Title: Deadly hairpins and Other Anecdotes
Summary: Marian muses on the nature of her (dis)affections.
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Disclaimer: Unsurprisingly, I am not the BBC, and am making no money. I just thought that the look on Marian's face during that hairpin-flicking scene warranted an explanation.
Notes: This is just post the first episode, and is basically Marian's inner rant about the ridiculousness of the situation. Unfortunately, because I was bored last night, I ended up dragging it out to become more of a little ramble along the lines of what Robin and Marian's relationship might have been like pre-Palestine, as I attempted to figure out Marian's character from what little we saw of her in the first ep. It must also be noted that, 'cause I wrote this with the intention of it being funny (even if large chunks of it now aren't) some of the language is less than medieval sounding. I know, I know - in inaccuraqcies of Marian referring to herself as 'The hairpin wielding diva of Nottingham' abound - but it IS just fic. ;)
Deadly Hairpins and Other Anecdotes
It’s not as if I intended to become the hair-pin wielding diva of Nottingham, you know. You can blame Robin, if you like – it’s mostly his fault. He’s a stupidly heroic man at the best of times, and suddenly he’s taken it upon himself to get arrows pointed squarely at his forehead.
I mean, honestly, what’s a lady supposed to do in such situations?
If he’s dead I’ll be deeply, deeply irritated with him. What a waist of a good hairpin! It came from France, I’ll have you know. And has the man any idea how much work it is for a woman to get hold of a knife so that she can carve said very expensive hairpins to points? I am guarded day and night, followed almost everywhere to ‘protect my maidenhood’ (hah! Oh, father, if only you knew, you would not be half as fond of Robin as you are). It took an awful lot of time, effort and patience to acquire the means of protecting myself – the hairpins, the knives, the tools – and that’s not to mention the amount of practice it takes to become that accurate. Really, I am, at least, rather pleased with my aim. That was not an easy target.
The least Robin could have done would be to have fished my hairpin out of that guard’s arm so that he could return it to me later, in what would undoubtedly become a ridiculously over-blown show of affection.
For my own protection, even – I mean, it’s not going to take anybody with more than half a brain to work out where that weapon came from. It’s clearly a feminine piece of jewellery and I was the only woman in the immediate vicinity who had enough money to be able to afford such decoration. I hope nobody does find that hair pin, or I’ll be in as much trouble as Robin is.
I suppose I could hold up the old ‘feminine weakness’ defence (“Oh sir, he seduced me! I was helpless! I simply couldn’t let him die! Oh, I know it was so terribly wrong of me, but I am only a woman, and so very helpless to my emotions!”) but I really am finding that sort of thing terribly tiresome these days. Pride is the greatest of the sins, I suppose. Robin is an outlaw for it, and I’ll end up in the dungeons for it (providing, of course, that they ever find that hair pin).
Oh, but I am worried about the stupid man. I knew what he was going to do, the minute I advised him to let those men die. He’s Robin of Locksley, for goodness sake! The man has no sense of propriety. He acts with more emotion than we women ever do, and far less logic. He was always a headstrong boy – we fought quite often when we were little, until the advent of puberty, when I began to find that quality in him more amusing than irritating. Besides which, he was the only man on Earth willing to argue with me – this little woman, daughter of a big lord. He took me seriously, took offence when I insulted him (instead of dismissing it as the nonsensical ramblings of a mere girl), laughed when I jested with him and argued and argued when he disagreed with me. I liked that. Robin of Locksley at least has a certain amount of respect for me.
Even if he is philandering fool of a man.
What good is his running off as an outlaw going to do anyone? You can bet Guy will punish the people of Locksley for the sins of their Earl – things will only get worse for those poor peasants. What exactly does Robin hope to achieve here? Is he going to over-throw the sheriff? With the aid of a few peasants and a man servant? Much is a very dear and endlessly loyal creature, but he is not an army.
No, they’ll all get caught (if they haven’t already been) and dragged back to the court, and tried, and hung. And probably tortured, too – Sweet Lord, Robin, what have you done?
And I’ll have wasted one of my favourite hairpins.
