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07 April 2013 @ 02:07 am
"To Be Worthy" (Guy/Marian- Historical Romance- PG 13/R): Chapter 1  
SUMMARY: Betrayed by his latest master and mocked by the cruel hand of destiny, Sir Guy of Gisborne returns to Nottingham twenty years after his banishment determined to reclaim the life which should have been his.

AUTHOR: Lexie aka lillianschild

RATING: PG-13/R (possibly in later chapters)

FANDOM: Robin Hood

PAIRING: Guy/Marian

GENRE: Romance

Disclaimer: Tiger Aspect Productions and the BBC are free to claim whatever they own of this piece, except Guy's thoughts and my words which are ours to keep. lol.

A/N: Set in an alternate Series 1 where Guy has never met Vasey before his arrival in Nottingham, this fic will explore what impact an earlier acquaintance with Marian might have had on Guy's life and ultimate fate.










TO BE WORTHY





CHAPTER I

NOTTINGHAM CASTLE- 1192

Tall, long-limbed and broad-shouldered, the saturnine and handsome knight intrigued her. She'd never seen him before, but his powerful aura was felt beyond the shadows cast by the pillars of the hall of Nottingham Castle- her home as the daughter of the county Sheriff, Sir Edward of Knighton- and tapped a cord in her which had been dormant for twenty-one years. Nobody, not even her short-lived betrothed Robin, had ever stirred her this way.

His aloofness belied the intensity of a pair of striking blue-grey eyes which she suspected were all- seeing behind those long sooty eyelashes. Wearing his shoulder-length coal black hair loose and dressed in black leather from head to toe, this avenging angel was the most sinfully attractive male she'd ever set eyes on. There was a decisive air of danger attached to his persona, even though she could tell he wasn't a great or powerful nobleman; his clothes were of good quality but had seen better days, and he was altogether alone, having no squire or page on attendance.

Sitting at the high table, Marian quickly averted her eyes when she saw him glance her way and turned towards her father, Sir Edward of Knighton. Her dad's frailty was a constant source of anxiety during her waking hours, and his growing despondency kept her awake at night. He sat listless at the head of the table, staring off into space, both his trencher and glass untouched. It appeared not even hosting the spring tournament would rally him this time.

“Once again you shine as the lady of Nottingham Castle,” Lord Harold of Winchester murmured close to her ear, sending a cold shudder down her spine.

Her father's old friend and vanquished rival for her late mother's affections couldn't disguise the lustful gleam in his eyes or the palpable greed which transpired when he regarded everything of Edward's he coveted.

“Edward must be very proud of his daughter,” he added, pressing an unwelcome kiss on her hand, his gaze trained on the swell of her creamy breasts.

“I do my best to honour him,” she replied with a small smile, hating the courtly games destiny had her play and fighting the urge to slap him in the face for every leacherous look and innuendo she had had to endure since his arrival at the castle. She could feel the coppery taste in her mouth after biting her tongue, knowing how precarious her family's position had become and how dangerous alienating Winchester was.

“As your husband I'd see Sir Edward's well cared for,” he continued, focusing on her mouth as she struggled to swallow down a morsel of venison and keep her nausea in check. Marian was still a maid, but running a household entailed having a closer relationship with the servants and most of them- especially the women- were outspoken. She'd heard enough disturbing tales about Winchester and his maidservants to know what kind of a husband he'd make. Sitting this close to him was enough to wish herself at Kirklees Abbey.

Hiding her disgust she let her gaze wander past the trestle tables set up in the hall to where the silent knight was. Once again she wondered who he was. Judging by his lithe body and strong yet graceful limbs, he was a man used to riding and fighting. He was much older than the other knights in the room, who were closer to her in age, and should have either earned his own estate or found a position serving a lord. Marian couldn't help but envy his freedom; he was free to go wherever he pleased and do as he wished without the constraints imposed by duty and gender. If only she'd been born a man, she would tell Winchester to go to the devil and her father would have the heir her mother's early passing had denied him.

“My lady, I've come today hoping to converse with you, but I'm afraid you're determined to ignore me,” said Winchester silkily, grabbing her right hand.

“I'm trying to find Meg. The hall's really crowded today.”

“She seems to be having a very good time,” he nodded towards the sixteen-year old who, wearing her finest clothes and her wavy red hair loose, observed the young knights, feigning her usual disinterest towards the opposite sex.

