If you are a 'Robin of Sherwood' fan too. Than you are probably familiar with the term: Fanfic. 

Fiction that fans write about the show or their hero's.

You can find a lot of them on the net.

Me, myself am not a big fan. Just because  it is not official part of the series. Don't get me wrong, there are some real good stories to find!  I just don't read them to often to keep my own version in tact.:-)

But recently I have been asked to write my own Guy of Gisburne Fan fiction and because I liked the challenge, I decided to do that. I hope you, and Tanja, who asked me, like it. :-)

                                               

1 august 2012

 

RAINBOWS AND BUNNIES                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

Birds flying up from the trees. 

 

 

Throught Sherwood forest nine men are riding their horses in trot.

 

In front two soldiers in the colours of Nottingham. Followed by a man on a black horse in full armor and with the most brightest blue cloak of the group. Behind him the rest of his men in pairs of two.

Although the man on the black horse is wearing a helmet that covers a large part of his face, it is obvious that he is angry.

The man is called Sir Guy of Gisburne and he is steward to Robert de Rainault, Sheriff of Nottingham,  as well as leader of the soldiers.


He thinks about the morning he has had, with his employer who did little else than being in a terrible mood and rant.

And now he is send to fetch and escort the source of all his new problems from the edge of Sherwood back to the castle. 

The sheriff had received a letter from his oldest brother, Valentine de Rainault, earl of Castleton. He stated in this letter that he was ill and that it was bad and that he didn't want his daughter to witness his struggle.    

 

 

"Please my dear brother, take care of my little girl. I don't want her to see me like this. She mustn't worry about me. I want her to be happy..." the letter said.

"Yes, and who will care about my happiness?!" Guy thought. 

 

"Nothing stays a secret for long in Nottingham. The outlaws will soon know that my 'dear niece'  is coming to stay with me for maybe as long as a few months." The sheriff said in a sarcastic tone. 

"Until my brother is either dead or feeling better."

Guy knew that the sheriff would like it more if his brother would die.   

Since the letter had arrived the sheriff several times had summed up the amount of money he would get from Valentine de Rainault's inheritance as he was the heir. The estates, the castle and the all of the lands that belonged to Castleton.     

Ofcourse his brother wanted him to take care of his daughter also and had draw that up in the will as well and that he didn't know yet what to do with her but that he would surely find a use for her.

"But, with my luck", the sheriff continued, "with my luck my brother will surely survive his 'little inconvenience' therefor we most see to her safety. Her father will cut me out of his will immediatly if something were to happen to his 'precious' child. And because i have more to do than to babysit that annoying girl all day and have to go to London for a few days in the coming weeks, unfortunally Gisburne, her safety and therefor the faith of my money will lay in your hands. So you better not screw up this time!"

 

Thinking of this made Guy even more angry. 

"Hurry up!!"  He yelled at the front men. "The sooner this is all over, the better.," he thought.

It wasn't long before they saw a caravan of people on horses and two wagons. 

"This will probably be her." He looked around. At least Robin Hood hadn't shown his face yet.

They approached the group coming up to them. They seemed to be in a good mood. Guy heard laughter and singing coming from the wagons. He rolled his eyes.    

 

 

 

 

"Halt!" He heard coming from the caravan.

The first horse riders moved a side and a woman on a white horse rode towards him. He commanded his soldiers to stop also and moved in front. He took of his helmet and pulled back his chainmail.

 

 

"Lady de Rainault?" he asked.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Yes." Came back the reply. 

 

 

 

"I have come from Nottingham to escort you back to the castle as the sheriff and your father agreed. I am Sir Guy of Gisburne."

"My Lord of Gisburne, yes, my father told me a little bit about you. Thank you My Lord. We are ready to go."

Guy's men joined the group. 

"You two men go first! I want the four of you in the back and two on each side of the wagons. And keep your eyes open!"

The strange woman had to be around his age. He could see her hair, darker than his own, coming from under her white headdress. She wore a gown in light red and white, with golden accents. He was riding next to her. She kept looking at him and back at her horse. 

"So, how are you, Sir Guy?" 

"Fine my Lady", was his short response. 

He had certainly no interest in a conversation with this woman he already couldn't stand from the moment the sheriff told him about her. 

The sheriff's niece! More de Rainault blood.  

 

"You may call me Joanna." She said. "So do they."  She pointed a the bunch of servants behind them. "You look surprised."
 
.
As she was smiling at him he closed his mouth and the surprised look on his face was traded in for his serious look again.
....
They call me Joanna, sometimes Lady Joanna and only during formal visits or occasions they call me Lady de Rainault. We're all like a family."
Then asked if she could call him Guy. He didn't really know what to say. She was certainly straightforward. 
..
He stuttered out a quick: "If you wish."
..
"I know what you think. I know my uncle. He can't be the most pleasant man to work for." 
..
Guy just gave her a quick look and than looked at the road again.
...
"You think that i am trouble. " She smiled.  "You think that i must be just like my uncle and now i am coming to Nottingham to make your life harder."
"My Lady, i..that is to say that.. y.."   
"You don't have to say anything. It is written all over your face." She replied still smiling at him.
...
He didn't know what to say or where to look.
....
"I guess he didn't tell you much about my father or me? Things are different in Castleton. We are different." 
...
He looked at her friendly face. He didn't trust her. After all, he hadn't forgotten whom she was family to.
...
"My father is kind, generous and doesn't care about wealth as much as my uncle does. And i'd like to think i am the same."
..
He hoped that with his reply: "I'm sure", this conversation would be over.
...
Joanna knew she was right. She felt that it would be best not to force him to speak anymore if he didn't really want to. So now and then she made comments about the beautiful forest or the nice warmth of the sun to let him know that she would still like to talk to him but in the meantime would give him his space.
..
..
And so they approached Nottingham Castle. 
..
..
Apparently Robin Hood had not heard about the arrival of the niece of the sheriff yet as he didn't try to distrurb the peace. At least the trip went well and the sheriff couldn't blame anything on him this time.
..
..
In the court yard he helped her of her horse and instructed his men to take care of the horses and walked her into the main hall.
..
As soon as Robert de Rainault saw her he put on his nicest insincere smile and welcomed her. Ofcourse she saw right trough him, politely smiled back and in her head made fun of the fact that her uncle had to work so hard on his I-am-so-glad-you're-here-act.
 
 
.
 
 
A few weeks went by. 
..
..
Guy watched as Joanna settled in and was still astonished by the way the gang of unwanted guests interacted with one another. 
 
Why did she allow that physician she brought with her, and her maid to speak to her like that? Like they were her parents? 
 
Every evening they would sing together and everyone seemed to be looking after each other. 
 
She often tried to get him involved in the games they played or conversations they had but he would find an excuse to decline and was always on his guard. He tried avoiding running in to her and speaking to her as much as he could, but she kept coming up to him...
..
..
..It was almost time for dinner. 
..
Joanna in guidance of Maria, her maid, went downstairs to meet up with the rest of her servants. In Castleton it was custom for the staff to dine with the de Rainault family. They would sit at a separate table, except for Maria and Peter who would sit next to Joanna as they were like parents to her.
..
Valentine's wife, Edina had died when Joanna was just a little girl. Valentine took it hard and knew that he wasn't able to care for her properly while he was mourning his beloved wife and gave full authority to Maria for that time, who he trusted with his life, as she was one of the members of the staff who had been working for him the longest. 
Just like Peter, physician to the family for years and also an older man and the person Maria would consult for all of her problems. 
Even when Valentine returned to his daily business and the care for his only child they kept holding on to that situation and Maria 
would care for her when he was busy and as a real mother she would threat to tell her father if Joanna had done something that she wasn't supposed to and together with her father she would work out a punishment for her.
..
..
On the stairs she could already hear her uncle yelling at Guy. 
 
