Marian stood between the two, and she crossed her arms, waiting for explanations. Her gaze fell on the cuts on Guy's face, and her sigh, though it was a mild, controlled one, didn’t escape to Robin's attention.
The feeling of jealousy grew in him even more, seeing the girl's sorrow towards his opponent.
“It's not something you should know, because...” Robin started, immediately interrupted by Marian.
"Because I am a woman?" She said, angrily.
Robin looked up to the sky, then right into her beautiful eyes, "No, because it's dangerous for you and your father... Your alliance with this man is dangerous, Marian."
Marian instinctively left the defensive position she had adopted with her body and assumed a more belligerent pose. She put her hands on her hips.
"There is no alliance between me and Guy."
"Oh, no?" Robin said, "Then I should call it complicity in betrayal. You knew."
Marian turned to look at Guy, suddenly, in a reproachful look.
"You told him, why?"
"Because he did not believe me when I told him about the false King, I had to prove to him that I knew what the King looks like, that was the only way. You wanted me to stop him, Marian, I did it.”
"I know you did, Guy, thank you, I'm grateful. It would have been better if you had not risked your life for this..."
She wanted to say so much more, now. She wanted to say all the things Guy wanted to hear from her. But she felt she wasn’t free to do so, now that Robin was there, among them, angry and hurt.
She knew he was hurt, because of her, somehow. And she was sorry, for it. She really cared, for Robin.
She turned to Robin, with a similar attitude of reproach in her eyes. Someone had to act as an adult in that room, and apparently it was up to her.
For love, for her real, blossoming feelings, there would be another moment. Another time.
"Those wounds, I guess they're your doings, Robin," said the girl, pointing to Guy's face with a gesture.
"Are you really worrying about those insignificant cuts? I still have the big scar of the wound that he, he has inflicted on me in the Holy Land, to kill the King! Of that, you should worry!" Robin said, very angry.
On Guy's face there was now one of his ironic smirks, but he had no occasion to talk, because Marian cooled him in a frosty: "Shut up, Guy!"
Then she turned her gaze to Robin, and, in a conciliatory tone, she said: “I know how much you have suffered, I know how brave you were, you are, Robin, and I'm genuinely sorry for your wounds, but I'm also very proud of how you defended the King on that occasion. England still needs your courage and your heart, Robin. Guy was reckless and stupid, he knows that. He blindly followed the orders of the devil. Blindly. Nothing justifies the act of that moment, if not his loyalty given to the wrong man. Please don’t believe I'm not aware and disappointed about what he did that night. I knew it, and the only idea of it has tormented me for months. But I know his conscience now, and I know that he has understood his mistake. He repented. I will testify for him if necessary. You are a loyal man. He is the same.”
"Loyal? Evil is loyalty, nowadays? To whom he is loyal, now?” Robin asked, not less angry.
“To me. To my family. To my people. You know that. You saw that, with your own eyes. Everything is a choice, you always said. He choose differently. A different life. A different loyalty. And I'm grateful for that.”
“And you? What is your choice, Marian?” Robin said, his eyes sad, waiting for something he really didn’t want to hear from her lips. Not now, at least, in front of Guy.
“I didn’t choose anything, there wasn’t anything to choose. It isn’t time to choose, or to talk about this. Why are you here, Robin? It was a trap of the Sheriff, right? We were right. What do you think is his plan now?”
"That's what I would like to know, but your friend doesn’t want to tell me anything about it."
"Guy has been abandoned to his fate by the Sheriff months ago, and when he got back on his feet, the sheriff has done everything possible to crush him and crush me, my people and my family in the process.”
"What did he do?"
"He sent his new Master at Arms here, apparently asking for taxes. But he was ready to destroy us. He wanted to destroy us. And to have fun at it. He's a ruthless, horrible man, his worthy servant. Forgive me, Guy," said Marian, feeling the breath of Guy changing for the subtle accusation in the tone of her voice.