“She's growing into a beautiful woman. Not as fetching as her cousin,” he added with a lewd glint in his eye,” but lovely just the same. I wager it won't take long for her hand to be requested in marriage by several eager suitors. It wouldn't do for the youngest girl in the household to get married first, don't you think? Your father seems to agree it's high time his eldest got her own home to run.”

Marian shuddered at the thought of tying the knot with her mother's former suitor, repelled by the idea of those hands and lips touching her. Her skin crawled thinking of the indignities he might submit her to, given to a life of debauchery as he was. And yet, having been deserted by Robin in favour of King Richard's holy quest, she'd been left alone to protect her family. Marian loathed Winchester, but was aware of her responsibilities towards her frail and melancholy father and also Meg, who had become more of an adoptive sister than cousin the moment she came to live with them when her parents died. If Winchester was the only path open before her, Marian would do what was required of any dutiful daughter.

Taking her goblet to her lips, she surreptitiously glanced across the room. The stranger was now leaning against the wall with his arms crossed, wearing an amused crooked smile as he observed a curvacious maidservant joke and laugh with the young knights at the table nearby.

Marian wondered what he'd be like with a woman. For all his aloofness, he struck her as a passionate man. Would that make him selfish and demanding as a lover? Or would he be attentive and caring, possessive and yet thoughtful of giving as much as deriving pleasure from his partner?

Her unmaidenly thoughts made her blush and, at that precise moment, the knight looked at the high table and their gazes locked. This time she trembled for an entirely different reason. She was rooted to the spot and, at the same time, wished she could run away from those eyes which seemed to be able to see into her lonely and hopeless heart.

She tore her gaze from him, telling herself it wasn't possible for a complete stranger, a man she hadn't exchanged even the most basic pleasantries with, to understand what was going on under her carefully-studied façade.

“My Lady...”

“Excuse me, my lord, it's getting late and I've yet to make preparations for Lord Vasey's arrival,” she told Winchester abruptly, getting to her feet.

“I wish you'd honour me with your presence a little longer, but if you must go...” the earl replied, a clear note of annoyance in his voice.

Guy watched the lady press a kiss on Sir Edward's cheek and then leave the hall in a hurry. There was no doubt in the knight's mind that Lady Marian loved her frail father as deeply as she hated the man who'd been sitting between them, a man whose place of honour suggested an imminent betrothal.

Guy wondered if Winchester was really aware of the lady's indomitable nature. The young woman didn't seem the kind to be easily swayed once she'd made up her mind. A character trait Guy had learnt to recognise, having experienced it first-hand with his own estranged little sister, Isabella. And yet that independence of thought which used to annoy him in his own flesh and blood, he found alluring in Lady Marian. Maybe Winchester had seen what he had and yearned for the challenge, just as he would; he certainly couldn't find fault in the other man's choice of partner. She took his breath away.

The raucous crowd sitting a few steps away interrupted his musings. Not for the first time did he envy the younger knights' carefree attitude, that freedom to enjoy life to its full. Guy's journey had been a constant struggle ever since his parents' death in the fire and his forced exile in Normandy. Fate had made of him a knight in shining armour in the eyes of his little sister Bella, a champion who could slay all dragons. He wondered what she'd think of him now; God knew he found it hard to see himself as anyone's knight. He'd done his best to make his dad proud, to live up to the Gisborne heritage; his horsemanship and the mastery of the sword had earned Guy a knighthood and a place in the ranks of the king's army just like his father had before him. He should have known better than to trust a Plantagenet though; Henry and Richard might have been enemies but both had betrayed the Gisborne loyalty in the end.

Despite the life of hunger and destitution Guy and Isabella had been condemned to as children, he missed those days of old if only for the knowledge that there was someone who had faith in him and saw him as worthy. No, unlike the boisterous young men at the table, he wasn't in Nottingham merely for sport; he was there to face his own personal demons and win this tournament. His dreams of regaining the lands which were his by birthright had suffered a setback in the Holy Land, a fact which still irked him for its injustice. And yet, his fallout with the Lionheart could be considered serendipitous after all for if Guy hadn't landed in Southampton when he did, he wouldn't have learnt of this tournament in time to sign in. He'd stayed away far too long. Nottingham owed him and he was determined to collect.