..
Early that morning they had rode out to attend to some business at abott Hugo de Rainault, the other brother of the sheriff, at the other side of Sherwood.
..
She hurried down.
..
Her uncle's eyes looked almost as big as the dinner plates on the table and part of his clothes seemed ripped. Guy's hair looked messy and they both were covered in dirt.
..
"What happened?!" Joanna asked.
"We were attacked by Robin Hood's men. We lost four men and 300 silver Marks worth of taxes!" The sheriff was looking at Guy, 
"because this..genius here is completely incapable of catching six wild cuttroats with at least fifteen of his man and practically handed him the over the money himself! They are going to pay for this! And now i'm going to clean myself up."
..
 Guy didn't say anything and the sheriff left the hall in a steady pace. 
..
"Guy, are you allright?"  
"Just leave me alone." He sneered before he walked off.  
..
Joanna was startled. Maria put her arm around her and took her to the table while she reassured her that everything would be allright once they were calmed down again.
..
Other than normally the case, that evening the sheriff wasn't trying to fake some interest in his niece and if she'd had a good day and other than a few insults aimed at Guy the dinner was covered in a painful silence.
Joanna looked at her uncle and at Guy, who looked like a beaten dog.
..
When Robert de Rainault once again refers to the incident and puts the all blame on the incompetence of his steward, Joanna can no longer keep quit. 
..
"Uncle, what has happend is unfortunate but i don't think it is fair to blame Guy for all of this. I'm am sure that there were some 
mistak...."  
"Unfortunate??!!"  the sheriff interrupted her. "Unfortunate?! The king needs his taxes. He'll have my head if i don't get this shipment to him, once again, because of that scum and the inability of certain employees."
"I will catch them, My Lord, i just n....." The last response by Guy isn't helping either. 
..
Joanna can see that her uncle get's ready for the next attack on Guy. Quickly she adds: "Yes, tomorrow is a brighter day and when we have all slept a night on this, i have no doubt th..." 
"So you found yourself a new friend to protect you, did you Gisburne." The sheriff says leering.  
..
Guy knows that now is not the right time to speak back and starts staring at his plate. 
..
Meanwhile a furious Joanna wanted to stand up and confront her uncle in a different tone but Maria stops her knowing that she'll make it worse. She is afraid that the sheriff will hurt her in his rage. Joanna looks at her maid and sees the scared look in her eyes. The best thing she can do right now is to withdraw herself.
..
"May i please be excused?"  
"You may. Gisburne, escort your new..supporter..to her chamber."
..
They stand up and leave. The sheriff stares at them until their out of sight. He plays around with his leftover food and then throws his knife on it and leaves also.
..
..
Silently they walk side by side. Now and then Joanna looks to her side. Guy is staring blankly ahead. 
..
"I am sorry about your miss fortune today. And what my uncle said to you."
..
Guy doesn't look at her and doesn't respond. "Please talk to me. You can speak openly, you know that."
..
Suddenly he stops and turns to her. "Why did you have to get involved?" He says angry.  
"I just wanted to help you. It is just not fair how tha.."  
"I don't need you to safe me."
"I know that, i..."   
"Just go back to your castle with..with..rainbows and.. bunnies." He was so fed up with her and her tales about that supposedly happy place where everbody is overflowing with joy all the time. 
"I can handle the sheriff myself!"
..
Joanna could not help but laughing. 
..
"Rainbows and bunnies?" 
"What do you know?! You have never had a hard day in your whole life. So don't pretend to feel bad and trying to 'help' me. You're just making it worse!"   
"Is that what you think? Let me tell you.." 
"I don't need your excuses just leave me alone!"  
"Please let's talk about this, you'll feel better."   
"I will feel better if you just get away from me!" 
..
Guy walks off,  followed by Joanna. When she's caught up with him she grabs his arm. Guy stops again and pulls his arm loose.
..
"You've been like this to me ever since i got here. It is not just what happend tonight. What did i ever do to you except love you!"
..
As soon as she has spoken out the sentence she realises what she has said and looks startled at him. He looks shocked. To her, that says it all and she runs off.
..
..
After a night of pondering and not enough sleep she still doesn't know what to do. 
..
Maria who is helping her to get dressed and get her ready for the day is talking to her but she doesn't hear it. 
..
During breakfast she doesn't dare to look at Guy. 
She doesn't really eat much but plays around with it.
Robert de Rainault has apparently had a better nights rest and asks Joanna how she has slept. She responds with a short "Fine, thank you uncle." 
..
The sheriff is satisfied with this answer and just happy that there is no need for a long and boring conversation with her this morning.
..
"I have a Hundred Court to attend to this morning, so you'll have to amuse yourself today. Maybe Gisburne can take you out for a ride?  There is a nearby lake you might like."
..
She looks up, "That won't be necessary. " Giving Guy a quick look. He looks back at her. 
..
"I'm sure you will be needing Sir Guy by your side today." 
"I don't, i have seen enough of his cunning yesterday. The captain of the guards will be joining us. I assume that the outlaws will have the day off since they will be tired of the succesful action they performed yesterday." Giving Guy a look. "You will take My Lady de Rainault to the lake today.  And stay away from Sherwood."
..
..
A few hours later the horses are saddled and Guy and Joanna ride out. 
..
The sun is shining. It is a beautiful day and it looks as if nothing has happened. 
..
When they arrive at the lake neither one has spoken to each other yet.
..
It is truly a lovely place. She gets off her horse and walks to the waterfront. 
..
What must she say? It is better to confront him or should she pretend like it never happened?
..
Her horse has followed her and starts drinking from the lake water. When the mare lifts her head she brushes her wet nose against Joanna. 
"Darla!" She begins to laugh a pushes the cold, wet and dripping mouth of her horse aside." "Will you go away! Go play with Fury!" 
The horse is not really impressed, walks away and finds some nice grass to graze.
..
"Shall we sit down?" Guy thinks he might as well for he can not get out of this situation right now.
..
They sit down in the grass and for a moment Joanna hesitates. She looks at him. "Shouldn't we talk about yesterday?" 
..
Guy doesn't feel like it at all. He feels uncomfortable. "Why do you have to talk about everything all the time. Can't we just leave it alone?" He says without looking at her. 
"I need to know how you feel." 
"Feelings are for woman."  
"So men don't have feelings at all? I can't believe that."
..
Joanna feels that if she makes a mistake now, and he completely shuts down, he will probably never speak to her again. 
She stops to think of what to say. 
..
The only things they hear are the birds singing and the wind blowing through the trees and the grass.
..
She wants to share something important of which she hopes will bring them closer together and give them a better understanding of one an other.
..
"If i told you something, a secret, could you keep it to yourself? Please don't tell my uncle. He hates me enough as it is and i don't want to get my father in trouble."
..
Guy looks at her and is curious as to what she has to say.
..
"I don't know where to start. This is not easy for me...
..
When my father arranged for me to come to Nottingham he told me something about certain people who he knew there. Just so i 
wouldn't feel like i was surrounded by a bunch of strangers.
Since you work closest to my uncle he also told me some things about you. Where you came from, where you have worked previously, you know, that sort of thing. 
He knows your mother, you see. I know that you have had a terrible childhood."
..
Guy moves around nervously. 
..
"I do not wish to discuss this with you." He replies quickly and on a angry tone.
..
"No, i'm sorry! I didn't mean to.. I just want you to know that i understand."
..
Guy laughs a sarcastic laugh.
..
"You still don't trust me. You have had a hard life. You haven't had much love and support growing up and then you became a soldier so you're probably more used to having enemies that friends and now your working for my uncle.. Let's say he is not the really trustworthy, is he?  
Listen, if you ever want to leave him you're always welcome in Castleton. I'm not just saying this because, well you know, i fell in 
love with you. If you'd feel that i'd be in your way, you could just tell me and i swear i'll will..."
..
She sees that Guy really doesn't want to hear this and tries to find the words to tell him what she's been meaning to tell him.
..
"You said you wanted to share a secret. Well, what is it?" Guy says so she will no longer focus on him.
..
"Yes, i do. I .. Yesterday.. You are so convinced that nothing bad ever happened to me. Well, you are wrong... Guy, I..i am... "
..
She takes the time to breath in and then she decides just to blurt it out.
..
"Valentine de Rainault is not my birth father. "
..
Guy looks up at her. 
..
"What?" He asks sceptical.
..
She looks back at him.
..
"It is true. I was born as Joanna of  York." She pauses for a minute, staring at the grass. She starts picking it.
"My parents were drunks. My father would get into fights almost daily in the village. It got so bad that they had banished us to the edge of the village. 
My mother loved to tell me how much she hated me and how much i was not wanted. They used to hit me, burn me, they made me do chores that were not suitable for a small child. 
They didn't care. Blisters on my hands were taking care of by hitting it or squeezing my hand just to cause more pain.  Or they would wake me up in the middle of the night to throw me out in the mudd, the rain and the cold to go sleep with the pigs. That's probably why i hate the cold so much now." Joanna says with a faint smile.
..
"In the beginning, people would try to help. They would slip me food or gave me a blanket. But when my parents found out, they 
threatened to hurt them or set their houses on fire and one time i saw that my father actually did that, not caring if there were people inside.
And so they stopped helping me. I ended up always being afraid.
..
Then, one day, i was barely five years old, Valentine de Rainault passed the village. He had a problem with the bridle of his horse and the villagers helped to fix it. 
He saw me. I was in bad shape, barely dressed and he asked the people about me. Then he confronted my father. Said that if they didn't start to take proper care of me that he would take me away from them.
My father made some comment about him paying for me than and Valentine drew his sword and replied by telling him that he certainly would 'pay' him if he did not choose to cooperate. And then my father said that he could have me and they went inside. That was the last time i saw them...
..
My father, Valentine, i mean ofcourse, put me on his horse and we left. I didn't want to stay but i did not want to go with this strange man either.
..
Back then, Edina was still alive but already ill. She seemed to be friendly but i didn't want anyone near me. It took me months to open up to her a little. And then, she died.
..
And you know what that taught me? Don't let anyone in cause they will hurt you and leave you.
..
After that, my father was a wreck. He gave Maria the task of taking care of me. I owe so much to her.  And to Peter.
She couldn't even come close enough to help me get dressed. I just wanted to be alone. 
I would have nightmares night after night. Than i saw their faces again. I'd wake up, crying and screaming and Maria would rush in and comfort me. I tried to get her of me. Kicking and hitting but she'd hold me tight until i calmed down. She just patiently kept holding on."
..
Joanna smiled. "What else could i do than grow to love her. Even if my head was still resisting."
..
For a minute nothing was said. "So, now you know...You see? I can in fact understand you.
..
Although Guy is a little touched by her story, he isn't planning on letting her see it.
..
"And you expect me to believe that the sheriff never noticed that he suddenly had a new niece."   
"My uncle never cared much for my father and his life. Just for my father's money. He is so unlike my father.
Maybe he has suspected something but he never said anything. Maybe he thinks that he got the message of my birth but that he just couldn't remember because of his lack of interest. Who's to say?"
"It still is not the same.'' He says without looking at her. 
"I know. I was lucky. Very lucky. I will never forgot that you suffered more than i did. And i think you still suffer to this day. Because of how some people treat you and because of the scars they left on you heart."
..
Guy was getting up. He didn't want to listen to this. He didn't want to be reminded and he most certainly didn't want to hear this babbel from someone who thought she knew him when they just met a few weeks ago.
..
As he was getting up he said: "We should get back to Nottingham." 
Joanna also stood up and said: "I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable with this." 
"I am fine. It's getting late and.."
 
 
 
"Gisburne!!" They heard shouting from the nearby trees and bushes. "Who is your girlfriend, Gisburne?"
 
 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
 
Guy stept forward and drew his sword.
"Robin Hood?!" He shouted back. 
"What is going on?" Joanna asked.  
"Get behind me!"  
"What..i.." 
"Do as i say! Now!" 
..
She got behind Guy but then reallised wat had been said. Robin Hood and his men. Guy's enemies! 
..
"Show yourselfs, you cowards!!" Joanna moved so she was half behind Guy, half next to him. 
..
Out of the woods she saw a few bows first before the owners steps out from behind of them. 
A blond man came forward. Next to him a woman, a man completely in black, a rather tall and bearded man with a staff , a younger boy, a man holding a sword and a monk with bow and arrow. They came closer. 
..
 
"What do you want, Wolfshead?!!" Guy yelled. 
"Why so hostile, we just want to get acquainted with your girlfriend." The blond man smiled.
"She is not my girlfriend!" 
..
Joanna looked up at him. Although it was the truth, it still hurt because she so badly wanted that she was his .  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
She could see that Guy would want to attack if necessary while the odd group was approaching. For what Joanna heard of Robin Hood she didn't think that they would kill her. As for Guy, she wasn't sure. They hated each other. And Guy would take every opportunity to proof to her uncle that he was competent. 
..
In three steps she stood before him. 
"Get back!"  He ordered her but she didn't listen. 
The best thing she could come up with saying to the stranger was: "Can i help you?" 
"My Lady." Looking at Guy: " She is more polite than you." He turned his attention back to Joanna. 
"You're Robin Hood i understand?" Joanna asked.
"Why the devil are you speaking to those Wolfsheads??" Guy spoke in a sneering manner. 
 
 
..   
They didn't pay attention to him and pursued their conversation.
" I am. And who are you?" Robin replied.   
"Don't tell them your name!" Guy said a little cranky. 
 
 ..
She knew that the name 'de Rainault'  would probably not be very populair in this gang either and she just said: "I am Joanna." 
"Joanna, what brings you to Nottingham?"   
"Just a family visit."  
"I must say, i'm not very keen of the company your holding."  
..
Guy was getting impatient. "That's enough! Leave us alone!"  
..
Joanna noticed the monk looking at her like he was wondering about something.
She tried to give his face a better look and now she saw something familiar in his eyes too.
Ofcourse Robin spotted it.
 
 ..
"Tuck, do you know her?"   
"I think i do. I'm just not sure from where.... Have we met before young Lady?"  
"Well, i don't know... she said with a questioning look in her eyes.
 Joanna",  Tuck repeated slowly.  Then he must have made the connection to Guy of Gisburne and the sheriff. 
"Oh good heaven! I remember now. Joanna de Rainault!"
"Who??!!" the man holding the sword yelled in disbelief.  
"Joanna de Rainault. I have met her before. She is the sheriff's niece, Will." The outlaws looked pretty shocked.
"My Lady, is this true?" Robin asked.  
..
She looked at Guy who tried to make it clear that he didn't want her to confirm the question. Joanna knew it made no sense to deny it.
"I'm afraid so." 
 
 ..
Guy closed his eyes for a second and heaved a deep sigh.  
 
 ..
"Shall i throw down my sword as well and let them kill us right now??!!"  He said with his teeth clamped together of anger.
..
"Brother Tuck, I remember now! The last time i came to Nottingham Castle i felt homesick and you read to me and spend time with me in the gardens." 
 ..
Tuck gave her a friendly nod. 
 ..
"How have you been? I guess you're not working for my uncle anymore. I can understand why." She laughed. 
"I'm well, thank you. I must say that you have become an whole lady. It must have been, what? Twelve years?" he asked.
..
Will adressed Robin. "She must be worth a ton of gold! Let's take her and send a nice little message to uncle dearest."   
..
Robin was thinking about it for a moment before he lifted his head and said: "I am going to have to ask you to come with us, My Lady de Rainault." 
 
 ..
He had barely spoken out this sentence or Guy wanted to run towards the outlaws with his sword helt high and ready to attack. 
 
 
"No! Guy!!" Joanna grabbed his arm before he had barely taken two steps.
"Do you want an arrow in your chest?!" 
"I'm trying to clean up this mess you made!" 
"They are going to kill you." 
"I will come with you, but let Guy return to Nottingham." She spoke. 
"Have you gone mad?" Guy asked her. 
..
"Will almost whispered: Let's kill the pig. Let me do it." Robin just shook his head. 
..
"That is not an option My Lady." 
"Why? It is me you want."  
 
