Title: Muninn (2/2)
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Sir Guy of Gisburne, Marion of Leaford
Category: General, drama, post-eppy
Word Count: 1,630
Summary: Gisburne runs into some interesting obstacles when he tries to arrest Marion at Halstead Priory.
Spoilers: Definite spoilers for “The Time of the Wolf” and “The Cross of St. Ciricus”.
Notes: This story is a birthday present for raven714, which is fitting because I was originally inspired by this piece of fanart that raven714 created:
It only took, like, two months, but I finally finished writing raven714’s birthday fic. As so often happens, this story ended up being longer and more complicated than I expected – probably because I was working with such a wonderfully evocative image. However, I had a lot of fun and found the whole process very satisfying.
This takes place a couple of weeks after “The Time of the Wolf”.
Disclaimer: This story is based on Richard Carpenter's series Robin of Sherwood. The characters are the property of Richard Carpenter, Robin May, Anthony Horowitz and the RoS production team.
The stunning cover art was created by raven714.
When Gisburne next woke, he wondered if he was delirious again because the raven was sitting in the window staring in at him. Gisburne sat up cautiously, looking around the chamber for anything he could throw at the bird or use as a means of defence.
“Every raven after its kind,” the raven cawed, and Gisburne nearly fell out of bed. He quickly tried to hide his reaction when he heard a girlish giggle from the door.
“He’s quite tame,” Marion said. “He won’t harm you.”
Gisburne eyed the raven suspiciously. “Why is it here?”
“He fell out of his nest when he was just a hatchling. One of the sisters mended his wing and nursed him back to health. He wouldn’t leave the priory after that. I’m afraid he’s grown rather spoiled and a bit too clever.”
“Is that why he’s quoting passages from Leviticus?” Gisburne asked.
“I suppose. It was the Psalms yesterday.” Marion walked over to the bed. “It will be easier to change your dressing if you’re lying down.”
Gisburne gritted his teeth, but did as Marion asked. “You should have killed me or fled, Lady Wolfshead.”
Marion paused briefly as she removed the old bandage. “It’s Sister Wolfshead now – or, rather, it will be – and I couldn’t kill you or flee, not if I’m going to become a nun. Where did you get those scratches?”
“Those scratches on your chest. You didn’t get them from Robin or the others.”
Gisburne sighed, wondering why it mattered to her how he had received the wound. “It was Gulnar.”
Marion flinched, though it was a tiny movement and something Gisburne might have missed if he hadn’t been watching her. “I see. Well, it was the reason for the fever. The scratches were infected. I would imagine you were ill before you even left Nottingham. Was it so important to arrest me that you couldn’t wait a few days?”
“I had my orders,” Gisburne said.
“Why didn’t you tell the Sheriff you were ill? Was it because you didn’t wish to appear weak in front of him?”
“Why did you leave Sherwood? Why did you leave that wolfshead? Why would you, of all women, want to become a nun?”
“I don’t wish to speak of it,” Marion said. She had finished changing the dressing and was standing, turning to go.
“Did he kick you out of the camp? Toss you aside for another woman?”
Marion froze and didn’t speak at first. “I’m simply seeking peace, that’s all. I need to be closer to God.”
Gisburne smirked. “I’ve known women who have hidden behind piety before. Why are you really here?”
Marion glared at him. “It is the truth, not that I would expect you to understand. I doubt you’ve known a single day of peace in your life.”
“No, I haven’t. It’s why I’m a soldier and why I know you’re lying when you say you’ve come here to seek it.”
Marion turned sharply and marched towards the door. She had her hand on the door handle when she stopped. “I thought Robin was dead.”
Gisburne stared at Marion’s thin, tense back in confusion and then remembered what he and the Sheriff had found at the Ring of the Nine Maidens, what they had tried to bring back to Nottingham in that cart. “The man of clay.”
Marion whirled around. “You know about that?”
Gisburne grimaced. “I should. It nearly cost me my head.” Again.
Marion walked over to the chair by the bed and sat down. “You saw it?”
“Well, yes. When the Sheriff and I came across it, we thought we’d found his body. Of course, that was before it crumbled into a pile of clay.”
Marion leaned forward in the chair. “But you could see how much it resembled Robin, why I would mistake it for Robin?”
“Yes. It looked exactly like him.”
Marion’s fingers tightened around the arms of the chair, the knuckles turning white. “Robin doesn’t understand. I don’t think any of my friends do.”
Gisburne studied Marion curiously, wondering why she was confiding in him and why he was just lying there letting her do it. All the same, he thought he understood her. “You felt betrayed,” he said.
