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02 October 2008 @ 09:18 pm
 
Having stopped - wisely - to pick up a thicker jacket, Lancelot smirked to himself as he and Arthur walked through the courtyard and toward the stables. Not a morning person, Lancelot found himself able to traverse the short distance from the main quarters building through the crisp morning air - he breathed deeply and was rewarded with the tang of still burning torches and a bit of Arthur - and not mind too much. He shook his head and began to plan things for that evening. Arthur would not know what hit him. The other man thought himself to be charming by mentioning the promise Lancelot had made? So be it. The Sarmatian would do more than charm Arthur after the sun had fallen that night.

His full lips curved in a wide, but secretive smile, and he glanced at the man walking to his right. A conundrum, to be sure. They were complete opposites - in looks, in movements, in behavior, in beliefs, and yet -

Lancelot raised a hand and felt at his lion pendant. Strong, fierce, loyal to the death, his tribe would look at him in wonder and then perhaps leave him to his fate - alone - should they have known what one of their sons was doing - with a Roman man.

The man part didn't matter so much; Lancelot liked sex - he was a sensual person and found beauty wherever he could, no matter the source. He had a feeling that his family and the rest of them would say the same. However...Roman.

Gods. A Roman! He allowed a Roman to fuck him! To claim his body as well as what passed for his soul! They'd already taken Lancelot physically from his home; here he was, giving himself over even more.

He bit his lip, and swung his arms, the heavy jacket not stopping all of the chill from invading his flesh. He turned his head to rub his eye - sleepy still, despite all the 'activity' this early in the day - and caught sight of Arthur, who seemed to be mediating on something as they walked.

The other man was silent but seemed happy and content - words that definitely did not come to mind when thinking on Arthur most of the time. The young commander must have known he was being watched, though, for his green eyes suddenly turned to Lancelot's face, and -

forever, I am yours as long as you'll have me

something passed between them, the air becoming still, the cacauphony of bird song seeming to cease, the noise of the garrison in the morning fading to nothingness as Lancelot faltered while he walked. Redness rose in his face and on the back of his neck.

He opened his mouth to say something silly and cutting; for once, nothing came. He found he didn't want it to. He wanted this.

A shout and the sound of men running as some idiot legionary dropped the end of the trebuchet he had been carrying and broke the mood. Lancelot stepped a bit closer to Arthur in the melee - and smiled, a tiny, serene thing that slipped away from his face just as the moon does the moment the brilliant sun outshines it each morning.

"Come, Arthur," he said, just to say the other man's name. "Horses."

~

And they were there, and so was Tristan, that early rising bird-lover. Lancelot scowled but increased his step as they approached the four new geldings whose coats shone in the light of the new day. "Tristan, you shit," he called. "You'd best not have touched even one of those fine creatures. I am the second in command, and I get to pick first."

His step increasing, he vaulted over the fence that ran around the exercise yard, and stood next to the scout. "What do you think?" he said, his voice quiet so he wouldn't startle the animals - although they seemed to be of good, stable stock. There was one he was immediately struck by - it was dark brown, an almost chesnut color, and had a strange white mark on its chest, above where its heart must lay.

"Good animals," Tristan replied. "Arthur," he added.

"No, they don't have names ye- oh, yes. Arthur," he confirmed as the commander arrived at the fence. "He wanted to see them too. I promised him a good new warhorse - his current mount, although lovely, is getting a bit long in the tooth. What do you think, commander?" he asked, his smile infectious as he nodded to the stock.

Give me this. Give me horses, solid earth to ride them on, and this kind and constant man at my side - and I can go oh, so far.

Please, gods of my ancestors. Hear me this once.
 
 
 
Cat: Arthur ~ Commandercat_o_wen on October 7th, 2008 09:41 pm (UTC)
The walk to the exercise yard had given Arthur a little time to think. Mostly, ponder what possible pleasantries Lancelot may have in store for him this night and that brought a flutter of pleasure to his belly. And all this focus on ‘them’ had kept Arthur from going to the place where he typically spent the early hours of the morning – the small fortress chapel. But as shimmering green eyes met brilliant amber, all rational thoughts flew from Arthur’s mind.

Any fool in the vicinity could surely see my love for him written clearly on my face. I cannot contain it.

The Commander had been momentarily roused from his besotted haze when the two men had come upon a small ruckus. But Lancelot had seen to it that Arthur had not gotten involved in sorting out the matter…which was a blessing whether the Roman would admit it or not. He had promised to accompany Lancelot to inspect the new horses and God help anyone who would take that time away from them. Tristan was already with the new stock as they approached. Arthur trailed behind Lancelot as the Sarmatian nearly sprinted the final distance to reach the fence. A small yet expressive smile formed on Arthur’s lips while he watched his eager lover vault over the railing, and immediately begin to clamor on about the horses to his fellow knight.

"No, they don't have names ye- oh, yes. Arthur. He wanted to see them too. I promised him a good new warhorse - his current mount, although lovely, is getting a bit long in the tooth. What do you think, commander?"

“Tristan,” Arthur acknowledged the scout with a nod before responding to Lancelot’s inquiry as he reached the fence. He then rested his forearms on the top rail and followed Lancelot’s gaze to note which animal had drawn his lieutenant’s attention thus far - a dark steed with an unusual white marking on its chest.

“Be sure that the men receive what they need first of these,” Arthur commented while his gaze continued to follow the dark chestnut as the animal trotted around the yard before them. The beast moved with a fluid gate while holding its head high and proud – a sure sign of confidence and spirit. “Presently, I do not require a new mount,” Arthur added in explanation. The needs of his knights came first.

“Shall we discover whether or not these fine animals were a worthy purchase?” Arthur gave his verbal approval for Lancelot to proceed, not that the Commander would have been able to halt his lieutenant at any rate. Arthur then slipped between the railings to join the two knights inside of the training yard. His shoulder brushed the top rail hitting a bruise hidden beneath his clothing in the movement and Arthur could not suppress a quiet groan; the sore spot no doubt a result of Lancelot’s overzealous mouth. As his gaze ticked to Tristan, Arthur was certain the intuitive scout had just read his thoughts.

Since taking Lancelot as a lover, the Commander often found himself more uneasy around the rest of the knights…..as if they were watching…judging….waiting for it all to go horribly wrong. Of course Arthur had never voiced a word of that feeling to Lancelot. God forbid. Arthur had worked long and hard to gain the trust of his men and that bond was almost as important to the Roman as what he shared privately with Lancelot.

Arthur’s eyes briefly met Tristan’s unreadable expression and the Commander self consciously cleared his throat and straightened his overcoat. Arthur prayed that the men accepted and understood the closeness between him and Lancelot. And he prayed that only Lancelot’s fellow knights had any knowledge of it….for Lancelot’s own safety.

