Title: Like a Fine Wine (5)
Rating: G (this part).
Pairing/s: None (this part).
Character/s: Arthur, Male OC, Female OC
Summary: Funny—he'd always assumed that his birth parents had given him up because they couldn’t keep him; because they were too poor, or too sick, or something like that. The idea that it might have been a deliberate choice came as something of a shock.
[ Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Part 15 | AO3 ]
Warnings: Implied parental abandonment.
Word Count: 1000w
Prompt: 330 Chocolate.
Author's Notes: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I AM DOING.
There was a long pause inside the kitchen. Behind him, Arthur heard his mother fumble with some cutlery, swearing quietly under her breath; he must really have startled her. His father, however, just looked back at him steadily, keeping whatever he was feeling carefully concealed beneath his bushy white brows.
“I always wondered when you were going to bring up that topic,” he said finally. He leaned back in his chair, stretching out his legs in front of him and crossing his arms over his belly. “What exactly do you want to know?”
Arthur hadn’t really thought about that—for some reason, despite the fact that they had always been open with him about the adoption, he’d expected his parents to balk at the idea of telling him more about his birth family.
“Well…” He hesitated, then decided to just plunge right in. “Do you know who they are?”
His parents exchanged glances. “It was a closed adoption,” his father said, after a moment. “But we do know a few things. Not for certain, you understand. Just—impressions.”
In spite of himself, Arthur felt his heart-rate speed up. “What kind of impressions?”
“Well.” Hector considered. “From what I could gather, your birth parents were quite wealthy. At least, it seemed that way to me. They supplied us with quite a few baby items, you know—good quality stuff. We still have some of it in the attic.”
Arthur frowned. “Is that—normal?” he asked.
“I don’t think so,” his mother said. She had abandoned the dishes in the sink and came to sit down next to him, taking one of Arthur’s hands and lacing it with her own. “From something I overheard the case-workers saying, it seemed like maybe they weren’t intending to put you up for adoption at all, but then something happened which made them change their minds.”
“Oh.” Arthur looked down at their joined fingers. Funny—he'd always assumed that his birth parents had given him up because they couldn’t keep him; because they were too poor, or too sick, or something like that. The idea that it might have been a deliberate choice came as something of a shock. “Do you think—I mean, why would they do that? Was I such a terrible baby?”
His mother’s grip tightened. “Of course not,” she said firmly, leaning forward until she could look him in the eye. “You were a lovely baby. But life can be unpredictable. Perhaps they lost a great deal of money and couldn’t look after you anymore. Or maybe someone in the family took ill, and they thought it would be best for you to be brought up by someone else.”
Arthur was silent for a few minutes, digesting this. Finally, he said, “Is there some way I can find out, do you know? I mean—I’d like to know more about them, maybe track them down if they’re still alive.”
Hector and his wife shared another look, and then Claudine withdrew her hands and tucked them back into her lap.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Hector said. “I’m sorry, Arthur, but it was made pretty clear to us that they weren’t open to the idea of getting in touch.”
That stung, but still Arthur refused to let it go. “It’s not like I want money off them or anything,” he argued. “I just want to ask them about a photograph.”
“A friend of mine found it in his uncle’s attic. There’s a man in it that looks a lot like me, and I wondered…well. We thought he might be a relative.”
Arthur might have been imagining it, but he could have sworn he saw his father’s expression darken at the word ‘relative.’ “It’s probably just a coincidence,” he said gruffly. “Remember what happened with that Sophia girl. You don’t want to get yourself killed chasing after nothing.”
“I’m not chasing after nothing,” Arthur said, annoyed. “I’m pretty sure the photograph is real, at least, and I’m sure Merlin would be happy to get it tested if you need proof.”
“Yes, I’m sure he would be.” Hector snorted, shaking his head. “And what makes you so certain this Merlin fellow can be trusted?”
“Because,” Arthur said through gritted teeth, “I’ve met him. He’s nothing like Sophia.”
“Hmph.” Hector set his jaw. “Maybe not. But it still sounds like a load of hooey to me. You’d be better off leaving things alone and concentrating on what’s in front of you, not haring off on another wild goose chase.”
Arthur clenched his fists, but said nothing. It was the same line his father had always fed him when he was a boy; you were adopted, you’re our son now, you’re much better off leaving it alone. Arthur had never pressed the issue, having felt no particular desire to seek out his roots, but now he wondered how Hector could say that with such confidence if he had no idea who Arthur’s biological family were.
“I’ll make us all some hot chocolate,” his mother said brightly, breaking the silence as she pushed back her chair. “You will stay for a proper visit, won’t you, Arthur? It’s been ages.”
“I’m sorry, Mum,” Arthur said, looking away from his father at last and getting to his feet. He kissed his mother on the cheek. “I have to get going—I’m meeting someone for lunch. But I promise I’ll stop by again soon.” He smiled and squeezed her arm. “Thanks for the shortcake.”
“You’re welcome, dear,” Claudine said, but although she smiled back at him, she still looked troubled as she followed him into the hall. “You won’t hold this against your father, will you? He just doesn’t want you to get hurt.”
“I know, Mum.” Arthur glanced back at her over his shoulder. “But I’m a big boy, you know. I think I can handle it.”
“If you say so,” she responded, showing him to the door. But she didn’t sound very optimistic.