DISCLAIMER: This story does not wish to infringe on the rights of any copyright holders of ROBIN OF SHERWOOD, including and not limited to Richard Carpenter and Anglia Television. The fiction below is not intended for profit and the characters are merely borrowed and then returned, intact.


by Cassandra

Robert of Huntingdon, second of Herne's Chosen Sons, was gone. Bereft of he whom they had finally accepted as their leader and learned to love as their friend had left the outlaws of Sherwood Forest feeling hopeless and lost. John Little (so long ago re-named 'Little John' and oh, the memories that appellation still evoked!), spoke for them all when he said, "That's it. There'll not be another. It's over." The dejection in his voice was manifested physically on the faces of all as they sat around the fire that evening. Nasir, Much, Tuck and Will Scarlet felt their most recent loss keenly, but more, they were haunted by their memories of Herne's First Son, whose light had been so cruelly and so utterly extinguished upon the Tor so many moons ago.

Wallowing in their misery and memories, they did not at first notice the mist which was beginning to drift out of and surround the trees and their small clearing. It was not until it encroached upon their huddled bodies that they realised and, slowly, in turn, each of them looked toward the other, then in the direction from which the mist was swirling.

"Hear me, my children," boomed the voice of Herne - for it truly was he, barely discernible through the blanket of rolling vapour - "Your hearts lie heavy and grief has made you doubt. Believe in the power of the Forest. For what it takes, so it can return. Long ago, Rhiannan's Wheel turned away the powers of darkness. Now go and find there that which you seek. Go!"

His final word was a command and, as the mists dispersed and he disappeared with them, the little band of men stared at each other, the seeds of a hope which none dared to voice beginning to grow in each of their hearts. John was the first one to rise from the fire, hoisting his staff with renewed vigour. "Might as well see what he meant," he said. His nonchalance fooled no-one, least of all himself, as, one by one, they got to their feet and started in the direction in which Herne had pointed them.


Marion, once of Leaford, then of Sherwood, stood at the abbey door, her face a mask of indecision. She had been deep in prayer when the vision of Herne had appeared before her, yet she had not been surprised to see the God of the Forest. His words, however, *had* startled her. "Go to Rhiannan's Wheel," he had directed her. "There you will find restored to you that which you had thought lost. Go, Marion of Sherwood, Queen of the May and find there that which awaits you."

Marion had found herself wrapped in her thick cloak and by the outer door before cognizant thought had set in, then, and only then did she pause. Now she looked out over the sweeping landscape, hesitant about taking the first step along a path already well-trodden, and filled with heartache, but already knowing that she could no more turn back now than she could cease to breathe. But could she truly believe? And if she allowed herself to do so, did she really wish to endure a second time the pain and grief which had all but subjugated forever her spirit? A smile slowly banished the doubt from her fine features. Herne had known the answer to that question before ever he had appeared. She knew it too. Without further ado, she hoisted up the hood of her cloak, sheltering the tumble of bronzed curls from the vagaries of the North-easterly wind, stepped away from the door and began her journey.


Rhiannan's Wheel was bathed in the full glow of the moon, its pale luminescence casting eerie shadows around the circle of stones. It looked almost unearthly and insubstantial to those who even now approached it, yet from it they each caught the sense of the Power of Good which was its own lure. Unconsciously, each slowed their pace and spread out, forming a semi-circle of their own. The only pause came when the newcomer joined them and the hearts of the men swelled as they recognised and acknowledged with loving smiles Marion of Sherwood.

The centre of the circle was illuminated in the phosphorescent light from the moon and the reflection from the stones themselves and there was an audible intake of breath from each of the outlaw gang as they recognised the figure who lay therein. They stopped, unable to believe their eyes and, at the same time, drinking in the slight but wiry frame who lay as though asleep, his long dark hair fanned out below his head, his face pale in the moonlight, cheeks fanned by dark lashes that fluttered as the sleeper dreamed. Then, as if broken from stasis, Marion breathed his name. "Robin." He stirred, but did not awaken. She began to run, her hood falling from her head, hair streaming out behind her, crying out his name again, louder. "Robin! Robin!"

The dreamer awoke, blinking as he realised it was dark - how long had he been here, waiting? Then he rose just in time to catch his wife as she flung herself into his arms, kissing his dear, beloved face over and over, running her fingers though the fine but unruly hair, unwilling to let him go, unable to comprehend how this had come to be and not caring, so long as he had returned to her.