“It's not possible, you're wrong,” Robin replied. “I've known Alexander for years. He is valiant, loyal, brave. He saved our lives in the Holy war on more than one occasion. Everyone appreciated him and loved him for his courage on the battlefield. The King esteemed him, above all. It's impossible.”
“Then the evil of that devil is contagious,” Marian said, in turn. “Or your mate is not what you thought he was. He was ready to hurt us. So much ready. Only Guy's return, and the immediate payment of taxes stopped him. And believe me, Robin, he wasn’t happy to give up his dose of violence that he wanted to inflict on us."
"It can’t be..." Robin said, bewildered.
"Why not him, Robin?" Guy said, "Believe me when I tell you that my band of mercenaries didn’t find the King's camp so easily that night, and we didn’t come through the tents without finding any resistance by chance. It was all organized, and so many people worked for this purpose. Saracens, of course, but also someone English. Someone from the inside made our way. It was our mole, and he must have buried his tracks well, because I didn’t know who he was. Brilliant, somehow in his way. So, why not him, Robin? How many people, apart from the King himself, of course, could have access and take that seal in the Royal Camp?"
“I... I don’t know. A few of them, I think. The king didn’t trust everyone. He only really trusted very few people,” Robin replied.
“Then you should do your own investigations, here in Nottingham. The seal is here.” Guy said, with a serious tone.
“And you could help him,” Marian said, turning to Guy. “Nobody better than you knows how Vaisey thinks and acts. And you know the Castle, you know where to look. Talk to him, help him. Show Robin that your loyalty is now addressed to the best ends. Help him, now, and perhaps Robin, with his wisdom and intelligence, will decide that for the good of all, what is in the past remains in the past. For the good of England, mine, and yours.”
"Marian," said Guy, trying to escape from an unwanted commitment.
"Guy, you've demonstrated your true value to me, now show it to Robin. To England. To the King. You might also have the satisfaction of giving Vaisey what he deserves, for how he treated you. Find out what Vaisey is thinking of, and who the traitor is. But please, don’t fight each other anymore, I'm tired of seeing your wounds. Of both of you," Marian said with a little smile of hope and encouragement.
"We'll see, Gisborne, we'll see. If you really want to help me, you have to follow my directions," said Robin.
"I do not think so, I'm not one of your comrades."
"Guy," Marian said, trying to convince him, pleading him with her eyes, to be less arrogant.
"Marian," Guy said, "my primary concern is to help you, and I'm trying to do it. But I can’t really hide in the castle to figure out what goes on inside Vaisey's head, don’t you think?"
"No, of course, Guy, I'm not asking you this, but I'm asking you to cooperate with Robin. If you can think of anything that can help him to find out the truth, don’t hesitate to share it with him, or with me."
"I'll think about it, Marian, I promise," he said.
Robin thought Guy would never really be useful to his inquiry.
"Marian, take care of you. It's better that I leave now."
Robin left the room, leaving Marian alone with Guy. The girl approached the knight, touching the new wounds on his face with her right hand.
She sighed: "I'm sorry, Guy," she said.
"Because he couldn't hit me more? He had his blows too, you know?" Guy said, between ironic and proud, trying, unwisely, to minimize the incident, in a male way.
In response, Marian gave him a small punch on his forearm. Guy tightened his limb for pain.
"Stop acting like a kid. You're older than him, you should be wiser," she said.
"He started it, he can, doesn’t he? He is the intelligent and wise man," he said, imitating the elusive way the girl had used before with Hood. He felt offended and jealous even though he knew he didn’t have the right to be. Yet he was.
Marian approached him and began to stroke his face softly, just touching the wounded parts, lingering where there were no wounds.
"It takes a woman to understand a man, sometimes even to bring him on her side," said the girl.
Guy blocked her hand with his, holding it, softly.
"And this is the way you know to bring me on your side, Marian?" he said, looking into her eyes.
