Title: The Harvest King
Summary: Arthur has no idea why he was send to attend the Harvest Festival of the druids.
Word Count: 978
Prompt: Artist appreciation, harvest festival, whimsy
Notes: Sorry, once again not beta’d. If I ever find the time, this might become a longer story. Until then, I’ll just stare at the art.
The Harvest King
Arthur wasn’t happy. It had been a long ride to the druids’ camp and he really didn’t want to be here. Father had decided, though, that he had to attend the harvest festivities and be part in some weird ceremony to strengthen the newly formed bond with the druids.
All the way he had complained to Merlin, a servant boy who had come to Camelot only recently, and hadn’t held back with moaning and groaning about the ride, the stupid harvest festival and that he didn’t think that druids were so special and magic was cheating to begin with.
Merlin hadn’t said much, which was unusual. Usually, the boy talked back and made cheeky remarks, but all the way he had been miles away. Which was fine by Arthur, this way he could watch him without having to say something and Merlin was kind of gorgeous. If they had been back at the citadel, he might have ordered Merlin to his chambers sooner or later, but on a campaign like this you couldn’t get any privacy, if you were the king’s son or not.
As soon as they had arrived at the camp, Merlin had vanished altogether, so Arthur let Leon accompany him as he first had to endure a lengthy welcome by the head druid – or what was he called? – and then wandered through the camp that was a lot bigger than he had anticipated. He hadn’t known that there were so many druids close to Camelot!
Where ever he went, accompanied by Leon, the druids looked at him, some with curiosity, some clearly showing their refusal. As much as Arthur wanted to tell them that he wasn’t here on his own accord either and that he found this whole bonding thing ridiculous, he was here to represent Camelot and gave them a friendly smile. It wasn’t easy. Did all druids have magic? If so, the kids and teenagers were harmless, right? Magic grew the older you got, right?
Arthur stopped, causing Leon to run into him. He ignored Leon’s apologies. They said he would bond with the most powerful sorcerer to ever walk the earth. Would that mean he had to do…things…with one of the very old men? Making a face, he sent Leon to get him some water. This thought was too much. How could his father expect this from him?
Feeling a bit dizzy, Arthur stumbled into one of the tents. He needed to get out of the bright sunlight, away from the prying eyes, the judging faces. He didn’t have time to recover, though.
“There you are.” A friendly looking woman smiled at him. She had blue markings on her face and held out a bowl with the paint to him, nodding encouragingly.
“I’m Arthur Pendragon.” He knew this wasn’t an appropriate answer to what she was asking from him, but he felt lost.
Her smile widened. “I am Hunith. We were waiting for you.”
Arthur nodded when the woman told him her name, but he still didn’t know what he was supposed to do. “What…could you elaborate on this a bit further? I’ve only been told that I will participate in a ceremony. I expected my role to be that of an onlooker.”
Hunith shook her head slightly. “Every year, we crown the harvest king. He has a special connection to nature and has to take care that we have enough food for winter, that we are prepared for any kind of weather and he is one with the spirits.”
Spirits. Ah. Arthur still wasn’t the wiser.
“This year, the spirits chose one of us whose powers are very strong and they want him to be the connection between us and your father’s realm.”
“Where do I come in?”
“The spirits have revealed that you are each other’s destiny. So you will bond with the ritual tonight.”
Arthur blinked open-mouthed. “Destiny? That’s…a very big word.”
Hunith smiled again. “There is no need to be scared, Arthur. The spirits have never been wrong. You will have a wonderful life together.”
“What…what do you mean?” Arthur frowned.
“From tonight on, you will forever be bonded to the harvest king.”
“You mean…like…like a treaty? Like some kind of contract, right?”
Hunith just smiled her knowing smile and it started to stroke Arthur the wrong way.
“No, Arthur. Not like that.”
Arthur tried to find something to say to that. It sounded as if he was supposed to marry some old man and be stuck with him for the rest of his life. He was only 18! He was not going to do this, no matter what his father wanted. And how could father agree to this anyways?
Only then Arthur noticed there were people behind the curtain in the back of the tent. What was going on?
“The first part of the ceremony is that you put the markings on the harvest king, Arthur.” Hunith pulled the curtain back and Arthur forgot that he was about to protest or even to ask what kind of markings and what they were for.
On the other side of the room stood Merlin, the young servant boy from the castle only now he had a white cloth wrapped around his waist the only piece of clothing aside from all the decoration made of everything autumn had to offer. Someone just put a crown adorned with antlers on his head, others were still busy fastening leaves and ears on his arms. A little girl brought a huge basket with fruit in.
Merlin threw him an uncertain look, an endearing blush on his face.
Before Arthur could wrap his mind around the fact that the lowly servant seemed to be a powerful druid, a sorcerer, he held the bowl with the blue paint, his eyes never leaving Merlin’s.
“Alright, what do I have to do?” He whispered.