And then Lancelot’s nearness had Arthur’s attention again…he licked at his bottom lip and thought on the taste of the other man. What would tonight bring? Arthur then forced himself to once again focus on the horses and what Lancelot would do first. Now is not the time to think on what Lancelot will do later….
Ash: lancelot rain by lessysasha_b on October 10th, 2008 01:39 am (UTC)
“Shall we discover whether or not these fine animals were a worthy purchase?”

Tristan watched with silent eyes as the commander slid through the fence and stood next to him as Lancelot smirked back at the two of them. The scout nodded to Arthur and crossed his arms, letting Lancelot have first go at the horses. The younger Sarmatian was bull-headed and a quick tempered fool; his knowledge of horses, though, far surpassed any of the other knights. Tristan just liked to make a show of being smarter than Lancelot.

Of course, he was. Especially in matters of the heart.

Lancelot loped slowly toward the chesnut, ignoring Arthur's comments about not needing a new mount. The Roman would need one, and even if the other man's current horse lasted a while, it was better for an ala commander to have more than one method of transport. Especially when they looked this good.

Luckily the gelding was as curious as Lancelot; it came to him mostly with ease, and stood patiently as Lancelot greeted it in his native tongue. Moving slowly around the animal, Lancelot reached his hand out and touched its flanks, and then, stopping in front of it, put out his hand again and allowed the horse to get used to his smell.

As Lancelot got acquainted with the horse he'd obviously chosen, Tristan turned slightly, seeming to face Arthur without moving much at all. "Things have been quiet, lately," he said simply. "Have you heard any news from our recent visitors?" He knew Arthur hadn't; Lancelot wouldn't have been able to keep his mouth shut, and Tristan would have known if Arthur had gotten post from the Inspectors that had left their fortress a few weeks previous.

He met Arthur's eyes from underneath the fringe of his hair, his gaze calm and slightly, oddly, inquisitive.

"Does he treat you as he should?"

His words were spoken easily and with no inflection, but there was weight behind them.

"He is my brother, but you are my commander. I know who will keep me alive if it comes to that."

Tristan turned his gaze back to Lancelot, who had managed to get up on the gelding's back.

The wind whistled in his ears and blew his hair about as Lancelot rounded the ring on the back of the chesnut. This was his horse, a second brother for Ras. He caught sight of Arthur and Tristan standing together; a bit of nerves caught his gut and twisted it with a neat wring that made him suck in air and bite his lip.

"Perfect!" he crowed, too loudly and a bit harshly as he passed the other men in the ring. "Worth every sesterces, Arthur."

Shut UP, Tristan. Whatever your devious mind is thinking, do not get in between me and this.

I want him - and nothing, including you, will stop me.


Edited at 2008-10-10 01:40 am (UTC)
Cat: Arthur ~ Commandercat_o_wen on October 13th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
Arthur remained standing beside Tristan while Lancelot approached one of the geldings. The Roman was actually looking forward to watching Lancelot work with the new stock; knowing he was witnessing the rare gift the Sarmatians had with horses. And it would give Arthur a little time to watch Lancelot unimpeded. The man truly was captivating in the way he moved so fluidly, gracefully and seemingly without effort… physically, Lancelot was everything that Arthur was not. And Arthur admired that about the other man.

And then Tristan’s voice whisked away the comfortable cloud of thoughts on Lancelot by reminding Arthur that he was not alone in the practice yard….gazing like a besotted fool at his lover while said knight became acquainted with the chestnut. Green eyes slowly turned to Tristan’s unreadable expression; hawk-like eyes barely revealing themselves behind long thick strands of dark hair that hung over the man’s face. The Commander attempted to appear only interested in the horses….he shifted his stance enough to better hear Tristan’s words…

"Things have been quiet, lately. Have you heard any news from our recent visitors?"

“No, and I will profess that has me quite content at present,” Arthur answered while he crossed his arms in front of his chest and turned his gaze from Tristan’s feral features to Lancelot’s lithe shape as the other man gracefully mounted the back of a chestnut. The longer they went without any repercussions from Falco and his men, the better in Arthur’s mind. He suspected the Inspector’s threats had been idle…especially once Arthur had safely and successfully deposited the officials on to the next outpost.

Arthur had to fight hard to suppress a grin while watching Lancelot – his lover – ride the gelding around the practice ring. Already, the two moved as one. The Commander could almost ‘feel’ the Sarmatian’s powerful horseman’s thighs gripping him in much the same manner as he now held his position on the back of that horse. How fortunate for the chestnut. And as if Tristan could glimpse inside of Arthur’s private thoughts….

"Does he treat you as he should? He is my brother, but you are my commander. I know who will keep me alive if it comes to that."

Arthur’s chin dropped and he coughed quietly to clear his throat as he attempted to hide his rather anxious reaction to the scout’s question. He knew that most of the knights were likely by now aware of the intimate nature of the relationship he and Lancelot shared….but Arthur was still unnerved when any one of them actually spoke of it aloud. And right on cue as if knowing that Arthur needed his rescue, Lancelot excitedly called out to Arthur as he rode by.

"Perfect! Worth every sesterces, Arthur."

Arthur smiled at his lieutenant’s enthusiasm.

“I hope to always have his trust,” Arthur answered levelly with a glance back at Tristan once Lancelot had passed them. And not wishing the other man to suspect the Roman favored Lancelot beyond their private relationship, he added: “I value the bond I hold with each of you and trust that I may count on all of you to care for him should he,” Arthur gave a small nod in Lancelot’s direction. “break his neck while attempting something foolish on the back of these unproven animals today,” Arthur finished with a small wry grin in Tristan’s direction. He knew the other man understood the underlying meaning of his jest…or so Arthur hoped. He knew Lancelot would tire of his company one day. And on that day, the other man would need his true brothers. And God help Arthur.

Green eyes then returned to the task of studying the movements of the chestnut’s long legs and powerful rear quarters while Lancelot continued to ride him. The animal’s nostrils flared proudly and he tilted his strong neck elegantly as Lancelot worked him in the yard. Fine, handsome well-rounded shoulders and a mass of dark hair caught Arthur’s particular attention in the motion…..and the chestnut appeared to continue to move rather well, too.
Ash: Lancelot falling by lessysasha_b on October 16th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
“I hope to always have his trust. I value the bond I hold with each of you and trust that I may count on all of you to care for him should he break his neck while attempting something foolish on the back of these unproven animals today,”

Tristan smiled enigmatically as he was wont to do. "Trust me, commander, should Lancelot break his neck riding a horse, he would have to endure much worse than death. He would have to endure ridicule at the hands of some very amused Sarmatians." He flipped his hair out of his eyes and crossed his arms. "He will be ... tolerated, that I can promise you." Tristan quirked his mouth once more, and then whistled at Lancelot. "Share once in while, will you?"