I will come and torture Robin myself if he’s stupid enough to get caught. Bad enough that he make me worry for him – he drags poor Much into it too, and that Scarlet boy. They’ll all hang for this – oh, and now I can’t remember – Robin used to recite endless screeds of truly abominable poetry to me in the years just prior to him leaving for the crusades (usually on the pleasing quality of my eyes or something similar; I think he thought it romantic, which I suppose it might have been, if it hadn’t been so hilariously awful). Over the years, I’ve forgotten every line of it, though, which sometimes strikes me as a pity. I wouldn’t mind hearing it again – just a word or two. Robin may be a terrible poet, but I always found his voice soothing. He knows how to speak sweetly.
Though I’ll never divulge such information to him, I must admit to missing the poor fool horribly. He’s my friend – my only real friend – and the fact that his desires aren’t exactly subtle and he would rather have risked his neck in Palestine than marry me still make him preferable company to Guy of Gisborn. (Which should tell you, dear readers, precisely what kind of man Guy of Gisborn is).
Robin was first introduced to me when I was a baby, so naturally, I don’t remember out first official encounter. I don’t remember a time when I was unaware of him amongst the extended circle of people my family interacted with. My father brought up the Locksleys regularly enough – he liked them, and he quite clearly had designs for me in regards to their eldest son. I was very small, and I didn’t understand. Robin was a boy, who I saw irregularly and who I found generally uninteresting.
We got to know each other properly as something of an accident. It was at court – I always came with my father because he has been paranoid for my safety since mother died. I came with my nurse and my toys and I was content enough, wondering around the edges of proceedings and playing quietly. Robin was older – ten to my seven years – and he was accompanying his father so that he could learn about the running of his estate. He was also bored out of his mind, and paying very little attention to what was going on around him. He wanted to play with my wooden horses, and I wouldn’t let him – those horses had been carved for me by the most favourite of my father’s servants and they were good toys.
After a while, in which I reflected that God might be unhappy with me for being uncharitable, I gracelessly offered him Peg-Leg, the most undesirable of my six. Peg-Leg had been made out of a smaller piece of wood than the others, and one of his legs was unfinished, leaving him with a fine little peg-like stump instead. Robin was remarkably unperturbed by my lack of generosity, but instead of taking Peg-Leg off to play by himself, as any decent boy would have, he wanted to make a game with me.
I thought him an exceptionally strange boy.
But he was good fun. Much more daring and imaginative than any of the little girls I was allowed to play with at home. Within the next hour or so we had concocted between us an entirely fantastical saga involving all six horses, my dolly-Mary (who never left my side in those days), and, inexplicably, Robin’s game of knuckle bones, which we used as soldiers.
The game took us all around the edges of the court, across the balconies, along imagined ports and keeps and castles and finally down one of the vacated corridors leading away from the main courtroom. We were so entirely absorbed that neither of us noticed my irate father and several others storming up that corridor, and only became aware of his presence when he hauled me off my feet and proceeded to drag me back home with dire warnings about what would happen if I ever left the sight of my nurse ever, ever again.
I screamed, not in pain or shock, but because Robin still had Peg-Leg and two of my other horses and I wanted them back.
Robin chased after us for quite some time, in a rather valiant attempt to return my toys, until his own father caught up with him to ask what the devil he thought he was playing at (I suspect he caught a rather severe knock about the ears for the entire episode).
The horses were eventually returned to me, completely intact – Robin came with his father the next time his came to visit mine, and brought the toys with him. We couldn’t bring ourselves to resurrect the old saga; the magic of it had been shattered. But Robin taught me how to play knucklebones, and gave me his set to practice on when he left. Really, he was treating me very much like a younger sister, but I suppose that, at ten, even Robin wasn’t managing to think along the lines of potential wives just yet.
Our old compatibility probably stems from what, in hindsight, are remarkably similar upbringings. We both had mothers die when we were young, and fathers too distraught to remarry. As a result, we both grew up without siblings and spent most of our early years with only our nurses and toys for company. We were both introduced to suitable playmates, and neither of us took to them very well. We were both happier with the children of our servants, who at least lived with us, and were born to the same lands as us. We were both terribly lonely – though we didn’t know it, because we had nothing to compare to.