 ..
The outlaws seemed to not want to discuss this any further as they began to surround Guy and Joanna. As they captured Guy he struggled against better judgement.
.
Back in the camp of the outlaws, Much, who took the horses tied them to a tree and Little John was doing the same thing with Guy.
..
"Please, is this really necessary?" Joanna asked and pulled a sad face.
"He is not as willing to be here as you are."  
"But i can watch him. He will not leave...Please not so tied, your hurting him! She tugged John's hand but he was unperturbed by her efforts. 
"How is he suppose to sleep like this?" Joanna tried again. 
"We'll see to that in good time." John said while he smiled lip-deep at Guy. 
..
John walked off to go sit with the others around the fire. Tuck was preparing a meal. 
Joanna looked at the annoyed face that she had grown so accustomed to. She stroked his cheek. He quickly moved his head away.
 ..
"Are you angry with me? Don't be angry." She asked.  
"This is all your fault but we both know who is going to get blamed for this, don't we!" 
"I'll tell my uncle that is was me who got us into this situation. I will tell him how you kept me safe and.. "
"If those animals don't kill us first!"
"They will not kill us, Guy. I'll make sure of that."  
"Don't be stupid! How do you think you are going to stop that, girl?"  
"I would give my life for you! Do you still not no that? What does it matter that i am a woman. I will fight 'till the end to protect you!"
..
"My Lady," she turned around and saw Tuck handing out bowls to the gang. "The food is ready."
She looked back at Guy but he was staring into the distance.
She walked to friar Tuck and accepted a bowl of meat with a friendly 'Thank you'. Than she went back to Guy. 
"Guy, are you hungry?" He turned his head away.  "Please, eat something, you need your strenght." He was determined to keep on ignoring her. 
"Allright. Maybe later. I will safe something for you." She said to a stoic Guy.
..
This was Joanna's sign to leave Guy alone.
She went to go sit in the circle. Her back was turned at Guy.
While she stared sad at her bowl, the outlaws stared at her as she slowly started to eat.
..
The silence was broken by Much who asked: "Tuck told us that you are not like the sheriff. What are you doing with Gisburne, than? I saw the way you were looking at him."  
"Much." Marion said. 
 
 .
Much always means well and says what he is thinking but sometimes it is not very tactful.
 
 .
"It's alright." she reassured Marion.
"I realise he is your enemy, but i love him." 
 .
Just speaking and thinking about him, the love of her life made her smile. 
 
 ..
"Why?" Much wanted to know.  
"Why?" She reacted as if she could not believe that it wasn't as obvious to them as is was to her.
"Well, look at him." Guy stood close enough to hear the conversation but pretended he didn't listen. 
..
 
 
"He's handsome, brave, strong, tough.."  
Will interupted: "Hold on, hold on, are we speaking about the same Gisburne here?"  
"You only see one side of him. I saw his heart and my heart wanted his."   
"That animal has no heart! He is nothing but a filthy swine!"  
 ..
"No, he is not! I understand that you hate him. The sheriff makes him do terrible things but that is not who he is! And i would appriciate it if you'd apologize for those remarks." 
"Apologize? Never in a million years. He is a dirty basterd!"
 
The grumpy Will got up fast and found a big tree to lean against with his arms crossed. 
.
None of these people would understand how she could have fallen in love with him.
But she tried it anyway and told them how she had thought she'd fall of her horse the first time she set eyes on him because she was so in awe when he pulled back his chainmail and his gorgious blond hair wildly peeked out. 
 
 .
That the first thing she thought when she saw his face was: An angel...  How she couldn't even make out what he was saying because all she heard was the beautiful sound of his voice. But how she managed to get herself together and just caught his name. How she hoped that he hadn't notice and that she wouldn't make a complete fool out of herself.
 
 ..
Although they did understand her feelings of love, they really couldn't see how she could have them for Guy of Gisburne.
.
.
After they had finished their meals, they had Nasir ride to Nottingham to deliver a short note that said that they had captured Joanna and Guy and that the sheriff had twentyfour hours to come up with two hundred and fifty silver marks.
Nasir was clever and swift and wouldn't be seen. 
.
.
A few serfs had to duck so they didn't get hit by some flying dinner plates when the sheriff had read the note.
He was screaming so loud that the captain of the guards came to check if maybe the sheriff was being attacked by someone or something. When he saw that this was not the case, he left in a hurry. 
.
"Those villains! Who does he think that he is, that he can get away with this?!!!!!" Speaking about Robin Hood. "And where the hell was Gisburne? How could this have happened? I told him to pay attention! Completely useless!! I will make him pay for this!!" 
 
 .
He needed a plan as he was not gonna give them anymore money without a fight.
.
When Maria and the rest of Joanna's people heard what had occured they were devastated. 
Maria started to cry and had to be calmed down. Peter and the men were quiet. And thinking about how they could help. 
It would be a night where none of them would sleep a lot.
.
.
It was getting late and in the camp, the group was getting ready to go to bed. 
 
 .
Joanna was handed a few blankets and something to rest her head on. 
"What about Guy?" she asked. "You  can't leave him tied up to the tree all night." 
"Why not?" Will answered her. 
 
 . 
She gave him a mean look and than looked at Robin. 
 
 .
"Come on, you know that i will make sure he stays." 
"So are we. You didn't think that we would leave you unguarded, did you? We'll set up a watch. And takes shifts every couple of hours. "
 
 .
He was walking up to Guy. Followed by Joanna. He got in his face and told him to better not try anything stupid.
.
He untied Guy and told him to go lay down on his back on the ground. Joanna had spread one blanket on the earth. He laid down. 
Robin tied his feet together with one end of a rope and tied the end of it to the tree he was standing against till now. His hands were free. 
Robin knew that he could free himself easily but it would take him just enough time for the watch to notice. 
.
Now Guy was tied up like an abandoned dog on a leach.  Accept this dog had the leach around his legs.
.
Joanna laid next to him and was now the barrier between him and the outlaws. She gave him some fabric to rest his head on. 
She laid the blanket over them and wanted to put in Guy,  make sure he had enough blanket so he would get cold but he pushed her away. 
.
"Your going to get cold." She said. 
"I don't care. I don't share with traitors. Get away from me!" 
"What do you mean?" 
"If you love me the way you say you do, you will release me and help me get away from this miserable scum."  
"You know i can not do that."
"Than go lay with your new friends."  
"Can't you see that i am helping you by not letting you go?..Because i care about you!...Because i don't want you dead! They will see you. And if they catch you, God knows what they will do to you. Hurt you, kill you. Is that what you want? Come on , don't be like that.  Please."
 
 .
She touched his shoulder. 
 
"Get your hands of me!"  
"Why do you have to fight me every step of the way?"  
Guy ignored her again.
"Have it your way, Guy. Wake me up when you get cold." She turned on her side, away from her love. She felt hurt. It seemed like nothing she did could soften his mood or change his opinion on her. 
.
.
Guy was staring at the leaves and the stars in the sky. 
Sometimes he found himself intrigued by her but he resisted every possitive thought about her. He wasn't getting sucked in to this.
He would not let himself be betrayed by her. He had to stay strong.
.
It took Joanna a while to fall asleep. 
Guy remained awake. He didn't trust anyone in the camp. Or maybe he did? But he silenced his heart and let his negative thoughts prevail.
.
A few hours later Will stood up to take over the watch from John. 
John briefed him that nothing had happened and that their prisoner was still in their power. 
They looked at the couple. 
"Unbelievable that a woman like her could ever love a scroundrel like that." John whispered. 
"Yes, well, she will find out sooner or later."
"I'm going to get some sleep."
"Good night, John."
.
Joanna had turned around in her sleep and was now facing Guy. He looked at her. The moon softly lighted her face. She looked so innocent and beautiful. 
He was startled by his own thoughts. He quickly looked up at the trees again. 
He started to get cold and pulled a little bit of the blanket towards him. It didn't do much. She was wrapped in it and it just covered half of his body.
Eventually he fell asleep. 
.
Only a little while later he woke up by some sounds. 
.
He opened his eyes and saw Will standing over him.
 
 .
"You don't deserve to be loved. You don't deserve to live either." Will spoke softly not to wake up Joanna.
He slowly drew his sword and placed it on Guy's throat. 
"But you have already screwed it up anyway, haven't you, Gisburne? You have made her angry at you already and soon she will hate you like everybody else does and she will be standing there with a big smile on her face when i get to kill you."
.
Because of an evil little laugh that Will just could not suppress Joanna woke op. 
She blinked a few times before she could see what was going on.
.
"What are you doing!" She asked shocked while she  pushed the sword away.  
"Are you allright?" She asked Guy but didn't wait for answer to tell Will: " If he has so much as a scratch, no, a simple imprint of your sword i will rip your head off, you idiot. Don't forget what kind of blood i have in me!"
To Guy: "Lift your head."
 
.
She checked his throat. There was nothing to see. 
 
 .
"Your in luck. Now go away you idiot. You are nothing but Robin Hoods puppet. So don't pretend like your the greatest." She was furious.
.
Will moved away from them and Joanna said to Guy: "Come here." 
She wanted to put his arm underneath his head and hold him. He wanted to sputter but she just said: "Not now, Guy. Come."
For some reason he did not try to object anymore, turned on his side and let her hold him. 
She held him tight and stroked his hair. He could feel she was shaking. 
.
"I lied to him." She said with a little giggle to try to lighten the situation. "My blood could be worse....  Your cold."
She pulled the blanket and moved it, so it covered her and Guy completely. 
She took a couple of deep breaths to calm down and then reallised she was holding the man she loved. She enjoyed the moment. 
 
 .
"Try to get some sleep. I already slept for a while. I'll see to that none of them will hurt you." 
"I'm not afraid of them." He said while he released himself out of her arms. 
"You must get some sleep." 
"You go to sleep and stop annoying me." He said surly.
.
She was dissapointed but didn't want to start an argument again. 
He could feel her eyes looking at him so he closed his eyes to shut her out even more.
Joanna waited till she thought he must be sleeping before she moved closer and pulled his blanket a bit higher to keep him warm, put her arm around his waist and her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes. He didn't move to avoid an other conversation and carefully moved his head to look at her for a second.
 
.
She wasn't fast asleep and every now and then she woke up and looked around to see if there where other outlaws threatening the man of her desire...
.
Joanna had woken up again and scanned the area. Everything was quiet. It began to dawn. 
 
 .
She moved a lock of hair out of Guy's face who was laying on his side and put her head down again.  
He waited a moment before he opened his eyes but she was still awake. He quickly closed them but she ofcourse had seen that. She smiled. 
"I know you're not sleeping." 
He opened his eyes and saw the smile on her face.
She moved closer to him and put her arm around him again.  Her face was close to his. She kissed his cheek and closed her eyes like she was going back to sleep again. But could not stop herself from opening them again and saw that he was still staring at her. With the back of her hand she touched and stroked his face. 
 
 .
Suddenly he raised his head and kissed her. She didn´t waste much time being surprised but placed one arm underneath his head while with her other hand she caressed his face and hair.
Her heart was racing. His arms were wrapped around her and she tried to lie as close to him as possible. His kiss started out a little wild. As if he wanted to make it clear that it was him that was in control but the soft and tender way she answered his kiss made him more gentle.
.
 
