In That Order
FIN PRINTEMPS 1194
Hand in hand they walked through the forest, reaching their favorite spot without plan or forethought. It was a rare afternoon of peace and quiet when all of nature conspired to display their best to the Master and Lady of the forest.
A gentle wind blew through the leaves. The birds twittered happily from the air. The hollowed base of a tree seemed to stretch out its arms offering a secluded throne for the noble pair.
"So, tell me." Robin Hood lowered himself to the base of the tree and settled in, waiting for his lady to join him. "What will be your first order of business once we are married and you become the Lady of Locksley Manor?"
"You mean after we bring the King home…"
"…and defeat the Sherriff." Robin continued for her with a smile.
"In that order." Marian supplied.
He reached a hand out to her in invitation.
"Well, now." Marian refused the proffered hand as an unexpectedly wicked gleam stole into her eyes. "I would think…" Stepping on either side of his prone body, Marian slowly, deliberately lowered herself onto Robin's lap. A subtle shift of her hips and the seductive way her hands slid up his chest before burying into the unruly hair at the nape of his neck was enough to give Robin a slight glimpse into a very satisfying future. Her heated whisper caressed his skin. "…that would be rather obvious."
"That is obvious." Robin's low chuckle shook his body.
Since shifting her residence to Sherwood Greens, the stimulating subject of Robin and Marian's physical union had been a topic already canvassed. Several times.
She was not surprised when he reluctantly removed her hands from his neck with a twinkled warning in his eyes. He kissed each hand with pronounced chivalry before sending a devilish wink her way. "But I said business, not pleasure."
"Oh." Unfazed by his seeming rejection of her advances, a pout sounded in her voice before she answered in her usual, matter-of-fact manner. "There's only one answer to that then." Sliding from his lap, she aligned her body with his and rested her dark head on his shoulder. "I'll redecorate."
"Redecorate?" Her answer hadn't even made the list of things he suspected she would say. An image of the fierce Nightwatchman ordering fabrics and candlesticks popped into his head. "You?" Robin laughed out loud.
"Yes, me." Marian returned, slightly offended when his laughter continued, prompting a light slap to his chest. "I mean it, Robin. Have you seen Locksley Manor lately?"
"Not since your engagement party." said Robin, forgetting the time where he stole the black diamonds from Gisborne and the time where he was spying on Marian’s performing with the master at arms on the same day.
Irritation flashed in her blue eyes as she pushed herself out of his arms and turned to face him. "It wasn't an engage…" He chuckled. Here eyes narrowed in accusation. "You enjoy doing that, don't you?"
"Now that you're mine, I do."
Her voice softened perceptibly. "I was always yours."
"A fact you hid from Gisborne with a level of brilliance unsurpassed." His smile was in place, but the barely noticeable tightness in his azure eyes pained her.
"What can I say?" Hearing the words he would not voice, Marian reached up to gently touch his face. Their gazes battled till the love in her eyes overwhelmed the doubt in his. She saw it break and her smile deepened in silent response. "I have a natural talent for performing."
His adoring gaze caressed her face. "You have a natural talent for many things." A finger lightly ran down the line of her face before gently tugging her forward. The brush of his lips against hers sent a shiver of desire through her. She sighed into him as he moved to deepen the kiss. After a few blissful moments, Robin broke the kiss and leaned his forehead against hers.
Her satisfied sigh filled the space between them as her thumb lightly grazed his lips. She looked up at him from under her lashes. "Look who's talking."
"You were, I believe." Pulling back, Robin's tone switched to light and teasing in a heartbeat. He playfully tweaked the tip of her nose. "Something about redecorating…"
"Ah, yes." Following his example, Marian settled back against Robin's shoulder once more. "Gisborne's choice of décor is much like his…"
"…personality?" Robin offered. "Dark, dull and brooding?"
"I was going to say clothing style." She fought to hold back a smile. "But your description applies to all the above."
Robin practically groaned as a thought hit him. "Don't tell me he's hung black leather to my windows."
"Ugh. A traitor, a murder, a thief living under my roof, I can handle. But poor decorating? This I cannot stand." Robin shifted as if to get up, his voice energized with mischief. "Let's go tear them down."
