Below is a prequel story to THIEF, my upcoming dystopian Robin Hood retelling. This short takes place about 8-9 months prior to the story’s events, and it involves Robin Hood and two of my minor characters, Jon and Ambrosia. Hope you enjoy! Pinterest inspiration and fun stuff at the end!
“It’s going to be fine, man. You look good.” Robin straightened Jon’s black tie while Jon finished buttoning his brown vest. Jon touched his rolled-up sleeves, cleared his throat, moved away from Robin to pace around the grove of trees next to the patch of land reserved for the wedding. Plain white folding chairs for the immediate family and friends were getting set out on the grass by Jon and Ambrosia’s siblings, and Jon’s mother was putting the finishing touches on the arbor of white, red, and golden wildflowers. The priest fidgeted with his pure white robe underneath, shifting from one foot to the other in impatience.
Jon’s flower crown for Ambrosia rested on a pedestal off to the side, and another empty pedestal sat next to it, waiting for Ambrosia and her parents to show up and place the flower crown for him there.
The sun was just starting to set, sending swaths of light through the foliage of the trees. Patches of sky visible through the branches were pained light blue, pink, and tangerine. It was nearly time, and while Robin had always known Jon couldn’t sit still, he’d never seen his friend so antsy.
“You don’t think she’ll stand me up, do you? It’s getting pretty close.” Jon eyed the sky.
Robin snorted. “Ames, stand you up? Are you even hearing yourself?”
Jon sighed and gave Robin a rueful smile. “Alright, alright, that was a bit much. She would though, wouldn’t she? I mean, pretend to. She likes to make me sweat a little.”
“She likes to make everyone sweat a little.” Robin leaned against a tree trunk, crossing his arms. “But she also likes her plans, and I don’t think she’d want to mess this one up.”
Jon released a breath, crouching to sit in the grass, then thought better of it with his clean pair of jeans. He jumped back up and resumed pacing. “Do you think the crown is alright?”
Robin rolled his eyes. “It’s great this time, just as it was the past four times you’ve asked.”
“I just… I want to make her happy, man.” Jon touched his pulled-back dreadlocks, glancing at the ground, cheeks tinted.
Robin’s eyes softened. “You’re going to. We all see how much you love each other. It’s not a secret.”
Jon glanced up at Robin, finally pausing for longer than two seconds. “Thanks, man.”
Robin’s lips quirked. “You’re welcome. Now, will you calm down? I’m going to have to fix your tie again.”
“I couldn’t do this without you,” Jon grunted and held still as Robin, once again, straightened the tie. “If I wasn’t marrying her, I’d marry you. Don’t tell her I said that.”
“Thanks, dude, I love you too.” Robin patted Jon’s shoulder with a smirk and then, at the sound of squeals, he glanced over his shoulder. “That’s Mrs. Dougar! Showtime, dude.”
Jon’s green eyes went wide in excitement, and Robin clapped him on the back and led him up to the arbor of flowers where the local priest was already standing. He made sure to keep Jon’s back to the aisle so he wouldn’t see Ambrosia yet.
Jon wiped his hands on his jeans as he took his place. “I’m going to have a heart attack.”
“I’m right behind you, man. Enjoy this.” Robin grinned at Jon and then backed up to sink into an empty chair reserved for him at the front. He glanced down the aisle where siblings and grandparents and aunts and uncles were scrambling to sit down as Ambrosia stood at the end of the aisle with her father.
Robin whistled with a grin and gave Ambrosia two thumbs-up. Ambrosia rolled her eyes at him, looking absolutely radiant in a white chiffon dress with little lace cap sleeves and red lipstick, but she couldn’t stop smiling either. Her eyes quickly left his and returned to Jon’s back, and her whole face lit up. Tension left her shoulders, relaxing them noticeably.
Mrs. Dougar kissed her eldest daughter’s cheek one more time before hurrying down the aisle to her seat across the row from Robin. She took out an old digital camera and started snapping pictures, tears already streaming down her cheeks.
There was no music. Sherwood weddings didn’t have any.
Ambrosia walked down the grass aisle with her father to the beat of her own heart. Her mother had been right. One look at Jon, and there were no more nerves. It was just her and him and nobody else. Save Robin, who was grinning so much like an idiot that it was hard not to notice him.
Her father stopped them just behind Jon. He kissed her cheek, eyes shining, and then tapped Jon’s shoulder before retreating to a seat next to Mrs. Dougar.
Jon turned, and his jaw immediately slackened, a hand going up to cover his mouth. Tears brimmed in his eyes as he looked her up and down.
