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Early she did not manage.

In fact, she came up on what could be any number of the dunks they might have already given Matilda. On the Sheriff taunting her from the re-erected dais, where he sat in his great chair. To the right of him, seated first Guy, and then Henry, whom she rode up behind. While the Sheriff all but laughed, telling Matilda to hold her breath and count to three, Guy raised from his chair stepping back toward her.

Her eyes were long for that movement, the painful jolt of her heart in chest counting the seconds that Matilda was pushed under the water by the chair. The cascade of bubbles, all the air she needed to live, to breathe, flooding up to the surface of Locksley pond. She could not look away, her hands turning to fists on her reigns. Matilda, and all the good she had done for all Nottingham.

The Sheriff's hand rose from the side of his great chair, and he leaned forward watching gleefully before them all. The body of the woman slumped forward in the chair she was tied to, all her hair soaked and hanging before her. Vaisey stood, and Marian shook her head and looked away at the houses and the crowd, pulling her reigns in the want to turn away that she denied herself. She would not give him the satisfaction of that, too.

Just when it seemed like there was nothing more to do but wait for The Sheriff's crowing to begin in earnest suddenly there came a strangled gasp, and Matilda flung her body and hair back, swinging the chair, screaming. Startling The Sheriff before his great chair, and Guy, now standing between her, on Sorely, and his now empty chair.

Matilda called out loudly suddenly, "I curse you! May snakes crawl up your nose holes and feast on your tiny brains!"

Then, he was shouting for her to be put back down in the water again.

Louder and louder trying to outshout her, panic and anger for losing some of the control of his display. Down she went again, smiling, that wide spitting smile. Longer and longer, until he The Sheriff was standing and smiling, looking around and walking, pointing at her sudden and sharp to come take her seat. To deposit herself where she belonged.

At the chair to his left hand, where he could watch her beg for leniency or pretend her heart didn't still break for each new taken life. She got off Sorely, and took the stairs to the dais, sinking into her chair as she counted through into a second minute Matilda had been under the water. Just as The Sheriff started forcing everyone to join him in counting down from ten to pull her out again.

Even knowing he wanted it, would relish in it, she could not stop herself from standing as the chair began to be pulled back out of the water again. It was harder yet, trying to suppress the smile that was doing its damnedest to explode across her mouth. Her fingers curling into fists on her cloak, as she stared at the empty chair. At the completely void place Matilda had sat.

She had no idea how he'd done it, but he'd done it. Robin.

Not only had she made it in time, he had. Somewhere, somewhere Matilda was safe. And even better, Vaisey next to her was starring in utter confusion, as the entire village edged closer to look at the chair. All of them whispering faster and faster. The event turning out to look like just what he'd accused her of. A miracle. Magic.

It was becoming hard not to laugh. From despair and death, to magic and miracles. Somewhere, he was here somewhere, and her heart soared. Looking at the lake and the grass beyond it and the trees. Somewhere here. Always just in time.

The Sheriff was leaning over in front of her chair asking, "What is that?"

His physician, Blight, at utter odds, could only manage stammering as he was looking between the empty chair and the raving Vaisey, "I....I suspect they may be her underwrappings."

"Shut up," Vaisey snapped, before screaming it again, louder. "Shut up! Arrest! Arrest--" Vaisey started turning back to Sir Guy on his right, only to start gaping even more. "Gisborne! Henry's gone! Gisborne Henry's gone!"

Everyone looked to the empty chair, that was not only empty but fallen off the stage and behind it, as Guy snapped to attention calling for the guards. Matilda saved, and Henry out of the Sheriff's hands, Marian only sank into her chair, even more, even not knowing what Robin's plan was or where he'd taken both off to, pressing her lips in-between her teeth, tight and hard, as she tried her best not to smile.

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queenofmay

May 2014

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