We waited outside the castle to be joined by the other group. I worried, about everyone, about what would happen, about what would happen if we won, or lost, or how this would all turn out.
"You're killing that tree." Corin murmured, and I realised that I had torn strips from the nearby tree with my knife.
"Maybe it deserved it."
"I doubt that." He took the knife from my hands, and stuck it in the ground. "What is it that you are so nervous about?"
"I just... I feel like everything depends on this. And nothing will be the same again."
"Well nothing is ever the same. Everything changes. It doesn't mean it will change for the worst."
"You're becoming a positive thinker."
"Who said I wasn't before?"
"You do know that your reputation proceeded you? When you came here?"
"A reputation is a terrible thing."
"I'm well aware."
Corin leant against the tree, and I stood up to join him.
"Do you think you'd leave the forest?" Corin asked after a moment of silence.
"You know, when all of this is over."
"No. No it's my home now."
"So you just live in the forest forever?"
"I have this... this dream I guess. That we build a little... not village, but collection of people and their homes, all built around and as part of the trees, so we don't hurt the forest. And people can live there if they have no where else to go. We'd be where people went if they needed help. Friendship in solitude. I guess there wouldn't be much use for swords or masks, but I could live like that. I couldn't leave though. Sometimes I feel like if I stay still too long, I'd become part of the nearest tree; I've become a part of that forest."
"Is there a space in that dream for me?"
I glanced at him, startled. He was looking out at the castle, as though he hadn't spoken, but the concentration on his face showed he was waiting for the answer with baited breath.
"If you could live like that, I wouldn't turn you away."
He smiled and shrugged.
"I could learn to live like that. Besides, it's not like I have any where else to go. Everyone knows I am part of your group now."
"You're wrong about that."
"I don't mean that you couldn't be. I mean that... you and your men... you could form a separate group entirely. Be like Robin and his men. They'd follow you anywhere. I mean that you don't have to stay, if you don't want to. You could go anywhere; they'd follow you."
"But I want to stay."
I smiled, finding that I was relieved by the answer.
"Well then. I suppose I could allow it." We both chuckled quietly. "I hope they get here soon. I hope Jem and Griever are alright."