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A spring day in Wickham

 
It had been early spring the first time Deirdre saw him... dressed in a studded leather jerkin he wore his now familiar swords proudly on his back. Like most of them she had heard the stories of the Crusades, the stories of the Saracen's brutality... was it surprising then that they kept their distance from him? As Robin and the others were greeted by the villagers he hung back, quietly moving to assume a watch of the road from the backside of one of the outer huts. Throughout the morning, as she did her chores she found herself watching him, as the others mingled, trading stories and joking, he remained alone.

Finally when he did not join the others for the midday meal she bolstered enough courage to approach him with a basket of food. He had to eat, it was only polite to offer him something, even if it was only a light soup and some bread and water. "Excuse me.." She stopped a short distance from where he sat, trying to hold her nervousness in check. When he turned and his dark eyes settled on her, she felt her knees weaken, "I saw you didn't join the others ..I thought you might be hungry." She held the basket out to him, for a moment thinking he might refuse, but instead he nodded and she couldn't help smiling as he took it. "Thank you." It was the first time she had heard him speak and she was surprised at how quiet his voice was. "You're welcome... would you like some company while you eat?" She couldn't believe she was even asking him, she was just being polite, never imagining he would agree, but he did, with another nod. What was she going to say to him? Did he even speak their language?

She took a seat on the ground next to him, tucking her skirt around her legs as she did and tried not to stare at him. "My name is Deirdre." She volunteered shyly. "Nasir Malik Hamad Ibrahim Shams et Dualla Wattab ibn Mahmoud." He reeled off the name then dipped his head slightly with a small smile. "Oh my." Her hand flew to her mouth. "Nasir," he repeated softly. "Nasir," she echoed. "It's a beautiful name." She grew quiet again as she watched him eat, he didn't seem evil, maybe a little intimidating..but that was more because of his style of dress and the swords he wore. She must have been staring because she was suddenly aware of his dark eyes being on her again. "I'm sorry.." She apologized amid a deep blush..I didn't mean to staree... it is just..." How could she explain without sounding like a complete fool? "You're the first Saracen I've ever seen." For a moment he said nothing, his eyes seeming to look inside her, "You do not...fear me?" He asked solemnly. "No..I don't think you would harm us..you wouldn't be with Robin if you were like that." He seemed to accept her answer and for several minutes neither spoke. "Why did you...come to me?" He asked unexpectedly. Now he was going to think her a fool...did she lie, or tell him the truth? No, she wasn't going to base what might be a friendship on a lie. "I thought you looked lonely...the other villagers made everyone else so welcome...no one even spoke to you. Didn't that bother you?"

Nasir took a swallow of water then slowly began, searching for the words as he did. "It is not...easy to...make...clear." - "Do you mean explain?" She offered. He nodded, then repeated explain as if committing it to memory. "I do not...say well... this tongue.." Deirdre stopped herself from correcting him again, there would be time for her to help him with that later, better to just let him talk now. "You're doing fine." She encouraged, hoping he wouldn't forget what she had asked. "I am...used to the... looks...many...hate...what I am. It is...less hard..to be away...from them." - "Nasir, don't you think that what people think about you would change if they had a chance to get to know you?" She drew her knees up, wrapping her arms around them as she waited for his response, but just then Little John called to him from the road, and she knew there would be no answer. She rose as he did, not wanting to keep him from joining the others. "Thank you...for the...meal." - "You're welcome...I enjoyed talking to you...maybe next time..." She paused glancing to where the others had called from, "Nasir, would you come visit me the next time you come to Wickham?" She couldn't believe she had been so forward, she could feel her face reddening even as she brought her eyes back to his. If he was offended his face did not show it, instead he simply nodded, then turned and headed out of the village...leaving her stunned in his wake.

   
 

Lost garments

 
Robin looked back at the others as they crested the hill leading down to Wickham. The last few weeks had been hard on all of them.. they were tired and what supplies they had were almost depleted. Hopefully Edward had some that he could spare. He tossed the small pouch into the air and caught it again as he made his way towards the bridge.

Nasir brought up the rear... he'd have rather stayed in Sherwood, it had been easy to ignore the looks of distain he'd gotten while in de Belleme's service. He knew most people hated the man so it was only natural that they should hate him as well, but now it was different. He had seen looks of welcome given to the others fade as he appeared...tasks suddenly demanded attention...he sighed to himself...no, he was not looking forward to another visit to a village.

"Good morning, Edward." Deirdre stepped out of her cabin, a laundry basket in her arms, as the village elder walked past her cabin. Over her shoulder she said .. "It was Edward, Fianna ... I'll go down to the stream if you need me." She went down to the bank and followed a frequently used path that led to the women's favorite washing place downstream from Wickham.

As they crossed the bridge Nasir decided against continuing on, he caught John's attention and with a slight head nod indicated he would remain on the outskirts of the village. When the rest headed into the village he walked along the water's edge.

Usually three or four women met to do the washing together ... gossiping and laughing ... but today Deirdre was alone here. Maybe the others would come later ... with that thought she stooped down and began to empty her basket.

Nasir paused just past the bridge... letting his gaze wander across the water. He was beginning to wonder if he had made the right choice in staying... maybe he should have returned to his homelands. It wasn't just the looks.. it was the language.. their way of looking at things... everything was so different and would always mark him as a stranger.

Deirdre counted the pieces of clothing as she took them from the basket ... then stopped as she reached the bottom. She could have sworn there were two chemises when she left the cabin ... but now she only held one in her hand ... should she go all the way back to the cabin? Reluctantly she looked down the path, then decided to stay. The water was cold as she dipped the first piece into the stream ...

Nasir closed his eyes, tilting his head back... no... he had to stop thinking that way...drawing a breath he opened them and turned away from the water, once again following its bank. He paused as something white on the ground caught his attention... bending over he picked it up, then awkwardly looked around to see if he was being watched... he hadn't had much occassion to see the undergarments of women here..maybe he should leave it lay...he looked down the bank...only then noticing the woman who had spoken to him on his last visit...

Holding the garment as if it would bite the Saracen slowly approached the woman ... when he was within speaking distance he stopped, then quietly cleared his throat. "I mean..not to..." he frowned as he lost the word he needed, then continued, "stop from..your work...this..was..." he turned slightly to point up the bank. "... there." He extended the garment to her.

The water was spraying around her as she rubbed the cloth to remove a stubborn stain. The voice behind her back gave her a start... she drew a deep breath in, then turned her head. Not expecting to see the Saracen from Robin's gang of outlaws she asked the man behind her "Is that your usual way of approaching someone?" before noticing who it was. "Oh, it's you... " Then she saw his extended hand and smiled. Wiping her hands on her skirt and her hair from her face she stood and took the garment . "You found it ... thank you."

He released the chemise with an embarassed smile as he lowered his eyes..."I will...go now." He knew she had been friendly before, but she had been close to the others then...what would they say if they saw him here alone with her.

As she noticed what she held in her hand, she blushed and smiled nervously, then let the hand with the garment disappear behind her back. "No, please stay... " she dropped the chemise discreetly into the basket and lay a hand on his forearm. "I apologize for my harsh words ... you really frightened me."

"I did not...mean to...I am...sorry." Nasir looked towards the village again then back to her before he finally squatted a short distance form her. He pulled a small weed from the ground in front of him as he watched her, then unconsciously pulled the leaves from it.

Slightly bewildered Deirdre asked herself if she had insulted him ...? Then she stepped back hesitantly and almost stumbled over the basket... blushing more than before she bent down and taking the chemise with her she returned to where all her other garments lay piled up.

   
 

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