Robin held his daughter's hand while they walked through the market of Nottingham. He still inwardly shuddered when he thought that he risked to lose her forever just a few days ago.
She wasn't supposed to ride, but Katerine took a horse anyways when her parents weren't watching and the animal darted. She would have fallen to her death if it wasn't for a stranger who saved her.
Marian asked Robin to find that man to thank and reward him, and that was one of the reasons why Katerine and Robin were in Nottingham that day.
Marian couldn't see the face of the stranger, but the little girl did and she could recognize him.
“Father? Are we going to the inn to search for the knight?”
Robin nodded. He knew that Marian wouldn't like Katerine to visit that place, taverns and inns weren't suitable for little girls, but it was the most likely place where they could find a stranger.
“Yes, but don't tell your mother. But first we have to go to the castle, the sheriff sent me a message and said he had to talk to me.”
The little girl pouted.
“It's so boring when you talk with the sheriff! It's all about taxes and rules!”
“I am the lord of Locksley, I have to take care of my lands and of the people who live there. It's important, Katerine and someday you'll understand it.”
“Maybe. For now it's boring.”
“Be patient and quiet and later we'll buy a few honey cakes from the market. And...”
“...don't tell mother!”
They both laughed and Robin stopped to lift the little girl in his arms and hug her. She was his and Marian's first child and he loved her dearly. She was precious to his heart and he couldn't bear to think that she could have died so easily.
He didn't know who that mysterious stranger was, but he knew that he would forever be in debt with him.
They arrived at the castle and a guard introduced them to the great hall, were the sheriff was waiting for Robin.
Sir Arthur was a decent man and he ruled fairly over Nottingham. Robin didn't always agree with all the taxes requested by King John, but this sheriff was completely different from Vaisey and he respected him.
Sir Arthur was waiting for him and he smiled at Katerine too.
“Did you want to see me, my lord?” Robin asked politely.
The sheriff nodded.
“I granted audience to a noble who traveled out of England for a long time. Now he is back and he'd like to settle in Nottingham, but there is a hindrance that must be solved. He claims to have old rights on some lands that once were given to his father, but those lands have been part of your estate for a long time now.”
“So he wants them back? Can he prove his claims are valid?”
“He's willing to pay a fair price for those lands. I suggest you talk to him, I think you can find an agreement that could satisfy both of you. He's waiting to meet you, shall I call him?”
While Robin and the sheriff were talking, Katerine began to get bored and she wandered in the hall, looking at the tapestries on the walls.
She was looking at a faded banner near the door, when it opened and a tall man entered the hall.
Robin stared at him in amazement, recognizing him.
But he was even more astonished when Katerine gave a happy cry and ran towards Guy, hugging him.
“Father! He's the knight who saved me!” She said enthusiastically, then she grabbed Gisborne's hand and began to drag him towards Robin and the sheriff. “I'm so happy we found you, sir! We were searching for you!”
Guy looked at the little girl and glanced warily at Robin.
“You were?” He asked her, softly.
Katerine gave him a bright smile.
“Yes, because you saved me! Father said that he'll always be grateful for what you did and he'll reward you!”
Guy stopped in front of Robin and the two men looked at each other in an uneasy silence.
Robin was the first to speak.
“So it seems.”
The sheriff gave them a surprised look, but Katerine spoke before he could ask anything.
“Father, did you already know him?!”
Robin averted his eyes because he didn't want his daughter to see his bitterness.
“It was a long time ago.”
“Almost another life.” Guy said, quietly. He glanced at Katerine. “She looks like her.”
Robin glared at him.
“What do you want, Gisborne?”
“My father's lands. Nothing else. They should have been mine, but I'm not going to force them away from you, I can pay their worth and I'm willing to do it.”
“I just want a place I can call home.”
Robin could remember too well the times when he and Gisborne were enemies and he thought that he didn't want him anywhere near his family.
He tried to kill the king, he's a traitor and he should have been hanged like Vaisey. Robin thought, but he knew that he couldn't accuse Gisborne for that anymore. Whatever Guy did in the past, now King Richard was dead and King John was on the throne.
But he knew that most of his dislike for Gisborne wasn't because of his actions against King Richard. Robin knew that Guy was little more than a pawn under Vaisey's command and that he just obeyed the sheriff's orders.
It was because of Marian.
He tried to marry her, to force her to love him and Robin found out that the jealousy he once felt was still alive in his heart.
He looked at Katerine, who was still holding Guy's hand, and he was tempted to grab the little girl and pull her away from Gisborne.
He didn't move. It would only scare his daughter.
The daughter who could have been dead if Gisborne didn't save her.
Robin looked at Guy, realizing that the man who once wanted to take everything he owned from him had protected the little girl that Robin valued more precious than his own life.
He despised Gisborne, but he was forced to be grateful to him.
“You will have your lands. For free. This is the reward I owe you for saving Katerine's life.”