We argued like brother and sister, bickered and squabbled and feuded fairly constantly as we became more familiar with each other and the formal courtesies wore off. But the arguments were engaging and amusing and exhilarating, and Robin would always kiss me to say he was sorry afterwards, even when he very clearly wasn’t – he was chivalrous like that.
I loved him, I am sure, but those old days, before the very brazen lust of out teenage years took sway and swept aside any doubts whatsoever as to the nature of our relationship, are difficult to define. Being older, you might expect Robin to have been more aware than I was of the implications of our friendship, but I believe that it was the other way around. Robin was always an idealistic boy, either over-protected from the social truths of our life time or just choosing not the hear them, and, for all his desires became clear when he staggered a little uncouthly into manhood from boyhood, I do not believe that his intentions towards me were ever less than honourable. I, being practical, and having a practical father and a nurse who taught me to read and write in Latin, French and English (and speak quite prettily in the former two), was a far more worldly-wise creature than Robin ever was, despite being three years his junior.
It was I who had to explain the numerous truths of the bible to him, and I who informed him, upon my thirteenth birthday, much to his amusement, that we would have to get married at some point because this arrangement was going to start raising suspicions soon enough (and I was right, of course).
It became increasingly difficult to spend time with Robin alone, without being watched over. Unfortunately, this only made us far more determined to have our privacy, and we began resorting to midnight trysts whenever he and his father (and Much, now, that sweet, happy, fool of a boy) came to visit – which were not nearly as romantic as they sound.
It starts with the (numerous) difficulties of getting out of a third-floor room, in pitch-blackness, with only a bed-sheet and an overly hormonal pubescent boy under your window ledge for assistance.
However, those experiences did teach me a great deal about how to rescue myself from potentially hazardous situations. Few maidens have ever scaled sheer brick walls on moonless nights, let alone navigated the passionate perils of a boy who wants very much to kiss you but can’t stop spouting horrendously bad poetry.
I kissed him first, which stopped the poetry fairly effectively.
Unfortunately, (for Robin), I was also growing up rather quickly. I knew about the perils of this world, particularly for a woman, which I was fast becoming. I became far more lady-like far sooner than Robin wanted me to be. I had a position and reputation to maintain. I had a duty to my father to preserve his good name, and I needed to find myself a husband. It didn’t matter what I wanted, per-se – it was a case of survival. Despite being older than me, Robin acted younger – wanted to go gallivanting through the forest on horse back, waving his wooden sword, while I rolled my eyes in despair.
Perhaps that explains why he took off for Palestine rather than stay with me. He wanted for the adventure, adventure that I and my duties could not give him. I hated him for leaving me alone in this harsh, boring world, which he brightened with his anecdotes and his games and his hair-brained ways. He inherited his estate from his father young, and he hated the responsibility.
Oh, he was good and kind and fair, just as his father had been – but he wanted to roam and explore and adventure. He wanted to slay evil for a cause, not count grain and mediate taxes for the common people. What little excitement my presence offered him, was not enough to anchor him to Nottingham, and off he went – my pride, again, my greatest sin, for I could not bring myself to beg him not to leave.
He’s changed now, I think. Not so much that he isn’t the foolish, tempestuous, impractical dreamer he has always been, but – no, there is a faithlessness there behind his eyes that I have never seen before. Part of his idealism died on the battlefield, and part of me mourns for it.
Still, my Robin of Locksley, under his hair – too long, and his unshaven chin and bright, lusty smile upon seeing me for the first time in four years – he’s still there.
So I saved his life. Just once. For old time’s sake. I risked my honour and I gave up one of my favourite hairpins for him and have no guarantee that he’s still alive and I know that he’ll be dead inside a week. No one crosses this sheriff and gets away with it.
Still, I hope against all the practicalities in my head that he lives, this man who has returned to us, Robin of Locksley, full of rage at the untold horrors he must have witnessed at war.
If only because I don’t want that hair-pin to have gone to waste. I never intended for this to happen, you see.