Status: Complete

Robbin' the Rich

Chapter 14

Mapperley Castle, England. Early December.

Robin lay still, not opening his eyes. He felt confined, but that was just the bedclothes—he hoped. He’d had enough of cells and chains to last a lifetime.

Something was definitely lying on his arm, though. Blinking in the dim light of the room, he stiffly turned his head, wincing at the muscles that had tightened up while he slept.

His eyes softened at the sight of Marian, slumped forward, asleep leaning against the bed. It was she that lay on his arm. Her face was toward him, and he could see the tearstains. The thought of her shedding tears was painful. Besides, he thought irrelevantly, she was going to wake up with back pain if she slept like that.

“Marian—” Robin said. Well, he’d meant to say it. His voice had balked with disuse, and he had only mouthed it. Swallowing, he tried again. “Marian, gaol, wake up.”

She stirred a bit, enough for him to pull his arm from under her and sit up painfully. It stunned him that he had so much trouble, and only served to make him more determined than ever to force himself to a vertical position.

“Marian,” he used his newly freed hand to stroke her cheek. “Wake up, lassie.” Her eyes fluttered open at the touch and the sound of his voice.

“Robin!” She flew upright, eyes wider than saucers. “What—you’re—you’re alright!” She visibly jerked, torn between throwing herself at him and her fear for his injuries.

“Come ‘ere, Marian. Ah willna break.” He smiled, and opened his arms, ending her hesitations. She was in them in an instant, holding him tightly, murmuring thanks mixed with dire threats of what she’d do to him if he ever tried something like this again, kissing him between every other word, and assuring herself that it wasn’t a dream.

His arms wrapped around her, reveling in the closeness. Her hands were busy, they slid under his shirt, traced lightly over his chest. But when she pulled back, to divest them both of their clothes, he reigned her in. He sensed; a little, at least; the fear and joy and desperation in her, felt some of it himself. He had some experience with it, knew why Marian was trying to get as close to the skin as possible—to assure herself that he wouldn’t disappear. It was himself that he couldn’t necessarily trust; bare skin could be the very small prod that would be all it took to disrupt the tenuous control over himself that he had been holding so tightly since the last time he and Marian were in this bed together.

But regardless, he was determined to make it so their first real time would only happen when they were married. No one in England was going to be counting on their fingers about a child of theirs.

And all of those noble reasons paled in comparison to the fact that he sincerely doubted he could finish anything started at the moment. He felt as though he’d gone several rounds with Little John and then been tossed off a cliff.

“’Old up, Marian. Much as Ah want tae, Ah’m no’ quite up tae tha’ yet. Gi’ me a few ‘ours tae catch up wit’ ye, a’right?” He shifted a bit, easing the pressure against his right side. Following his example, she pulled back.

Grinning wickedly, he pulled her against his left side. “Nay, Ah neva said tha’ Ah wanted ye tae stop touchin’ me, Marian-mine.”

He kissed her soundly, running his tongue across her lower lip, requesting entrance. She opened her mouth eagerly to him. Robin’s tongue slid in, examining and caressing every part of her mouth that he could reach, rubbing against her tongue as often as was possible. He could at least offer her this reassurance.

“Oh, God, how Ah want ye. Marian, ye’ve nay idea…” his voice was low, barely a whisper before he kissed her again. Never mind reassurance, Robin thought, for now satisfied to only kiss her. Marriage, if he could convince her—if he could convince the Lionheart—would be heaven here on earth.

Somehow, Marian’s hands drifted from his shoulders to his, guiding them to were she wanted them. Feeling Robin’s smirk against her mouth, she knew he liked what she was thinking. Sliding one arm around her, the Scot stroked her breast with the other, his thumb gently brushing over her nipple, making it go tight. His unoccupied hand dipped from her waist to her bottom and squeezed possessively. Surprised, Marian gasped.

“Wot’s wrong, lass?” He inquired languidly, knowing she’d never been touched like that, and reveling in the knowledge.


Robin smiled. “Mmm. Tha’ Ah did. Ye’ve the most adorable rear, gaol.” He squeezed gently, pulling her closer. She could feel the hard ridge of flesh against her thigh and found herself longing for him, more than ever.

He pulled away, something like a groan rumbling from his throat. “Marian, Ah can’na—ana more an’ Ah won’t be able tae stop. Ah love ye tae much tae ruin ye like tha’.”