“Don’t you dare,” Ambrosia muttered, which earned a laugh from the guests. Tears steadily streaked down her cheeks too.
Jon took her hands, pulling her up next to him in front of the priest, and he had eyes for only her.
Robin and the other guests settled back in their seats, more than a few of them sniffling or wiping away tears of their own, as the priest began the ceremony. He opened with the story of the making of the realms, of how Ailah created men and women for companionship. Mrs. Dougar was crying into her hanky so much that one of Ames’ younger siblings had to take over pictures.
Jon and Ambrosia barely listened to any of it, lost in each others’ eyes.
“You’re so beautiful,” Jon whispered.
“And you’re handsome.” Ambrosia grinned back. “I see you’re wearing your boots.”
Jon glanced down at his beat-up hiking boots and grimaced a little. “Yeah, well…”
Ambrosia shushed him and stuck a foot out from under her skirt, revealing her own beat-up boots. Jon’s smile could have lit the forest on fire.
Ambrosia beamed at him, at his boots and the ink of an arrow tattoo poking out from under one of his rolled-up shirtsleeves. She knew her own arrow tattoo on her back was probably visible as well. “Robin may as well own us,” she teased.
“Robin’s men,” Jon replied, and they both shot wry smiles at their teary-eyed friend. The droning priest mentioned something about vows, so Jon took the cue. “For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. I will love you as long as I live and in the lifetime after that. I will protect you, I will honor you, and I swear to always make you laugh.”
Ambrosia’s brown eyes, usually so sharp, shone softly and brimmed with tears. “For better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. I will love you as long as I live and in the lifetime after that. I will protect you, I will honor you, and I promise to never let there be a dull moment.”
Another laugh rang out from the guests, tickling the trees.
“The flower crowns,” the priest said, gesturing to the pedestals.
Jon picked Ambrosia’s up, and she gasped at the intricacy of the burgundy and white blossoms strung together. He looked down at her, holding the crown over her head. “Last chance.”
“Put the crown on me, idiot.” She laughed, and Jon grinned and obliged, gently setting it on top of her black curls.
Ambrosia, in turn, picked up Jon’s flower crown, a mix of greenery and white baby’s breath. Jon knelt on the ground so she could put it on him, and Ambrosia rolled her eyes at the joke about her height. She placed the flower crown on his head, and Jon stood back up, green eyes twinkling with amusement, blades of grass clinging to the knees of his jeans.
“Do you choose each other?” the priest asked.
“I do,” Ambrosia said, at the same time Jon murmured the same.
“Then you may kiss and seal your bond,” the priest announced. “Under Ailah and all of the witnesses, let it be so.”
Jon brushed a loose curl out of Ames’ face, gently cupping her face in his hands. Ambrosia shut her eyes expectantly, and Jon leaned forward, pressing his lips to hers. Tender. Gentle. Just like all of their kisses were before and all of their kisses would be after that.
When they pulled away, cheers arose from the crowd as family and friends leaped to their feet, clapping. Ames’ and Jon’s younger siblings darted around the seats and ran to hug them, clinging to their legs and waists. Jon and Ambrosia laughed, hugging each of them in turn, and that turned into a hug fest with everyone present.
Robin was one of the last ones to approach, slinging his arms around both of their shoulders. His brown eyes were still glossy with all the tears he’d shed during the ceremony, and when he spoke, his voice had a hoarse quality to it. “Well, how does it feel?”
“Perfect,” Jon grinned down at his new wife.
Ambrosia poked Robin’s side. “You were totally bawling.”
Robin scowled. “I was not!”
“You were, man, I’m sorry to tell you. You got a bit worked up there,” Jon replied, trying to school his face into a solemn expression.
“Is this how it’s going to be with you two now? Ganging up on me?” Robin cocked an eyebrow, glancing between the two of them.
“Of course,” Ames smirked and laid her head on Jon’s chest. “But we’ll always have your back, no matter what.”
Robin cursed, stepping back from them and swiping at his eyes. “Great. You’re going to get me started again. Can we go to your reception now? Let’s go to your reception.”
“Touchy because you’re hungry?” Ames asked airily.
“Screw you. Screw you both,” Robin said, but he was grinning. He shook his head at them and scooped up one of Jon’s younger siblings, carrying her down the aisle on his shoulders.
Ames smiled after them and then glanced up at Jon. “How does it feel?”
Jon pressed a kiss to her forehead, his eyes still shining. “Like everything I ever wanted.”
Falling Like the Stars – James Arthur: Musical Accompaniment