 
As sudden as it all started, Guy stopped. 
They looked at each other shortly before Guy said: "We should go back to sleep." as he turned around and left Joanna in confusion.
.
Her body was glowing. She felt like she couldn't move. She looked at his back. She was blushing and smiled. 
The way he had kissed her.. Did he have feelings for her too? Or was it just wishful thinking because she wanted it to be so? 
.
She closed her eyes and tried to do as he said.
She had to take it slow with him. Joanna had no doubt that if she wanted to much right now, he would reject her instantly. 
Guy was asking himself why he had done that. How could he have allowed himself to lose control? It seemed best to just try to forget and move on but that would be a hard task as long as she was around...Both of them couldn't get back to sleep after that...
.
.
The sheriff hadn't had much sleep either.
.
Pressured by the fact that his brother would certainly disinherit him in a heartbeat if he wouldn't be able to get her out of the hands of that bunch of thiefs and cutthroats he made his way to the lake. 
The place where he was supposed to leave the ransom, accompanied by the captain of the guards and with the payment for her release.
.
Without saying a word he put the money in the hollow log that they had pointed out in the ransom note. Than he tried to spot the outlaws but there was no one to be seen.
He got back on his horse with angry growl and they rode off...
.
.
The camp came back to life. 
They threw a few branches on the fire and prepared their breakfast. 
Then send Nasir and Much to go and keep an eye on the area around the lake. 
.
.
Joanna was folding the blankets. Guy was sitting up, still bound by his feet and avoiding any eye contact. 
.
They gave her a piece of fruit and some bread.  
Robin said: " I guess we will find out how much your uncle cares about you today, won't we."  
"Ha," she said sarcastically, "We will see how much he loves my father inheritance." She laughed. 
Robin gave her a smile before he walked to Marion.
.
It didn't take long for Much and Nasir to come back with a money bag.
"The sheriff did not waste any time." Nasir said. "It was already there when we came."
.
Friar Tuck was given the task of counting the money.   
"Two hundred and fifty Marks. It is all there.''
"Than there is no need for us to keep you any longer, My Lady."  Robin said.
"Thank you for your..ehm..hospitality. If you would be so kind to free Guy, we will return to Notingham now." 
.
Robin pulled his knife and cut him loose. 
Joanna wanted to help him up but ofcourse he didn't want to know of it and quickly stood up. 
But his muscles had become quite sore and he had to grab the tree to maintain his balance.
He quickly stretched and without a word he walked to the horses. He just wanted to get away.
 
Joanna said her goodbyes. Especially to her old friend Tuck. She gave him a hug and he told her to take care of herself.
.
.
It was silent on the way back to Nottingham. 
When they had maneuvered their horses out of the woods they let them walk slowly in the direction of the castle.
Both of them were not really in a rush to get home.
Joanna because she enjoyed this opportunity to come closer to Guy and Guy because he knew that the sheriff would not be pleased by the fact that he had to pay such a large amount to free them.
.
"I'll tell him that you did everything in your power to keep me safe. That they threatened me but that you protected me." 
"He won't care." was his short reply.
"He must. Anyway, i am not letting you go trough this alone."
"Stay out of it this time!"
"Is there a special knight language? So that you just don't understand me? Than let me put is like this: Maybe it always has been you fighting the world. But you don't have to do that alone anymore. I am on your team, Guy. I am loyal, only to you. Can you still not see that?"
"Just stay out of my way and all will be right."
Joanna sight. It was difficult for her not to speak anymore. Not to drag him of his horse and shake him till he would grasp it.
.
,
They approached the castle gates. 
 
.
Peter and a few others from the Castleton servants came running out. He hurried to get to Joanna and on his way he yelled back at Maria that Joanna was in sight and unhurt.
Maria lifted up her skirts and ran as fast as she could.
.
Joanna and Guy were just about one hundred yards away but he was an older man and arrived out of breath. 
While he was grabbing her waist to help her of the horse he asked: "Joanna, are you allright??"
Joanna laught and was happy to see everyone again. She could just give Peter a quick: 'yes i am', when Maria already had her arms around 'her' child and held her so tight that Joanna thought she was going to choke. Maria was so glad that she started to cry.
Guy watched it for a while and then made his way to the court yard. 
Someone was waiting for him as well but it wouldn't be a warm welcome.
.
It didn't take long for the notified sheriff to storm out of the door. 
"And how exactly did you managed to let yourself be held hostage by those clowns, Gisburne? Hmm?"
"The ambushed us. We were just sitting by the lake." Guy told him.
 
.
Joanna and her happy staff were stepping into the court yard and the sheriff put on his best fake smile, welcomed her back and proposed to first sit down and have something to drink to recover from this nasty adventure. 
He let her go up front and followed after the group. As he past Guy he said: "I will deal with you later."
It made Guy almost long for the forest again. He went inside.
.
Everyone sat down in the main hall.
Maria couldn't stop cuddling Joanna, who enjoyed that.
Guy sat down at the other side of the table. 
Joanna told what had happened and as promissed she did her best to make Guy the hero of the story.
The sheriff ordered his servants to bring some food and after they had something to eat and to drink, Maria wanted to take her upstairs to go rest for a while.
She'd rather not leave Guy alone with the sheriff but there was nothing more she could do. Just to be there to comfort him if he needed her to.
.
The hall was quiet and almost empty when the crew left. 
.
Robert de Rainault was shouting how Guy could let this happen and that he was to stupid to do his job properly, that he better come up with a plan to get the money back and all of the insulting things that Guy had heard a thousand times before.
Finally he told Guy that he had to think about what to do now and for him to get out of his sight.
.
.
Joanna woke up in the late afternoon. 
She got herself dressed and went to see Guy but she could not find him. She assumed that he was in his chamber to get some rest and didn't want to disturb him.
 
.
Even her uncle could not be found. He was in his working space dictating a letter to his brother about what had just taken place, that his beloved daughter was fine but that he wanted her to return to Castleton as he could no longer guarantee her safety in Nottingham. 
Eventhough he was still angry about losing the ransom money, he here by found an excelent excuse to get rid of her now.
.
He was almost finished when his second steward and a sweaty messenger came in. 
"He says he brings news from Castleton." The steward said.
The messenger handed over the message to Robert de Rainault.
The sheriff hoped for happy news. And it was. Not as happy as he wanted for his brother was still very much alive but he missed his daughter and wanted her to come home as he felt much better.
 
 .
Excellent. Now he could pretend the idea was not his and that this decision had nothing to do with him wanting her out of  Nottingham.
He quickly had drawn up a short note that he would make the arrangements and that she would return the day after tomorrow.
The messenger could bring it to her father on his way back.
.
.
Joanna was shocked when he told her the news during dinner. Guy was suprised and startled. He looked up to the sheriff.
Ofcourse Joanna was glad that her father felt better but that also meant that she had to leave Guy!
 
After they left the table and she could escape Maria for a moment she went to the stables.
Guy had to be there. It was one of his favourite places as he really loved his horse.
She guessed right. He was brushing Fury. 
 
 
 .
"Tomorrow will be my last day here in Nottingham."
He carried on with what he was doing. 
"Guy, just come with me. You will be happy there."
 
.
He stepped out of the the stable and closed stable door. He walked to a nearby pile of hay and grabbed some to give to Fury and than leaned on the door to look at his horse.
 
.
"What do you want from me?" He asked. Understanding that she would not go away if he didn't say anything.
"I want to see you happy. I want you to come home with me. I want..."
"Just go back to your life and let me live mine."
"You obviously have some things you have to digest. We'll talk tomorrow, allright?.... Have a good night Guy. I love you."
He didn't move or respond and she left.
.
It felt like a stone laid on her heart. He had kissed her passionately last night and now everything was like before. Him just ignoring her, rejecting her.
She went to bed early, hoping tomorrow things would be different.
..
.
The following day she strolled over the market in the streets of Nottingham. 
Maria saw that she was sad but was thinking that this must be because recent events and wanted to distract her.
.
Joanna had only seen Guy at breakfast. It seemed like he didn't want to encounter her again.
 
 .
The day went by so fast.
 
.
She had to talk to Guy once more. She could not leave it like this. Otherwise he would escort her trough Sherwood forest like he did when she came here and than she would never see him again.
.
.
She waited for her uncle to go to sleep. 
Maria had put her safely to bed but she got up and opened her door on a crack so she could hear Guy pass when he went up to his room.
Finally she heard him passing by.
She went after him and knocked on his door. He opened and she asked to come in.
.
"It is late." Guy said but she begged him.
He stepped aside so she could enter and she did.
 
 .
"Where do we go from here, Guy? I don't want leave you." 
It was silent.
"Didn't that kiss mean anything to you? Because it did to me...
Silence...
"So this is it? Can we than just say our goodbyes now? Because i don't think i can handle that tomorrow."
"Whatever you want."
 
.
She almost ran up to him and put her arms around his neck. She started to cry.
He wanted to hold her but he didn't. 
She kissed his nose and cheek, hugged him once more and with a trembling voice told him she loved him for the last time.
 
.
 
.
Joanna closed the door behind her.
Guy felt horrible but decided to suppress his feelings. Once she was gone he would be fine again.
 
 
After a night of  little sleep and a lot of crying Joanna and her people prepared to make their way home.
 
.
Everything was packed and the crew was excited to be going home. 
Joanna looked pale and sad but she tried not to show her feelings.
 
.
After an almost sincerely happy sheriff wished her a safe journey and giving her his best regards for her father, Joanna climbed on her horse. 
Guy was maneuvering Fury next to her and they left.
.
.
Now and then she looked next to her but couldn't speak.
 
 
 
 
.
 
The caravan was in a good mood and singing all the way and not really noticing what was going on up front.
 
 .
Suddenly Guy commanded his men to stop. 
 
 
.
"This is where we return, My Lady."
"I guess it that you have not changed your mind?"
He looked at his hands.
/
"If you ever need anything, Guy, you come to Castleton. You are always welcome there. And i will always love you."
He turned his horse around and made a gesture for his men to follow him. 
He rode off in a gallop, leaving Joanna with a broken heart.
Quickly he was out of sight and she tried to control her voice and said without looking back: "Let's go home."...
.
.
Life went on in Nottingham as usual. 
The outlaws kept bugging Robert de Rainault, would outsmart Guy which left him with dealing with an angry sheriff time after time.
.
.
A few weeks went by when Robert de Rainault received a new message.
Valentine de Rainault was completely recovered and therefor arranged a celebration where ofcourse his brother was invited. Valentine also hoped to cheer up his daughter who just hadn't been quit the same since she'd returned from Nottingham. He figured it had to do with the hostage situation she had been trough although she assured him that she was fine.
.
.
Guy was all ears when his employer spilled this news.
 
.
The sheriff did not really look forward to the celebration but at least they were out of Nottingham and didn't have to worry about that dreadful Robin Hood for a while.
 

The day of celebration had come and the sheriff and Guy were on there way to Castleton. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Robert de Rainault didn't feel like playing nice for to long so he had told his brother that he was busy and did not no what time he would arrive so that he could reduce his presents on this   'wonderful event.' 

 

He admired his other brother, Abott Hugo de Rainault. Although he was invited too, he had the perfect excuse not to come while being on a pilgrimage.

 

Behind Guy and the sheriff were a wagon driven by two servants, containing the sheriff's bags, supplies for the journey and a not-to-expensive-great-you-feel-better-gift and ofcourse Guy's bag and a heavy wooden chest with his belongings so he had everything he needed for the travel. Behind the wagon two horsemen to protect them.

 

In Castleton the celebration had started.                                                                                                                                                

There was music and food and many guests had already arrived. Joanna knew that her father invited some friends of her but wasn't much interested in this feast and had not interfered in the preparations or asked who would attend. It had crossed her mind briefly that her father probably had invited her uncle but she was pretty sure that he would not make this long journey if there was nothing for him to gain from it.

 

Joanna walked down the stairs. She looked beautiful in a white dress with green accents and braided hair around the nice tiara she got from her father.

She tried to look happy but who ever would take the time to look in her eyes for more than a second could tell that they were empty and that her heart was broken.  

 

She joined her father and mingled with her friends. Joanna did her best to speak in a nice and cheerful manor with the guests that were introduced by her father.

It was so good to see that her father was happy and healthy and that he had a great time. 

Joanna's mind wandered off again and she was staring at the floor. 

 

Her thoughts were rudely disrupted by her father tapping her on the shoulder. 

"Don't you want to go greet your uncle?"

