dolevalan: (starry)
[personal profile] dolevalan
Title: From the Cold
Fandom/original: Arthuriana
Rating: Gish, I think.
A/N: For [livejournal.com profile] rainbowjehan, so very, very late. Also, I have not quite hit my Bedivere voice yet, I don't think. So... rough.



The sun was setting, but Kay wasn’t ready to go in just yet.

Wart – Arthur, now, always Arthur at least when not “Your Majesty,” – was as busy as he always was these days. It was a wonder, Kay thought, that no one seemed to see him as a slim youth just this side of skinniness, all elbows and knees. True, Arthur had filled out a bit in his seventeenth year. But it had much more to do with the fact that he had put on being high king of Britain like a cloak.

Sometimes, Kay wondered if it was just another game of pretend for him. Like being a hawk or a badger. Be king for awhile, Wart, see how it suits you. No wonder the damned Merlin always looked so smug.

And now he was king, and Kay was a knight without feeling like he’d earned the title. Arthur’d more or less had to knight him, hadn’t he? It was like an apology for Kay’s not being king. Just like everything since Arthur became king, it felt like a cross between a dream and a joke.

As dusk settled fully, Kay thought perhaps he’d sleep in the woods that night. He had his cloak and his bow, and the woods felt more comfortable than the court did. For all his years of daydreaming about becoming the world’s best knight, he hadn’t allowed for how much politics would bore him. Or for his younger brother being the one giving orders, however well-intentioned and polite the orders might be.

Besides. No one took him seriously. A 20 year old seneschal from the middle of nowhere, given his position just to please the king’s foster father – who could blame them?

With a growl, Kay set out. He was thinking too much.

Hunting at night was a fool’s game, and contrary to popular belief, Sir Kay of the Forest Sauvage was not a total fool. He was, he was finding, a better hunter than he was a knight, which was probably due to more practice at being the former than the latter. But he also didn’t feel the need to prove anything about his skill at hunting, and he this evening he was annoyed, not suicidal. His bow and his sword were for defense, not offense.

Still, to give himself something to do, he moved through the forest as quietly as he could, disturbing his passage as little as possible. This forest was still relatively new to him, so caution wouldn’t go amiss.

Which meant he heard someone following him for ages before they caught up. Finally, tired of the tromping boots behind him, Kay stopped in a clearing, waiting for his pursuer.

The one-handed Welshman stepped out into the clearing a few moments later. He looked surprised, then abashed, and then he settled on laughing. “Well, Sir Seneschal, you’d think we had an appointment and I was late.”

The man was a little older than Kay, with an accent, though not a thick one. Every time someone asked how he lost his hand, he’d tell a different story. His younger, quieter brother would just shake his head. Kay wasn’t sure if he was popular with ladies despite or because of his missing hand, but it was all the same. The man was reasonably popular without playing any of the court’s games, and Kay distrusted him on principle.

(Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that Bedivere was the first knight Arthur had knighted properly, without obligation prompting him.)

Kay’s reply was curt. “I’ve no appointment with you. I just wanted you to stop scaring away every living thing in the damn forest, and I thought seeing what you wanted was the best way to do that.”

“Ah, well.” Bedivere sighed. “That’s the awkward thing. The king wanted me to follow you.”

Kay snorted. There was an unspoken ‘and’ behind the other knight’s words. “He certainly didn’t want me remain unaware I was being followed, then.”

“Apparently,” Bedivere agreed. “To be frank, I’d have soon stayed in court tonight. But the king asks, and…”

“Yes, I’m sure you would have.” A bit of drinking, a bit of wenching. Kay couldn’t blame him for that, even if his own mood didn’t turn to that sort of amusement these days. He wasn't a block. "You could go back, and say I bid you do so."

"Yes, well, I would, Sir Seneschal, but I'm afraid the king's orders outrank yours. That's the point of being king, you see." Bedivere drew a small flask from a pouch on his belt. "I brought some good cheer with me, though. If you'd like any."

Kay's scowl was reflexive.

Bedivere grinned. "Well. More for me. You know, your mood might be improved if you weren't so puritanical, Sir Kay."

"You can drop the damned title." Kay sat on a root. He clearly wasn't going to be rid of the man any time soon. "If I can't get rid of you, I'm not really in a mood to be 'sir'ed all night long."

Bedivere shrugged and sat. Eventually, he said, "We'll have a campaign soon. That'll be better." He took a swig of whatever he was drinking. "It's always hardest when there's nothing to do."

"Oh, wise sage, thank you for your wisdom."

Bedivere looked at Kay sidelong. Kay held his scowl, not allowing himself to flinch. The Welshman had been to proper battles, and Kay had not. The irritable remark about Bedivere's age had not been well-calculated, but he'd be damned if he showed it now. There may have only been a few years between them, and Kay might have had some rank, but Bedivere was his elder in experience, if only by a little.

After a moment, though, Bedivere just laughed. "Well. Kay. We should build a fire if we're going to camp. You might do with roughing it, but I doubt you'd want me to complain about my old bones all night. Unless you're going to take pity on me and come back to court."

"You think I won't stay out here all night?" Kay asked.

"No." Bedivere shook his head. "I have ever fear that you will. That's the problem."

None of Kay's options were very appealing. Finally he said, "Fine. If Arthur is bound and determined to be my mother as well as the king, we'll go back."

The look Bedivere gave him was unexpectedly appraising.

"What?" Kay asked, irritated.

"Oh... nothing important." The Welshman put his flask away. "Lead on. I get the distinct sense that you're less inclined to trip and fall on your face in the dark, and I don't want you tramping on me."

Kay wasn't sure how serious the other man was being, but led anyway. All he'd wanted was a quiet night to himself, but that was apparently too much to ask.

After a short time, Bedivere said without prompting, "He's lucky, you know. The king. Having a seneschal you can rely on is nothing to be sneezed at. Someone with sense." Before Kay could growl out a retort, Bedivere added, "Having a younger brother's no festival itself, but it can have its rewards."

At that, Kay chose to walk back to the castle in silence. He hadn't yet decided if he wanted to know Bedivere better, or if he wanted to hit him.

But all that could come later, he supposed. They had their whole lives in front of them. For now, they'd just get back to court. At least the Welshman and Arthur would be happy.
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Estelle

January 2012

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