Author: Birgitt Schuknecht
Characters: Robin Hood, Will Scarlett; Robin/Will
Category: episode tag, slash
Timeline: after Who Shot the Sheriff
Spoiler: for Will You Tolerate This? and Who Shot the Sheriff
Summary: It's been two years since his mother's death and Will had never cried.
Word Count: 1,497 (title and header not included)
Disclaimer: The copyrights to the events and characters of Robin Hood belong to Tiger Aspect Productions and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). No infringement of those rights is intended. This story is mine, but no material advantage will be gained from its publication.
Notes: written for the prompt 050: Spade (fanfic100-challenge)
Will hadn't been here for the last two years. The grave of Jane Scarlett was a joint venture of Dan, Will and Luke, and everyone coming here, on purpose or by chance, talked about its beauty. And Will hadn't been here for he last two years.
His mother's favourite place, an oak grove overlooking Locksley village, where she had spent her rare moments of leisure, sometimes with her husband, sometimes with her sons, mostly alone, had become her burial ground. Luke had suggested it, his voice small and choked. His father had pulled him into his arms and Will had marvelled at his brother's thoughtfulness. He, himself, had been too shocked to think about anything.
The beautiful cross had been carved from birchwood, by Dan Scarlett's skillful hands. Will had watched how his father stopped working on it, again and again, unable to hold back his tears. Will hadn't shed a single tear, knowing he wouldn't have been able to stop once he'd started. The second evening Will had stormed out of the hut, had run up that hill to the grove. It had been a moonlit night, and when he'd finished digging, birds had heralded the coming of the new day. His father had found him, kneeling before the dark hole in the ground. And while his father had clung to him in a desperate embrace, Will had been thinking how fresh and clean the soil smelled, had decided he wouldn't be able to bear watching his mother being buried here.
He had refused to attend the funeral. His father never told him how he had appeased neighbours and friends about his absence. And Will had never asked. Afterwards he had listened to his father's voice, watched his expression of sadness and pride: Even the old Sheriff had been there, accompanied by his daughter, Marian. Sir Edward had shaken his hand. Will hadn't cared.
For days the very idea of food had been revolting. Eventually nature had taken control over his actions. His hands might have trembled, but they had grabbed the steaming bowl nonetheless. The stew had been delicious and Will had hated himself for that treacherous thought.
His father and his brother had taken care of the grave; as far as Will knew Luke had been there every other day, picking leaves in autumn, brushing snow from the cross in winter, adorning it with flowers in spring. Will had kept his vow never to go there again. After Dan and Luke Scarlett's escape from Nottingham, Will had asked Elisabeth, his mother's best friend, to look after the grave from time to time. He paid her with whatever he could save from his provisions. And he endured the odd stares she and Jonathan, her husband. He still didn't care.
He was breaking his oath now. He had left the camp after their return from Nettlestone. When he reached the oak grove it was still light but there was a chill in the air. Will shivered, although he was sweating; he'd run almost the whole distance. Panting, he stopped, suddenly afraid to enter the grove. He told himself there was nothing to fear, that there was no such thing as ghosts. And even if... He had no reason to fear his mother, hadn't he?
And yet, he was scared. He closed his eyes and he was back... there. On the clearing, digging his mother's grave. He could feel the spade's handle in his hands, smelled his own sweat and the freshly dug-up earth. And he felt the stinging in his eyes-- No, that couldn't be right, he had never cried.
Will was crying now. Angrily he blinked the tears away. He all but stumbled into the grove, he started running and fell to his knees before the grave. Elizabeth had kept her promise; there were even some flowers. Again Will couldn't suppress his tears. A small whimper escaped his throat. "We let you die. I let you die." He dug his hands into the earth.
He jumped to his feet, swivelled around, axe already in his right hand. Even before he saw the man, Will realised who the intruder was.
"Robin." His voice almost broke and he cleared his throat, wiped away the tears with his sleeve. Not that it mattered anymore. Robin had seen him crying. "What are you doing here?" Why don't you leave me alone?
"I am looking for you."
Will shook his head. "Why?"
Robin nodded at the weapon. "Don't you think you should put that away?"
Most of the time Will found he followed Robin's demands without questioning them. This time was no exception. "Why?" he repeated.
"I was worried. I watched you when Much told you about Marian. About her being the Nightwatchman. And when you left the camp rather abruptly--" He broke off, shrugging.
Will eyed Robin carefully. He had no idea what Robin was thinking, why he had followed him here. No, he hadn't been followed, Will was sure about that. Which left the question... "How do you know about this place?"
Robin smiled and Will felt Robin had no right to smile. Not now, not here. But he suppressed his anger; he wanted to know what Robin was doing here.
"You know I am a curious man, Will," Robin said, lightly. "You always save some of your food. You go off all by yourself rather often. And when you return you always bring news from Locksley. I knew where I would find my answers. Elisabeth saw no harm in telling me about your mother's grave."
Will's hand fell to the handle of his axe. He was furious. "You spy on me. You do not trust me."
"I do not spy on you. As I said: I watch you. And I pretty much trust you."
"Yes." There was that smile again.
I watched you when Much told you about Marian. Her being the Nightwatchman. Will's thoughts were in a tumble. I was worried. I was worried. Suddenly he understood. "You were worried for her. For Marian."
Robin's expression was serious now. "Yes."
"You thought I would-- She could-- She's the Nightwatchman."
"Yes, she is." Robin's voice was calm now, as were his eyes. He moved towards Will and Will instinctively took a step back.
"My mother... She starved. She... Marian let her die." Will was shocked by his own words. But it was true. She had let her die. He himself had let her die. "I let her die. My mother died before my eyes and I didn't-- couldn't--" He raised his hands and Robin stood right in front of him the next moment. He pulled Will into an embrace.
"Easy. I know." Will shuddered when Robin stroked his hair. "You didn't know. You can not hate yourself for this, Will. Not your father, not Marian, not yourself."
How do you know so much? How do you know that? Will wanted to believe, he wanted to cling to Robin's words, but all he could cling to was Robin's warm body. And there was so much more he wanted to say, so much more he had to tell Robin.
"I... I almost... After she died I swore we would never go hungry again. And my father... I know he told you. I heard him telling you how he lost his hand. For a while... it was so much worse than before. And... the Nightwatchman came. Brought food and medicine. I think my father would have died without the help. One night I caught the Nightwatchman. Well, I surprised him, and before I could get a hold on him I was lying on the ground. He was so fast, I didn't know what hit me. He never said a word. Just left the food and vanished. I don't know what I would have done to him... to her. Marian."
"Nothing. You know you couldn't have harmed the Nightwatchman. In your heart you know that there are others responsible. Those who wish to help... We cannot be everywhere, we cannot help everyone," Robin all but whispered; he was still holding him close. "And there are many dangers for those who have the desire to act. You of all people," Robin touched the back of Will's neck and Will shuddered, "you of all people know that."
Finally Will was able to breathe a little easier and the darkness in his head subsided. A bit. He struggled free of Robin's arms.
"That's why I came here, Will. I knew I wouldn't have to go after Marian to make sure she was safe. Because I pretty much trust you not to do anything foolish." Robin started grinning. "And then there was the oddly reassuring fact that you would have taken off in another direction. Knighton Hall," he gestured, "lies that way."
Will wanted, wished desperately to return the grin. It ended in a grimace. Robin took Will's soiled hands into his. "Because I pretty much trust you, Will Scarlett."