Once more the knight's eyes strayed to the high table. Winchester was still sitting next to Sir Edward and, judging by the hungry looks Lord Harold gave to the teenage red-haired Guy believed to be related to the frail Sheriff, the lecher wouldn't mind having both Knighton women warm his bed. Gisborne wondered if Lady Marian's father was actually aware of the snake he was harbouring in his nest. Judging by the sheriff's absent look and melancholy demeanour, he was oblivious of the world around him.

Winchester was a vain man and the knight he sponsored at the tournament was good, but Guy was experienced and Stormbringer, having seen battle, was a far superior mount. Suddenly the idea of winning acquired an extra significance. Maybe he could be once again that chivalrous protector Ghislaine would have been proud of. Being worthy in the eyes of two pure ladies might be the reprieve his battered soul had been yearning for. Seeing Winchester defeated and humiliated even through a proxy would be a bonus.

“More wine, sir knight?” asked a voluptuous maidservant, approaching Guy with a seductive sway of her hips.

“I'd rather keep my wits sharp. As tempting as other things offered might be, I need to save my energy for the trials on the field,” he grinned, eying the ample bosom on display.

“Pity. I could make it worth your while,” she replied with a lewd gleam in her eye.

“I've no doubt you're going to make a young knight very happy tonight,” he smiled before deciding to pump her for information. “What can you tell me about the man sitting next to the earl of Knighton?”

“Lord Winchester? His late wife left him the estate which borders Knighton and he’s been friends with the Sheriff since their youth. Our master owes him a great deal. His duties as a sheriff leave him very little time to see to his property and, as much as Lady Marian's loved by the populace, she isn't a man. Lord Winchester took on the stewardship of Knighton almost a decade ago and helped relieve the earl of the extra burden.”

Not only did the disgusting lecher salivate after Marian of Knighton the woman, he coveted the fortune that he'd obtain by marrying her. Despite being ambitious and having a lot more to gain than Winchester by choosing a rich and beautiful bride such as Lady Marian, Sir Guy would never impose his amorous attentions upon an unwilling woman. Gisborne wasn't a man above reproach, but his ambition hadn't yet smother his sense of honour and the respect for the opposite sex that Ghislaine had instilled in him as a young boy. There were other ways to secure himself a future and the stability necessary to even consider wooing a bride of rank with whom to raise a family and restore the proud lineage of his ancestors.

“Ten years is a long time.”

“Lord Harold's a very patient man when he sees something he wants.”

“Is he?” he cocked an eyebrow.

“He has to be. Ever since Robin of Locksley broke up their engagement to join King Richard's crusade, my lady's lived only for her father. So far she's managed to deflect Winchester's attentions, but... ”

Huntingdon? It had to be. He knew of only one Robin of Locksley and the smug earl had played a fundamental role in both Guy's departure from and return to Nottingham.

Lady Marian, the young woman who'd captured Guy's heart the minute he set foot in the castle, had been once betrothed to his enemy. It seemed fate was constantly out to mock the landless knight.

“What's wrong with Sir Edward?” he asked the maidservant, hoping his face hadn't betrayed the impact her words had had on him.

“Just grief. He's never been able to overcome Lady Kate's death. He loves his daughter dearly, but the fact that she resembles her dead mother more each passing day doesn't help.”

Guy wondered if he'd ever be able to love so deeply and forever, to the point of being unable to live on without his chosen partner. His rare and inconsequential trysts had only helped scratch a natural itch, but no one so far had ever stirred him enough to envision having a life and raising a family together, no one until Lady Marian. The irony of fate wasn't lost on him. At thirty-five he was risking losing his heart for the first time to a woman he'd no right to love.

“Hey, Gisborne! You've monopolised the wench long enough, and we all know you won't do anything about it.”

“Yeah, come here, luv. Don't waste your time with Sir Lackland,” shouted one of the youngest knights with a marked drunken slur accompanied by the sniggers of the other guests.

Guy clenched his fists and glared at the men sitting around the table. It wasn't the first time he'd heard the nickname used in his presence, although they had never called him that in his face before. Cooling his temper was becoming a true test of endurance, but answering back or punching a few smug faces would only jeopardise his participation in the tournament and everything it entailed- from the money he could win to the chance to meet a prospective new employer.





