As he lay on the cold ground he turned his head to get a better angle. She was curled on the floor only a few feet from him, unmoving arms wrapped loosely around her abdomen in what was a last attempt to stave her inevitable end. Seeing her like this made him wonder, not for the first time, if things might have been different between them were it not for the many unfortunate circumstances early on. The memories that stood out made it clear they had been dealt a bad hand from the start.
It could be worse.
* * *
Her movements were mesmerizing, at least in his eyes. Watching the way her dark waves swayed to some hidden rhythm in tandem with her hips intrigued him in a way he couldn't explain. He wasn't oblivious to girls in general but none had made him stop and observe. It had been an interesting discovery while on one of his routine walks through the forest. She'd taken over the clearing he had dubbed for his daily practices and, against his better nature he stayed, wanting to understand the story she told with each gesture.
Guy had never been one to socialize willingly, even before becoming an actual outcast in his late teens in lieu of his mother's actions and the events that followed. Moving from the only home he'd ever known back in France, where his parents had met by chance and started a family after a rather short courting, was a shock to put it lightly. Their new 'neighbors' were not at all keen of having a French woman with such power over their lives. He, at the young age of four, with a sibling on the way and a caring family, was not spared the villager's irritation and displeasure that stemmed because of his background. Ghislane was always a confident, well spoken and independent woman for the likes of a humble farming village no matter how many good intentions she had. So it was that Guy grew up quietly resenting his parents (even before the whole affair debacle) and regarded as an ill tempered individual who did not get along with others, especially those his own age. His sister had been afforded sympathy perhaps because she was kept more sheltered. His parents were attentive and caring enough that he had no real need to complain but, it was no secret once Isabella arrived their favor was unequally divided towards her.
By the time his father had left for the Holy Land Guy had found refuge in the forest, alone with his thoughts, his sword and his bow rather than the alternative. He wasn't one to hide behind his mother's skirts but he was sick of being the object of such open hostility no matter how much he tried. Disappearing among the sea of trees after his daily lessons and chores was time well spent practicing his weaponry skills.
Word of the newcomers, with their colorful wagons and lively music, had made it's way to Locksley a week before they arrived. This made Ghislane reminisce about the few times she witnessed similar groups of travelers while growing up in Rochefort en Terre, long before meeting Roger. Guy always half listened to all his mother's stories, rolling his eyes at her animated interpretations of her childhood. That is, until the morning he saw their camp through one of the upstairs windows as he came down for breakfast. Something different in an otherwise tedious and predictable existence. People were already crowding around the carts. Lessons postponed in favor of this new development Guy found himself following half reluctantly after his mother and his sister.
Not being one to enjoy such things, even if his curiosity was stirred, he went around the back to avoid the gathering crowd. It was then when he noticed her out of the corner of his eye. She was treading hesitantly around a small group chatting though not really joining in. It shouldn't have been a big deal but for some reason his gaze was drawn to her. He must have lingered longer than expected because before he knew it he was looking into her inquisitive deep brown eyes followed by a small, tentative smile. Startled by the strange yet not entirely unwelcome feeling that stirred in a far corner of his chest (or was it his stomach?) Guy reacted in his now usual way; turning with a huff and walking away to the shelter of the forest.
The next morning he explicitly avoided the chattering crowd around the busy cart as much as he could on his way to his solitary practice. Though sometimes fate (or a well placed intent) has a way of steering those most stubborn towards their unavoidable destinies in the oddest of ways. On his third day of ignoring the tiny nagging voice that tried to convince him to go around the back of the carts was when he saw her again. She moved about the clearing to a tune for her ears only. Guy held his breath and carefully ducked behind the tall wild grass to observe, going against the screaming instincts that urged him to make her leave. This went on for a week, Guy waiting patiently until she was done so he could take up his practice for a while. It made sense; he rationalized he couldn't practice his archery when there was someone randomly moving about getting hurt in the process (not that he wasn't a good aim but, still). One day as he quietly settled on his usual spot he noticed belatedly she wasn't there.
Maybe she's been delayed or-
"Do your legs not get tired while you hide here for such a long time everyday?"
Caught completely off guard, he lost his balance trying to turn too fast and fell on his arse. The scowl on his face was only rivaled by the incredulous smile on hers, ignoring her offered hand in favor of salvaging a sliver of dignity by getting up himself.
"It is unwise to sneak up on someone armed," he growled out more out of embarrassment than anger, fixing his tunic.
"As opposed to lingering behind bushes- I'm sorry sir, " she amended quietly, amused twinkle still in her eye. "I didn't mean to surprise you. I was just wondering if you'd like to join me. I'm Fallon, by the way," she curtsied awkwardly.
"Why would I want to do that?" He crossed his arms over his chest, eyebrow raised in affront and defiance though the same nagging voice from earlier kept him from walking away with an insistent 'yes'. "I've been coming here day after day to practice yet I arrive and find the clearing overtaken by other activities."
"The forest is big enough for both," she said under her breath, adding a little louder, "I did not know this particular spot was reserved. You should've mentioned it the first time you saw me here and I would've left you to your weapons in peace."
The self satisfied smirk on her face did nothing to improve his mood, no matter how appealing he thought it was. Guy couldn't find anything that would help him rebuff her arguments so, instead of graciously conceding her point he fixed his sword and bow, nodded stiffly and stalked off.