Not yet realising what he just had said and which uncle he had meant, she let her eyes slide over the heads of the guests. Some of them had just come in.

Even before she saw her uncle her jaw dropped and her heart started beating fast when she saw this tall blond man she had missed so much behind the sheriff.

 

When Robert de Rainault had found Valentine he went up to him,  followed by Guy.

They grabbed each others arms for a friendly welcome and after Joanna had told her uncle that she was glad he could come, the sheriff was busy talking to her father and she adressed Guy formely. 

"I didn't know you were coming, My Lord. Welcome to Castleton."

"Thank you, My Lady."

 

They looked over at Valentine who was introducing the sheriff to several other high gentlemen. 

"Would you like a tour around the castle?" she asked Guy.

 

He might as well, the sheriff was busy and he had been given the instructions to hold his tongue and don't say anything stupid around all the important guests.

"Sure, My Lady."

"I'll go tell my father than."

 

Her father gave her his permission and the sheriff didn't care where Guy was as long as he stayed out of his way but was near in case he needed him to do something.

 

"You have seen the stables already. Where are you staying tonight?"

"The east wing, My Lady." 

"That's not far from my chamber." she smiled.

She showed him the gardens. The sun was setting. They walked slowly. It was sereen as most people where celebrating in the hall.

 

"So, how have you been, Guy?"

"Fine, My Lady." He lied.

"Have you really? Because i've been miserable without you."

 

What could he say? He was happier to see her than he led on, than he wanted to allow himself.

 

Joanna opened a door and took him to see the west wing. The tower, her fathers working space, the kitchen and the hallway that leads to the chambers of the servants. They followed the stairs coming out in the east wing.

He would follow her and walk slightly behind her so she couldn't see that he was watching her.

Now that everyone was gathered in the hall the castle looked deserted.

 

"Here are the guest chambers so you're probably staying here somewhere."

"I believe it is in this corridor." He answered.

"Are you serious?" She walked into the hallway that he pointed out. 

"That's where my chamber is!" 

It turned out that Guy slept only a few doors from where she spend her nights.

 

"Do you want to see it.?" As she already opened her door.

They walked in.

"What do you think?"

He looked around while she kept looking at him.

"It is nice."

 

"You look very handsome. I missed you so much!"

He kept silent.

"Can i at least give you a hug?"

He gave a quick nod.

She put her arms around his waist and put her head on his chest.

It felt good and familiar and he put his arms loosely around her. 

After a while she let go. He was quick to remove his arms as if he was afraid that otherwise she would notice that he had held her too.

She smoothed out his dress and said: "I'll stop now otherwise i'd never let you go again.

Although she was feeling more like crying than laughing she gave him a faint smile.

 

He stepped forward and kissed her. 

She kissed him back for a moment but than she stopped and said: Don't..Not if you don't mean it. If you leave.."

He would not let her finish the sentence and kissed her again. 

In her head she knew that her heart would be shattered if he left, but her heart who missed his so much was stronger and she surrendered to his kiss.

She put her hands around him and held him tight.

"When do you leave?"  She asked between kisses. 

"Tomorrow morning."  Was the reply. 

She didn't want to let him go back to Nottingham and held on as tight as she could.

He didn't stop kissing her when he pushed her towards the bed. He put her on the bed and laid with her. Without speaking he kissed her again.

Time went by but they just saw one an other.

Then Guy stopped and said: "We should go back." 

"You're right. They could be missing us." She touched his face. And kissed his nose and his mouth.

He wanted to get up.

"Guy, would you stay here tonight? Please!"

"..Maybe."

 

Maybe. Coming from him this respons was very hopeful.

She smiled as he helped her up. When he wanted to walk out she stopped him. She stood on her toes to kiss him one last time before they went back to the hall.

 

Downstairs the wine was flowing and the people all seemed to have a great time and no one noticed how long the two were gone.

Some were dancing and some were talking and laughing.

Guy took his place behind the sheriff and Joanna laid her head against her father shoulder. He stroked her head while talking to some guests.

She stood up straith and tried to listen for some time but couldn't focus. 

She tried to discreetly look at Guy and saw him looking her way too once and a while. His expression seemed softer than normally although he didn't answer her smiles.

It was not easy just standing there with her love so close but without being able to hold him and kiss him.

 

The night went on and Valentine send his daughter to bed. She protested because she wanted to stay near Guy but Maria made her say her goodbyes to the guests and took her upstairs.

She hoped that Guy would join her soon.

Already dressed in her nightgown she got up again once Maria had left the room and put on a robe. She sat on the edge of her bed and waited.

She could hear the music..

 

It was not much later when the sheriff called it a day and said to his brother that he would go to bed because they had a long travel back tomorrow. 

Guy was not paying attention when his employer told him to come with him.

"Gisburne!" 

Guy looked right into his annoyed  face. "We're going to bed."

They left the hall and in the empy hallways the sheriff took the opportunaty to spoil Guy's night by asking if he was just as observing while chasing Robin Hood and that it was no miracle than that he let them escape all the time."

"And make sure you're on time tomorrow. This is not a vacation! Goodnight Gisburne!" He said when he was done lecturing his steward and he walked into his chamber and closed the door.

 

Guy was angry and he had had it with the sheriff.

He walked to his space and closed the door. He didn't know what to do. Would he go to Joanna? Maybe it was best not to. 

He paced back and forth a few times before he walked out of the door and went to Joanna's chamber. 

He just wanted to feel loved again.

When he reached her door he looked around if anyone saw him but there was nobody.

Guy opened the door and went in. He saw Joanna lying on the bed with her feet outside of it. He carefully closed the door and that woke her up.

 

"Guy!" She said happy and opened her arms. A sign for him to dive in.

"I must have fallen asleep. I'm so happy you're here."  She kissed him. "Come to bed."

He locked the door, got undressed and Joanna didn't know if she was supposed to watch or look the other way. When he had removed all of his clothes except for his underwear he climbed into bed with her. 

He let her hold him as she was kissing him and stroking his hair. She kept rubbing her nose against his neck and jawline in this loving way.

She started kissing him. 

 

"You look sad. Did something happen?"

Guy didn't say anything. He wanted to forget the sheriff.

"Let me guess..My uncle?"

He just wanted to lay in her arms.

"Let me tell you something about my uncle. You shouldn't listen to him. I think that he treats you so bad because he is jealous of you. You're better than he is and he knows it.

He sees in you what he can never be. Smart, gorgious, strong, tough..and sweet. She smiled. "I missed you so much. I love you."

He kissed her. Joanna always thought she was happy but now that he was here...

 

"I cannot believe you're here. In Castleton. In my bed. In my arms. And i feel so safe in yours."

He smiled for a second but she didn't see. Joanna had closed her eyes and pulled him closer. She didn't want to let him go ever again. It felt so good to caress him and kiss him.

She had missed his arms, his scent. She was enjoying their time together and didn't want to think about tomorrow.

"Please stay here, in Castleton, with me." Maybe he thought she was nagging by asking him this over and over again and she decided just to stop talking and just to make him feel how much she loved him. 

Guy felt tense but she could feel that how longer they kissed, the more he started to relax now. 

He felt good. Wished this night could last forever. 

 

When she had left Nottingham he was determined to forget her. He was a man with status. He could get every girl in Nottingham Shire that he wanted.. He had kissed other girls but there was no one who kissed him and touched him in this loving and pasionate way she did.

He got used to looking her in the eyes and feeling her close to him. He had felt terrible the last couple of weeks. And now, for one night all of his sorrows seemed just gone.

 

Joanna spoke smiling and with her eyes closed: "I could fall asleep right now."

"Why don't you?"he asked. 

"I have missed you for so long..."

"I am here."

"Yes, you are. That's why."

He turned on his back. She put her head back onto his arm and wrapped her leg around his. Her hand she placed on his chest. She could feel the rhythm of his heart and smiled.

He put his cheek against her head. 

"I love you so." She whispered. "Guy, when we kiss, i feel.. Do you have feelings for me? I have to know."

He waits for sometime before he gives her a soft: "Yes."

She hadn't slept a night trough in weeks and now that he was here she finally found some peace and fell asleep.

He stroked her hair and put his hand on her's still placed on his heart...

 

..Guy woke up from the sound of hooves outside. It was dawn and the first guests made their way home.

He looked down at Joanna who was still fast asleep. 

He had to get up, as much as he hated it. The sheriff would be getting up soon.

He carefully moved her arm and freed himself from her embrace. Slowly and trying not to make a sound he got dressed. 

He looked up when he almost dropped his sword but Joanna didn't wake up.

The door would be his biggest challenge. It woke her up last night. But everything went well and he walked down the hall. 

Guy had made his decision. 

 

He was thinking about the night he had. Everything that had happened between them and the life he had back in Nottingham. 

 

Just as he passed the sheriff's chamber to go downstairs, the door opened. "Ah, Gisburne. I see you managed your first task of the day very well. What a prommissing start of the day. See to that my luggage is carried down and loaded on to the wagons. We will leave after breakfast." 

Robert de Rainault wanted to walk away but Guy stopped him by saying: " I have to inform you that i will not accompany you back to Nottingham."

"What did you say?"

"I am going to stay here in Castleton."

"Gisburne, don't be absurd! The wine has gone to your head. I am going to freshen up and i expect to see you downstairs, now go!"

 

The sheriff went away and Guy made his way downstairs. Ofcourse the sheriff wouldn't take him seriously. 

On the stairs he saw his servants who looked like they had a bad hangover but they stood straight up once they saw an angry Guy of Gisburne coming their way.

 

"The sheriff wants his bags loaded onto the wagon immediatly."

"Yes, My Lord."

"But first you will take care my luggage to My Lady de Rainaults chamber. If anyone asks than it is a gift to Lady de Rainault."

The servants looked at each other surprised.

"Now what part didn't you understand? Get to work!"

And they ran off.

 

When the sheriff had announced the news that they were invited to come to Castleton, Guy still had doubts. 

He looked forward to see Joanna again and God knew he was sick of the sheriff and his tantrums and he wanted to leave Nottingham but did he want to stay in Castleton?

 

He would travel to Joanna and decide there what he wanted to do once he had arrived. 

So he packed all he owned into his chest. His clothes, his juwelery and his money and the few other things he possessed. He locked the trunk, kept the key close to him and had it loaded on to the wagon.

By getting his bagage into Joanna's room, he hoped that the sheriff would not find it to load it on the wagon and force him to come back to Nottingham.

 

Guy entered the hall. 

As crowded as it was last night, as empty it was now. There were just a handful of servants setting the breakfast tables for the hungry guests.

He had to find Valentine de Rainault...

 

Joanna had woken up. She expected to find Guy next to her but he had gone. 

She wanted to cry but there was no time. She had to say her goodbyes before he left for Nottingham.

As fast as she could she got dressed. In her hurry she almost forgot to take off her nightgown first. 

 

There was a knock on the door. She hoped it was Guy who had come back to her. She opened the door and was dissapointed first that is wasn't him and then surprised when she saw the sweaty servants of the sheriff carrying this heavy chest.

 

"My Lady, we have orders to put it in your chambers. My Lord of Gisburne wants us to let you know that it is a gift from the sheriff."

Joanna let them in. She saw the chest was painted with golden letters and it said: 'Sir Guy of Gisburne'. She didn't have time to examine it closer, afraid that Guy would have left before she could reach him.

Her clothing turned out higgledy-piggledy but she didn't care and made her hasty way downstairs.

 

Guy was in luck. Valentine had been outside wishing some guests a safe trip home and was just coming in.

 

"Good morning, Gisburne. I hope you slept well. My brother is on his way also i assume?"

"Good morning, My Lord." Guy replied. My Lord, i must speak to you right away."

Valentine saw that he meant it.

"Well, what is it, son? Is something wrong?"

"My Lord, i wanted to ask you if you would consider letting me stay here."

"Stay here in Castleton?"

"My Lord, i'd like to take service with you. As you might know i am an experie..."

