Title: Death Will Set You Free
Pairing/s: (Pre) Gwaine/Leon
Character/s: Gwaine, Leon
Summary: Facing a dire situation gives Gwaine an opportunity to ask long put off questions.
Word Count: 637
Prompt: #398 - Desperation
Author's Notes: I'm sorry I'm late again!
"Why did you become a knight?"
Leon looked to Gwaine, dropping his distant gaze from where it seemed like he was imagining the sun. It took a moment for Leon to focus on him and his words.
"Why do you ask?"
Gwaine shrugged, the chains binding him to the wall barely rattling with the movement.
"I've always wondered," he said. "There never seemed to be a good time to ask."
"You think now is a good time?" Leon asked.
"There might not be another."
Leon considered Gwaine's point and nodded.
Movement caught both their eyes and they turned towards the barred door to the cell. A rat skittered by beyond the bars, exhibiting a freedom and carrying a crust of bread that Gwaine envied. It passed quickly and soon the dungeon was quiet again, devoid life besides the two waning in the cell.
"I'm my father's second son," Leon said, slowly resuming their conversation. His eyes fell, a sigh weighing him down. "It's difficult to find purpose when you're not the heir. I thought becoming a knight of Camelot would impress my father."
Gwaine frowned. "Why?"
"He was a knight before he and my mother married." Leon sat back, his feet dragging over the dirt floor as he drew his knees to him. "It was the one thing my brother couldn't do. My father wanted him safe to ensure that the family line would continue."
Gwaine's frown deepened as he thought about Leon's brother sitting pretty in a manor house somewhere while Leon risked his life - would lose his life - trying to prove something to his father.
"Was your father impressed?" he asked, prepared to be angry on Leon's behalf.
"I couldn't say."
Leon looked off at the imaginary sun again. Gwaine looked up at the dark corner, wondering if Leon knew where east was or how many days had passed. He had quickly lost track in the darkness.
In the struggle to separate hours from days, Gwaine almost missed Leon's quiet reply.
"He died before I was knighted."
Gwaine shifted forward, forgetting his bonds until the shackles bit into his wrists. Leon flinched when he growled in pain, forcing Gwaine to settle back within the slack of the chains.
"I'm sorry," he said, apologizing for many things.
Leon met his gaze, his eyes soft amongst the hardening lines on his face.
"Thank you," he said softly, an almost tangible gratitude spanning the width of the cell between them. Leon sighed, shrugged, and then gestured at their surroundings. "It doesn't matter now."
Gwaine couldn't stop a smile from sliding onto his face.
The situation was dire - they hadn't had food or water in days and they had a sinking suspicion that their captors had abandoned the keep - but they had passed desperation long ago. They were beyond hopelessness and far from fear.
Nothing mattered any more.
Not kingdom or banner or new or old religion.
Not even distant, unloving fathers.
In all ways but one, they were free.
A smile touched Leon's face as he seemed to come to the same manic realization. It lacked inhibitions and warmed the hunger off his face.
It was an image Gwaine would carry with him until his very last moment.
Leon sat forward as far as the chains would allow.
"I'm glad you're here."
A beat passed between them before Leon laughed, his throat dry from thirst but nonetheless joyful. Gwaine shook his head, chains rattling as he tried to wave off his words.
"No, not that... I'm not glad that you're going to die here in this cell," Gwaine tried to explain. "I just meant-"
"I know what you meant."
Gwaine held Leon's gaze, wondering how many unsaid things Leon knew he meant.
It seemed as if he knew them all.
"I'm glad you're here too."