied, seriously why did that man have to show up at the most inconvenient times?

“Always excuses Gisborne. You know what your problem is? You seem to care too much about the prisoners. The solution here is simple, you drag the whore to the middle of the square if you have to, or she can walk it’s up to her. Either way I really don’t care how she gets there, just as long as she gets there. Now girlie, lets get a move on shall we? We can’t keep our guests waiting any longer.” With a smirk The Sheriff grabbed the rope that Guy had dropped and started dragging Aria behind him, completely ignoring her cries when she stumbled over the rough terrain. What seemed like a lifetime to Aria and Guy, the courtyard finally appeared in view.

            The Sheriff paused for a moment, giving Aria a chance to rest and look around at the scene in front of her. It looked like any other day at the castle except for the wooden platform in the middle, and a man dressed in black standing on said platform; she assumed it was the torture. There were the local merchants selling their products, people shouting and going about their daily lives, heedless of her plight. Her reprieve was short lived however as The Sheriff handed the rope that he had been holding back over to Gisborne. “Here Gisborne, take her up to the platform and string her up. Then come join me in the viewing area.” Without another word The Sheriff turned on his heel and walked up to the platform, continuing to his viewing area, ignoring or blind to the glares he received from the villagers as he passed by them. Once he was seated he motioned to Guy to bring the outlaw forward through the crowd.

 

            Gisborne looked at Aria with a quick apologetic face before tugging on her leash and spoke in his normal crude tone “Lets go outlaw, it’s time.”

Aria stumbled along as Guy dragged her towards the platform where the torturer awaited her. She held her head high as she limped along, trying not to make a sound. She felt as if a knife was being stabbed into her ankle with every step she took. Suddenly Gisborne yanked on the rope, causing her to land upon her already bloody and bruised knees. “Get up outlaw, and stop trying to stall the inevitable. You will be punished for your crimes today, and The Sheriff isn’t a patient, or forgiving man. So move your arse now!” Gisborne yelled at Aria.

            Aria had had enough, she was done simply sitting quietly and biting her tongue “I have done nothing wrong you bastard! Why must you treat me so?” She countered, glaring at him as she slowly got back to her feet, only to be met with the back of his hand connecting to her face.

“You will hold your tongue, whore. Apparently you still haven’t learned your lesson about authority. I can, and will gladly, remind you as many times as I need to; just like last night. I will even let my men have a go at helping you learn your lesson. We may even show the town our methods, and they can assist us as well should you continue to defy our authority.” Gisborne promised as he drug Aria with even more force than before through the crowd.

            The crowd started murmuring at the treatment of this woman, they had yet to be divulged as to what exactly her crimes were, but surely a woman couldn’t have committed such a crime that deserved such treatment?

Guy was becoming more and more uncomfortable with the current situation and therefore sped up his pace to deliver the outlaw to the torturer and be done with his part in this treachery. He was growing weary of trying to keep up this pretense of being a villian, a role up until recently he had relished in.

            Aria remained quiet as she took head of Gisbornes threat, she wasn’t sure if he was bluffing or not and choose to cooperate, for now. She knew exactly what Guy was implying when he had said he would let his men have a go at helping her learn her lesson. She would have a hard enough time surviving the lashings with out adding rape into the equation. She had to remain strong though; she wouldn’t let The Sheriff win.

 

            As they finally reached the platform Aria looked up at the torturer. He was a tall man with fairly tanned skin and muscular arms that were well toned. He had blue eyes that were full of sorrow; almost as if he regretted what he was about to do, and yet the more she stared at him the more she felt she knew him from somewhere. She shook her head to try and clear these delusional thoughts she was having. It became apparent to her that she had received too many blows to her head. ‘A torture with a conscience, how ironic.’ Aria thought to her self, things just keep getting stranger the longer she stayed in this time period!

            Guy walked up the stairs towing Aria behind him and shoved the torture out of the way as he stomped over to the post where Aria was to be tied. Without a word to either party, Guy started to tie Aria to the post. As he was finishing he spoke low enough that only Aria could hear him, “be brave, do what you must to survive. If…no, when this is all over, I will try and send Marian to tend to your wounds. When I am able to I will come to check on you as well. There is still a chance that Robin will come and all will be well. Do not try and be the hero, as that will likely get you killed. Besides, we’ve over come far too much to let death win now. Wouldn’t you agree?”

Aria started to chuckle at Gisbornes attempt at a joke, but it quickly turned into a coughing fit that left her gasping for air. Guy looked at her, concern flashing across his face, before a mask of indifference replaced it. Just as he was about to say something to her The Sheriff spoke, and Gisborne swore that if the man didn’t drop dead by the end of today he would personally see that fixed.
            “My fellow citizens of Nottingham, I am so pleased that you could all join us on this fine day. You are here to watch as justice is upheld and the wicked are punished. This outlaw has been found guilty of many crimes, which I shall now read to you.” He said, as he was handed a piece of rolled parchment from his servant.

“This woman has been found guilty of impersonating a member of the nobility, stealing gold from the royal treasury, prostitution, murder of royal guards, being a spy, public lewdness, treason against his majesty King Richard in the form of planning his murder and being in league with the dangerous criminal Robin Hood. I do believe that covers it, don’t you think girlie?” He asked sarcastically, hoping to get a rise out of her. “Your punishment is to be as follows; 100 lashes, thirteen for each crime. You will remain conscious until the end of your punishment. Should you loose consciousness you will be revived and the punishment will continue.”

            Shocked and outraged cries arose from the crowd at this statement. The law had dictated that at any one time, there be no more than thirty lashes given for any punishment involving flogging! Aria however remained silent, having nothing to say. The Sheriff, ignoring the crowd, continued on.