Lancelot laughed at Tristan's comment - what the fuck was he saying to Arthur, at any rate - and urged the Chesnut into a canter. "You'd have to give me a lot more than just that nasty smile, Tris," he shouted back. "And no sharing this horse." The animal, reaching its speed, whinnied along with Lancelot's laughter, and the knight gripped at the horse's ribs with his knees, lifted his arse off the animal's back, and spread his arms to the sky. He tilted his head back, and closed his eyes, feeling the wind in his face, hearing Tristan's infrequent laugh, and imagining Arthur's horrified face - the Roman would certainly chastise Lancelot for being so foolhardy in trusting a horse he didn't know.

Arthur. I need him. I love him.

He opened his eyes and sat back down on the gelding's back, then brought the horse to a halt a few feet from where Arthur and Tristan were standing. He dismounted, and had to wind the fingers of one hand in the reins in order to keep from grabbing Arthur in an excited hug. As it was, he gripped at the commander's arm tightly with the other hand, trying to make the gesture as 'normal' as possible.

He did allow their fingers to graze when he let go; fuck Tristan. Lancelot knew the other man knew, but...he also knew that while he didn't care, Arthur would.

One of the only things that bothered Lancelot about the nature of this relationship - just how bad could things get for either one of them if someone ... important found out? He'd swing for sure. And Arthur would have to leave the Army in disgrace.

Lancelot met the green eyes of his Roman lover and fed off the attraction and affection he saw there. Damn him.

This will never be easy.


"Sorry, but this lad is spoken for. No sharing. And...besides, Ras could use company. Gods know I'm not one for listening when he needs me," Lancelot smirked broadly. "I'm sure I'm not the best friend a horse could have." He winked, and then turned his eyes back to the new Chesnut.

"You are a beauty. And you're now my beauty," he murmured, and ran a gentle hand down the animal's nose. The horse, knowing a sap when he saw one, nickered and nudged Lancelot's arm. The knight laughed, a pretty sound, and threaded long fingers through the chesnut's mane, untangling the few knots that appeared during the short ride.

"In love at last," Tristan said, the dryness in his tone enough to soak up any sappiness that Lancelot might be feeling. Lancelot canted eyes at the scout, his gaze promising retribution, and then he looked at Arthur again.

This time, his gaze promised something he'd never share with anyone other than the man that was standing next to him. Lancelot's heart was fit to burst with strange joy and a sense of contentment that threatened to overwhelm him - he cleared his throat, but still held Arthur's eyes.

"I think so," he answered Tristan's innocent comment, but his smile was not for the horse.
Cat: Arthur ~ Thigh Porncat_o_wen on October 19th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
Arthur continued to intently watch his lover’s every fluid movement as the Sarmatian rode around the yard – and attempted to mask as much of his arousal as he could (thank God for the long overcoat and the cold morning air).

"Trust me, commander, should Lancelot break his neck riding a horse, he would have to endure much worse than death. He would have to endure ridicule at the hands of some very amused Sarmatians. He will be ... tolerated, that I can promise you."

Arthur could not hold back a snort in amusement at Tristan’s answer. And was glad the other man’s focus was on the relationship among the Sarmatians and not the obviously intimate – in Arthur’s mind anyone could see it – relationship between Commander and Lieutenant. And as Tristan exchanged a few taunting words with Lancelot, Arthur took the opportunity to let his gaze traverse the whole of Lancelot’s profile. And then his mouth gaped open as the knight proceeded to do what Arthur considered foolish and very risky….letting go of the reins and allowing the chestnut his head after only what seemed like mere moments into the initial ride. If Arthur had not been so preoccupied with how glorious his lover truly was while riding, he might have acted – or in the very least ordered Tristan to intervene before Lancelot took a serious fall. But God surely had a hand in it as Lancelot miraculously retained control and brought the magnificent beast to a halt.

Arthur half shook his head at Lancelot even as the other man gripped excitedly at his arm. The Roman certainly admired Lancelot’s tremendous skill with horses. And Arthur thought to compliment him, but was thoroughly distracted – a zing of want flew up his spine - when he felt Lancelot’s fingers brush his own. Damn him. A flush threatened his cheeks at the way his body reacted to the touch….but Arthur gave a subtle cough into his hand to cover his reaction, or so he hoped. Lancelot helped by turning his attentions away from Arthur and back to the chestnut, murmuring affections upon the beast while the Roman recovered his composure.

Although, the way in which the Sarmatian stroked at the horse’s neck had Arthur recalling exactly how those fingers felt on his own flesh again…..this was going to be difficult to manage. He will be the death of me.

Cat: Arthur ~ Thigh Porncat_o_wen on October 19th, 2008 08:24 pm (UTC)
continued....

"Sorry, but this lad is spoken for. No sharing. And...besides, Ras could use company. Gods know I'm not one for listening when he needs me, I'm sure I'm not the best friend a horse could have."

Arthur exchanged a quick look of amusement with Tristan and bit his tongue to keep from quipping on Lancelot’s lack of ability in listening in general.

"In love at last," Came Tristan’s sarcastic observation.

“So it seems,” Arthur added rather quietly; almost allowing a hint of jealousy into his tone. But that completely fled the Roman’s mind the moment Lancelot turned his smile to meet Arthur’s eyes. Something once again passed between them – longing, love, passion, and commitment….everything.

"I think so,"

It was clear to Arthur that Lancelot now spoke not of the horse. His heart swelled in his chest and threatened to break free from its cage of flesh and bone.

“He is yours then,” Arthur said with no less affection than he saw reflected in Lancelot’s dark eyes. And although Lancelot would be given the horse as well, Arthur was clearly speaking of himself at the moment.

The chestnut seemed to sense he was being left out and nudged at Lancelot’s shoulder. Arthur’s smile deepened and he stepped close enough to the animal to reach over and rub the gelding’s velvety nose.

“Tristan and I should see to examining the rest since you are so taken with this one,” Arthur smiled once more at Lancelot while his hand slid along the chestnut’s muscular neck. The Commander attempted to show interest in only the lines of the animal, but Lancelot’s nearness had Arthur helplessly distracted. He gave his lover one last look of longing whilst his back was to Tristan before Arthur stepped away. He cleared his throat and approached the only white gelding among the horses. The animal’s ears pricked forward and Arthur held out his hand in greeting.

But before Arthur had the chance to continue, a small commotion caught his ears from behind….raised voices and heavy footsteps. He turned, albeit slowly as to not startle the horses, to see a group of soldiers hurriedly off down a side alleyway. He frowned and contemplated inspecting what might have caused the commotion…..but truly, Arthur did not want to allow other duties to distract him from time with Lancelot….not yet. The white gelding had in the mean time closed the short distance between him and Arthur and gently nudged at the Commander’s chest.

“You are a curious one, hm?” Arthur murmured to the horse while returning his attentions to the task at hand….inspecting the new stock….and perhaps continuing to admire his lover’s talents…..besotted fool.
Ash: lancelot by citadel iconssasha_b on October 21st, 2008 01:25 am (UTC)
Lancelot was still breathless from his wild ride; the chesnut blew air as well, and then nudged Lancelot's arm again. Smiling, the Sarmatian met Arthur's gaze as they spoke - ostensibly of the new stock, but inwardly, Lancelot had a very different subject in mind.