Guy could have said that those lands were already due to him by birthright, but he just nodded.
“That's all I ever wanted. But I didn't save her to have a reward.”
“We'll be neighbors then?” Katerine asked, happily. “Maybe we could visit someday! I have two smaller brothers, Richard and Edward, and mother will have another baby soon! I hope it will be a girl! How many children do you have, sir? Maybe we could play together.”
Guy looked at her for a moment.
“I don't have any. I have no family.” He simply said and Katerine stared at him.
“Oh. It must be sad.” She said. “But if you feel lonely you can come and play with us.”
Guy noticed Robin's horrified expression and stifled a laughter. He smiled at the little girl.
“You are very kind, lady Katerine, but I'm afraid that I won't have much time to play. I'll have to settle on my lands and rebuild my manor so I won't be able to visit anytime soon.”
Or ever at all.
Robin relaxed a little in hearing his answer.
“Everything is settled, then?” The sheriff asked and Robin nodded.
“Get the documents ready and I'll sign them. Katerine, let's go home now.”
Robin held out a hand an Katerine happily grabbed it.
“Aren't we going to the inn?”
“It's no use now that we found who saved you.”
“Oh,” sighed the girl, disappointed, following her father out of the hall. She had never entered into a inn and she was curious to see how it looked like.
“It's not the right place for a little girl, your mother would disapprove.”
“But we're still going to buy the honey cakes, aren't we?”
“Of course we are!”
“Do you know, Giz? We should be drinking to celebrate. Or maybe sleeping in a soft bed… with a girl or two. What are we doing here?”
“Be quiet, Allan. Listen.”
“What? There's nothing to hear.”
Guy looked at the night sky and smiled. They were laying on a hill, with their backs on the grass of a meadow.
“Exactly. Can you hear the silence? No one is drawing their swords, no clash of metal, no bandits around, nobody is fighting or trying to kill other people. Nobody is trying to kill us.”
“Good point, Giz. Being safe is not that bad, but I could do with a drink.”
Guy passed him a flask.
“Thanks, mate. So these lands are yours now?”
Guy pointed at the little village at the foot of the hill.
“I'll rename it Gisborne. Guy of Gisborne will have a Gisborne, at last.”
“A wish coming true...”
“Yes, this one did.”
Allan knew that Guy was thinking of his other wish, the one that didn't came true and never would.
“Will you be fine, Giz?”
“Why shouldn't I?”
“Living this near to Locksley, I mean. Near to her.”
“They had three children, did you know? And another one is coming soon.”
Allan sat up and looked at him.
Guy sat up too.
“Locksley is near only if I decide to go there. If I choose to keep to my lands, and I do, it might as well be many miles away. I won't dwell on the past, Marian has her own life and it's time I begin living the one I want for myself.”
“Sounds fair to me. So, were are you going to build you manor?”
“You'll have to clear the ground first: it looks like there are the ruins of some old building there. It would be easier to build it somewhere else, don't you think?”
“No, it has to be there.”
“Those rubbles… Those scorched walls… Once they were my home.”
“You never told me about that times.”
“And I have no intention to do it now.”
“Come on, Giz. We've been friends for years, why are you always so secretive about your past? Don't you trust me?”
“You know I do. I just don't like to think about it.”
“And yet you want to build your manor on the ruins of your house...”
“Sounds foolish, doesn't it?”
“Not the craziest thing you ever did.”
“No? Which one was the craziest thing I did, then?”
“Maybe when you decided to steal that ship on the Mediterranean Sea and we took it back to its rightful owner.”
“It wasn't so difficult, all those sailors were completely drunk.”
“Giz, neither of us had the slightest idea of how to sail a ship, I can't swim and you were seasick. It's a miracle we're still alive and you say that it wasn't so difficult?”
Gisborne grinned and touched a little scar on his chin.
“The accident with the crossbow was worse. But I still don't want to travel on a ship again if I can help it.”
“We shouldn't travel for a while if we're lucky.”
“You're right. We're home, at last.”
They sat for a while, looking at the stars and Allan thought that if he couldn't go to the tavern he might as well get some sleep.
He yawned and stretched on the grass and he was about to drift off when Guy talked again.
“Do you think the Nightwatchman will have something to do here?”
Allan stared at him.
“Are you bored already? And then you say that I'm a troublemaker!”
“I'm not bored, but I like to be the Nightwatchman!”
“Well, save your energies, Giz. I guess that we'll have a lot of work to do here if you want to be the lord of the manor.”
“I guess so.”
“Sleep, then. Or stay awake, if you wish. But be quiet, I'm tired.”
Allan rolled on his side and closed his eyes.
Guy looked at him, amused, then he stood up to look at the village, asleep in the darkness of the night. Those were his lands, the lands that belonged to his father and that had been taken from Guy when he was just a kid. Now he had them back!