“I still feel though that this is too lenient for your crimes, but I do need you to live through this ordeal so you can be an example to others who might have the same notion as you. No one is to interfere unless they care to share the same fate as our friend here. You would of course be expected to pay the extra money that it costs for adding you on. Not to mention the fact that should you, personally, not be able to pay, then your family or next of kin will until we receive our due. You might want to make note that there is an added fee each time we have to go to someone else for payment. Nothing personal you understand of course, it’s simply the price of doing business these days…No, wait I lied, it is personal! Now with that being said Gizzy do come sit down and enjoy the show. It should prove to be very entertaining."

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 18: Brave

 

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.

Do not walk in front of me; I may not follow.

Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

-Albert Camus

 

 

            Everything seemed to be going smoothly, they had ambushed the torturer before he reached the main road that lead to Nottingham, thus ensuring phase one of operation Aria was complete. Robin’s gang was able to easily slip into the courtyard without raising any sort of alarm, which was not an easy feat considering they were hiding in plain sight, right under The Sheriff’s pompous nose.

 

            Robin tried to keep from pacing back and forth on the platform, it was getting late and The Sheriff had told him that it wouldn’t be long before the outlaw was presented for her punishment. Of course The Sheriff had no idea that Robin wasn’t the real torturer because of the mask that he wore. The real torturer was currently tied up and would be released as soon as Aria was safe, seeing as the gang had no quarrel with him. The man was simply doing his job, and that man had no idea that Aria was innocent in all of this, or that her “trial” had been rigged from the start.

            He was pulled from his thoughts when he saw Gisborne, and The Sheriff with Aria in tow behind them. He couldn’t believe his eyes! Gisborne was alive and appeared to be in good health, knowing what Gisborne meant to Marian, Robin scanned the crowd looking for her but was unable to find her. He prayed that she would keep a cool head and not let her emotions get in the way of the rescue mission, once she found out that Guy was alive. With Guy being alive though, this changed the entire plan. Robin now had to think fast on a new plan, he knew from past experiences that his gang was good at thinking on their feet when things did not go according to plan, but none of their scenarios had included the possibility of Guy being alive.

            As Robin continued studying Aria, and attempting to formulate a new plan, it became evident that she had been ill treated at the hand of her captors. His blood began to boil as he took into the account her injuries that were visible from his viewpoint as they passed by him. She appeared to be favoring her left ankle, as she limped heavily every time she put pressure on it. Her dress was stained with blood, but who’s blood it was Robin couldn’t tell. It was torn and tattered, looking as if the slightest breeze would cause it to fall off. There was hand shaped bruising around her neck, her lip was split and she had a black eye. He was positive she had more injuries than he could see in the short amount of time he had to observe her.

            Guy had assured Robin, in his letter, that Aria was in no danger while she remained with him, had he lied to Robin? If Aria had indeed remained safe with Sir Guy then when had she been injured, and had she been abused in ways that were not visible to the eye? If she had been assaulted at the hand of Gisborne, Robin would make sure Guy suffered a slow and painful death for what he had done to Aria. Robin may be a trained solider and an outlaw, but abusing a woman had never been something he was ok with, and he held little regard for those that did. Despite her injuries Aria still held her head up with a look of defiance in her eyes, he had to hand it to her; she always was a defiant one when it came to some areas of authority.

            Just before the trio reached the stairs of the platform, The Sheriff handed the rope that was attached to Aria to Gisborne, instructing him to ‘string her up’. As The Sheriff passed Robin he paused and gleefully told him to have as much fun with the outlaw as he wished. ‘I will not object to other methods used for torturing other than the lashings’ were his exact words. At the implication of The Sheriffs words Robin wanted to stab the man right then and there, this man was certainly a by product of Satan in order to get such amusement out of harming other people, especially innocent women. “She needs to be an example of what happens when you defy the authority of a man.” The Sheriff stated. There it was, the real reason Aria was to be punished. Robin had figured there was more to it than Aria being an outlaw, and he had been proven right by The Sherriff’s words. If it had been because she was an outlaw then this festival would likely have been on a grander scale.

            Robin could only nod his head, pretending to agree, knowing that if he spoke the sound of his voice would be recognized and then he would find himself in hot water. ‘I will make sure to set an example today lord sheriff.’ He thought to himself.

Robin continued to watch in disgust as Guy manhandled Aria, yanking her around like she was some kind of beast that was out of control. He watched on as Guy gave a tug so aggressively that it caused Aria to fall on her already bloody knees, Aria shouted to Guy as Robin watched from where he stood, afraid to move even an inch.

            “You bastard, I have done no wrong! Why must you treat me so?”

God love that women and her temper! His woman had always had a temper that got her into huge amounts of trouble more often than not, but he wouldn’t change that part of her personality even if he could. He smirked for a moment until he saw Gisborne raise his hand and hit Aria, he growled under his breath ready to strangle Guy. Robin quickly glanced around the square looking for his gang, knowing that he would have to act quickly or else they would blow their cover and they might not make it out alive. None of the members tolerated the abuse of women, let alone someone who was so dear to them as Aria was. Guy spoke loudly and harshly, addressing the crowd as much as Aria.

            “You will hold your tongue, whore! Apparently you still haven’t learned your lesson about authority. I can, and will, gladly remind you as many times as I need too, just like last night. I will even let my men have a go at helping you learn your lesson should you continue to defy our authority.”

‘Over my dead body will you or your men touch her in such a manner!’ Robin almost shouted at Gisborne. He wasn’t sure what exactly he was going to do, but he knew he couldn’t just stand aside without letting Aria know that he was here, or that he would die before he let Gisborne, or anyone else touch her in the manner that had been conveyed mere moments ago. Robin had not realized that he had moved towards Aria until Guy held up his hand to stop Robin in his tracks, “The whore can walk to the post or I can drag her, it’s her choice really. You needn’t bother with her, we both have jobs to do here. Yours is to deliver the punishment and mine is to make sure she arrives and is prepared for you.”

            Robin unwillingly obliged and let Guy continue dragging Aria up the steps. He managed to catch her eyes and tried to offer a small Robinesque grin* in an attempt to reveal himself to her without alerting anyone else to his presence; however, Guy was in a hurry and the moment was lost as soon as it had been presented, it appeared he would just have to wait to offer comfort to her. As Guy was tying Aria to the post, Robin pretended to be in deep thought as to which whip to use, and therefore was able to eavesdrop on the conversation that was taking place between the two.