He rolled his eyes at Tristan's sarcastic reaction to his obvious attraction to the horse, but his gaze was only for Arthur as the other man answered him.

"He is yours then."

Lancelot's smile, turned on the Roman only, was blinding in its brilliance. His blood seemed to slow; his hands rose helplessly, wanting to touch Arthur so, so desperately, but the other man wisely petted the Chesnut instead. The horse nickered and seemed to like Arthur as well - perhaps it shared its new owner's good taste.

"He is indeed, and happily," Lancelot said quietly. As Tristan's back was turned, Arthur seemed to take the chance and gave Lancelot a look with such heat it had the flesh that covered Lancelot's body burning in an instant - and they were still several feet away from each other. Lancelot shook his head slowly, and oh so very quickly, touched his chest, over his heart, and then gestured with that hand toward Arthur.

Tristan turned back then, and Arthur, perhaps wanting to break the intensity of the private moment (albeit in a public place - dangerous) teased again. “Tristan and I should see to examining the rest since you are so taken with this one."

Lancelot continued to slide his hand over his new gelding's neck as he watched Arthur approach the - of course - only white horse in the bunch. He met Tristan's eyes as the commander was preoccupied with the animals.

"Careful, little brother," the scout's voice was soft but like liquid fire. "He will make a fool of you."

Lancelot, while outwardly calm, felt a heat rise that was not due to Arthur's nearness. He did not need Tristan's advice. "He already has," he answered simply. "And I am powerless to stop it, and glad of it, so take your opinion away where I no longer have to feel its ire." His dark eyes locked with the scout's equally black gaze. "This does not involve you, does not concern the rest of the men, so fuck. off and leave me to my choice of pleasures, big brother."

Tristan's expression never changed; he petted the chesnut but stepped a bit closer to Lancelot. "He will favor you in the field, and that does concern me and the rest of us, Lancelot ap Ban."

Lancelot snarled something ugly in his native tongue, and took a step forward. Just then, and perhaps luckily for the two knights, several soldiers raised a ruckus right near the stables as they marched by, double time, their unit leader barking at them to hurry it up!

Lancelot sucked in a breath through his nostrils, the chill air burning them slightly. "We can do this later, Tristan. Trust that I will not forget." Taking the reins the chesnut wore, he pushed past the scout and, with the horse in tow, made his way to Arthur.

"What was that about, d'you think?" he jerked his head back at the retreating legionaries. "A lot of activity for this early in the morning."

Ignore Tristan. Let it go - for now - and then settle it later.

Arthur must not know.
Cat: Arthur ~ Arthur Castuscat_o_wen on October 21st, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Arthur had not missed the powerful albeit silent gesture from Lancelot moments ago….meus diligo. No doubt Tristan’s presence was the ONLY reason Arthur had not reached for Lancelot and given the other man a clear indication of just how much his heart meant. Later….

Everything in Arthur’s life had changed the moment he had first touched Lancelot. The sky seemed brighter, food tasted more flavorful and mundane tasks had become much more interesting when the other man was around. The Roman knew that he was hopelessly distracted by Lancelot’s nearness….and that it could prove to be dangerous in certain situations. But he had chosen his own fate. Arthur had chosen to love another despite a hundred reasons why he should not. Yet, the risks paled in comparison to how his heart soared each and every time Lancelot gave Arthur that look…or when the other man’s fingers…..focus on the task at hand, Castus.

Arthur lifted at the gelding’s chin and was inspecting the animal’s mouth when Lancelot joined him; his new chestnut mount happily in tow.

"What was that about, d'you think? A lot of activity for this early in the morning."

“Certainly not a routine patrol,” Arthur commented with a small frown while he gave the white gelding a firm rub along the underside of its jaw. The appreciative animal lowered its elegant head and nudged at the flaps of Arthur’s overcoat.

“As much as I would prefer to continue with the stock,” Arthur lifted his gaze from the curious movements of the horse to meet Lancelot’s eyes. He smiled…a gentle thing that easily conveyed his affections for the other man.

“I should look into it,” Arthur continued; his gaze slowly falling downward to Lancelot’s full mouth. He swallowed rather roughly and then forced his gaze back to the other man’s eyes.

“Do not tire yourself working with the horses,” Arthur commented with a slight tilt of his head and another knowing smile at his lieutenant…and lover. His words held a hint of what would come later tonight if Lancelot was careful to not over-extend himself during the day. And to punctuate what Arthur’s words had insinuated, he discreetly brought a hand up underneath the bottom edge of Lancelot’s jacket and touched at the other man’s leather clad hip.

“Take care of this one for me, hm?” Arthur gave a quick nod to the white gelding still curiously nosing at his overcoat. He removed his hand from Lancelot’s person and smiled a bit broader at the other man before beginning to turn away. Whatever had the small unit of soldiers hurrying down the alleyway was most likely something that the Commander should be aware of. Duty called.
Ash: lancelot rain by lessysasha_b on October 23rd, 2008 06:22 pm (UTC)
“As much as I would prefer to continue with the stock, I should look into it. Do not tire yourself working with the horses,”

Lancelot canted his eyes surreptitiously to see where Tristan had gotten himself to. Gods forfend the fucking scout happened to evesdrop just when Lancelot wanted to ... lean ... forward ... and ... touch...

Arthur's hand, warm despite the chill in the air, brushed discreetly at Lancelot's hip, and the Sarmatian cocked it enough so it was forced into Arthur's grip. He smiled, a teasing innocence at first, but gradually let it change into something more real.

Arthur would be the only one to ever see that expression. Lancelot was sure of it; no matter if - when - they ended their relationship. The Roman would be the first and last person in this life to witness a genuine happiness in Lancelot. It was the truth - and inevitable.

"I'll do my best, commander, but there is one particular mount I haven't had a chance to work in fully yet," he commented, his eyes now finding Arthur's and blinking slowly into the day's bright light. "But that one is stubborn, and may require some ... training, later." His smile was crooked and creased at the corners, which caused the lines on his face to stand out. They framed his angular features and made him look older than his young years.

“Take care of this one for me, hm?”

"Indeed," Lancelot replied. "But by giving me this duty, you have also agreed to allow me to chose a name for this great white beast - so like all the others you seem to be attracted to." He allowed Arthur's hand to slip off his leathers - reluctantly - and took the reins of both horses. The animals, having been brought in together, seemed not mind, and Lancelot's chesnut whickered and snuffled at the white, which studiously ignored him.

"Arthur," he added as the commander turned to go. "Don't get too bothered by garrison business, hm? You are first and foremost our ala commander. Don't forget it, yes?" His face took on a serious cast. "Allow someone to help you once in a while."