Valentine stopped him: "My dear Gisburne, what does my brother think of all of this? You understand ofcourse that i can not make you prommisses without his consent."

Guy looked at the floor. He didn't know what to say. 

"Look, i know how my brother treats his people. I can talk to him for you but i can't prommiss you anything."

 

"Talk to me about what?" The sheriff  loomed behind him. "Well, Gisburne."

"Your steward seems to be keen on staying in Castleton." Valentine enlightened him.

"Why are you bothering my brother with your ridiculous idea's? Your coming back to Nottingham and that's the end of it!"

"I am sorry, but if my brother does not agree, there isn't anything i can do for you."

 

Joanna came running down the stairs. She was happy to find that Guy was still there.

"Guy!" He turned around. Joanna saw the look on his face and asked: "What is going on?"

"Gisburne seems to think that he can just switch carreers anytime he feels like it." The sheriff answers irritated.

"I don't understand." She looks at Guy.

"Sir Guy has asked me if he could maybe work for me but if my brother wishes that he stays with him, therefor i can't help here." He says while walking to his seat.

 

"You wanted to stay?" She asks him pleasantly surprised.

He just nods.

 

"Now sit down and eat something. We'll leave as soon as we're ready." Robert de Rainault follows his brother to the table.

 

Joanna hugs Guy. She is excited.

"Father!"

Valentine looks up.

"I love him!"

 

There is silence in the hall.

 

For Valentine this says enough. He sees the sparkle in Joanna's eyes that he missed for so long.

The sheriff's eyes get big.

Valentine stands up. 

"And you, Sir Guy. How do you feel about my daughter?"

Guy is caught off guard and stutters before he says: "I love her too."

Joanna looks up at Guy. 

"You have never said that before." They smile at each other. 

"I ask for your daughter's hand, My Lord, i mean to marry your Joanna."

Joanna never felt happier.

 

Valentine turns around and says to his brother: " We can't argue with love now can we. I think we have to speak about what are going to do now."

"Can't you see what is going on? He is doing it to get his filthy hands on your money!" The sheriff yells and stands up as well.

Joanna is shocked. 

Guy doesn't understand. "What are you taking about? What money?" 

"You know damn well what i mean!"

Suddenly Joanna remembers the part of her fathers will that she never thought would become relevant.

"You just don't want to me to be happy!" Guy says to the sheriff. "You just love to see me miserable."

"Father, he doesn't know!" Joanna says to her father.

Guy looks at her astonished. "What is this about, Joanna?"

 

"All this time it never crossed my mind.. To be with Guy is what matters to me. But love doesn't exist in your life, does it, uncle? All you care about is money and power. You are scared you're going to loose your precious inheritance isn't that the truth?"

"Valentine, are you going to allow her to speak to me like that?!"

Joanna doesn't care and carries on: "You haven't told Guy, have you?"

"I don't understand. What has that will to do with us? He will inherit all estates, money and possesions. You don't care about us, so why won't you leave us alone." Guy said in confusion.

The sheriff looks at Guy. 

"Come to your senses! You will never fit in here. Do you really think you'll ever be happy?" He tries.

"Don't you want to tell him, uncle?...Guy, in this very moment, my uncle seems to feel treatent by you. Shall i tell you why? Since my uncle apparantly lost his tongue." 

Joanna is still watching Robert de Rainault and than looks at the man she loves. The questionmarks are written all over his face.

 

"As you know it is custom to have a male heir. And since i am an only child, and a girl, my father named my uncle the heir. But there is an section that states an exception to this rule."

 

Valentine de Rainault never had a doubt his daughter would find a great husband. And he constructed a way for his daughter to keep the legacy of Castleton in such a way that also allowed him to hold on to the tradition he believed in.

 

 "I never thought of it again because i've never loved a man the way i love you. I thought something must be wrong with me and that i'd never meet my true love...

 Guy, the will states that if i should find the man of my dreams and we were to be married, than there would be a male heir, as he would be part of me, wouldn't there?"

Guy looked questioningly...

"You Guy, you will get everything. That is why the sheriff doesn't want you to stay here. Because by holding on to your love, he loses his."  

 

It took Guy a while before it sunk in. He could not believe it. It seemed to good to be true. Could it be that this was really the castle of rainbows and bunnies? The paradise where finally he could become happy too?

 

"You will never have to work for men like Robert de Rainault again. Or for anyone for that matters. You will be more powerful than the sheriff and more wealthy. You will be the future earl of Castleton!" 

 

Guy stood there as if he was nailed to the floor. Joanna smiled at him and hugged him. He put his arms around her. He had to recover from all of this. Good things like this didn't usually happen to him. And now he had found the woman of his dreams and in future he didn't have to answer to anyone again. Except maybe to the king. 

 

"This was all planned from the beginning. It must be!" the sheriff had to say something although the hope of this working out in his favour was gone.

 

Valentine de Rainault believed his daughter. He knew what his brother was like. And he saw Guy's reaction to the story. This was not an act.

 

"Brother. As much as i..regret..how this has turned out for you, i  will grant Sir Guy of Gisburne the permission to marry my beloved daughter. So let us talk in peace so we can maybe come to an understanding."

 

The sheriff was furious. Preferably he wanted to kill Guy. But he couldn't. Not here. His hands were tight. He knew that this clan would do everything in his power now to keep Guy of Gisburne safe. He followed Valentine to come to some kind of agreement. He'd better take the opportunity to see if he at least could get something out of this mess.

 

Joanna took her stunned man upstairs to let it sink in and keep him safe from any weird actions the sheriff would maybe try to pull.

 

She sat him down on the bed. He still could hardly speak. She stood before him between his knees, put her arms around his neck and kissed him. He looked at her.

She helt his head in her hands. "This is not a dream, you know. It will all work out."

He just nodded and pulled her close.

"I promiss you i will be a good wife to you. I'll always love and cherish, honour and obey you...  

Does that belong to you?" She asked, pointing at the chest.

"Yes." He told her the whole story. 

How he saw his chance to get out of  Nottingham for good. How he really did want to be with her.

"Well, let's unpack then." She said with a big smile.

 

A few hours later the sheriff left without saying goodbye to the happy couple. 

He received an amount of money but in his eyes it ofcourse was not enough. He planned to never set foot in Castleton again.

 

A week later Guy and Joanna got married in the beautiful gardens of Castleton.

Joanna could not control the weather but she did arrange for a group of cute white bunnies to run around the garden during the ceremony. He smiled when he saw them. Ofcourse he immediatly understood what they stood for...

 

Life was different but good in Castleton. Valentine gave part of his assets to the newly weds and they moved in to their own wing of the castle.

It took him a while to get used to the way people dealt with each other but as time went on he got the hang of it.

Valentine de Rainault turned out to be a very caring employer. He was very patient and kind and after a while Guy wasn't afraid of making misstakes anymore. 

He taught him how to rule the empire, to deal with any problems and to be a good host.

Guy was a fast learner and as Valentine grew older they shared the responsibilities until, one day, Valentine passed away. Knowing that his daughter and empire were taking good care of he could rest in peace.

 

The new earl of Castleton had become a man who finally believed in love and happiness and lived happily ever after with his wife and the son and daughter she had given him in his Castle of rainbows and bunnies.

                           

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The sequel to the first story. ( Tanja's Christmas Present.)

 

THE GIFT OF LOVE

 

It's early in the morning. 

The sound of hasty footsteps echo through the hall of Castleton Castle.

 

Guy of Gisburne is looking for his wife.

'Have you seen Joanna?' The people he asks are shaking their heads.

He grabs a servant by his arm: 'Where is Joanna?'

But nobody can tell him.

 

He woke up this morning to find that his wife had already gotten up.

The sun is shining bright and he feels relieved to find Maria in the gardens looking after and playing with his children.

 

As soon as his young son and daughter see him they run up to him: Father, father! Will you play with us?'

They are clinging to his legs and he puts his hands on their heads. 

'Later, later. Where is your mother?' 

He looks questioningly at his daughter babbling about ponies and princesses and her older brother stumbling over words, telling a story about his mother being in the forest to pick the best blackberry's because they are so good.

 

He looks at Maria.

'Joanna had to run some errors.'

'What errors?' 

'Some sick to visit. You know her. She said she'll be back soon.'  Maria says smiling.

'Hmm. Well, I beter get to work. Please behave, children.' He adresses his offspring. But the two are so busy chasing a butterfly that they don't really notice and Guy goes back inside.

In his working chamber he tries to get some paperwork done but he can't really concentrate. He gets pulled out of his thoughts when he hears the door open.

'Where were you?' He asks his wife while standing up.

' Aaah, you weren't worried about me, were you?' Joanna answers smiling. 

 

She walkes up to her husband and gives him a kiss. She wraps her arms around him and leans her head on his chest.

'Why didn't you wake me up? You can't just leave and not tell me where you're going.' Guy insists.

"You were sleeping and looked so sweet and peacefull. I didn't want to wake you up. I couldn't sleep anymore so I went to see Lisa. You know she's been sick for a few days. I brought her something good to eat and some supplies. And I'm back now. What were you doing?'

'Just some paperwork. It has to be finnished before we leave for Charlston.'

'Are you nervous for that?'

'All will be fine.' Guy replies while he steps away from his desk.

'That's not what I asked you.' Joanna knows he's not a man to talk about his feelings.

'I'm fine.' He quickly turns around, takes her arms, smiles and says: 'Now, there are some other important people who'd like to see you. Cedric and Willow are in the gardens with Maria.'

'Are you trying to get rid of me, My Lord of Gisburne?' Joanna smiles.

'Don't be silly, darling.' He kisses her forehead.

Joanna holds her husband for a while and than leaves him in peace. If Guy is ready, he'll come talk to her.

 

Guy is sitting down. He feels better now that his wife is back. He thinks about the upcoming event.

The King's lost a lot of support through the years. People are dissatisfied. More and more villages are helping Robin Hood and like minded and the nobleman are poorly organized and that's costing the King money.

Since Guy came to Castleton, he really couldn't care less. He is happy, and so are the people in his shire. But the King wants the authorities to work more closely together to prevent the people from getting to much power and has set up a meeting at Charlston where all the most powerful and wealthy noblemen have to attent to make some firm agreements regarding the issue. 

And to keep high placed gentlemen happy, there's a celebration at the end of the day.

 

Guy is not looking forward to go and make the long journey. He doesn't care about the cause of the event and he knows that an old enemy will make his appearance also. 

The Sheriff of Nottingham. It's been six years since they last seen him. This reunion can only mean trouble. He's sure that Robert de Rainault will try to pull him back into his misery. Guy doesn't know how to react at any mean remarks. But what else can he do than to just confront him. 

The Sheriff can try what he wants. He won't succeed. Guy is happy now. And powerful.

He tries to talk some confidence into himself. But it's not really helping.

 

And than there's Rodrick of Charlston.  Joanna's longtime friend. Guy met him twice. He seemed like a nice man but Guy wasn't fond of having him near his wife.

 

 

 

Rodrick and Joanna have known each other for almost all their lives. At one point, he fell in love with her.  But she couldn't answer his feelings.

She told Guy once that she didn't understand than why she could't love Rodrick back at the time, but that when she met Guy, all fell into place and she knew she was always meant to be with him. He smiles.

 

Rodrick was shattered when she told him that she didn't feel the same way and avoided her for almost two years. But he never stopped loving her.

He never spoke about his feeling again. And certainly not after Guy and Joanna got married.

But Guy saw the way he looked at her everytime they met...

 

..All is hectic the day before the trip to Charlston. Most wives will stay at home but Joanna wants to come to visit her best friend and is looking forward spending time 

 

with him during the time that the noblemen need to congregate. Guy is not pleased with this but doesn't say anything about it. He wants to trust his wife. He does. But not Rodrick of Charlston.

 

When most preparations for the trip have made it's time for diner.

Joanna looks nervous. She is eager to finish her meal.