            To the untrained eye it appeared that Sir Guy was simply tying the outlaw up, but in all reality he was only pretending so he might have a conversation with out raising suspicion. Everyone in the town was focused on them now and Gisborne knew it wouldn’t help either party if it were discovered that he was helping the outlaw and not The Sheriff.

            “Aria, please listen to me, I need you to be brave and do what you must to survive. I know it won’t be easy as I’ve done my fair share of torturing, but if you are to make it out alive, you must stay strong. I will try and send Marian to tend to your wounds when this is all over, I will make sure she has all the supplies needed and that she is able to help you recover. I will try and slip away to check on you as well. For the love of God do not become a martyr! You and I both know that we’ve come too far and endured too much to let death win now.” Guy tried explaining to the outlaw, praying that for once she would let go of her stubborn pride and heed his advice.

           

            Robin almost dropped the whip he had picked up for inspection when he heard those words. Was this all a ploy, did Guy really have a heart and did his heart feel something for Aria? Did he truly care for the safety and well-being of her? If this was true when had this happened, and what had caused this change of heart? Guy had hated Robin and everything Robin stood for, for as long as either party could remember. This newly developed caring side to anyone but Marian was shocking, for if Guy truly cared for Aria why this ruse, why not simply let her escape? It didn’t make any sense to Robin, especially since Guy kept abusing her at every turn.

            “My part is done, she is in your hands now.” Guy said to Robin as he brushed past him and made his way over towards The Sheriff.

 

            The Sheriff stood up and addressed the crowd but Robins mind was too busy pondering what he had just over heard to hear the majority of The Sheriffs speech. What snapped him out of his musings though were the words “100 lashes, thirteen for each crime…I feel this is still too light of a punishment considering all that you’ve done…”

‘Too light?’ Robin thought, even during the crusades a man had never received more than thirty lashes. There was no way Aria would have survived had Robin not switched places with the real torturer.

            “…Let the festivities begin, and please enjoy your selves!” The Sheriff finished, clapping his hands together and rubbing them together in excitement. If it hadn’t been observed before it was well noted now, The Sheriff was a cruel man with little to no regard for humanity.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19: Me Without You

 

“Raise your thoughts a little higher,

Use your words to inspire,

Joy will fall like rain,

When you speak life with the things you say.”

-TobyMac

 

            Robin made a show of choosing his first tool by picking up different whips and holding them up to the crowd so that they might have a say in Aria’s punishment. Robin felt as if he were going to be sick to his stomach when the crowd cheered loudly as he held up the three-tailed sjambok*. He had figure that the crowd, based upon earlier observation, would be more sympathetic towards Aria and choose something less extreme such as the traditional riding crop. He looked out among the crowd and saw that it was mostly The Sheriffs men who were cheering for the Sjambok, and not so much the villagers. This made more sense to him he thought, seeing as the villagers looked uneasy about what was about to take place.

            Robin turned away from the crowd and held up the whip towards The Sheriff, pretending to care what that spawn of Satan thought. When The Sheriff applauded Robin’s choice he elbowed Gisborne in the side and leaned over to say something to him. Robin however, was too far away to hear what was being said and knowing The Sheriff as he did, figured he’d rather not know what was being said, it was probably something un necessarily crude about Aria. If the plan was to work, Robin needed to keep his head in the game and he couldn’t do that if he focused on what The Sheriff was saying, rather than the task at hand. He took a deep breath and asked God to grant him the strength he needed for this charade, and that Aria would forgive him for what must be done.

 

            Aria dared not look behind her, least she loose what little courage she had left. The villagers had been making comments and cheering at whatever the torturer was doing behind her for what seemed to have been the past hour, but she knew it was unlikely that such a long amount of time had passed; The Sheriff was NOT a patient man. It seemed to Aria, that it was The Sheriff’s men who were the ones cheering the loudest at the torturer, ‘figures’, she thought to herself that he would have men who were just as cruel and evil as himself in his employment. Finally the crowd grew quite and Aria knew it was time, she sent a quick prayer up to heaven asking, just as Christ had when he had been crucified, “ ‘ …forgive them, for they know not what they do. ‘ “ (Luke 23:24 KJV) In reply to her prayer she heard a voice from heaven “ ‘ Be still and know that I am God…’ “ (Psalm 46:10 KJV). She knew right then and there that God was with her and would not forsake her in her hour of need. She remembered a verse that had helped her in the past, she shouted it out to the crowd so that it might ease both her fears, and the people in front of her. It was an added bonus that it would annoy The Sheriff as well! “ ‘ The Lord is my strength. He saves me, and I sing songs of praise to him. He is my God, and I praise him. He is the God of my ancestors, and I will honor him.’ “ (Exodus 15:2 ERV).

 

            The Sheriff spoke to her “I will have none of your blasphemy, woman. Besides, your God has abandoned you; he cares not for whores or traitors. If he was such a caring God, as you seem to believe, than why is he letting this happen to you? Hmm… no reply then? Well let’s stop all this gibberish that God cares about you and get on with the festivities!” The Sheriff gestured towards Robin and then turning towards Gisborne mentioned, for at least the millionth time today alone, “Lepers, Gisborne, Lepers. Every last one of the opposite sex.”

 

            Gisborne just looked at The Sheriff and inwardly he groaned. Leave it to Aria to throw all caution into the wind and do the exact opposite of what he had told her to do! She really must have a death wish because she just couldn’t keep her big mouth shut; she was going to be the death of him if she kept this up he mused; he could only help her so much. Did she pull stunts like this with Robin, if so how did Robin go about living his life on a day-to-day basis? He was exhausted after just three days with this fiery red headed, hot tempered of a woman! He was all but ready to shove her into the arms of Robin and be done with her; he might just pay the man to keep her away from him at this rate he added as an after thought.