He stepped closer to the other man, bringing the horses with him, until both of the men were shielded briefly by large animal bodies. "Come back to me this evening safely." His hand rose and he touched - as he'd wanted to - Arthur's newly shaven face, his thumb lingering at the edge of the Roman's lips. He dropped his fingers before anyone could see them; so, so dangerous, but ... he smiled at Arthur, and there was both want and melancholy in the gesture.
Cat: Arthur ~ Arthur Castuscat_o_wen on October 25th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
Arthur had heard everything else that Lancelot had said: naming horses, garrison business and so on…..but his confounded mind remained focused on the first comments… there is one particular mount I haven't had a chance to work in fully yet. But that one is stubborn, and may require some ... training, later. A cold yet extremely pleasant shiver caught Arthur’s spine in contrast to the heat that was most decidedly claiming his cheeks at the underlying meaning of Lancelot’s words. Damn him for still having the ability to fluster the typically stoic Roman.

And then Lancelot moved closer….Arthur’s gaze drifted easily to his lover’s mouth – wanting to taste, wanting to….

"Come back to me this evening safely."

The two horses were on either side cocooning the two men from the rest of the world while they shared a private moment in a decidedly public place. Lancelot’s fingers were on Arthur’s skin; his head tilted ever so slightly into the welcomed touch. And Arthur’s right hand lifted to brush once more at Lancelot’s hip.

“I want that ‘evening’ will come swiftly upon us,” Arthur said quietly but with a voice that only Lancelot ever heard. Green eyes reflected much of the same sentiments as were shimmering in Lancelot’s gaze as Arthur smiled tenderly back at his lieutenant….lover.

And then one of the horses gave a whinny followed by a snort and broke the spell that had seemed to encapsulate the two men. Arthur could then hear voices and movement and felt the cold morning breeze on the back of his neck….and knew he had to see to his duties without further delay.

Arthur wisely turned away from Lancelot, stepped around the white with a hand following the curvature of the horse’s strong back as he did so. It was a pity that the Roman could not continue here with the horses and his men. But, Arthur was commander of this garrison and could no longer ignore his duties this morning.

“Tristan,” Arthur called to the scout in parting as he crossed the practice yard and then passed through the railing without so much as a backwards glance to Lancelot. He could not for fear of giving away his want for the other man…still. He tugged at the ends of his overcoat as he walked in the direction the small legion of soldiers had taken a few moments ago.

All that Arthur could feel, think on and long for was Lancelot….with every step he took and with every inhale of the crisp morning air….he was completely besotted with the other man. God help him. And Arthur knew it would end….badly. Lancelot would tire of it one day…..one day when Arthur could not give the other man what he required.

The Commander’s mind quickly snapped back into the present as he came upon a small group of soldiers near the gate…and he could hear a woman’s voice raised in alarm and then distinctly calling Arthur’s name as he approached.

It had been a handful of seasons since Arthur had seen her last. The bright morning light brought out the redness in her otherwise dark brown hair…the first thing the Commander’s gaze noted as the soldiers turned to acknowledge his presence.

“Lord Castus! Thank the gods…I…these men would not listen…I need to talk to you, please,” The young woman called out even as one of the soldiers attempted to restrain her from getting to the Commander.

“Release her…she is a friend,” Arthur snapped the order to the men who of course quickly stepped out of the Commander’s path as he closed the distance between he and the woman.

“Please accept my apologies, Aithne,” Arthur offered with gentle voice while extending a hand to the young woman. She accepted and slipped her tiny fingers into Arthur’s large calloused palm. Green eyes looked down into deep amber ones and noted the distress there. Her face was smudged with dirt which nearly concealed the tiny freckles that dotted her cheeks. She appeared weary beyond her young years and the small scar over her left eye seemed redder than Arthur had remembered.

Ash: arthur lance sky by matasasha_b on October 26th, 2008 02:49 am (UTC)
Lancelot stared after Arthur as the commander - and his lover - made his way on to his duty and normal daily garrison life. He heard the other man say Tristan's name in farewell, but stood stock still, holding the placid new geldings, his eyes tracking the dark curly hair he was quite fond of threading his fingers through until it was out of sight.

Sighing, he raised his head to the sky and squinted at the slightly overcast morning. A small shiver raised the hair on his body and made his spine twist briefly; he loathed the chill and would have been far happier back in Arthur's quarters, ensconced in the other man's arms and bed, touching Arthur, gods, even just sleeping within the circle of safety he felt anytime he was near the Roman or even in his proximity.

"Gods, you wonderful, foolish, fucking idiot."

Lancelot cursed himself outloud in his native tongue, and began to walk the horses toward the stables, his boots crunching in the hard packed, oddly crisp dirt. Winter was on its way, and even the mere thought made him groan.

And suddenly, Tristan's shadow fell across his line of sight, and Lancelot stopped walking, the animals on their leads stopping easily with him. The scout didn't say anything at first, merely watching Lancelot with hooded gaze and placid expression.

"Either help me with Arthur's new mount, or get the fuck out of my way," Lancelot stated plainly. "I will not fight - "

"Did you hear me earlier, brother?"

"How could I not, loudmouth? You've certainly made your view clear. Gods forfend you should wish me well, or hope that I have some happiness in this pisshole." Lancelot snapped his reply, and maneuvering around Tristan, kept on leading the geldings into the stables. He handed them off to Jols, who of course was always there in the right moment, and murmured a few words of instructions. The squire took them with no complaint, even as Lancelot slid a hand over his new chesnut as the animals were taken to their new home.

Turning, he retreated back outside and crossed his arms as he met Tristan's eyes. Feeling distractedly unarmed - he only had the one dirk that was sheathed in his boot - he cocked his brow and stared the scout down.

"He will not favor me. I will make sure of it. You have nothing to fear; besides, Tristan, would you think so little of me? Would you truly believe I would allow my fellows to be treated like fodder by Arthur of all people? That would never happen."

Tristan glanced upward; his hawk circled overhead, crying her morning greeting. "You may not allow him to do it, but I know Arthur. He will protect you, no matter what you say. This is a dangerous game, Lancelot ap Ban. Your family - "

Lancelot took a step toward Tristan. "Don't you fucking even say their names. You have no idea how they'd see this. Arthur is not stupid. He did not get to where he is by being the whipping boy of any man or woman who came along and made cow eyes at him. He's - "

coming this way, with....

"Aithne?"
Cat: Arthur ~ Commandercat_o_wen on October 26th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Aithne lived in the small village just south of the outpost; her family notable farmers that supplied the garrison with all of its fresh produce and the occasional beef. But Arthur new of Aithne for a reason much more personal….and it had been Lancelot (of all people) who had introduced the two. Arthur offered the young woman a small smile and gestured for her to walk with him.

