Title: Light in the Dark
Character/s: Uther, Arthur,
Summary: A noise disturbs the king in the night.
Word Count: 987
Author's Notes: Bit of fluff for you!
The room was in darkness, only a few embers attempting to glow softly in the fireplace. The coldness had come shortly after the fire had gone out, but the king couldn’t bring himself to do anything about it. He just sat there, in the same chair he had been occupying since his beloved queen had left him. He didn’t feel the cold. He didn’t feel anything at all.
Just the pain of loss.
He knew the kingdom was holding its breath, waiting to see what would happen. He had heard the rumours; some believed he would disinherit the child due to the pain the boy had caused. But Uther wouldn’t do that. His son was the only thing he had left of his wife right now. She had given her life so that he might live, and Uther would not ignore that fact. But it didn’t stop the guilt from twisting in his gut. She hadn’t known that she would have to give her life for her son. There had been no doubt in her eyes when she realised she was paying the price over who should live and who should die, but that shouldn’t have been a choice she was forced to make.
A high pitched cry filled the air and Uther sighed. He wasn’t even sure how he heard the infant’s cry from here, the boy had been given rooms closer to Gaius than his father. Uther wouldn’t disinherit him, but that didn’t mean he wanted anything to do with the child. When he was older, maybe. When he was actually useful to both his father and the kingdom. But for now, Uther wanted to be left in peace, wanted this time to grieve without having to think of his new responsibility as a father.
Did a king deal with their son anyway? He didn’t know, it wasn’t as if his father had been a king. Then again, his father had made it clear from the very beginning that Uther was nothing to him. Or was he supposed to just sit back and let the nurses deal with him, the boy had enough, after all.
But the cry continued and Uther stood. If nothing else, he would make sure the women knew to keep the infant quiet, especially when his cries were disturbing the king. He could already picture Gaius’ face when he found out, claiming he was just a baby and could not be scolded into silence. If there was one thing Uther was used to now, it was being obeyed. His son would learn to listen, and he would start right now.
The corridors were empty as Uther strode along them, the flickering torches casting long shadows around him. In the next corridor he could hear the sounds of the guards patrolling and knew it would only be a matter of moments before they turned down this path. Uther quickened his pace. He didn’t want them to see him, to question why the king wasn’t resting but instead roaming the corridors. He certainly didn’t want them knowing that he was going to the boy. While he wasn’t sure how much a king should interact with his child, he knew that walking the corridors at night to see him was not a done thing. No. Not to see him. To silence him. He wanted nothing to do with the boy.
Somehow, Uther felt as if he was telling himself that to make him believe it. Did he want to see his son?
He made it out of the corridor before the guards and remained undetected as he strode the passageways. The cries had dwindled now. No doubt the child was exhausted. He could see the soft light glowing from the boy’s room, the fires still being lit to make sure the infant prince was warm enough. He could hear the murmur of voices as he moved closer and a maid darted out, looking flustered. She didn’t even notice the king, and Uther made a note to make sure there was a guard stationed on the boy’s door at all times.
But then he entered.
The nursemaid had the squirming bundle in her arms, looking as if she was still trying to desperately soothe the prince even though his cries had quietened. She spun, alarmed at the sound of his heavy tread and then dropped awkwardly into a curtsey while holding the infant.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“He won’t settle, Sire. I’ve sent the girl to fetch some honey from the kitchens, it might help him.”
“Then go and tell her to hurry up,” Uther snapped. The woman looked startled and quickly placed the boy back in the cot. She paused at the door as the wails started again, but then fled at the look Uther was giving him.
The king sighed at the increased noise, striding over to the elaborate crib. It had Igraine’s design all over it and he was smiling before he knew it. His hand drifted in and rested on the chest of his infant son, who seemed to swallow his next cry in surprise. Uther forced himself to look. Then he reached in and picked up the baby, holding him awkwardly.
“A prince must know when to be quiet,” he said sternly. But the bundle in his arms didn’t appreciate his tone, for he let out another cry and Uther shifted his grip.
“Hush, Arthur,” he murmured, holding him closer. “You just be quiet now and go to sleep.”
Not realising his tone had softened or that it was the first time he had acknowledged Arthur by name, Uther could only stare in astonishment as the baby blinked up at him before seeming to let out a sigh and his eyes drifted softly shut.
Staring down at him, Uther knew he had to keep his son safe and protected. For Igraine, he had to keep their child safe.