Character/s: Uther, Arthur
Word Count: 398
“It is,” Uther explained with exaggerated faux patience, “a matter of honor.”
“What honor is there in hanging defenseless girl whose only crime was believing the lies her husband told her?” Arthur had left his courtly pleasantries and deference behind, burned to ash in the panicked horror that had risen within him when he saw the face of the sorcerer’s “accomplice.”
“I don’t expect you to understand,” his father said dismissively, already moving on, as though Arthur were no more than an ignorant child. No matter how many men Arthur killed, no matter how many soldiers he led into battle, Uther would never see him as anything but the inconvenience Igraine had left behind. The blood on his blade would never wash away, and it would never be enough.
Arthur stepped between his father and the strategy table with the smooth grace of the master swordsman he was, finely crafted mail singing his rage as he moved. Uther’s eyes looked past him, so he brought up his gauntleted forearm and pushed it against his father’s throat until the king looked at him instead of through him. See me, Arthur wanted to shout, shaking with fury. See ME.
But he didn’t. He couldn’t speak. And he made sure Uther couldn’t either. He forced him to hold his gaze until the world started to slip away from both of them. When his vision started to blacken, he pushed harder, crushing Uther’s breath with years of neglect and disdain.
He realized then that it wasn’t about the girl. It never had been. He pulled his arm back as though burned, stumbling backward as Uther slid gasping to the floor, knocking the wooden troop markers from the table and scattering them like the mothers’ sons that littered the battlefield.
He didn’t wait to see the rage rising to match his own. He didn’t wait to see his foolish pride reflected back at him. He turned away from the terrible truth and, for the first time in his life, fled. He swept out of the castle, not realizing that he was, in truth, leaving Camelot behind until he was already galloping across the Loning Plains.
His horse was slick with sweat by the time he slowed. And over the slackening hoofbeats, he heard someone shouting his name. He turned, expecting to see a familiar, exhausted, hapless face.
There was nothing but the wind.