“Thank you, Lord Castus,” She offered in a voice a little hoarse yet from all the pointless arguing she’d been forced to do with the soldiers – not to mention still slightly out of breath from her strenuous journey. But of course Aithne would walk with Arthur….she needed help and she knew of his generous heart….the Commander would at least listen to her plight even if he could not give ready aid. But she hoped that he would.

“Please….call me Arthur,” He gently corrected Aithne as he began to lead her back towards the garrisons. His first instinct was to get the young woman out of this chilly morning air as her fingers were ice in his hand. But, obviously Aithne had come here in search of Arthur for a reason….and judging by the troubled expression on the woman’s softly rounded face, it was an unpleasant matter.

“I….Arthur, something terrible has happn’d and I didn’t know who else to turn to,” Aithne began in her quaint country lilt as Arthur led her along the path between rows of stone structures that housed Roman soldiers - if her memory served. Aithne’s only real knowledge of the outpost was related to the tavern, where she often made food deliveries with her family. “They came for my brothers in the night…took them…I don’t know where….” She attempted to explain the trouble, but her voice cracked with emotion and she found that she could not look over at the man who was her only hope. It had taken Aithne hours to reach the fortress; she’d left just before dawn and had been in such a state of worry and urgency that she hadn’t eaten or packed a water skin and had ran for as long as her lungs would hold out to get here.

“Taken? Who took them?” Arthur queried mindful to keep his tone calm and encouraging. What the Commander did not realize is that he was leading Aithne right past the training yard where he had left Lancelot and Tristan….nor did he realize how this must appear as they walked right past the railing together; her hand tucked in Arthur’s offered arm. And the Commander was so intent on getting the poor girl out of the weather, that he did not even so much as look over at the men in passing.

It had been nearly a year since ‘that night’ and Arthur had not thought on Aithne in months…not since Lancelot had become his lover and sole companion. Right now, all that mattered was discovering what had happened to Aithne’s family and giving aid in any way that Arthur could. He led her to the door to his office without interruption (a miracle in itself) and held the door open for her. The brazier in the small room had recently been stoked and should offer sufficient heat to warm them both.

“Please, sit and warm yourself and then I want to know what happened,” Arthur said reassuringly while gesturing to the closest chair; green eyes gentle for her despite the lines of concern that deepened across his thick brow.
Ash: ka knights and dragonflies by iluvpiratesasha_b on November 2nd, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
Aithne followed Arthur into his office; they'd passed by what she thought she remembered as the training area - near the stables? - on their way here, and by the gods but she'd caught sight of Lancelot of all people. Was he still alive? Thank goodness; she'd lost track of him in the meley of trying to help her brothers run the family business and the day out and day in routine of living in the shadow of a fortress such as this one.

As she sat, a small shiver took her spine, and she hunched her shoulders, trying to disappear into her cloak.

“Please, sit and warm yourself and then I want to know what happened,”

Aithne smiled at Castus; he was a good man, had seemed one from the moment she'd met him - Lancelot again. Looking over Arthur as casually as she could, she felt a momentary pang of regret that things hadn't worked out the way she had hoped between them. He was tall and broad and strong and staring at her with such concern that tears came to her eyes, unbidden. She wiped the edge of her face with her cloak, and sighed.

"'m not even sure what happened, exactly," she started. "We were all sleeping - we rise early, as I'm sure you're familiar," the corners of her eyes crinkled as she watched him - of course he knew what it was like to have responsibilities. "A lot of noise, a lot of shouting, and then - the smell of smoke." She shook her head, her dark eyes slightly fuzzy as she tried to remember. "I ran to the stables; gods forfend we should lose any livestock, and by the time I returned..." her voice cracked, but she cleared her throat, and forced herself to sit up straight.

"My brothers, Brendan and Eamon, well, they were gone. In all the confusion I didn't quite realize it at first - you have to understand, it was late, and Arthur, my parents are old too. I have many things to see to," she laughed softly, her tone only a bit sad.

"I think we must second guess our treaty, now." The words were quiet and ashamed. "For I believe the Magician will surely kill them if we don't do what he wishes."

She huddled again, suddenly too cold and exhausted to try and look proud. Her stomach grumbled, and the red that had appeared in her cheeks from the long journey was fading to white; she blinked rapidly and tried to focus on Arthur's kind face.

"They want everything. More profits, more livestock, more goods. I fear if we do not comply..." she trailed off. She raised her gaze to meet Arthur's eyes, and her brows drew down as the distress reared its head once again. "Arthur - the Woads, they will kill their own countrymen to get what they want. Please - we need you. I need your help."
Cat: Arthur ~ Hands of Justicecat_o_wen on November 4th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Arthur moved the stack of missives and took up residence perched on the corner of his desk. His leathers made a soft creaking sound as he bent his right knee when he positioned himself directly facing the chair Aithne slid down into. Arthur stretched out his left leg and leaned slightly forward in an attempt to appear both disarming and encouraging as she began to speak.

"'m not even sure what happened, exactly. We were all sleeping - we rise early, as I'm sure you're familiar,"

The Commander laced his thick fingers together in his lap and dipped his chin while giving the young woman his full attention. However, Arthur’s gaze followed the path of a tiny teardrop as it made its way down her slightly sullied cheek and his chest tightened with empathy.

"A lot of noise, a lot of shouting, and then - the smell of smoke. I ran to the stables; gods forfend we should lose any livestock, and by the time I returned...my brothers, Brendan and Eamon, well, they were gone. In all the confusion I didn't quite realize it at first - you have to understand, it was late, and Arthur, my parents are old too. I have many things to see to,"

Who? Soldiers or natives? Why would anyone trouble a local farm?

Arthur recalled the faces of Aithne’s brothers as she went on to describe the events that had brought her here. He also recalled the kindness Aithne’s family had shown him on that night. Whatever it was that had happened, Arthur would take care of it. His decision was already made and Aithne hadn’t even finished giving Arthur all the details.

"I think we must second guess our treaty, now. For I believe the Magician will surely kill them if we don't do what he wishes."

Merlin had taken her family? Why? The lines across Arthur’s brow thickened as he reached up to rub two of his fingers over his mouth. And then he noted how Aithne seemed to be shivering…either from not being able to warm herself or from her own fears…and thus Arthur shrugged off his own thick overcoat and stood.

"They want everything. More profits, more livestock, more goods. I fear if we do not comply….Arthur - the Woads, they will kill their own countrymen to get what they want. Please - we need you. I need your help."

“And you will have it,” Arthur answered while leaning down to Aithne and gently wrapping his cloak about her slender shoulders. Aithne deserved Arthur’s protection – not because she had favored him with her company for one pleasant - albeit awkward on Arthur’s part – evening last harvest, but because she and all those living in her village had no part of the feud between Rome and the Woads.

Cat: Arthur ~ Hands of Justicecat_o_wen on November 4th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
(continued....)

