Dedicated to: lil_sheppard & to steamshovelmama – happy birthday!
Spoilers: 1.01-1.02, 1.03, 1.04
Character(s): Arthur, nameless woman
Word count: 1,095
Disclaimer: None of them are mine.
not sure if this is AU or not - just based on a hunch I had during eps 3 & 4.
Summary: Arthur has been laid low, and while he recovers, he is at the home of a mysterious young woman who refuses to name herself.
Author's notes: incidentally, this story features the scariest individual of all Arthurian tales (or her kid, at least). I kid not.
“Are you Pendragon?” A woman’s voice. Young, roughly his own age. Not a maiden who sings regularly, he deduced from the timbre and quality of her voice.
“I…am,” Arthur said, hurting too much to open his eyes more than a crack, afraid – no, not afraid, just justly cautious – that he would not be able to open them more than that. “Arthur.”
“Arthur of the Pendragons,” she said.
“I am not familiar with you.”
And I am in no shape nor condition to be familiar with you, whomever you are, lapsing back into unconciousness.
Arthur was awake again, and watching the lone young woman who was his hostess here. She lived alone, he could tell; couldn’t tell how long she had been alone, though.
He could lever himself up onto his elbows, but could not lift himself further than that. It was enough for now, he felt. “Who are you?” Arthur asked.
“I am no one important,” she said as she changed his dressings.
“Surely there is someone who considers you important,” he said. “Importance aside, what is your name?”
She did not speak, did not move.
A stab of irritation ran through Arthur. “Is there something you are called?”
“There is no one to call me by any words or name, mi’lord.”
Seizing on her using that form of address, Arthur called up long practice with the formal speech. “I am here. What do I call you?”
“There is nothing to call, sir,” she said. “You will be well within two days, and thence you will be gone.”
“Would that please you?”
“You are a Pendragon. You rule.”
“Yes, there is that,” he smiled. “But you must have a name. One of your own or at least of your family.”
“Yet I am.”
She was always looking his way, Arthur reflected.
Not always looking at him, he knew, but he had yet to see her in profile or more. No matter what his hostess was doing, her face pointed towards him.
I realize I have a magnetic personality, Arthur thought to himself, but this is ridiculous. Standing up, he braced himself by grasping the frame of the bed he had used. Where did she sleep while I recuperated? “I should go now.</i>
“No,” she said firmly.
“No?” Arthur repeated.
“No,” she reiterated. “You would not be able to reach Camelot on your own. You must stay longer.”
Where are we, that neither Gaius nor my father’s men have been able to find me thus far? “Who are you?”
“Insistent,” she said without trace of humour.
“Tell me your name, and I will agree to stay one further day,” Arthur said, feeling he had the bull by the horns.
She took a step towards him, and, two fingers placed on his chest, pushed ever-so-gently.
Embarassing, Arthur felt, as he fell onto the bed. Alone.
With her looking down on him before she backed away to resume her chores.
No longer wobbly, Arthur stood up and stepped over to where his hostess was standing and watching him.
She didn’t turn away, didn’t look at him. Just stood there, stupidly, my fellow knight-errants would say, Arthur mused. He stepped over and, placing his hands upon her shoulders, tried to move her. She did not budge, even the slightest bit.
As before, she would not meet his eyes. Instead, she looked at his left hand, then his right. ‘Mi’lord, you are touching me.”
“So I am,” Arthur confirmed, and felt that it was time to confront her, now that he was able to move about again. “What are you going to do about it?” If she’s going to use magic, now’s the time. If she’s going to do something else, same thing – now or never.
She flushed, skin burning a forest-burning crimson. “Nothing.”
“Then why are you blushing?”
“Memory. And because you are son of Uther, your mother is foe of my mother.”
“What you propose and threaten cannot be, as we inherit the rivalries of our parentages.”
“True,” Arthur conceded. There are kingdoms that are set to bring down Camelot whether my father reigns or I do. “But my mother is dead.”
Now she looked up, meeting his eye for a second before looking down at his neck. Arthur saw befuddlement, puzzledness on her countenance. Confusion smoked in her dusky eyes. “Pray beg pardon, sir,” she said, “but that cannot be so.”
“And why is that?” Arthur asked. My father keeps many secrets, but none of my birth. My mother died in the labor. A nursemaid raised me til I was old enough to be weaned.
“Nimueh yet lives.”
“Mi’lord?” she asked, not knowing why he would react in that way.
“I do not know the name you spoke.”
“You should leave,” she said, and pushed him toward the door. He was moved, surprised at her strength.
“How do you do that?” Arthur asked, wanting to know.
“I am my mother’s daughter,” she said simply.
“Who is your mother?”
“My mother is my mother and the daughter of my grandmother.”
Arthur rolled his eyes. “That is obvious.”
Amused, she asked, “Then why did mi’lord ask it of me?”
Arthur sighed, recognizing that, irritating as it was, she was right. “Fine. Then, if you will not tell me the name of yourself or even your mother, can you at least tell me why you would not turn your back on me even once in my stay?”
She considered it. Looked up to meet his eyes. “Promise me that you will leave. Once you step outside my hut, I will grant your request.” Lie or go counter to your word, and even your mother cannot protect you from my family geas.
He didn’t even need to consider it – Arthur nodded. He wanted to leave anyway, and this offered the chance to kill two birds with one stone. “I, Arthur son of Uther, give you my word that I will leave and never look back.”
She looked a little deflated by that last bit, which Arthur considered odd, considering what she was asking of him.
He backed away all the way to the door, which he opened and crossed over.
“Fare thee well, Arthur Pendragon,” she wished him, then turned to attend to her laundry.
Arthur’s eyes widened.
She had no back. It was not merely a rip or a rent in her flesh, but a pure absence. Arthur could see clear through to the contours of the front of the maiden’s body.
He turned and hurried back to Camelot.