He took a deep breath then, and before he could think about it too much, plunged on.

“Will ye marry me?”

For a second, it didn’t seem to register to her. “Ah mean—Ah can’na offer ye much, if anathin’ t’all, bu’…” he trailed off, knowing there was little else he could say. “Bu’ Ah love ye, Marian.”

“W-what? Marry you?” Robin winced at her tone, but stayed silent for her answer, his hope diminishing fast as the seconds passed. Doubt filled the outlaw; what if she didn’t want him? Had she changed her mind; come to the conclusion that she didn’t actually love him? Robin knew what that would do to him. She was his one—his mate, his heart, his life.

“Yes. Oh, yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes, yes.” She dove back into his arms, knocking him backwards, Robin’s arms coming up to yank her tightly against him, her mouth absorbing the moan of pain that rose unbidden from Robin. He held her tight for several minutes, despite the pressure against his wound, which dulled in comparison to the unbridled elation that erupted within him. When they broke apart for air, Robin pulled her even closer, though she eased away from his right side, and buried his face in her hair. They stayed that way for nearly ten minutes, clinging to one another.

“Robin?” Marian’s voice was hesitant when she finally spoke.


“Will you teach me how to speak Gaelic?”

He turned to give her a questioning look. That had been not even close to anything he’d thought she might be asking. “Aye. Bu’…why d’ye want tae learn?”

“You speak it, don’t you? You said that you told me you loved me in Gaelic. I want to change that.”

Robin looked surprised for a moment, but then smiled. “‘Ere’s yore first lesson. ‘Mi fhìn gaol a’.”

“‘I love you’. Right?” She asked, remembering the other two times he’d said it. She loved this adorable, damnably dense man.

“Aye, yer right. An’ Ah’ll teach ye more, later. Right naow, Ah have tae go an’ ask yore uncle permission tae marry ye. No’ that that’ll stop me, if ‘e says nay,” he assured her when he saw the slight look of panic, and properly interpreted it. “Ah’m no’ givin’ up on ye, Marian. No’ if ye’ll have me.”

“I’ll have you, alright, if I have to drag you to the alter myself.” She remarked, a playful tone concealing the deadly serious intent. Robin looked at her again, having seen through the teasing.

“Ye’ll no’ have tae drag me, lass. Ah’ll be there if Ah’ve got tae kidnap the Archbishop tae marry us. Much’ll be ecstatic if Ah do, though,” he added irrelevantly. “’E’s always wanted tae do somethin’ like tha’. Ye’ll no’ be wit’out a husband fer long, love, tha’ Ah can promise ye.” He kissed her again, and sat up. “Ah’ll speak tae yer uncle, Marian, Ah promise ye. Bu’ first shall we go’n let evera one know Ah’m still alive, then? T’would be awkward, I’d think, announcing tha’ yer goin’ tae marry a dyin’ man.”
She grimaced, and slid off of him, carefully. He shouldn’t be up and about yet, she was sure, but she also knew he wouldn’t let that stop him for a moment.

* * *

“Ah dinna think Ah’ve eva seen all o’ ye a’ one time in the same place,” Robin remarked, startling his outlaws, Friar Tuck, and Sir Richard. Heads jerked up at the sound of their friend and leader’s burr.

“Robin!” Several of them shouted and all jumped to their feet, with varying degrees of speed and steadiness. They crowded around him as he leaned on Marian, and for once, he was relaxed enough to allow it. Nevertheless, it quickly became unbearable, and he insisted they sit down again.

“M’lords, m’ladies,” a page inquired formally, drawing their attention once all was settled.

“Aye, lad?” Robin asked, amused.

“His Royal ‘Ighness, King Richard the Lionheart, wishes fer you to attend ‘im in the Great ‘All,” the boy concluded, looking proud that he’d been called upon to tell the famous Robin Hood and his outlaws that the Lionheart wanted them. It was a story he’d tell his grandchildren, how he had come in contact with two real-life heroes.

“As you all know, I originally came to Mapperley to name an heir, as the late Earl died without one.” King Richard regarded his subjects—even the wayward ones—with an equal eye. His brother squirmed uneasily under his level gaze, the outlaws stood straight and proud. Ironic, certainly, that the ones without noble blood were nobler than a Prince. “And before I announce my plans for Mapperley, there is something even more pressing that needs to be done.”

