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Robin hurried out of the gates of Nottingham town, his purchases slung on his back. Will Scarlet tucked the lump of bread and cheese he was nibbling back into his wallet and fell into step with his long-legged leader, who whistled a snatch of a bawdy tune he'd heard that day.
"You show your face too boldly in the town,” Will chided. “You'll not whistle half so jauntily when the hangman cuts your air with his hempen necklace.”
Robin slung an arm over Will's shoulders. “The morn is fair, the air is sweet, and yet you are fretting again?”
Will sighed. “How can I not? Your capers leave with without a moment's peace. Has not the Sheriff who lives in the castle you passed not a stone's throw from sworn to hang all seven score of us and you higher than the rest?”
"He doesn't scare me,” declared bold Robin.
"He scares me enough for both of us,” Will replied. He took a long drink from the skin of good sack he carried. He offered the wine to Robin who had a drink and passed it back.
"I've proven myself more clever, time and again,” Robin boasted and laughed, sending it ringing among the trees.
Will shook his head, a grim look on his face. “Hard to laugh hanging, my merry master.”
Robin grinned and caught him around the waist. “Will, Will, my dour conscience, I don't see a noose around my neck yet.”
"Not yet, but you take too many chances.”
"If we are not bold, how will we be taken seriously?” Robin demanded.
"Yet if we step too boldly, we will saunter into their hands. And you should not walk through the town with your naked face”
Robin embraced Will, holding him tightly. “Never stop being my conscience, dearest Will. I need you.”
Will smiled up at him. “Come, let's see what awaits us back in the wood. What did you learn today, bold Robin?”
"I think I did see that lovely maid.”
Will feigned shock, pressing a hand to his chest and staggering backward a step. “A maid? Our fair Robin's eye has been caught by a maid? Will wonders never cease!”
Robin cuffed him lightly about the head, grinning. “She's lovely, Will. But under our dear sheriff's protection.”
"Oh indeed?” Will raised his eyebrows. “Tell me of this maid you saw? For I thought that sort was much more my hunting preserve than yours.”
"I have hunted your course before, Will Scarlet, and I may hunt it yet again. Oh her lips...” He trailed away thoughtfully. “Her lips are lovely. As lovely as yours, my dear Will, although you keep them from me.” Robin ran one finger over Will's very full mouth, the one that sang so sweetly he charmed merchants out of their best wares and maidens out of their virtue.
Will rolled his eyes. “Robin, you know I love you and you know as well we lie together poorly.”
Robin took his hand from the soft lips. “Of course. I know. Still...” He touched Will's mouth again and stroked his face. “I still want. I don't expect anything of you.”
Will stretched up and pecked Robin on the cheek. “As if you have not seventy score others to slake yourself upon.”
Robin pulled him close. “But my Will is always my most trusted.”
“Aye, your own sweet Will. Which you have whether we lie together or not!” Will laughed at his own joke, and Robin joined in, for as chief of the outlaws in Sherwood, his will was the law of the forest.
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