Title: Filling the Hollows
Summary: Set at the very end of 5x13. Percival makes a short journey before returning to Camelot.
Word Count: 440
Prompt: #226, "welcome home"
Author's note: I'm blaming the pain of my jacked up knee for going to an angsty place for this prompt. :P
His intention was to return to Camelot. Where else could he possibly go? But when Percival mounted his horse and murmured, “Let’s go home, Drift,” they pressed farther east rather than south, traveling through trees increasingly familiar in spite of the time that had elapsed since he had last turned his back on them. The journey was long, not in time or distance but in the space of his own thoughts where moments—I’m so sorry, Gwaine—could repeat for eternities, and his back bowed with guilt’s exhaustion long before he reached the crest overlooking the valley. He gazed upon the forgotten (not really) village with eyes that had no more tears to shed.
Scorch marks still scarred the barren fields. The stable where he’d tasted his first kiss lay in ruins at the far periphery. None of the homes he remembered stood except for two walls of Horatio the blacksmith’s. The sanctuary of his childhood was still no more.
But hope peeked through the ashes. Beyond the burned ground, fresh growth had taken root, a small field of grain waving gently in the evening breeze. A trio of new cottages had been erected near its border, and a lazy cow swatted its tail at the gnats that came out at dusk. As Percival watched, a young woman emerged from one of the houses, her belly swollen with impending birth, and stood with her back to the hill to call out for someone in the far distance, shielding her eyes from the setting sun.
He didn’t know her or the man who answered her call. In Camelot’s colors, he could approach them safely, find out how many had come back to settle, how badly they might need resources.
He didn’t. What would he say to them? I grew up here. Or I’m sorry I couldn’t save this place. Everything he could think of was either not enough or too much.
Words wouldn’t help them anyway.
Actions were what truly mattered.
He turned Drift away from the valley before the couple had the opportunity to spot him. On this most hollow of days, he needed the mercy of recompense to avoid losing himself as well. For that, there was only one place to go, where he could gather the resources to send back here and help the community thrive, where anyone who looked at him would know he did this for Gwaine, for the fight they had both believed in to make the world a better place.
His true home, even if he had to find a way to live there without Gwaine.
Nobody but Drift heard his murmured direction. "Camelot."