Marian took her free hand to Guy's face, caressing his features again, approaching her lips to his. The girl whispered, "I don’t need to bring you on my side, you already are. And I am on your side."
Guy whispered her name, completely won by her closeness, her warmth, her promise of passion.
And Marian closed the distance between them, gently kissing him. The cuts on his face were hurting now, but Guy wouldn’t give up kissing her for anything in the world. Marian was the first to part from him, feeling his pain.
"Forgive me, Guy, you're suffering."
"Believe me, your kisses couldn't kill me," he said, laughing happily, Then he tried to engage the girl again in another heated kiss.
Marian smiled, but parted from him: "Guy, I'm really grateful for what you did today. I was honest when I told you, before. I'm proud of you."
"I think about twenty kisses could be an effective demonstration of gratitude on your part, don't you agree?" Guy said, pretending to be offended by the interruption.
Guy suddenly seemed much younger and different to her eyes, than she had always seen him. He was now seductive, but playfully, in a younger, sweet way. Marian loved that in him, and decided to play with him at the same game.
"But should I give you twenty kisses less, for revealing our secret to Robin. So we're even at the time. You took a great risk," she said.
"Accounting is not your strength, Marian. Twenty minus twenty is zero, and you've already taken a kiss from me. It's just right that I'll get it back from your lips now," he said.
"And why right now?" Said the girl, smiling mischievously.
"Because I didn’t reveal to Robin the most important secret that we share," he said.
"Ah," she said. Maybe that was the right time to tell Guy she loved him.
She felt her knees tremble and her courage vanished. Yet Guy looked at her with tender eyes, loving, smiling eyes.
And she loved him. She loved him so much.
"So you want to take it back now?" Said the girl, with an inviting look.
"No," he said, surprisingly. A sly look in his eyes. "Consider it a debt you have contracted with me. I will take it back it soon, don’t doubt about it."
"Marian," Guy continued, taking a more serious tone, "I promise that I will think about what you have said and proposed, but I would also like to ask advice to your father, first of all. I need to talk to him, to ask him how I should behave, especially with Robin."
"I understand," said the girl, "you're right."
"Where can I find Lord Edward, now?" He asked.
"Oh," Marian replied, remembering that her father had been ill for months, but today he had decided to leave the estate. “He left Knighton today and he hadn’t come back yet. He left this morning. It was so long since he last came out of the estate. It's a good sign, don't you think, Guy? It's so important for him to be able to get back to work. I think he was going to a meeting with other nobles."
"Ah," said Guy, slightly disappointed, "I thought he wanted to take me with him."
"I don’t know, but we can ask James if he knows more about it." Marian replied, a little surprised, but understanding.
The two of them walked out of the room. Guy was tempted to take Marian by the hand as they went to look for James, but he didn’t. It was really their true and deeper, intimate, secret.
When asked about Lord Edward, James replied that the old lord had received a message from Nottingham, and, after that, he had decided to meet with other noble peers. He had been in a hurry to go.
Guy and Marian looked at James, surprised.
Then James remembered something even more important and added: "To tell the truth, that terrible man brought the message from Nottingham."
"Which man?" Guy asked, with a sudden, hard look in his eyes.
"Nottingham's new Master at Arms," James replied.
Marian was astonished, and trembled, remembering their terrible encounter with him.
"That man was bringing a message to all the nobles of the County. He insisted with Lord Edward that the King is coming to Nottingham, and he has repeatedly suggested that it was the right opportunity for any complaint or lawsuit against the Sheriff. My Lord Edward didn’t answer to him, but he left Knighton shortly afterwards," James added.
Marian looked at Guy, frightened, and she saw the same discomfort in his eyes.
"This is the play. That's the real trap," Guy said.
"I must warn my father!"
"I must warn your father!" They both said in unison.
Guy looked at Marian in the eyes.
"We must warn your father, the trap is for him, and who knows for how many other nobles," he said.