           

            Robin knew he needed to act fast before The Sheriff added something else to Aria’s punishment for speaking out as she did. He walked towards Aria with the Sjambok in hand and he then raised it, lightly striking Aria across her shoulder and drug the whip down her arm stopping at her fingertips. He avoided her eyes, for now, knowing he wouldn’t be able to stand the fear he would see in them. It was already taking everything in him to not just end all this and be done with it. As a trained soldier, who had proven himself enough to be selected as King Richards right hand man, he was all too aware that timing was everything. He knew that in order to deceive the enemy you must know their weaknesses.

The Sheriff’s weakness was he took any and every opportunity to torture people, often leaving himself exposed. He also loved inflicting as much pain and suffering upon anyone and everyone who slighted him, even if it was imagined. If Robin played his part right, then The Sheriff would fall easily into the trap that was laid for him.

            Robin continued slowly and deliberately to walk around Aria, all the while applying lashes with just enough force to cause a reaction from her. None of these lashes were painful, but Aria’s body involuntarily flinched every time the whip touched her skin. As he completed his circle he drew back his arm and struck Aria several times, hard enough to sting but gentle enough to not break the skin. He paused for a moment as if trying to decide where to strike next when The Sheriff, who was sitting behind the platform that Robin now stood upon spoke. “Well? Get on with it man! It’s not like I have all day to sit here and watch this…wait, on second thought I do, as I arranged this. But really do get on with it, before I grow bored and take over.” Robin gave a small bow towards The Sheriff before returning his attention back towards Aria.

‘Where are you Much? I don’t want this to go much further, but I may not have a choice if you take all day! Robin thought as he steeled his heart for what was about to happen. He pulled back his arm as far as it would go and struck Aria with such force that it cut through the fabric on her dress and left a welt on the skin so red and angry looking, that it looked as if it might burst at the slightest touch. He repeated his action several more times, each time Aria’s skin becoming more and more ragged looking. Suddenly there arose a commotion in the far right hand corner of the market place. ‘About damn time’ was Robins thought when he finally heard his friend’s voice.

 

            “This is outrageous, this is unbelievable is what this is! You deliberately squashed all my fruits and are now refusing to pay for them. Guards! Guards! Guards! Arrest this man for damaging personal property.” Much shouted at an annoyed looking Allan.

“I did no such thing! I was shoved by someone behind me, aint my fault your fruit broke my fall. Therefore I aint paying for your rotten fruit, which looking at the rest of the lot, aint worth a single deniers*.” Allan responded, a little too enthusiastically. Picking up said fruit and shoving it in Much’s face, as if to prove the point. This had been one of the distractions that they had planned, Much and Allan would start quarrelling and hopefully draw attention to themselves and away from Robin and Aria. Robin had ceased his actions the moment the shouting started, playing the part of a confused man who wondered if he should continue or wait for further instructions.

 

            Aria’s back was stinging from the lashings, and she was sure she had felt blood running down her back at one point as well. The way that the torturer had been torturing her, she felt like this was a game of cat and mouse; with her being the mouse. He had started off mild like in his punishment and started to progress to more intense lashings; she had only counted fifteen lashes so far. The majority of them she felt wouldn’t count towards the 100 lashes she was supposed to have, they seemed too light, and if this was indeed the case then she still had ninety five lashes left before she was set free. She steeled herself for more lashings when there arose an argument from a stall near the front of the courtyard, the voices being carried to her by the wind unto her ears. When she heard those voices she at first thought it was her imagination, but as the argument continued she felt sure that those voices belonged to Much and Allan! If they were here then that meant Robin and the rest of the gang were here somewhere. She was going to be saved; Robin hadn’t abandoned her after all! Aria couldn’t wait to see the look on The Sheriffs face when he realized that Robin and his gang were here and she escaped from all this. She sent a quite thank you towards heaven and tried to look around the crowd for familiar faces, but could see none.

 

            The Sheriff stood up “What’s all this ruckus about now? It’s interrupting my entertainment and does that make for a happy sheriff? A clue, no!” The Sheriff turned his attention to Gisborne, “Well?...Why are you still standing there Gisborne? Go, take some guards, and settle this commotion so I may enjoy this” he guested towards Aria. With out a word Gisborne left the platform to go and investigate the issue further. The Sheriff, now somewhat satisfied, turned his attention back to Robin.

            “You man, who gave you permission to stop? Continue on, and don’t stop on my account. Oh, and speed things along will you? I’ve heard barely a peep out of this woman, I want to hear her scream like those banshees her kind believes in. You’re being too soft with her, she’s a criminal for crying out loud.” He shouted to Robin.

            Robin decided he could stall for a little bit longer, with out making it seem too obvious, as everyone was watching him. He walked back over to the table where everything had been laid out for ease of access. He put the Sjambok down and ran his hands lightly over other whips before deciding on a cat-o’-nine-tails; which was a favorite for floggings, he figured this would make The Sheriff happy and hopefully keep him entertained until Much and Allan could move on to part two of their plan.

 

            Picking up the whip he walked over Aria, sliding the handle of the whip across her throat and pushing it hard against her windpipe, while at the same time grabbing her hair and pulling her head back. He tried to be gentle with her, all the while attempting to make it look real. Aria tried to struggle out of his grasp, she hadn’t been expecting this type of treatment from the torturer, but he only tightened his hold on her and spoke into her ear “Would you stop struggling for just a moment? I don’t wish to cause you anymore pain that what I have, which I will never forgive my self for the rest of my life. I’m only doing what I must to make this realistic, believe me when I say I get no joy out of any of this, and I hope you can forgive me someday for what I’ve had to do.”

            Aria almost cried out in relief when she recognized Robin’s voice. If she hadn’t been strung up she felt for sure her legs would have given out from under her at that moment. “I was afraid you weren’t coming for me Robin, Sir Guy had said…” Aria had started but Robin interrupted her quickly, “That monster will pay for what he did to you Aria, I promise you that much. He will get what’s due to him, all in good time…” Now it was Aria who cut Robin off mid sentence “Robin, please it’s not what…” but he was in no mood to listen, because time was running out.