And for one fleeting moment, Arthur’s gaze fell to her fingers….and he recalled how her hand had smelled of freshly cut herbs when he had affably placed a kiss there. And how he’d compared the hint of gold in her dark eyes to Lancelot’s…..Oh God.

“What were the exact demands or terms for the release of your brothers? Anything that you can further recall will be most helpful, Aithne. Was Merlin himself present to make these demands?” Arthur asked while loosely covering Aithne’s hands with the flaps of his overcoat…and then at realizing that his close proximity was entirely inappropriate, Arthur stepped back again to lean on the edge of his wooden desk. He offered a tight-lipped smile and raked a slightly hesitant hand through his dark curls – and silently prayed that he hadn’t offended Aithne with his overt attentions just now.

“I will send men immediately to protect your family in the village until the matter is resolved ….and I must insist on seeing to it that you are taken care of here as well,” Arthur’s voice softened with the latter part and his green eyes readily shown with care and concern. Surely Aithne was exhausted, hungry and in need of more than Arthur’s word that he would rescue her brothers. He and Lancelot would gather the knights and resolve the matter with Merlin as this was about more than just an insult on a local family under Rome’s protection. That family’s farm was the primary supplier of perishable supplies to the outpost….and their treaty with the Woads was an important one that affected everyone.

Arthur’s gaze lingered on the distressed expression in Aithne’s dark eyes and he felt anger rumbling in his chest – anger that once again Merlin and his people threatened innocent people.
Ash: lancelot arthur by matasasha_b on November 7th, 2008 09:32 pm (UTC)
Aithne looked up at Arthur as he dropped his coat gently over her shoulders. It was strange, but having him in this proximity wasn't as ... disturbing as it ought to be. She remembered the first time they'd been this close - damned Lancelot. She shook her head and a small smile decorated her face, even as Arthur confirmed his help as she had hoped - prayed - he would. That's why she'd been willing to run for almost an entire night to get to Camboglanna. She raised a trembling hand and wiped at her eyes; she'd only allowed a few tears to escape, and those, she told herself, were from the exhaustion of being awake for too long.

“What were the exact demands or terms for the release of your brothers? Anything that you can further recall will be most helpful, Aithne. Was Merlin himself present to make these demands? I will send men immediately to protect your family in the village until the matter is resolved ….and I must insist on seeing to it that you are taken care of here as well,”

Arthur's hands on her own, even through the fabric of the coat, felt good and familiar; not being able to help it, Aithne swayed slightly forward - from exhaustion, yes - but Arthur pulled back, a seemingly uncomfortable expression on his craggy face. She rolled her eyes minutely, but understood what he was doing. She was a woman, after all, alone in his office. No matter, at least to her.

"Merlin was not there - not that I could see," she answered him, chaffing her fingers together to warm them. The overcoat almost swallowed her, but she was thankful for the heat. It also smelled like him - like she remembered from that one night, even though it hadn't progressed anywhere - and that made her relax a bit more. "And all that was said by his lieutenants, or whomever the cheeky bastards were," her delicate features pulled into a frown, the scar in her eyebrow showing pink against the white of her skin. She rubbed at it briefly as she thought. "Was 'we need more. Expect us again soon, peasants.'" She shook her head. "Peasants. As if they themselves are so high and mighty as to look down on other native folk. At least we wear clothing," she laughed, and then sighed.

"I knew you would help us, Arthur," she said as she looked up at him again. A flash of memory danced through her mind - gods, but he'd been so shy of her - and she twisted her mouth wryly. "I am happy to see Lancelot still alive and with us - is he still as cocky as ever?" The corners of her eyes crinkled as she spoke, even though shivers still passed through her spine as she warmed up. "Silly git. I'm glad to see you, as well."

Her gentle expression and hesitant smile were only spoiled by the shadows under her dark eyes - they gave her a hunted look that she didn't know about, otherwise she'd banish it immediately. Scrubbing at her wild hair, she attempted to sit up straight. "'m a right mess," she commented. "I am so sorry to barge in on you like this. And oh! there was a girl there - a quiet one. She held back from the other blue people, but they all seemed to defer to her. D'you know who she might be?"
Cat: Arthur ~ Hands of Justicecat_o_wen on November 12th, 2008 08:54 pm (UTC)
Arthur’s attentiveness to Aithne hadn’t appeared to displease her even if his overcoat nearly swallowed the woman’s diminutive frame. Lancelot should be present as the other man’s skills in managing – and comforting - women were far superior to those of Arthur’s. Yet….that one pleasant evening spent with this woman – albeit months past – had Arthur feeling a sort of possessiveness over Aithne that had him thankful she had come to him instead of his lieutenant. Male pride – a foolish notion to be sure.

"Merlin was not there - not that I could see. And all that was said by his lieutenants, or whomever the cheeky bastards were, was 'we need more. Expect us again soon, peasants.'…Peasants. As if they themselves are so high and mighty as to look down on other native folk. At least we wear clothing,"

“They demanded more food supplies then?” Arthur frowned at Aithne’s words knowing her village could hardly spare the additional produce and thus other measures must be taken. And why was Merlin making such a demand? Perhaps that was even more curious than the threat itself…and why take Aithne’s brothers? Arthur rubbed two of his thick fingers over his mouth while pondering what it all could mean.

"I knew you would help us, Arthur…. I am happy to see Lancelot still alive and with us - is he still as cocky as ever? Silly git. I'm glad to see you, as well."

At hearing Aithne speak Lancelot’s name, Arthur’s brow arched – and rose higher as she casually inquired about the man’s overtly confident demeanor. But the Commander caught himself and smiled. Of course Aithne would have remembered Lancelot as it was the knight who had introduced the young woman to Arthur in the first place.

“I am pleased to see you again as well, Aithne,” Arthur answered with a gentle tone allowing his rigid features to soften again. He hoped that Aithne was unable to sense his growing concerns in regards to Merlin and a possible greater issue at hand.

She smiled up at Arthur – sweetly and innocently – yet there was weariness in her soft expression. And those dark eyes framed with long thick lashes seemed to draw out Arthur’s memories from that one evening they had shared – long before Lancelot had become more than simply Arthur’s closest friend. Before Arthur’s private life had become…..complicated.

"'m a right mess, I am so sorry to barge in on you like this.

“That is quite alright,” Arthur slightly raised a hand as he spoke gesturing that it was no trouble. And then he pushed off from his perch on the edge of the massive wooden desk and started for the door with the intent on making arrangements. But Aithne’s gentle voice halted his progress as she added another detail to her ordeal.

And oh! there was a girl there - a quiet one. She held back from the other blue people, but they all seemed to defer to her. D'you know who she might be?"

“Hmmm….” Arthur’s brows drew together as he pondered this additional piece of information. His index finger lifted to his mouth and momentarily tapped on his bottom lip as he thought a moment longer before answering.