'I have to make a quick stop after diner.' She let's Guy know.

'Where to? It's getting dark soon and may I remind you that we have an early morning.'

'I'll be back soon. I promiss.'

'What's so important that it can't wait?'

'We'll be gone for a whole day and night. I need to bring some things to Lisa.'

'I thought she's feeling better. She was coming back to work, wasn't she.'

'Oh yes, she is. She is. But she will have to take it slow the first couple of days.'

 

Guy is sceptic. He doesn't understand.

'Joanna, I really don't..' He is rudely interupted by a servant who yells that some horses have escaped the stables. 

Guy is jumping up and runs out to help.

 

When he comes back, his wife has left. He is not amused.

An hour later she's still not home. Guy puts his children to bed and has time now to get angry. 

Doesn't she know it's dangerous at night? Even in this part of the country. Even if she brings men to come with her. Doesn't she realize that tomorrow is a stressful day?! 

He's sure he made it clear to her that he didn't want her to go.

Than Joanna walks in. 

After she got back, she said goodnight to her children.

 

'Brrr. It's so cold outside, isn't it?' She rubs her hands and walks up to Guy. She kisses his cheek.

'Were you able to catch the naughty fugitives?' meaning the horses.

'What were you thinking? Leaving again without telling me.' Guy replies.

'Don't be angry, you knew where I was going.'

'I made it clear that I did't want you to go!'

'I was just gone for a short time.

'It's been two hours!'

'You're overreacting. Now let's calm down...'

'You will do as I say! If I say "No" than the answer is "No"!'

 

Joanna is startled by his reacting and decides it's better not to discuss the matter anymore. 

Apparently he's more stressed out by the trip than she thought. His cheeks are blushed from anger and his eyes are big.

 

'I'm so sorry.' Joanna approaches Guy. 'I should have been here for you.' She tries to touch his face but he turns away his head.

'Yes, you should.'

'But I'm here now. Let's go to bed. You're right, we have an early morning.'

 

The couple goes upstairs.

Joanna looks at Guy who is getting ready for bed. He still looks angry when he lies down.

She snuggles next to him. Lays her head against his shoulder.

He doesn't move. Trying to get him to talk won't work. 

 

'Can I come lay in your arms?' She raises her head so he can put his arm underneath.

He doesn't react immediatly. Than he sighs to show his displeasure still exists but moves his arm so she can lay close to him.

Joanna puts her arm around him and holds him tight.

'I really am sorry. I love you.'  Guy keeps his eyes closed.

'Do you know how proud I am of you? You're such a strong man. Look of what you've achieved. And you did it all by yourself. You're a great father and a wonderful husband. A caring employer. The best man in the whole world... And the most handsome.' She smiles and looks at the chest she is stroking. He opens his eyes.

'You shouldn't worry about tomorrow. You're better than he is.' Meaning her uncle.

'Everyone knows that. Just do what he does, give him one of those fake smiles he always presents and answer stupid questions with a hint of sarcasme... And I'll be right there by your side.'

She comes up so she leans on her elbow and can look at him. He looks back at her. She strokes his hair.

'Do you forgive me?' She gives him a kiss.

'Hmm.' He isn't planning to give in so soon. Eventhough he wants to.

 

To Joanna, the fact that he at least gives some sort of respons is hopeful.

She smiles, kisses him and askes again: 'Do you?' Repeating her words and actions a few times while she tickles him.

'Alright. Alright. Will you stop that!'

'Do I see a little smile, My Lord of Gisburne?'

'No.' Is the reply.

 

Joanna gets serious again. 

'I love you so much. I always will. Every day I'm thankful that I'm your wife.'

And finally, when she kisses him, he kisses her back and she can feel his arms around her waist...

 

...At dawn the couple and four men are leaving for Charlston. 

Baring gifts for the king and the Earl of Charlston and his son. And some clothes to change into when they arrive and for the feast.

It's quiet. Guy bites his teeth and Joanna doesn't talk to much so she won't annoy him. She tries to enjoy the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the land and now and then points things out to Guy, trying to distract him from his thoughts.

After a long ride, they finally see the castle.

 

When they're barely inside, Roderick of Charlston makes his way trough the crowd, shrugs his father in and storms up to Joanna.

As soon as she sees him, she starts smiling and almost jumps into his arms.

Not very happy with this warm welcome and trying to keep a close eye on his wife and her friend, Guy has to shift his attention to the Earl who friendly comes to greet him.

All the noblemen are offered something to drink while they gather in the great hall. When he kissed his wife goodbye, Rodrick assured him that he would take good care of her.

'I'm sure you will.' sarcastically crossed Guy's mind. 

 

He doesn't have to much time to think about it. An announcer let's the group know that the King has arrived.

All the men bow down as the King enters the hall. He is seated on the platform at the head of the large table. 

The noblemen are taking their seats as well.

Not all the men who are invited have already arrived but the king has come down early to learn which face matches which name of the guests he hasn't seen so often.

Guy looks around. He hasn't seen his former employer yet. 

Just when he thinks: 'I hope he's ill and unable to come.' The Sheriff of Nottingham walks up behind him and makes his way around the table.

When Guy looks up to watch the men who have just come in, he recognizes the back of the man who made his life miserable for so long.

Robert de Rainault takes a seat right across the table from Guy. Than he looks at him and gives him a forced nod. Guy nods back.

He mustn't let Sheriff intimidate him. He holds his head up high and just focusses on the King. 'Soon it'll be over.'...

 

Joanna is walking up stairs. She had a wonderful day. She and Roderick had time to catch up and enjoy themselfs and now she has a moment to change her clothes for the evening. She's been told that the meeting is almost over. The men are taking a break and will be given time to freshen up for supper and the celebration.

 

She's almost dressed when someone knocks on the door.

'Who is it?'

The door opens and Guy enters. 'Just me. I had to know for sure that I had the right chamber.'

Guy is red in the face and his eyes look tired.

'Aaahh, come here.' They're holding each other and sit down at the foot of the bed. 

'Was it hard?' Joanna asks.

'Could have been worse. At least we reached an agreement and we can go home soon.'

'Indeed, my love, we'll survive this evening and than we can leave all the nagging Kings and Sheriff's behind us again. I'll help you get dressed.'

'Yes, let's get it over with.'...

 

...During supper Guy get's the impression that the Sheriff purposely has taken the seat across from them. He tries not to look at his smug face but every now and then he can't help himself.

Joanna doesn't notice. She is seated in between Guy and Rodrick and is busy talking and laughing with her best friend.

Occasionally Guy tries to get her attention. Then she strokes his face or gives him a quick kiss before turning to Rodrick again.

When he looks across the table the Sheriff looks amused by that and Guy rapidly turns his head.

 

After supper the servants of Charlston are cleaning up the tables and adjust the layout of the hall for the celebration. There is music and a lot of food and drinks to keep the guests happy.

Guy and Joanna are standing close to Rodrick and his father. The Earl turns out to be just as chatty as his son and tells Guy a lot of stories about the various guests.

The wine is flowing and the noblemen seem to all having a great time. Even the King seems pleased.

 

Guy hears the laughter of his wife and sees Rodrick grab his wife´s hand and pulling her to the dancefloor.

The Earl hasn´t stopped talking but Guy´s attention has shifted. While his wife has a great time dancing, he doesn´t notice that Robert de Rainault is standing next to him. Ofcourse the Sheriff immediatly notices that Guy is not happy with the situation.

Guy is startled when suddenly the Sheriff addresses him: 'Gisburne.' 

He quickly turns his head to face the Sheriff. 'Sheriff.'

'We haven't had the pleasure to catch up, have we?' the Sheriff says.

'Ha, pleasure'.. Guy thinks.

 

'No, My Lord Sheriff.' He answers. 

 

 

 

'So, I heard you're married now. How is that going?'

'Wonderful, My Lord, We have two children called..'

The Sheriff interrupts him, looked at Joanna and Rodrick: 'It must be difficult having such a.. populair wife. Loved by everyone..'

'We are very happy!' Guy hurries to say. 

'Ofcourse my dear, Gisburne. I have no doubt you are.'

Then he looks at the Earl and raises his goblet. 'Lovely gathering.' He walks over to the Earl and starts a conversation knowing he at least irritated Guy a bit.

Guy watches him while he walks away and turns his attention back on Rodrick and Joanna.

 

He feels like grabbing his wife and just leave the celebration, no this whole damned place! But he knows he can't. Than the Sheriff has won. Than he will know how much it bothers him.

After a while the music stops shortly and Joanna and Rodrick make their way back to Guy.

Rodrick is looking down as Joanna wraps her arms around Guy. He can't help looking at Rodrick and holding her even firmer.

Rodrick tries to distract himself from the situation by saying: 'She's unstoppable! I'm exhausted. Where do you get the energy from?' 

Joanna still has her arms around her husband but she turns her head to reply. Guy is quiet and has a very hard time putting a smile on his face. He just wants to go home.

When he sees the first guests leave and decides it's enough. He has a hard time getting his wifes attention but when he finnaly does he makes it clear that he wants to leave. She smiles and says her goodbyes to her friend and says she will talk to him in the morning and thanks the Earl for his hospitality. Guy impatiently waits for Joanna to follow him. As they walk towards the hallway Guy manages to squize out a last smile to show the Sheriff all is in order.

 

Joanna talks but he doesn't listen. He is glad this is over. If it was up to him he would have the horses saddled and leave immediately.

While they are back in their chambers and getting ready for the night, Joanna suddenly notices that Guy hasn't said anything since they walked up.

He is sitting on the edge of the bed, his back turned to her. She is walking from her side around the end of the bed towards her husband. 

 

'You must be so tired.' She sits on his lap with her arms around his neck. 

He looks down. She strokes his hair and kisses his cheak. 'Come, I'll help you.'

She stands up and then gets on her knees to help him take of his shoes.  

He lies down and Joanna get's into the bed on her side. She puts the covers over him and lies upon him. Her forhead touches his and she places her hands on both sides of his head. 

'Are you allright?'

'Ofcourse I am.' 

'Did you talk to my uncle?'

'Briefly.'

'You did? What did he say?'

'Ah, you know him. When does anything useful ever come out of that man's mouth?'

'You are right.' She smiles. 'I love you.'

He looks her in the eyes. 'I love you too.' He feels better.

 

She gives him a long kiss before she says: 'Let's go to sleep and after breakfast we can go home.'

'No!, we leave at first light.'

'But we'll have eat something before we leave..'

'It's a long ride. Besides, we brought our own food. We'll make a stop along the way'

'Allright. If that is what you wish.'

 

Guy is glad his wife listens to him for a change. 

'Goodnight, Guy.' Sleep well. She kisses him goodnight and wants to turn around but he stops her.

She laughs and his kisses her and holds her tight. He flips her onto her back as he doesn't stop kissing her. Suddenly he feel's back in control. He can do whatever he pleases. He is the Earl of Castleton. Nobody gets to decide what he must do! Joanna is his wife and will be forever! No matter what Rodrick or anyone else tries!

 

'What are you doing?! Joanna is laughing. We have to get up at dawn if you want to leave so early...´She can´t stop laughing. ´We are guests here!'

Guy doesn't stop what he is doing. As Joanna feels his hands underneath her clothes she just figures he needs to get rid of the tension of the day. She presses her body close to his. She enjoys making love to her husband.

Guy just needs to feel that he can have her. Even here, under his roof. That she is his...

 

...Guy is all dressed and stuffing their things into the bags as Joanna wakes up. 

'Good morning, darling. Come on, sleepy head. We'll leave soon.'

Joanna has barely opened her eyes. 

'Guy, it isn't even light yet.'

'Don't be silly, my love. Now, get dressed and we will get ready to go home.' He reaches out his hand and she looks into his smiling face.

She doesn't know exactly what's being said in the gathering and between him and the Sheriff but she can understand that he's eager to go home.

