Length: 483 words
Prompt: #9 Tears
Warnings: Themes of death and grief
Summary: Ygraine’s death left its marks
The last harsh gasps fell silent as her blood pooled in the folds of the sheets. Uther’s world faded to grey yet he shed no tears. The baby cried until one of the women took him away. He held Ygraine’s hand for a long time. It grew cold and stiff.
She was gone. He couldn’t quite comprehend it. All those months of anticipation, the baby growing in her womb, her body thickening with life. Then the labour, hours upon hours of pain, her cries like the slice of a whip on his skin. He wanted to help but there was little he could do. The women took care of her, shutting him out.
Arthur - he was to be named Arthur. They’d decided long ago. Now it seemed unimportant, something from another time. What was life without her? Nothing. Devoid of colour and meaning.
He took to an extra bedroom, unable to face the bed he’d shared with her. It was austere, unadorned, nothing to remind him of her or their dreams and hopes. He spent most of his time there, face to the wall. He couldn’t bear the sight of other people. Their voices, their pitying looks. He surrendered to the pain.
He woke one day from a dream. The details gone, the feeling of it stayed with him for some time, comfort and closeness curling around him like a promise. His hand was on Ygraine’s belly, the babe moved under his hand. Gentle, he entered her, and her face melted with pleasure.
He heard a cry and lifted his head. When a servant entered, she apologised for the noise, the baby had been restless. No matter, he said. “Bring him to me.”
After a moment’s hesitation, she said, “Yes, your grace, certainly.” She bowed and scurried off.
Soon his arms were full of a tiny mewling thing. Big blue eyes, a wisp of pale hair on his head, tiny, chubby fists pounding the air.
It was her. Right there in front of him. Her eyes stared back at him and it filled him with awe. He took hold of the small curling fingers, kept them firm in his grasp as Arthur flailed his limbs and opened and shut his small moue of a mouth.
Uther’s heart kicked to life. He brought the small thing close to his breast, felt the timid thump of his pulse fluttering next to his. When the servant held out her arms to take him back, it was far too soon.
From that day forward, his heart turned cold and hot in turns. His son, Ygraine’s son, her face looking at him every time his voice lashed out, cold and punishing despite himself. The son who grew strong and capable, handsome and bold, but who never seemed to be enough to make up for the empty space inside him.
The tears remained unshed, trapped in the hollows carved by grief.