"Nice to meet you too," Fallon mumbled under her breath at his retreating form, smile never leaving her face.
He made up his mind to go back the next day, telling himself that he would find the spot empty. Soon enough those people would move on and he could forget this whole thing. What he found instead was a curiously expectant Fallon sitting on a fallen log to the side weaving some purple and yellow flowers into her hair.
"Hello," she greeted him brightly as he approached. "I thought this time I could see you practice."
"I don't think you understand," he started, setting his bow and quiver by the trunk and ignoring the strange feeling in the pit of his stomach. He gave the sword an experimental swing to avoid her gaze momentarily. "I practice alone. Maybe you like an audience but-"
"How about you teach me-"
"No." The swish of the sword didn't quite cover the sound of the disappointing 'Oh' that escaped her lips, making him turn towards her. "Don't you have something to do?" His tone a bit harsher than necessary in order to conceal his growing curiosity.
"Not especially, no..."
Noticing her smile finally falter if only for a fraction of a second Guy felt his resolve fracture just enough. Even though he would never admit it, he didn't want her to stop smiling, especially when addressing him. He sighed and stepped forward.
"My name. Guy of Gisborne, " he elaborated offering his hand half heartedly sword completely forgotten by his side.
"A pleasure," she curtsied again like the day before holding his hand gently.
For some inexplicable reason the gesture combined with the unabashed smile she gave him made something in his chest flutter, adding to the random flips low in his belly. For all he tried, Guy couldn't recall any other time he'd felt that way. He'd certainly noticed other girls but they all seemed preoccupied with trivial things for him to pay them any mind. Not to mention they mostly leered and avoided him unless absolutely necessary.
"I guess it's only fair since I failed to make my presence known. You can stay and we can see about you learning a thing or two if you're not bored," he said quietly, taking a step back and swinging his sword one more time.
"That sounds more than fair," came her equally reserved response though there was a hint of excitement as well. Realizing he stopped his sword mid swing distracted by her eager gaze Guy cleared his throat.
"But you have to be quiet," he stated before he turned, disregarding the pounding in his chest as she settled on the log next to her flowers.
They went on like this, his resolve breaking altogether after only a few days. He accepted a hesitant dance lesson. Once the ice had been broken he admitted to himself how much he looked forward to following her lead to a tune all her own or having his turn at showing her how to hold a sword or nock an arrow on the bow. Sometimes they just passed the time listening to each other's stories or contemplating their surroundings. Before they knew it almost two months had gone by. Yet life has a way of catching up with you, making you earn your keep to be sure you are worthy.
He found it harder to concentrate on his lessons, his thoughts far away in the forest, and rushing through chores to spend as much time out there as possible. No one questioned him since he'd always disappeared to be away from people but some did notice the slight change in attitude. Guy didn't particularly want to keep things a secret but he was protective of their time together, especially knowing she could leave at any moment.
"It's getting late," Fallon pointed out not wanting to meet his eyes, letting the sword fall to her side. Fall was getting on making the days shorter and their goodbyes a bit longer.
"Have you heard anything about how long you'll be staying?" He tried not to sound too worried but he had heard his mother mention how strange it was that they were still there. Gypsies were not known to dally in the same place for too long, or so she thought. That had been at lesst a fortnite ago and he would ask Fallon about it everyday.
"I've asked but you know they don't tell me much," she responded quietly eyes to the ground.
He knew it was a sore subject ever since Guy learned how Fallon had ended up with the caravan. Apparently she'd never known her parents and one of the older women had taken her in when she was young, having found her by chance. She'd always assumed they'd marry her off at some point. Most of them were related one way or another and Fallon didn't complain about how she was treated but she always knew she wasn't quite part of the group. This was something he was all too familiar with.
"I'm just glad they've stayed, I got to know you- here," she offered the sword albeit grudgingly.
Guy stepped forward, gently placing his hand over hers on the hilt. She sighed as he lifted her chin with his free hand so she would meet his eyes. He'd been thinking about it for the longest time, the brush of her hair and the warmth of her skin every time they danced or he helped her stretch the bow to correct her aim. It spurred his imagination long after they'd parted each day. What he saw in her brown eyes at that moment made the beating in his chest stronger. In an instant the sword lay forgotten on the ground and their lips met, arms bringing them impossibly closer. After a short while there was a noise and they broke apart in surprise.
"What was that?" Fallon said a bit breathless and worried.
"I'm- not sure," Guy looked around still holding on to her waist, equally breathless, feeling her hands tense on his shoulders. Not seeing anything in the fading light he reluctantly slid his arms off of her and took her hand, picking up the sword with the other and guiding her slowly toward were he thought the sound had come from.
"Anyone out there?"
"We should head back, I'm sure it's nothing..."
They heard a rustle and a young teenaged boy came out form behind one of the trees a few yards from the clearing. Bow in hand he stood there briefly. Before Guy could say anything the boy huffs out a laugh, turns and runs in the direction of the village, another boy running quickly after him.
"Who was that?" Fallon asks somewhat confused at the silent exchange.
"No one important," he answers dismissively though he suspects this will not end here. Now that Robin knows he won't have peace.