            “Much and Allan are distracting the guards, John is near the entrance with a wagon that is made ready for your escape. Marian, Will, and Jaq are also here, and all are ready to cause diversions to help you escape. If anything happens to me, promise me that you won’t turn back to try and save me! You must get to John, no matter the cost; he will get you back to camp and make sure you stay safe. Everyone knows the plan is to get you out alive and to safety, no matter what it costs us.” Robin explained to Aria. She couldn’t believe what she just heard! She knew Robin loved her, and would protect her if needed, but she never thought he would sacrifice his life for hers, or that her adoptive family felt the same way!
            “Aria…Aria! I need you to focus; you’ve got to keep your head on your shoulders. Now, with all that being said, are you able to run?” Robin asked her rather franticly fearing their time was almost up.

Not trusting her voice to remain steady she simply shook her head side to side. She knew she wouldn’t be able to run very well with her broken ankle, hell she had enough trouble just standing while walking, or rather being dragged, to the platform not that long ago, she thought to herself.

            “Hmm, that could present a problem, but we did include this possibility in our plan. We might just have to improvise a little when the time comes. Now shall we continue this charade of ours?” He paused and spoke more tenderly to his woman “I’m afraid that this is going to be painful, and again I am so sorry this has to happen. If all goes to plan we shouldn’t be up here much longer my love.” With that last sentence he threw her head forward and released his grip on her. Taking a few steps back from Aria, Robin raised the cat-o’-nine tails high in the air and stuck Aria with full force, his heart breaking the moment she screamed out in pain.

 

            Aria had thought she could keep quite during the lashings, but she had been wrong. She thought she had a higher threshold for pain, however this pain was like any she had experienced before. It felt like little daggers were being imbedded in her back, and then being ripped out. She knew that Robin was getting no pleasure from this and that his hands were tied, she could never hold it against him, especially knowing he would blame himself for the rest of his life for the misery she was suffering from him, all thanks to The Sherriff. It was then that Aria noticed the lashes had stopped and the crowd had grown quite, which was odd she mused. The only noise she heard seemed to be coming from The Sheriffs men, who were cheering Robin on and encouraging him to be more firm with the lashes. It seemed to Aria that the villagers of Nottingham were sympathizing with her, as so many of them had been accused and punished unfairly, at least once, with the current sheriff. Robin was only one man and it was impossible to save everyone every time they were in trouble, sometimes you had to sacrifice a few for the majority. Sometimes you had to fly a lot of flags at half-mast, it was never an easy thing to do, but then that was life. Dying was the easy part, living was harder.* But God bless the man for trying every time he heard of someone needing help in some way shape or form, Robin had always worn his heart on his sleeve, and Aria loved him all the more for it.

            Finally Much and Allan had caused such a commotion, that most everyone’s attention became focused on them and not Aria. This was the moment that Robin had been waiting for, and wasting no time drew his dagger from his boot and cut Aria’s bonds quickly, catching her before she fell to the ground. “Steady now love, easy does it. This might not be very comfortable, but it’s the easiest way to get you to safety.” And with out giving Aria time to ponder what he meant, Robin raised her right arm over his head, bending at the waist and knees; he gently pulled her right shoulder over and down his left shoulder. Thus bringing her body across his shoulders passing his right arm between her legs and grasping her right knee with his hand. “I think we’ve over stayed our welcome dear, lets get you home!” Robin said to Aria as he started towards the wagon where John was waiting.

 

            There arose a cry from one of the villagers, that almost made Robin drop Aria so surprised was he. “Look! The night watchman has come to stop The Sheriff’s evil doings and his social injustices.” Aria peered around Robins shoulder to see Marian standing in her night watchman’s outfit, not far from where Gisborne and his men were attempting to deal with Much and Allan.

            Gisborne looked around, concern flashing across his face. What was Marian doing? She had promised him that she would no longer play hero to the people, and then she would stay away from Robin, and yet there she was! He couldn’t let her be caught by his men or The Sheriff, as that had happened once before and Marian had barely made it out alive, he knew there would be no second chances.

            Marian took survey of the situation and realized that Much and Allan had bitten off a little more than they could chew, she also knew that if Gisborne got his hands on either of the men they would be dead before night fall, or at least Much. Marian wasn’t sure if Allan was still working for Gisborne or not, if he was then Guy would allow him to live most likely, if not he would surely swing beside Much. She rushed over to assist her fellow friends, as she ran towards them she pulled out a dagger that she had packed in her boot. She quickly pushed past the guards and villagers, making her way through them, and sneaking up behind Guy, she grabbed his arm roughly and yanked it behind him, putting the dagger up to his throat. She used him as her shield and started to pull him towards the entrance where John was waiting with the wagon.

            Guy knew he could easily over power Marian, but chose not to, he wanted her alive. After all was said and done, if he fought with her now she might become injured and then where would he be? She had almost die by his hand once before, and he knew he would loose him self if she were to die. She was his reason for living, for trying to be a better man. She was his match in every way; she was the one who grounded him when he lost his temper, and on many occasions, he would have done something stupid if she hadn’t intervened. Guy spoke to Marian “You don’t know what you’re doing, let me go and I shall be lenient when handing out your punishment.”

            Marian, not really caring to hear anything from him at this point, pressed her dagger harder into his skin, drawing forth a line of blood, showing she meant business and wasn’t here for pillow talk.

            As the guards rushed forward to help their master he shouted at them, “No! Stay back, go and guard The Sheriff as this could all be a ploy to assassinate him. ‘Oh the horror, say it just isn’t so! Someone is trying to off The Sheriff.’ He thought to himself. ‘The only tragedy would be that it wasn’t me who killed him.’ The guards thankfully complied and left the group alone, then just as Gisborne was about to address Marian, Much shouted at the top of his lungs, “I am a friend of Robin Hood, and this is a rescue!”