He bounded from the slight dais with a lithe movement, his usual energy in evidence, stopping in front of Robin and Marian. Robin was leaning against his niece, but holding up well over-all, despite the wound he’d only barely overcome, the King noted happily. It amused him—he had planned on introducing them when he had returned to England, with great hopes for a betrothal. Yet here they were, head over heels in love, without any help from him. God had obviously had a similar plan, for hadn’t Marian and Robin both offered themselves as a sacrifice for the other’s safety? Marian, the night before Robin had been stabbed, Robin, simply by planting himself before all his people. And there was tiny Gabriella of Hedrix, standing beside the giant called Little John, her hand in his, a coupling that pleased him nearly as much as Robin and Marian’s.

“Robin Loxley, formerly of Dhu Lairg, known as Robin Hood, do you swear fealty to me, King Richard of England?” His hands were held at chest height, open and facing palm up.

Robin blinked once, a silent question of the man that he’d been loyal to for most of his adult life, and then placed his own hands in Richard’s. “Ah do, Yer Majesty, if’n t’is yer will.”

The King smiled slightly, and turned to his niece. “Do you, Marian, formerly of Blackstone, swear your fealty to me?”

Without hesitation she replied, “Yes, I do, Uncle.”

The king repeated this gesture with every member of Robin’s band, in all cases getting a positive response.

Much agreed straight off; Little John a little slower to agree; Gabe looked pale and composed as she placed her hands in her monarch’s; Maud looked suspicious but did it anyway, figuring that if Robin and the others trusted him, she could too.

Allen and Anne glanced at one another once over the head of the babe Anne held, and swore together. Friar Tuck was given the choice not to associate with them as one of the band, and chose to both associate and swear fealty to the Lionheart. Sir Richard, as the holder of what was technically Robin’s, was also given that choice. He reacted predictably, and agreed.

That done, the king returned to the front of the large room. “Now, then. Having reinstated you to the status of my subjects…it is called to my attention that there has been quite a lot of complaint about some outlaws in Sherwood. Will any of you try to deny that you ten are responsible?”

“Nay, Yer Majesty, ‘twas us.” Robin answered for all of them, his voice emotionless as he regarded his sovereign. Nothing was said of the ones Robin had sent on in the final weeks.

“You’ve riled a good many of my nobles, Robin. They are calling for your blood, as I’m sure you are aware.”

“Aye, Majesty.”

“Now, I could order you all to hang by the neck until dead, and no one would argue it,” It wasn’t lost on either the King or Robin how the Prince suddenly stood still, something like hope gleaming bright in his eyes. The Sheriff, who stood beside John, looked downright ecstatic. Robin’s eyes narrowed, and his hand tightened slightly on Marian’s, but he said nothing. There was no way he would allow anyone else to be harmed—he would send them all to Scotland and remain to throw the English off, if it came to that. Even his loyalty to the English king would not allow him to see his people harmed.

“But I think not. I don’t know of a scaffold that would hold all of you, and I wouldn’t demean your loyalty to one another by hanging you separately.” The Prince and Sheriff deflated, sending nasty looks at their monarch and the outlaws.

Richard eyed them pointedly—quellingly—and continued. “Since that is the case, I plan on putting your uses to my purposes. You have so far been remarkably effective in tying the aristocracy in knots. If you ask me, they have become far too complacent lately, bleeding the country like leeches. Robin, I think the best use I have for you is to require that you and your bride remain in England and keep things fair.”
Robin blinked again—how had the King known of his and Marian’s desire to marry?

“Mah Laird?”

And how did he expect Robin to make things fair? Robin was an outlaw—and a hated one, at that.

The Lionheart’s eyes narrowed with humor, and he drew something tiny from the small pouch that hung from his belt. “As the grandson of Malcolm of Dhu Lairg, you’ll know how to run an estate. I’m naming you the heir of Mapperley, and putting the traditional lands of the Loxleys’ back into your hands. Your heirs will be named the Viscount of Arborlea, when there is an heir to give that title to.” He offered the item, a dull gold ring bearing the Loxley crest, with a smile. “You will also be expected to appear in my court with your wife. It takes a different kind of skill to fight with words than it does with a bow or sword, Robin. I think you will be as good at the latter as you are at the first. And,” the King added with a sly smile, “as the Earl of Mapperley, the Lady Marian would be welcome to accept your suit.”

The Scot was a perfect solution to this particular dilemma, the Lionheart thought. He had the charisma to hold a Council’s attention, the experience to know when to bend and when to stand strong—and the added advantage of the love and affection of Marian, the Court’s darling.