*~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *~ *





Outside the night air was cool. Away from the bragging youths, he surveyed the terrain where the tournament would take place the following morning. Although he trusted his horse in a way he hadn't managed to trust anyone since his childhood, he always took the precaution of studying the grounds to minimise the risk of injuries for both his and his mount's sake. Next came a visit to the stables and a careful inspection of the equipment in the early morning to make sure everything was as it should be; for all their code of honour knights were only human, and foul play in competitions wasn't unheard of.

Having brushed Stormbringer and supplemented his meal with a bucket of oats, Guy locked its stall and, bidding his destrier goodnight, headed to the bailey. Let his haughty rivals drink and wench on the eve of the melee- he'd made that mistake once in his twenties and almost paid it with his life- Guy would make it an early night to get up refreshed and ready to collect his ransom.

As he climbed up the stairs leading from the bailey, he spotted the saucy maidservant who'd given him the eye scanning the corridor, no doubt in search of someone. A sixth sense told him he was the prey, so he shrunk back into a shadowed alcove. It was on occasions such as these when he questioned whether his decision to change wardrobe had been wise. Black leather was supposed to provide him with a protective dangerous aura against potential enemies and carnal distractions, but for some reason it seemed not to be having the desired deterring effect on the opposite sex, quite the contrary in fact. It was baffling and, at times, made him feel awkward and out of his depth around the fair sex, especially amongst those who- had his situation been any different- he'd have considered his equals and therefore, marriage material. Although the maidservant wasn't such a girl, he wasn't in the mood for an inconsequential tryst with her either tonight or in the foreseeable future.

There was only one woman who'd managed to stir his until-then anaesthetised heart, Lady Marian, the beautiful maiden whose angelic form had bewitched him and whose passionate soul he knew he'd no right to covet. He might never have a chance with Sir Edward's daughter. but the mere thought of a night of debauchery with the curvaceous servant under the same roof where Lady Marian would be sleeping made him feel even more unworthy. There was no use dreaming with the impossible; at least, until he could secure himself a future.

Sliding the latch of the door behind him, Guy made use of his feline stealth and slipped away.

Go to Chapter 2


 
 
 
Bettina: Richard Armitageelenothar on April 7th, 2013 08:58 am (UTC)
I really like this idea... hopefully things will turn out nicer for Guy here :)
Thanks for writing!
lillianschild: guymarian approachlillianschild on April 7th, 2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm a sucker for happy endings. I might write angst and canon fics when I choose to pen one-shots, but multi-chaptered fics are always meant to provide Guy with the chance to get some well-deserved loving.
rjforap: RArjforap on April 7th, 2013 04:46 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful beginning! I am anticipating lots of emotional ups and downs and can not wait. Please write more soon. :)
lillianschild: thoughtful guylillianschild on April 7th, 2013 04:58 pm (UTC)
I'm working on a new chapter of my Lucas fic "A Voice in the Dark" but I'm going back to this one as soon as I'm done.

Thanks for reading and reviewing as usual.
kylathelurker: A grown love Marian/Guykylathelurker on April 7th, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
Oh this is definitely a lovely start! I like how they're both in places they do not wish to be, due to their status and the demands of society. I like how Marian first notices Guy and not the other way around that was awesome! I like too how there is this unspoken connection that has formed between the two of them that neither can fully put a finger on.

Am definitely looking forward to reading more int he future to say the least!
lillianschild: guyxmarian comfortlillianschild on April 7th, 2013 11:32 pm (UTC)
Pleased to know this first instalment has whetted your appetite for more. Thanks for your lovely feedback.
foxraferfoxrafer on April 9th, 2013 02:58 am (UTC)
I really like this beginning chapter. Looking forward to reading more.
lillianschild: guymarian approachlillianschild on April 13th, 2013 04:31 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and reviewing.

As I told someone above, there'll be more as soon as I'm done working on the next chapter of my Lucas North fic "A Voice in the Dark".
Princess Bunnikins, Angel of Doomlonespark on May 8th, 2013 06:05 pm (UTC)
This is lovely and fills a need.
The part about Guy's outfit was hilarious, too.
lillianschild: guyxmarian comfortlillianschild on May 8th, 2013 06:09 pm (UTC)
Oh that line wrote itself in the story and made me laugh too!

There isn't enough Guy/Marian fic around and I love our Black Knight so I felt the need to write this.

I hope you'll like the second chapter, which is already up, just as much.