Summary: Marion reflects on the two sons of Herne and her love for both of them.
Genre: romance, drama
Characters: Marion of Leaford, Robin of Loxley, Robert of Huntingdon, Herne the Hunter
Pairings: Robin/Marion, Robert/Marion
Warnings: set early to mid season three
Night and Day
"Let your love be like the misty rains, coming softly, but flooding the river."-Malagasy proverb
Herne's first son is like a storm at night, dark as the clouds and filled with a fire as brilliant as the lightning across the sky. He belongs to the forest nearly from the moment he draws his first breath, and it's branches grow with him, reaching and beckoning to enfold him in their embrace.
His voice is the whisper of the wind that forms the music of the trees, and his arrows sing with it, their voices lingering in my blood and echoing in my pulse. He moves like the deer through the forest, swift and strong, fleet of foot with a nearly unearthly bearing, as if the trees themselves had borne a changeling and given it to the race of men for a little while, only to accept it back when he was fully grown.
I am his bride, his queen of may, and his heart entwines with my own like the vines covering the bark of the trees, fingers laced through the spaces between mine and sewn into place. His eyes are the color of the leaves that crown my hair and I live within them, his laughter my own, his sorrow shared.
I am young and he is my whole world, and I grow free with him, a newly planted tree reaching for the sunlight that filters through the trees. His eyes see pieces of the future and lay them across the present, and I forget to ask him about our own future.
He burns brightly, too strong perhaps, a blaze that does not consume but rather warms those around him, drawing more into his circle. He is vibrant and alive, mysterious and the first of Herne's sons, the one all others will be measured by.
He is not the last.
He goes out like the night bleeding into dawn, a sudden terrible flare of light before falling cold, and takes my heart with him, pierced through with all the arrows driven through him and left to vanish into the earth.
Herne's second son is like the summer morning, fair where the other was dark, and no flames burn hot in his blood. He is a leaf driven by the wind, plucked from a faraway tree and grafted into the forest.
He carries sunlight in his hair and Sherwood's brooks and streams in his eyes, a man raised of nobility whose bearing he cannot seem to cast off with his old life, with none of the wildness that lingered in the other's soul. He's young, as I once was, and every fiber of my being questions Herne with angry and bitter silence, demanding answers to the questions I never ask, a reason for his choosing someone so different, for bestowing a familiar name on one who has not yet earned it.
I watch, like a stranger, as he grows, in age, in wisdom, shaped and molded within Herne's hands into the Hooded Man, the leader his men would die for. They become his men, all of them that belonged to my Robin, Tuck first and the others following, some with words and others with fists, hard won and strongly bonded. I see them learn to love him as they did Robin, to call him the name of another and not feel their hearts clench, to find the rhythm of his bow and fall in step beside it, and I find myself accepting it, numbed, perhaps, into mute mourning for one they seem to have forgotten.
Nothing's forgotten. My Robin said. Nothing is ever forgotten. And I believed him. Robin in the hood lives on, but the man is different, changed and somehow replaced, and I learn to accept it, to accept him, not for what he is, but for who he is.
I do not fall in love with the second as I did with my Robin, no tumbling leap heedless of breaks and bruises, and I do not burn with that love as I did before, an all-consuming intensity that nearly destroys me. I learn to love him, a fragile moment at a time, with tending him as he burns with fever from the wound in his leg, with the moment I place Albion into his hands, with calling him Robin instead of Robert and not aching deep inside, with learning to smile back when he laughs, and with sleeping beside him at night and listening to the steady breathing and beating of his heart.
He finds my heart in the ashes of Robin's fire, charred and still, and cradles it in his hands, coaxing it to life one painful spark at a time. He places it back within my chest and seals the gaping wound with a gentle touch, fingers brushing the jagged scar.
I belong to him, not as I did to Robin, but in the way I belong to the forest, growing to love what's left of Robin, what is the same, along with what is different. Robin, my Robin, is dead, and Herne's second son is alive. He doesn't ask to replace, only to care for what is left, to love the woman, the widow, who once was the childish bride, the flower that grew in Sherwood that is now bruised and scarred from the footsteps of those who walked upon it.
My Robin was a candle against the wind, a bright light that burned strongly for only a little while, blazing against the darkness. The girl I was loved him with all the fire of a first love, burned up with him in the ashes of the flaming arrows that marked his death. This Robin is a candle against the sun, not as noticed, not as vibrant, but he gives a quiet, warm light, like the feel of the sunlight against my cheek or the leaves between my fingertips. The woman I am loves him, not as the girl loved, for she is long dead, but with a gentle warmth that gives me life, a wounded flower stubbornly turning it's face toward the healing sun.
None of it means that I love my Robin any less, or that death could diminish the strength of that love. He wanted me to live, to carry on without him, for him, and for a time I did not know how. This Robin taught me, slowly and patiently, tending me until only the scars were visible, giving me the strength to learn to breathe my own air instead of the silent echo of stilled lungs, my own heartbeat instead of a pierced heart.
I do not love him more. But perhaps, in a way, neither do I love him less.