Title: The Earl’s Son (1/2)
Author: Rusty Armour
Fandom: Robin of Sherwood
Characters: Robert of Huntingdon, Nasir, Edward of Wickham, Alison of Wickham, Matthew of Wickham
Category: General, drama, post-eppy
Word Count: 853
Summary: Robin has a revelation about his father and is forced to confront the emotions he’s been trying to suppress.
Spoilers: Definite spoilers for The Knights of the Apocalypse, “The Sheriff of Nottingham” and “The Time of the Wolf”. Otherwise, there are just spoilers for the series in general.
Notes: I wrote this for karen9’s birthday. I had intended to post the whole story on this special occasion, but I just ran out of time. While most of the fic has been written, the remaining scenes are a bit rough and I’d like to have a bit more time to revise them. I’m aiming to post the conclusion by next weekend. I’m hoping it will be worth the wait.
This takes place shortly after The Knights of the Apocalypse.
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. This is also based on “The Knights of the Apocalypse” audio adventure, which was based on an original script by Richard Carpenter, directed by Robert Young and produced by Barnaby Eaton-Jones, not to mention the novel written by Jonathan Green.
Nasir studied Robin closely in the days following the Earl of Huntingdon’s death. He was shrewd about it, careful not to be caught gazing at Robin openly, restricting his attention to quick, darting glances. At night, he could be less cautious, observing Robin through the flickering light of the campfire on the pretense of watching the flames dance. John had seen through Nasir’s charade one night, but had said nothing, his sad smile conveying more than words could express. Nasir shouldn’t have been surprised that John was also keeping an eye on Robin. It was just that after everything that had happened since the battle at the Preceptory, Nasir would have understood if John hadn’t noticed that Robin was quiet and withdrawn – or had assumed that this change in their leader’s demeanour was only due to the concern they all shared for Will.
After the Barnwell skirmish, the wound that Will had received from Much’s arrow had not only torn open, but had become infected. Marion and Tuck had worked tirelessly to bring down Will’s fever, but they had all feared the worse when Will had come dangerously close to death. Even after the fever had subsided, Will had been too weak to move and had to be borne in the same cart that had brought the Earl’s body to Huntingdon Castle.
Nasir had hoped that Robin’s spirits would be restored when they returned to Sherwood, but Robin had paced restlessly around the camp, seemingly unable to relax or settle down to a task. Shortly after snapping at Much, Robin had informed everyone that he was going to see Edward. As none of the outlaws had visited Wickham in over a fortnight, it was only natural that Robin might want to check on the villagers. However, Robin was moody and distracted. He might be easy prey to a forester or one of the Sheriff’s men if he wasn’t completely alert. John shot Nasir a knowing look, and Nasir gave a quick, almost imperceptible, nod.
“I’m coming with you,” Nasir said, his tone brooking no argument.
Robin opened his mouth as if he fully intended to argue, but he must have seen something in Nasir’s unflinching gaze that convinced him that such an attempt would be fruitless. He sighed. “Very well. As you wish.”
He seemed more resigned than angry, as if he realized that he could put himself and everyone else in danger if he went off alone. At least Robin could be assured of a companion that wouldn’t pry or prattle endlessly. Nasir was prepared to listen if Robin wanted to share what was troubling him. If Robin sought his advice, he would certainly give it, though he barely spoke most days.
As they walked through the forest, barely conscious of ducking beneath branches and avoiding twigs that might crack loudly under their feet, Nasir wondered if Robin was feeling more than just sadness over the death of his father. It would be only natural for Robin to feel guilty for returning the Earl’s ring, even though he knew that refusing the title was the right thing to do, the only course his conscience would allow. He’d been willing to lie to make a dying man happy, but he wouldn’t have been able to carry on the act, even if he’d wanted to. He was an outlaw. That part of his life was over.
When they had reached Huntingdon, Robin hadn’t stepped foot inside the castle that might have been his because he was no longer the Earl’s son in anyone’s eyes. He had pressed a kiss to his father’s cold, grey forehead and had shot an arrow up at the battlements to catch the attention of the guards. Robin had been willing to take that risk to ensure that his father’s body wasn’t left exposed and unprotected for too long.
“I should apologize to Much,” Robin said, startling Nasir from his thoughts.
“It has been a difficult time for you. He understands.”
Robin grimaced. “It has been a difficult time for all of us, but I haven’t seen any of you snarling at each other.”
Nasir chose his next words carefully. “You have a bigger burden to bear.”
“That’s no excuse,” Robin said.
Nasir shook his head. “You were the Earl’s son before you were Herne’s son.”
Robin swatted at a fly irritably. “That’s the past.”
“And you must face it. When Sarak challenged me, you said I had to fight him, to face my own past.”
“That was different.”
Nasir stopped walking and turned to face Robin. “I had to kill the man who was like a brother, and your father is dead. It is not so different.”
The rest of their journey was silent – silent until they reached Wickham itself. They had barely crossed the threshold of the village when they heard the shouting. Nasir tensed, thinking for an instant that it might be one of the Sheriff’s men, but there were no horses or any other sign of soldiers in Wickham.
Robin had tilted his head to listen and his eyes widened in astonishment. “I think it’s Edward.”