Marion’s eyes widened in surprise and she sat, lost in thought, for a moment. Then she looked back at Gisburne, nodding her head. “I hadn’t thought of it like that, but, yes, I suppose I did in a way. But how do you know that? How can you understand when my friends – ”
“Seek peace and pursue it,” the raven cawed, causing both Gisburne and Marion to start.
Marion rose slowly from the chair as if emerging from a dream. “I should go.”
“Yes,” Gisburne said to her departing back. “I think you’d better.”
To his relief, Gisburne didn’t see any sign of the raven for the remainder of his convalescence. He also didn’t see Marion of Leaford, which didn’t surprise him much. In fact, he was relieved that she had kept her distance because he wished to leave the priory as quietly and unobtrusively as possible – not an easy task when the nuns were up at all hours saying prayers.
Gisburne knew that sneaking out before dawn, without taking his leave of the prioress, was an act of cowardice, but he couldn’t face her and Marion again – not if he planned to leave Halstead empty-handed. Gisburne knew it wasn’t right and that he was disobeying orders, but he just couldn’t bring himself to arrest Marion.
He told himself that arresting Marion wouldn’t accomplish anything, but would only make things worse. If Marion was true to her word and stayed at Halstead, she might never cause trouble again. If she was dragged to Nottingham, there would be an uproar. If they threw her in the dungeon, the outlaws would attempt to rescue her. If they executed her, those wolfsheads would strike out in revenge. Even if Robin Hood died in the process, another man would appear to replace him. It was an endless cycle and Gisburne had grown sick of it. Of course, the real truth, the truth that Gisburne couldn’t acknowledge, was that he simply didn’t want Marion to die.
Gisburne was just putting on his boots when there was a knock at the door. Gisburne closed his eyes in consternation before accepting the inevitable. “Enter.”
The door opened slowly and Marion peeked around it. “I thought I saw light coming from your chamber.”
Of course she had. Gisburne had lit a candle when dressing. He ignored the question of why she had been walking past his chamber at that time of night and then ignored her completely as he finished buckling his boots.
Marion entered the room and closed the door. “Are you sure you’re well enough to leave?”
“I’m sure.” Gisburne stood and tried to walk past Marion, but she blocked his path.
“I’m going with you,” Marion said. “I’d rather leave quietly than have you return with more men. I won’t fight you. I just ask that you allow me to change back into my old clothes first.”
Marion’s eyebrows rose. “No?”
“Just return to your chamber – or do whatever it is that nuns do at this hour – and pretend you didn’t see me.”
Marion’s brow furrowed as she stared at Gisburne, unable to understand. “But why?”
Gisburne sighed, nearly rolling his eyes. “Because I’m not going to arrest you. It’s humiliating for a knight to arrest a nun. I should never have agreed to it. I’m sure I wouldn’t have agreed to it if I hadn’t been…You were right. I was ill before I left Nottingham. I should never have come here.”
When Marion remained fixed to the spot, still gaping at him, Gisburne took her by the shoulders and half-lifted, half-pushed her aside. As he walked briskly to the stables, he hoped this would be the last of it, that Marion would actually take his advice and not follow him down to the stables. Surely even she had enough sense to take this chance he was offering her – before he saw sense himself and changed his mind.
“God’s Blood,” Gisburne muttered when he reached the stables and found Marion feeding his horse an apple. “How on earth did you get here before me? Did you fly?”
“No, I just took a shorter route,” Marion said. “What will you tell the Sheriff when you arrive in Nottingham without me?”
Gisburne, who had begun saddling his horse, was able to avoid Marion’s eyes. “I’ll tell him you weren’t here, that you must have fled to Sherwood or gone to another priory.”
“You’ve really thought about this, haven’t you, Gisburne?”
Gisburne snorted. “There was little else I could do when I was stuck in bed all that time.” He looked around for his horse’s bridle, only to have Marion hand it to him. “Are you sure you came here to be a nun and not a stable boy?”
“I like horses,” Marion said.
Gisburne remembered. It was one of the first things he had noticed about her after they had met all those years ago at Nottingham Castle. He had seen her in the stables visiting the horses, though she hadn’t seen him and he had never spoken about it.
After Gisburne had led his horse out, he looked down at Marion from the saddle and, this time, he did meet her eyes. “If you return to Sherwood, I won’t just hunt you down: I’ll kill you.”
“If I’m in Sherwood,” Marion said, “I might kill you first.” She smiled and Gisburne thought he heard the distant cry of a raven. “Safe journey to you, Sir Guy.”
Gisburne gave a curt nod and urged on his horse. “Sister Wolfshead.”
Crossposted at http://rusty-armour.dreamwidth.org/14986