"Robin, no. Absolutely not." Marian pushed him back against the tree with a delicate hand. "That will be my job once I am your wife."
"Why wait? Why not now?" Robin shrugged.
"Because now, I don't have the right."
An edge replaced lightness as a deeper frustration began to surface. "As the true lord of Locksley, I give you the right."
Marian instantly knew she'd erred. As much as Robin knew his decision to fight for justice was right and good, that didn't mean he wasn't pained by the fact he had nothing tangible to give the woman he loved. Like a title, land, a home.
The woman he loved covered his opening wound with the soothing balm of faith.
"Then I take that right and tell you now that I will ride your house of his cold, dark presence and make it a warm, loving home." A dark eyebrow raised in emphasis. "Our home, Robin. Once we are married."
A smile broke the darkness gathering in his eyes. "Well. When you put it that way…" Pulling her deeper into his embrace, Robin dropped a kiss against her dark hair and sighed contentedly when her arms tightened around him.
"What about you?" Marian ventured as she began to absently play with a strand of lace from his shirt. "What will be your first order of business?"
"To make a few additions to the place." Robin replied somewhat flippantly.
"Oh, it doesn't matter…" A quirk of his lips set off an explosion of sparkling delight in his eyes. "…as long as they have your eyes."
Marian's hand stilled. A hesitant smile flickered over her expression. Her question was barely breathed. "Children?"
"Children." Robin repeated, that one word dropping a veil between them and a world they'd only seen in their dreams. Dreams, in truth, neither had allowed themselves to acknowledge. Hopes neither had allowed themselves to raise. Deeply rooted desires neither had dared to voice.
Marian's big blue eyes drifted closed as her smile widened. Robin could feel the warmth of it against his heart. "A baby with your impish smile."
"No, yours." He countered softly as his fingers began a soothing, relentless path through her long, dark tresses. "Slow, soft and breathtaking."
She pretended not to hear him. "And your eyes."
"Hey, I already claimed eyes." Robin complained gently.
"Fine." For sake of argument, Marian conceded. That point. "For our daughters." But on another… "But if we have a son…"
"Just one? Amongst all those daughters you're dressing in your head?"
Marian chuckled, the dream taking vivid shape in her mind. "I'll have as many sons as you want as long as they all are as brave and bold and beautiful as you."
"Beautiful?" Robin's nose crinkled in doubt.
At the change in his tone, Marian shifted to look up at him. "Why? What's wrong with beautiful?"
"Nothing. If you're a girl." At the roll of Marian's eyes, Robin hastened to offer an option. "Can't we pick something more…manly?"
Marian's sigh was exaggerated. "Darling, I was describing you. If you want more manly…" She shrugged her slender shoulders. "…then I'll just have to describe Much."
"Ha, ha, ha." Robin mocked as a gentle chuckle shook his frame.
With a bright smile, Marian settled back into her home, her arms tightening around Robin's waist. The confidence in her voice broached no objections. "Our boys will be beautiful, Robin of Locksley. This is one argument I will not lose."
"Only one? You mean there's hope for me yet?"
"Oh, you've won your share."
"Really? Name one."
"You won my heart." Her hand drifted to cover his heart in emphasis.
He laced his fingers through hers. "And your hand." He conceded softly.
"See?" A smug smile made it to her voice. "That's two."
He grinned knowingly. "Why do I get the impression you're not going to allow any more?"
Marian chuckled. "Because you know me too well."
Robin planted a tender kiss against her temple as a contented sigh expanded and collapsed his chest. "Yes, I do."
Relinquishing his embrace once more, Marian turned to fully face him. Her expression was soft, but her tone was all business. "So. We bring the King home."
"Defeat the Sherriff…" Robin began to smile.
Marian's smile matched his as she winningly tilted her head, her eyes glowing with the secret knowledge of shared dreams. Her voice softened as she linked her fingers through his. "…get married…"
Tinkling eyes met hers. "…redecorate…"
"…and have beautiful children." The gathering tears in her eyes made their way to her voice and broke on the last word.
Eyes locked on each other and their future, Robin gathered her face in his hands.
"In that order."
Her fingers wrapped around his wrists as the brilliance of her smile rivaled the sun.
"Sounds…like a plan."