 

            Guy sighed in relief; if Robin’s loyal manservant was here it meant Robin was here as well, the two of them were inseparable. If Robin was here than Aria would be rescued, Robin would see to it that his lover made it out alive, Guy was certain of that. He would help them in anyway he could, he owed Aria that much at least for everything that she had done for him. Guy continued to let Marian lead him away from the fray, and towards a wagon that was sitting near by, a driver already in its seat. He watched as Marian produced some rope from a pouch that had been hidden amongst her body, and proceeded to tie his hands, tighter than need be, behind his back, forcing him into the wagon.

Guy could tell Marian was angry with him, given her treatment of him. How ironic though that he should go from being a prisoner of The Sheriff’s to that of his long time sworn enemy, Hood. He realized that he was now at the mercy of Marian and Hood, and at this point he wasn’t sure who would kill him first.

 

            “Hood!? Guards I want him found and captured alive. Half of you go find him, while the other half go and make sure the prisoner is secure, as I am sure he will be going after…” The Sheriff trailed off as he saw the torturer carrying the prisoner off, and that could only mean one thing, Hood had been hiding in plain sight this whole time. How could he not have not seen it, suddenly everything clicked into place and seemed glaringly obvious.

“Hood! Stop where you are and release the whore, and I might spare you the agony of watching her, and your men, die slow and painful deaths.” The Sheriff yelled to Robin.

            Robin, obliging The Sheriff, turned back around to face the evil man. He started untying his mask and tossing it to the side in the process. Robin no longer needed it to disguise his features. As he was turning Aria became frantic and started panicking! She had seen John with the wagon just up ahead, and now Robin seemed to be walking back to The Sheriff!

“Robin, what the hell are you doing? I thought we were getting out of this hell, not waltzing back to it!” Aria demanded of Robin.

            “I will not let them take you ever again, this I promise you. I just want to pay our respects to The Sheriff, it would be rude not to say goodbye.” He replied to her, giving her hand a squeeze and turning his head so she could see his face, flashed her one of his Robinesque grins as he could feel her body trembling in fear.

“My lord sheriff, I almost forgot to bid you adieu. If anyone fancies real entertainment, I will gladly spend my next months salary in the tavern and all are welcome, but do not let The Sheriff in*.” At this jab the villagers cheered, they loved their Robin, who was always there for them. Then with a sweeping bow, and being careful not to drop Aria, he turned on his heel and made for the wagon again. In the distance Robin thought he could hear The Sheriff’s teeth gnashing in anger at the insult.
            “What are you all standing around for, you idiots, go after them! I want them both alive.” The Sheriff yelled after his guards. No matter how many times he replaced them he still ended up with incompetent men. The old saying of “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself” was becoming more and more obvious as each day went on.

 

            Robin picked up his pace, knowing he was going to have to send Aria ahead to safety and attempt to join up later. How he hated to be parted from her so soon after getting her back, but he knew her safety was crucial to him and the gangs mission. They reached the cart in a relative short amount of time, given their circumstances Robin thought. As he was lowering Aria into the cart, he raised his eyebrows at John, in a questioning look. He nodded towards the captive, Gisborne, who was seated next to an extremely irritated looking Marian. John simply shrugged his shoulders in reply, not really knowing how to answer the unspoken question. After checking to see that Aria was safely in the wagon, Robin grabbed the extra cloak that they had brought, along with other medical supplies, all of which had been hidden under a crate of wheat. Wrapping it tightly around her shoulders to try and keep some of the cold out. His heart breaking all over again when he heard her gasp in pain when the rough fabric rubbed up against a raw spot on her back.

            “Where’s ‘Jaq?” Robin asked John, looking around for her. “She’s supposed to be here waiting, by the wagon, that was the plan! There isn’t much time left to get Aria out of here before they block the main escape route. If ‘Jaq isn’t here in the next two minuets I want you to get Aria out of here at all cost. Stop for no one, and drive as if hells hounds are on your heels!” With that final statement, Robin kissed Aria with such a passion knowing that this might very well be the last time he saw her. It was worth it, in his mind, to see the woman he loved safe and out of The Sheriff’s claws. He had vowed to God that come hell of high water, that he would never fail her again. Robin would up hold his vow until his last dying breath.

            As Robin broke the kiss and started to pull away, Aria pleaded with him, realizing what he was about to do. “Robin, no! Don’t leave me; you can’t just go back there, you might not make it back alive. We were just reunited, I won’t loose you again, I can’t!” Aria was in full-blown hysteria now and was trying to climb out of the wagon and pull Robin close again, and never let him go.

 

            Gisborne, knowing how desperate the situation was, snapped at Aria kicking the foot she was standing on, which caused her to loose her balance and fall back into the wagon. Robin all but flew up at Gisborne for mistreating Aria even further, but Marian beat him too it. “You had better watch yourself Guy.” She growled at him, pointing her dagger at him. Gisborne simply ignored her and spoke to Aria “You are a disgrace right now, get a hold of your self woman! Where is your strength, where is the woman who said God had a bigger plan than we could see, where is the woman who called me a bastard and spat at me naught but a few hours ago?”

            As Aria opened her mouth and lay into Gisborne ‘Jaq showed up, dressed as a solider, and jumped into the wagon.

“Sorry I’m late, and interrupted whatever “this” appears to be, but we’ve got trouble not far behind me and a good amount of it as well.”

They all turned and looked to where ‘Jaq had come from and saw a group of at least twenty soldiers racing after them. Then before anyone could say another word, John gave a cry and the horses shot off, leaving the rest of the men behind.