Robin appeared to be in shock, fingers curled tightly around his family’s ring. “Th-thank ye, Yer Majesty,” he managed, when he regained the power of speech. The Prince spluttered something, and was silenced again by Richard’s subduing glance.

Richard turned to Marian. “Niece, am I correct in thinking you’d accept Robin’s proposal?” She nodded. “Good. He’s an excellent man. You, I think, will be happy either here or in Scotland. Taking care of Mapperley with Robin should be demanding enough, but there is also the matter of your stepmother’s and stepbrother’s deaths to deal with. You will have large responsibilities from here on in, ones that will require cunning and wit as well as caring and nurturing. You will rise to the task, I’m sure.” She nodded again and thanked him.

“Much. You would prefer to stay with Robin, would you not?”

“Yes, Your Highness. He’s my best friend, my lord,” Much answered.

“You would stay here, as his adviser, am I right?”

“If he’ll have me, then yes, Lord, I’d hoped so.”

“Good. That, then, is your task. Aid your friend as you would me, and continue to assist him as you have in the past.”

Little John and Gabrielle were to be married sometime soon—likely when Robin and Marian married. Little John was to inherit—as was originally planned, before Little John became an outlaw by the Sheriff’s excessive taxes—the inn, the Dragon’s Head. Maud was to stay on at Mapperley, doing what she loved best—cooking good food, looking after small children, and riding herd on her adopted brood of outlaws. Allen and Anne would stay with them—Allen as a scribe, for his hand made playing the lute largely impossible, and Anne as Marian’s companion. Friar Tuck was given no choice to make; as a man of God, Richard could not order him to do anything. He was invited by Robin to make his home at Mapperley, and stay on as the resident clergyman. Sir Richard was to continue to hold Daerdenell as Robin’s chaplain and adviser.

“There’ll be plenty of time, of course, to heal and perform any religious ceremonies—marriages, funerals. For now, my friends, relax. There is plenty of time later for worrying. Incidentally, Robin,” he glanced over at the newly appointed Scottish-Saxon lord. “I’d like some nieces and nephews sometime soon. I hadn’t planned on having an outlaw for an in-law…but allowances can be made, with young faces in these halls again.”

Robin smiled; the smile one of his first without any sort of shadow. “Ah’ll git right on tha’, sire, jus’ as soon as Friar Tuck will marry us.”

Richard returned the smile with a regal nod—Robin could see now where Marian had gotten it—and turned to his brother and the Sheriff.

“However, there were also other complaints, slightly less forthcoming in nature, upon my return. Something about unreasonable taxes. John, how might that have happened? I believe that when I left, most of our Saxon friends were relatively content.”

The prince blushed, an ugly color rising to his sallow face.

“That shall be put to rights, I think,” Richard continued, a hard light in his blue eyes, “When we get back to court. There is another matter that also greatly disturbs me, brother. I realize that bandits tend to be quite taxing on the nerves—apologies for that pun, it was unintentional—however, they are to be tried fairly, not subjected to…ah…torture. Do I make myself quite clear, John?”

The Prince muttered something unintelligible. Richard threw him another look, but apparently let it go—for now, anyway.

“There was one last problem I mean to address. You see, my clerks tell me that there was a discrepancy between the recorded taxes collected by the Sheriff of Nottingham and handed over to the Crown, and the recording in the Exchequer. I later learned that the good Sheriff was—how to say this delicately?” The King wondered aloud, raising his eyes to the ceiling briefly, as though expecting it to be written there in the stone. “Ah, yes. Usurping the taxpayer’s money—and using those funds to line his own pockets. That, I fear, is inexcusable. I here-by relieve him off his position, and instead, place Much Whitewell in his stead. Do you accept this position, Much?” He didn’t have the charismatic good-looks of Robin, but the King had found an implacable knowledge of right and wrong that he liked in the short Saxon, and Much’s natural good-humor and Saxon heritage would smooth many of the bumps the previous Sheriff had created.

Much looked just as startled as Robin had when the Scot was given an earlhood. “Ah—aye, Your Highness. If you would have it so, then, well, of course.”

The King smiled. All was as it should be now, with the proper rewards doled out.
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goal means 'love', as an endearment.
The Exchequer was the English system of taxation implemented by Henry II, as well as the tome it was recorded in, and later the clerks/judcial powers that regulated it.