Robin of Loxley - Robin I'The Hood, the First of Herne's Chosen Sons, accepted with delight his wife's ecstatic greeting, kissing her in return and spinning her round in his arms, content to have her back where she belonged. Tears formed in the green eyes which then sought out and held in turn each of the men who had followed and loved him and he smiled. Then they were all upon him, Little John temporarily displacing Marion with a bearhug for his leader and friend; Nasir reaching out both hands to clasp one of Robin's, Tuck grinning inanely, tears streaming down his cheeks and Much - Much crying openly and clinging onto his brother for dear life. Scarlet's mouth had dropped open and moisture appeared in the ex-soldier's eyes. For a long moment, he simply stood, staring at the man he had called both friend and, sometimes, adversary. Then, Robin was enveloped in his arms, eagerly returning the embrace. Finally they broke apart and Marion resumed her place in her husband's waiting arms, determined never to let him go again and staring at him with enraptured eyes.

"How ...?"

"We thought you dead - !"

"You were gone ..."

"It's impossible ..."

Holding up a silencing hand, he halted their questions. then, "Herne came," he said, simply. "After the sheriff's men had left me for dead, he came."

"You were dead then?" Only Scarlet could have asked it so bluntly.

"There were arrows, Will," Robin said, unable to quite suppress the shudder which the memory of that day still elicited from him. "After the first one ... They wanted to make sure that I was gone. De Rainault was very thorough. After the arrows there were swords. I don't know now I remember that. I just do."

"Robin." Marion's voice was hoarse, her face pale from the image which Robin's words conjured in her mind. "Robin, how could this - how can you be here?"

Loxley smiled. They had seen the expression once before. It still had the power to send collective shivers down their spines. "Marion, my friends, never doubt the Power of the Forest. the Power of Herne. Never lose your faith in the triumph of Good over Evil. Never lose your faith in the Magic of the Trees."

The listeners nodded, neither questioning nor doubting any further what both Robin and Herne had, in their own individual ways, attempted to instil in them over the years leading up to Robin's untimely demise. At the time, it had seemed inconceivable that Herne could restore Robin to them, even though none of them could quite grasp the fact that he had been so viciously snatched from their side. When Robert of Huntingdon had assumed his place, however, they had finally had to admit to themselves that Robin of Loxley was gone. They had, after all, seen the evidence for themselves. The bloodstains on the Tor had told their own gruesome tale. Now the proof of Herne's Power was here, in front of them, and for that, they would be eternally grateful.

"Herne summoned up the Magic of the Forest, the Power of Good and although it took time and much patience, I am here," Robin said. "But Sherwood still needed Robin Hood, so he chose another in my stead."

"Robert of Huntingdon," interjected Tuck, sadly, for, despite the miraculous and welcome reappearance of their First, their beloved Robin, the second of Herne's Sons was sorely missed.

"He was a good leader," said John. His tone was grave, his smile gone for the moment. "Although no-one could ever replace you in our hearts, Robin."

Loxley smiled. "There's no cause for you to feel bad for following him, or loving him," he comforted them. "That was, after all, what Herne intended. And Robert is needed elsewhere. After all, the Power of Evil is everywhere and the poor and oppressed will always require champions to fight for them."

"And you're back with us?" queried Will, his voice gruff, needing the confirmation, "You *have* come back to lead us, haven't you?"

"Do you still question the leader of this band of outlaws, Will?" demanded Robin, a gleam in his emerald eyes.

"Aye, that he does," Little John confirmed with a laugh, heartily slapping Scarlet on the back and almost knocking him over.

"Good." Robin nodded approvingly. "Because I still need you to question, Will. I still need you to use your logic and I still need your brawn, as I do yours, John, and your support and love. Tuck, you are my conscience and my guide and Nasir, your opinions and fighting skills are as important to me as ever. Much, my brother ... I need you to remind me why we do what we do and my beloved Marion, I need you beside me to give light to the darkness, to be the other half of my soul. Well?" he questioned, the viridescent gaze resting on each one in turn. "Do we still fight for the oppressed and needy in Sherwood and make life miserable and tormented for the poor Sheriff and Gisburne?"

A resounding "Yes!" rent the expectant silence of the Circle and was followed by a loud cheer.

"Let's go home," said Robin, as the echoes faded away to be replaced by the night sounds of the surrounding forest. "Back to Sherwood, where we all belong, together." He turned to Marion, running a delicate, loving finger down her cheek. "You will come back to Sherwood, won't you, Marion, my May Queen?"

"Oh, Robin," she said, softly, her hand reaching up to capture his and hold it as though she would never let go, then burying her head in his shoulder. "As if you have to ask. Yes, my husband. Yes."

As the little procession made its way out of Rhiannan's Wheel and back into the richly scented, verdant forest which was their home and which had returned their leader to them, impossibly alive and intact, Much smiled, remembering those words of so long ago. "I'll be with you later."

Robin had kept his promise.


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