           

         

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Both Sides Now

 

“I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all”

–Hayley Westenra

 

            Aria and Robin had been arguing for the past hour ever since the gang had been reunited back at camp. Shortly after ‘Jaq, John, Marian, Guy and Aria had arrive safely back at camp, Robin, Much, Will and Allan had shown up. They were unscathed for the most part with no major injuries to them. At first Aria and Robin had been to overwhelmed to do anything but hold each other, afraid the rescue had been nothing but a dream. After sometime had passed though the couple seemed to be aware of the other people around them, and as Robin scanned the familiar faces he mentally checked off his list of people, making sure all were accounted for.

           

            When his gaze fell upon Gisborne, who was leaning against a tree with Marian in his arms, all hell had broken loose and Robin and Aria had started arguing over Sir Guy. “Robin, would you just trust me on this? There is more than meets the eye, there is no reason to harm him!” Aria shouted at Robin, again. This man could be so pig headed sometimes that it made her wonder how they ever got along in the first place.

            “Aria, how can you say that? He raped you, among other things! I can’t let him get away with that, it goes against everything I stand for. You know this, so why are you defending him?” Robin replied to Aria. Why was she protecting this villain? It didn’t make any sense to him, had she hit her head sometime during all of this and developed a case of amnesia? Thus causing her to forget everything Gisborne had done to her in the past three days, or was it a case of Stockholm syndrome? Robin wasn’t sure which it was, but he knew he would do anything to protect those he loved, and he had already failed Aria once; he wasn’t about to let that happen again.

 

“Listen to your woman Hood, for once just trust her.” Gisborne said, untangling himself from Marian and pushing him self off the tree, walking towards Aria and Robin.

The rest of Robin’s gang, who had been watching in anticipation up until now, sprung up to block Gisbornes path, afraid he meant to harm Robin.

            “You have no right to speak about trust, you have no right at all to even talk to Aria after what you did to her. When I am through with you, you will wish you had died the day you were born!” Robin snarled, advancing towards Gisborne and drawing his sword out of it’s sheath. The gang, sensing this was something that Guy and Robin needed to settle among themselves, stepped out of Robin’s path and made way for their leader.

           

            Guy knew Robin was a formable opponent, when his head was clear, but when he was angry he was even more of a challenge to fight. Gisborne didn’t want to hurt Robin, seeing as they were on the same side now, but that didn’t mean he would sit by and let Robin murder him. “I am not the enemy anymore!” Guy shouted as he pulled his sword out and assumed a defensive pose, ready for whatever Robin might throw at him.

 

 

            Aria quickly took action knowing things were about to get ugly. She grabbed the back of Robin’s shirt and pulled him roughly back, causing him to loose his balance and fall backwards. “Damn it Robin! Sit down now! Leave Gisborne alone, this goes for everyone else as well! If he even trips over a rock someone didn’t break his fall, I will personally slit everyone’s throat that was there at that time. So for the last, and final time, leave Gisborne A-L-O-N-E! Do I make myself perfectly clear?” she all but hissed the last part.

The rest of the gang looked shocked, there had only been one other time they had seen Aria this angry, and that was years ago. She may be a woman, but she was frightening when she angry, they blamed it on her heritage. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind that she meant what she said, no one dared to cross her at this point, not if they valued their life. When no one challenged her she spoke again, “Robin and I are going to have a little chat off by ourselves. The rest of you will stay here, and keep your hands to your self. When we come back you will respect and follow Robins decision, no matter what the outcome is.” Aria changed her tone to that of a more friendlier one, and turned to address Marian, “I trust you can keep everyone in line?” Aria asked, still holding on to Robin, while Marian simply nodded in reply.

            Feeling like things we stable for the time being, Aria pulled a shocked Robin to his feet and all but dragged him away from camp. This wasn’t an easy feat to achieve, as she had to balance on her crutch while keeping a hold of his shirt. When she felt that they were a safe distance away from the camp, and that no one had followed, she released her hold on Robin. No sooner had she done that did he whirl around to face her. Robin was furious at her for many reasons at this point; defending Gisborne and treating him like a five year old were at the top of his list.

           

            “You want to explain what the hell has gotten into you? Normally a person is thankful for being rescued from a death sentence. We risked everything to save you; I couldn’t let you die Aria. I don’t know how I would have lived if you had died!” Robin yelled and shook her shoulders, trying to make her see reason.

“You weren’t the only one to try and save me Robin. I told you to trust me, you may have no reason to trust Guy, but I’ve never given you cause to doubt me. There is more to this story than meets the eye though.” She paused for a moment, carefully choosing her next set of words, “What I tell you, you must take to your grave. If you don’t an innocent man will die. Do you swear on King Richards life to keep what I tell you a secret?” Aria asked Robin.

 

            Robin seemed to think about her statement, swearing on his kings life wasn’t something Robin took lightly. “Yes, I Robin of Locksley do so swear on king Richards life not to repeat what I am about to hear. Now tell me what this is all about Aria, for I worry about your sanity at this point.”

Aria took a shaky breath before speaking “You probably will want to sit down for this, as it is a long and complicated tale.” When Robin continued to stand there with his arms crossed over his chest looking rather impatient, Aria began to tell her side of the story starting with her waking up in the dungeons, and ending with her being rescued by him and the gang. When she had finished telling her tale the sun was no longer high in the sky, it had dipped low and would most likely set in a few short hours.

           

            Robin was silent for a long period of time before trusting himself to speak, still reeling in shock over everything Aria had just told him. “So you say Gisborne is a changed man, that he never raped you, and that he actually protected you in the dungeon?” he asked skeptically.

“Yes. Every word I said is true! I wouldn’t lie to you Robin, especially not about something like this.” Aria reminded him. “All I ask is that you extend the olive branch to him, offer him sanctuary. You don’t have to sleep with him, as we would say in my time period, I only ask that you be civil towards him. I understand that he has wronged you many a time before and that it’s hard to understand, err believe, that he’s changed; however, he just needs a chance to prove that to you. Take your time in coming to a decision on this. I mean it’s not like I could go very far even if I wanted to at this point” she laughed nervously, gesturing towards her ankle. “But please understand that I can’t leave him alone, not at a time like this; he needs me Robin, and I won’t abandon him as so many others have.”

