Title: The Difficult Choice
Summary: Pre-series. Balinor stands on the precipice of a choice.
Word Count: 496
Prompt: #115, metanoia
The hardest part was the first step.
Balinor hovered on the threshold, staring into the shadows where Hunith slept in their bed. Slumber erased the worry that had started to etch between her brows, lines that were his fault, his failure. She’d run away with him from Camelot without hesitation, leaving behind her brother, the only life she’d ever known, and not once did she complain, not once did she offer any sort of regret.
“We’re together,” she always said, as if that solved everything.
In an ideal world, perhaps it would.
In an ideal world, he wouldn’t be hunted down as a traitor to the crown. She wouldn’t be risking her life simply by standing at his side.
He wouldn’t be a coward for taking the escape Gaius had offered them.
If only one of Uther’s weaknesses was his failure to follow through. Balinor wouldn’t be on this precipice now. He could stay in Ealdor and live out his years in peace, unnecessary in a world without dragons. His future might be barren of the heat of magic and duty, but Hunith was more than enough to fill that loss. As the only woman who’d ever been able to make him smile, a life with her would be rich with joy and happiness.
But Uther did not suffer from that particular weakness. In fact, his single-mindedness had been his greatest strength in obtaining the crown in the first place. Now, he turned that zeal to Balinor and those of his kind, and he would never give up until he’d accomplished what he meant to.
Balinor was fortunate to still have enough allies in Camelot who owned swifter horses than the king, because now, his men marched to Ealdor. They would cut down everyone who impeded their path to Balinor.
Hunith would be a casualty.
He could accept his own death at Uther’s hand, but if anything happened to Hunith, he would never forgive himself.
His eyes burned as he turned his gaze to the darkened landscape beyond their door. More than anything, he wished to kiss her goodbye, but his Hunith was a light sleeper at best. She would rouse, and then he would be forced to tell her the truth, because to her at least, he could never lie. Then she would insist on coming with him, and he wouldn’t be able to say no, and they would resume their flight all over again, waiting to play out this scenario the next time Uther’s men tracked him down. It was the coward’s way out. Again.
Better to do it now. Be a man and make the difficult choice, no matter how much it hurt. He believed that with his whole heart.
The next morning, after he’d been traveling the entire night through, he realized he’d been wrong. The first step wasn’t the hardest.
Every step away from her was.
But he would take them, all of them, for as long as it protected her.