Title: What the Squire Saw
Character/s: OC (Tibold, a squire), Gwaine, Leon
Summary: On the morning of a hunt Tibold has trouble finding Sir Leon.
Warnings: Original Character POV
Word Count: 888
Prompt: #211: Elusive
Author's Notes: n/a
Tibold pushed open the wide door the stables and stopped just inside as the door swung shut behind him. The space was empty, save for the horses, empty and quiet as Tibold walked along the row of stalls, some of the horses sniffing at him as he passed. One of the horses nickered and he stopped to pet its long brown nose.
"Do you know where he is, Marcella?" Tibold asked, genuinely hoping for some insight from the horse. "Because I've circled the citadel twice and I have no idea where he is."
Marcella offered no assistance, choosing instead to nose at the pack hanging from Tibold's shoulder. Tibold set down the crossbow he'd brought with him from the armory and opened the pack to give Marcella an apple from among the provisions he'd packed despite her lack of help.
It usually wasn't this difficult to find his master.
Tibold was in his fourth year serving as Sir Leon's squire and during their time together he'd come to learn a lot about the knight he served. Sir Leon was a man of discipline and chivalry; he trained hard and long and he expected Tibold to not just know the Knight's Code but to strive to live by it. He was fair and honest and, unless an emergency struck the citadel, he was a man who liked routine - which made Tibold's failure to find him all the more unusual.
'Elusive' was not a word Tibold would've used to describe Sir Leon before today.
Tibold had carried out his preparations without instructions - this was hardly the first time Sir Leon had gone hunting - but as the hunting party was supposed to ride out in less than an hour, he was beginning to worry about the absence of his master. Knowing that Sir Leon would want everything ready when and if he did appear, Tibold stroked Marcella's nose once more and then went to the back of the stables to retrieve her saddle.
That's when he found his master.
Tibold didn't even realize he was there until he heard Sir Leon speak -
"He'll notice I'm gone."
"He is an observant one, your squire."
- to someone other than himself.
Tibold froze with the saddle in his arms, not knowing where the voices were coming from or if they knew he was there. A slight shift of his gaze and he spotted Sir Leon against the back wall, obscured but not hidden by a rack of armor worn by the horses during jousts. His back was turned to Tibold and he was looking down at someone standing between him and the wall.
"Tibold is very good at his job."
"I know. Too good. How many times have I fallen out of bed trying to hide from him when he turns up in your room before dawn?"
The loud and lively laugh told Tibold who was with Sir Leon even though he couldn't see a face. It was Sir Gwaine, one of the new knights who had saved the citadel from the army of soldiers who couldn't die. He was brash but well liked, save for a few of the older knights who spoke under their breaths about tradition and nobility. He always had a kind word and a grin for Tibold even though Tibold could never recall seeing him in Sir Leon's rooms as he'd just mentioned.
"Gwaine, I'm not ashamed of-"
"Never said you were."
"But the hiding, the secrecy..."
Tibold could hear the hesitation in Sir Leon's voice. It was so foreign, so unlike the knight he served who oversaw the command of Camelot's finest soldiers.
"It's okay. I understand. Mostly."
"I have to maintain-"
"The only thing you have to do is kiss me."
Sir Gwaine reached up and pulled Sir Leon into an embrace Tibold could see the intimacy of even from his obscured point of view. It was the intimacy - the familiarity of their touch, the passion in their actions - that surprised Tibold more than an act of love between two men. He'd long heard the talk of other squires and the whispers of some knights; he knew this situation was more common than anyone let on. He just never expected to see his master in such a position, and with a man like Sir Gwaine. The two were like order and chaos but perhaps there was more to it than he could see.
His years of serving Sir Leon finally got the signal to his body that it would be best to remove himself from the situation. With the saddle still in his arms he backed out as quietly as he physically could, being careful to avoid the driest straw scattered across the floor. He hung the saddle in Marcella's stall and left the stables.
Tibold decided to go back to the armory and bide his time there until Sir Leon had need for his services.
He wouldn't say anything about what he saw. There was really no need to force a conversation on a subject which made Sir Leon's voice go tender and weak. He would offer discretion without being asked in thanks for the kindness and tutelage Sir Leon had given him over the years.
Tibold would, however, do a better job of announcing himself whenever he arrived in the morning at Sir Leon's rooms.