            Robin looked away and sighed, running his hand over and down his face. He loved Aria and didn’t want to loose her, but at the same time he wasn’t sure he could trust Guy. After all, Guy had tried to kill the king! But he would do this for Aria he decided, looking back at Aria and locking his eyes with hers, trying to convey the emotional turmoil that he was now dealing with. He walked over to her and gently drew her into his arms. He titled her chin up and bent his head down to kiss her; careful of her freshly stitched lip. He loved that she had such a big heart, he really did! But this time he felt it had gotten her into trouble so deep, that she may not make it out before she suffocated. After a few moments of their intimate embrace, he slowly, and reluctantly pulled away, resting his forehead on hers.

            “I will need time to think about this my love, I will give you an answer in the morning. For tonight Gisborne will be under my protection, I will make sure the gang understands this, and I also will not tell anyone what you have told me. You can sleep in my quarters tonight as I will not be using them, they might be more comfortable than what you’ve had the past few nights. Now lets get you back to the camp before you catch cold out here and ‘Jaq makes me a head shorter!” Robin said, noticing how the evening air had turned quite chilly. He scooped Aria up and proceeded to carry her back to camp. They both laughed at his statement, forgetting for the moment that this might be the last time they were together.

 

~//~

 

            The next morning, true to his word, Robin had his answer for Aria. He had spent most of the night under the stars in deep thought and prayer. Normally he would have had Aria by his side, offering her support by simply being there. After Aria came into his life, all those years ago, the constant feeling of being alone had vanished. Last night however, as he had sat by himself, he had felt completely alone and it scared him immensely; if he was going to be honest with himself he thought.

He had replayed, over in his head everything that had happened over the past few days many times. He also had prayed for wisdom in this difficult situation that he had found him self in. In praying he heard a voice speak to him saying, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV) Just before dawn he had come to his decision, he knew in his heart that it was the right decision for him and his men. Aria had told him, when they said good night to each other, that no matter what he decided she would always love him, and would always be there for him. He wanted to believe that was true, but he had a sneaking suspicion that that wouldn’t be the case if they were to be separated from each other over this. Still, he had to do what he felt was right, no matter the cost. That was the price of being a leader though, sometimes you made decisions that went against what the majority felt was right.

 

~//~

 

 

The next morning…

 

            Guy and Aria were in deep conversation while Marian just leaned up against Guy, enjoying being in his embrace. Much was sitting at his master’s right hand side, prattling on about the most mundane things, clearly uneasy with the current situation. Will and ‘Jaq stood close to each other, neither comfortable enough in their relationship to show much affection, yet, towards each other in public settings. Allan and John were towards the edge of the circle, glancing over at Gisborne every so often. It was as if they were waiting for him to fly into a sudden fit of rage and attack Robin.

            Robin stood up and addressed the camp. “What I am about to say may not sit well with some of you. I need you all to understand that I do not make this decision lightly. There are things that have happened over the past few days that have lead us to this moment. You will either respect my decision as the leader of this group, or you may leave. IF you leave though, this group and everything with it must be kept secret. I will not risk the safety of the ones I care for again. With that being said though, Aria approached me yesterday stating Guy was seeking sanctuary from The Sheriff and others who would come after him do to recent events…”

            “Robin, have you lost your bloody mind? This is Gisborne we are talking about, not some poor wretched soul who actually needs sanctuary! After everything he’s done to us, to Aria, you’d honestly consider granting it to the likes of ‘im! No offence to Aria mind you, the injuries she’s received have obliviously addled her brain, and further more…” Allan spoke out against Robin.

            Robin held his hand up in an attempt to stem any further interruptions, otherwise they would be here for days and he just wanted all of this to be done and over with. “Let me finish, please. After reviewing the facts and taking into consideration the law we, I, have established here… I grant Sir Guy of Gisborne sanctuary for as long as he needs it; however, let me make something perfectly clear. If I find out that you ever lay a hand upon Aria again, in the manner that was bestowed upon her while she was imprisoned, or should you ever betray me or the ones I love, I will make you die a slow and painful death. I am not doing this for you, but for Aria. Am I understood?” Robin glared at Gisborne.

            “I understand perfectly…and thank you.” Gisborne replied to Robins question, ignoring the murderous glares currently being given to him.

“Guy is now under my protection and anyone who disobeys me on this will be viewed as a traitor and will be treated as one. Let his be your first and only warning on this matter as this topic is NOT up for discussion.” Robin finished.

           

            The rest of the gang looked at him in silence, they were shocked to say the least. Everyone had thought Robin would brand Gisborne as a traitor and deal with him accordingly! After all, Guy wouldn’t have lost any sleep over killing Robin if the tables were turned, the majority of the gang would tell you. Allan was the first to get up and leave, mumbling about going for a walk and something about people loosing their minds. Most everyone else slowly shuffled away from the group, pretending to have other things to do around camp.

            Aria leaned over to Guy and gave him a hug, “I told you not worry, that God would take care of you. You are one of us now, so just give everyone time to come around. This isn’t easy for anyone and will take some getting used to. Besides, I’ll be here for you when you need me, you’re stuck with me now!” Aria chuckled as she let Gisborne out of her embrace.

            “Gah! Get off me woman, I am not something to be coddled. Go, find your lover, and leave me be.” Gisborne replied in mock seriousness, as he swatted at Aria’s arms.

 

            Slowly standing up, Aria brushed her self off and grabbed her crutches. She gradually made her way over to where Robin was still standing, and spoke tenderly to him. “Thank you Robin, you will never understand how much this means to me. I know it wasn’t an easy decision, but thank you for trusting me enough to allow Gisborne the fresh start he needs.” Aria embraced Robin as she finished speaking. Robin smiled at her, kissing the top of her head, and snaked his arm around her waist leading her away from the camp. Aria looked up at Robin in confusion as they were leaving camp, but upon seeing the unspoken question in his eyes, she nodded her head in consent as they continued to walk away from the camp and into the woods.