 

When they are ready and coming down the stairs Joanna askes someone if Rodrick is already up. He tells her that he hasn't seen him yet.

Guy is very pleased but if they're already on their horses making their way out a half dressed Rodrick runs up and get's his chance to say goodbye.

Guy lifts his head and thanks Rodrick when he tells him that it was nice to see him again and to have a safe trip back and is releaved when they finnaly can leave.

 

..After a few days everyone has settled down again. 

Guy has spent some extra time with his family. The trip made him appreciate his home even more.

He hopes he won't have to leave Casleton anytime soon again.

Even Joanna has to recover. She acts normal but Guy senses that something is not quite right.

 

As he is coming in for supper he sees one of the servants hand her a note. She smiles, whispers something to the servant and gives the note back. He crumbles it and stuffs it in his pocket.

Cedric and Willow run behind him and pass him to get to their mother. When Guy arrives he askes what that was all about.

Joanna is busy getting the children to sit at the table and while she puts her hand on his cheek she insures him that it was just a little joke and that it didn´t mean anything.

 

Guy doesn´t believe her. Ever since they came back from Charlston she´s been acting strange, no, even before that. She doesn´t listen, she doesn´t tell him everything, goes out without telling him where she is going. 

Is it that Earl´s son? Is she seeing him? No, that can't be. Charlston is to far away.. unless he has found shelter here somewhere in the Shire. No, he must get rid of these thoughts. He looks at her. She wouldn't betray him like that, would she?

 

Is there something else. What could there be? Did the Sheriff talk to her? Told her some nonsense. Or did he threaten her? Is she being blackmaled? Thinking of that makes him angry. 

 

Guy is getting up from the table.

'Where are you going?' 

'I forgot something, I'll be right back.'

Joanna knows Guy has some business to take care of after supper. She is thinking of the note and tells Maria that she has to go out later. 

'I don't like it when you go out after dark.' Maria answers.

'It won't we dark for hours. I'll be careful, I promiss.'

'Than please take someone with you.'

'You know I can't do that. I will hurry.'

 

Guy is coming back. He is sure he'll get to the bottom of this.

His young daughter is almost falling asleep at the table so Joanna takes a last bite, stands up, gives her husband a kiss and asks Maria to help put the children to bed.

His mouth isn't even empty yet when he walks to his working chamber.

He get's behind his desk and opens his books. He looks out of the window. Than he forces himself to concentrate. 'Let's finish this.' Hoping that he won't have to work to late so he can join his wife for some quality time together.

 

Joanna is on her way. Not knowing that someone is watching her every move from a distance.

She wants to hurry and it doesn't take her very long to get to her destination.

Some chickens are flying up cackling when they are disturbed by her fast horse. Most of the people are inside.

She jumps off and hurries inside a shack. 

The man following her gets of his horse in the bushes and walks calm towards the shack. He hears a little scream of joy and looks trought the window...

 

...Before she's come out of the shack, the man has left.

At home she looks around if she sees Guy but he's nowhere to be seen. Probably still at work. Upstairs she's relieved that he isn't there yet. She hates to mislead him like that. She hears Guy yelling her name. Before she can answer he's already in the room.

 

'What's wrong? Why are you yelling like that?'

'Where have you been?'

'I've just went to see Lisa and...'

'You better think twice before you say anything more, little lady, I'm warning you.

'Guy, please, nothing is the matter. I can't tell you just now. Just trust me.'

'Don't lie to me!'

'Guy..'

'You've been seen! In Hope!'

'Seen?' She pauses. 'Did you have me watched??'

'Just tell me the truth!' He comes close and while his nose almost touches hers he says: 'So you've choosen a worker. Because he's good with his hands?'

Joanna is shocked. 'What are you talking about?'

'Do I have to spell it out for you? You were lying in his arms? That dirty blacksmith. I will..How.. How long have you been betraying me?! I knew something was wrong.'

'Please, how can you think I would do that to you? I love you!'

'Don't make this worse with your filthy lies!'

'It isn't a lie! You know I love you!'

 

Guy has turned around and is facing the door. His hands on his head. He let's them drop again.

Joanna is coming up behind him.

'You weren't supposed to know yet but if you rea..'

'Shut your mouth! We have children what are you going to tell them?'

'It's not what you think..' She wants to hold him.

' Get your filthy hands of of me! I've heard enough! I can't even look at you right now!'

Before she can do or say anything he storms out of the room. Leaving her baffled.

'What just happened?' Joanna doesn't know what to do. She still can't believe he thinks that she loves some else. And that she would hurt him like that. It wasn't suppose to happen like this. 

She sits down for a moment and than realises she has to find Guy.

She runs trough the castle. He's not with the children. Joanna is running and yelling for Guy.

Maria comes to see what is wrong. Joanna asks her if she saw Guy but she was in her chamber and didn't see him. 'What's the matter?'

But Joanna doesn't stop to answer her. She's running to the stables. Whenever he is feeling down he goes to spent time with the horses he loves.

 

She runs in. 'Guy!?' Some of her servants are busy saddling her horse. 

'Have you seen Guy?' She asks desperately.

'Yes, he just rode out. He didn't say much, just that we had work fast to get Fury ready. We just figured that you were maybe coming to so we saddled Darla.'

 

'Thank you.'I have to find Guy.' 

'You can't go out alone. What if something happens?'

'I don't care.' She's getting on the horse.

'Than at least let one of us come with you!'

Joanna is making her way to the door. 'There's not time!'

 

The servants don't know what is going on but they see it's serious.

They quickly get a bridle on a horse, don't bother to get a saddle on and Bryan, one of the men, is jumping on the horse to follow Joanna.

 

As soon as they told Joanna that Guy has left the castle she knew where he was going. She is scared. Scared of what he might do. To the blacksmith, or to himself.

He is not rational now.

Never before has she raced her horse like today. From a far she sees Fury loose before the blacksmith's shack. People have gathered around outside to see what is going on. She hears pots breaking and men yelling as she comes closer.

 

She jumps of the horse and runs inside. Bryan is right behind her.

It is a mess. 

Shards of broken pottery and iron is lying everywhere. Tables and chairs are thrown through the room, Cabinets have fallen over.

In the middle of the chaos she finds her husband fighting the blacksmith.

 

'Guy!' She pulls on his arm. 'Stop it! Stop it!'

'Get out of my way!' 

'This is madness, let go of him!'

'I'll kill him!'

'No!'  She tries to push her husband aside and stand before the blacksmith with her arms wide.

Bryan knows he can't do anything just yet. That this is between the couple.

 

Guy is wiping some blood of his lip with his sleeve. He's breathing heavy. He looks at her.

'So you've come to safe your new love?'

'Don't be so stupid! Look at what you've done. How can you think that I.. I.. I don't even know what to say.'

She walks up to him.

'It was meant to be a surprise. For your birthday.'

Guy looks surprised. He's still a little out of breath.

'What the devil are you talking about?'

'Gus, do you have it here somewhere? If it's not broken.'

 

Gus the blacksmith is looking around. Than he digs around in his stuff. He finds a wooden box and hands it to Joanna.

She's setting is on the floor in front of Guy.

She opens it. Out comes a long object covered in a piece of fabric. 

Joanna removes the fabric. Out comes a beautiful sword. It's one of the most shiny silver swords Guy has ever seen. The handle is made of gold and it's finished off with gemstones.

 

'I wanted it to be special. You know Gus is the best in the Shire. I have brought him some of my old juwelery to melt down and use the gold and the stones in your sword. And I even helped out because I wanted to earn it myself... Look, it has your initials.' 

Guy doesn't know what to say.

'Happy birthday.' Joanna says sad. 'Well, do you at least like it?'

'It's beautiful..'

'I got the message that it was ready. I could help myself. I had to come and see. I was happy. That's what your spy saw! I couldn't bring it home. I was afraid you would find it before I could surprise You on your birthday..'

 

Guy feels ashamed. Everything falls into place. 

He listen to the Sheriff again. Let him make him feel insecure. How could he think that his wife would leave him.

'I.. am.. sorry.' He feels like he has to swallow after every word.'

'Please go home. I have to clean up here.'

'But, I c.. '

'Please, Guy.'

He sees the sad look on her face and puts a few steps back before turning around and walking out of the door.

Fury is eating but Guy pulls on the bride and gets on his horse. He makes his way to the parting mass of villagers en gallops away.

 

Joanna is apologizing to Gus over and over again. He assures her he's been in worse fights. She doesn't know where to begin but just starts picking up the pieces. 

She feels a hand on her shoulder. She looks up. It's Bryan. He smiles. She smiles back and without a word the three are cleaning up the place.

 

Guy has almost reached the castle. He let's Fury walk and than stops. He looks at the new sword. He's been so stupid. She was right. He is the best. He can see the craftsmanship and the hours it must have cost. It's beautiful and perfectly balanced. And this was his thanks?  

 

 

 

Why couldn't she just tell him that she was planning something for his birthday?! No, no. Why couldn't he just trust her? What if she hates him now? Finds a better man? No, he can't make himself mad again! He must think how to make it up to her.

 

He sees the looks on the faces of his people. They want to know what happenend. Where Joanna is. But none of them dares to ask.

He just looks at the floor and swiftly makes his way upstairs.

He is waiting for Joanna. He sits on the bed and stand ups again. His heart is beating in his throat. He can't seem to calm himself. Looking at the sword that's lying on the large chest at the end of the bed.

It seems like hours are passing. Just as he feels he can't wait any longer and wants to get her, he hears something in the hallway.

 

The door opens and Joanna walks in. She looks tired. He walks up to her. Still not knowing what to say.

She is not looking at him. 

'Joanna, befo..'

'Can we please not talk about it right now? Let's just go to sleep. It's been a long day. We'll talk about it in the morning. 'She answers calmly before he can make a centence.

'I know you are angry, bu..'

'I'm not angry, just dissapointed.'

Guy wants to say something but there's no sound coming from his mouth.

 

Joanna takes her clothes of and climbs into bed. She hasn't looked at him since she came back.

He also steps into bed. She turns around facing the wall and pulls up her knees.

Guy is afraid to speak but even more of losing her. 

'I'm so sorry.'

'I know you are.'

'Could you please turn around?'

'Go to sleep, Guy, we'll talk in the morning.'

 

Guy is quiet. He turns on his side. He looks at her back. he sees she's crying.

'Please?.. Could you please turn around?'

 

Joanna waits a few moments before she does. Now she's facing Guy but still not looking at him.

Guy comes closer. He just wants to hold her and don't let go again. He touches her face.

'I'm sorry. I love you. Do you love me?'

'Ofcourse I love you. I'll always love you, you should know that by now.'

'I know, I mean I do. I do know that. I don't know what came over me?'

'Maybe it's my fault. Maybe I should have told you. Maybe I was just to excited that I lost sight of other things..'

'No, it's not your fault. You're right. I should have known better.'

'I just wanted to surprise you and make you happy.'

'You always make me happy.'

 

He wipes away her tears. 

'Can you please look at me?' 

She looks at him for a short moment. He comes up and strokes her hair. He softly pushes her back so she lies on her back and he can kiss her. he doesn't know what to say. He just know he loves her. He needs her. And this is his way to show her.

He presses his lips onto her soft lips. She's not really kissing him back. He can't give up. With all the love he has in him he keeps kissing her. Is he imagining that her lips are moving? That starts kissing him back? With every kiss her kiss is getting stronger. He holds her tight and doesn't stop.

Her sadness he felt and her hesitation seem to fade away and he feels the relief as she shows him all of her love again.

Her arms are holding him again in the way he longed for and he can't stop making her feel his love. She is his and forever will be.

 

From that day on, the sword which he always carried with him would be a token of her love and a reminder that he shouldn't  let people come between them.

 

In the early morning, even before his wife woke up Guy took a deep breath, gathered all his pride and courage and rode to Gus, apologized in public and payed for the damages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      

                                                                       

 

                                                                                              free hit counter