“…I do not. However, the Woads do live in a relatively matriarchal society. She could have been a high-ranking member of Merlin’s tribe,” Arthur answered before continuing on to the door. He reached for the handle and cracked open the door. Arthur stuck his head out into the hallway and caught a page boy and promptly sent for Jols and a hot meal for Aithne. He would have his squire prepare a room for Aithne once she’d been properly fed. And the Commander would also send a small group of soldiers to guard Aithne’s village until he and the knights could discover Merlin’s true purpose.
(cont in next post)
Cat: Arthur ~ Hands of Justicecat_o_wen on November 12th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC)
(...continued from last post)

“I have water here,” Arthur returned to his desk and reached for the pitcher and an empty mug there. “And a good meal is on the way,” He gave the auburn haired woman a gentle and hopefully reassuring smile while filling the mug with water. “Do not worry, Aithne. I will see to it that your brothers are returned to you and that your family is safe,” Arthur promised while offering the mug of water over to Aithne.

Now was not the time to think on it, but what if Arthur had not been so terribly shy that night? What if he had continued to visit Aithne at her village instead of burying himself in his duties? She was not high born nor exceptionally handsome….but she had been – and still is – kind to a young officer who had no experience in courtship. What had been Lancelot’s motives that night?
Ash: king arthur by lessysasha_b on November 20th, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Aithne shivered again, despite Arthur's overcoat, but smiled generously at the Roman as he reassured her that food and help were on the way.

“Do not worry, Aithne. I will see to it that your brothers are returned to you and that your family is safe,”

"Gods love you, Arthur," she sighed as she stood finally, moving closer to the brazier. She held her hands out over it; the flame crackling there reminescent of her home and her own hearth. By all that was holy, what would they do if things with the Woad could not be rectified? Shaking her head - do not cry, girl - she turned and took the mug of water that Arthur offered, keeping her back to the brazier as the heat gradually, finally, began to seep into her stiff bones.

She watched him carefully, albeit hopefully surreptitiously as he seemed to be thinking. What if things had been different?

What if she'd done more than just kiss him that night? What had the bastard Lancelot's motivations been? Had he merely been interested in getting his friend a woman? That certainly hadn't happened - and Aithne had no delusions of grandeur. She knew she was low born, too low born for even an orphan half Roman-half native commander. Arthur might have a good position here at Camboglanna; he might have a good future if he survived. Aithne took a sip and stared at the broad, brooding form of the man over the top of her mug. I need a good future...but he's too grand for the likes of me. I'll take the help he's willing to give.

It pays to have powerful - and kind - friends.


Still, she thought back on the night she'd come close to letting the Roman man have her...and regretted not going further more than she cared to admit.

A knock disturbed her thoughts, and she and Arthur both jumped as the commander's squire entered the room with food and a grin.

"Commander," the scruffy man said in a genial tone - almost too genial for someone who clearly worked as much as Aithne herself did. "Here's the requested food - and is this the lady you wanted rooms for? Don't worry, miss, I'll have you sorted out shortly. Give us a moment and I'll be back. And oh, sir," he added to Arthur. "The men are .... well, I hope you wanted all four of the new horses - because Lancelot bought 'em all from that trader. Plus several new pieces of tack." Jols winced as he set the tray down. "I hope that was in the budget? I knew I should have watched him," his voice trailed off, and he began to mutter to himself.

As he fussed about the room, Aithne met Arthur's eyes with an amused expression on her freckled face. The scar that sat prominently in her eyebrow twinged suddenly, and she rubbed at it. "Lancelot is himself, I see," she laughed, but it was short and obviously forced. "Arthur...what shall I do if things...what if Merlin won't speak to you? What if...? Gods. We barely make do as it is, and I don't want to lose the contract here at Badon! What if I can't...aye, goodness."

She took a large gulp of her water, and knuckled at her eyes. "Squire," she sighed. "I need something a wee bit stronger than this water. C'n you oblige a lady?"
Cat: Arthur ~ Secret Heartcat_o_wen on November 23rd, 2008 08:45 pm (UTC)
"Gods love you, Arthur,"

Arthur smiled appreciatively at Aithne’s kind words, but the sentiment did not quite reach his eyes. God could never love a man who took such pleasures in sin as Arthur had. A visit to the chapel was long overdue this day. Arthur rubbed a hand at the back of his neck and only mildly grimaced as his fingertips brushed over a bruise there – Lancelot. But thankfully before the Commander’s thoughts could completely be consumed with guilt and want for Lancelot’s touch, a resounding knock at the door and the entrance of Jols snapped Arthur back into the reality of the moment.

"Commander, here's the requested food - and is this the lady you wanted rooms for? Don't worry, miss, I'll have you sorted out shortly. Give us a moment and I'll be back. And oh, sir, the men are .... well, I hope you wanted all four of the new horses - because Lancelot bought 'em all from that trader. Plus several new pieces of tack. I hope that was in the budget? I knew I should have watched him,"

Arthur had acknowledged that yes indeed; this was the lady that required the room. But as Jols informed the Commander on the purchases…Arthur audibly sighed and shook his head. Of course Lancelot had bought all of them.

“You are not to blame, Jols. And I will reconcile the books even if I have to cover the costs out of my own wages,” Arthur quipped the latter part while moving around to the rear of his desk to search for the ledger. He would not deny Lancelot the stock or any purchase of tack that his lieutenant obviously felt was needed. Arthur trusted his second. Because I cannot deny him of anything…and God help me, he knows it.

"Lancelot is himself, I see."

“That he truly is, my lady,” Arthur quietly and perhaps a bit grumpily concurred as his index finger moved over the budget ledger in search of the last entry. Jols could not suppress a smirk across his craggy expression at that either.

"Arthur.…what shall I do if things...what if Merlin won't speak to you? What if...? Gods. We barely make do as it is, and I don't want to lose the contract here at Badon! What if I can't...aye, goodness."

At hearing the worry in her voice, Arthur looked up from his ledger with as much reassurances in his green eyes as possible. He allowed a gentle smile while Aithne scrubbed a hand over her weary eyes. She did not deserve to suffer such distress. And had things gone differently between them, Arthur would have had Aithne and her family housed here within the walls of the outpost. Safe. Protected. Had she wanted me then.

“Do not despair, Aithne,” Arthur began as he came back around his desk to face the woman proper, and then he lifted his right hand without hesitation to lightly touch the ball of her shoulder.

"Squire, I need something a wee bit stronger than this water. C'n you oblige a lady?"

Arthur turned his head and gave Jols a nod of his approval. A good strong mug of warm cider should do the lady good. Innocently, the Commander did not immediately reach the conclusion that Aithne might be requesting wine or ale over plain cider. Jols, on the other hand, had caught the lady’s meaning well enough.

“Aye, miss, happy to oblige….Commander,” The squire answered and with a nod to Arthur, strode from the small office off to fetch a stronger drink and see to a room for the lady as ordered. And as he hurried on his way, Jols could not help but wonder on how Lancelot would react to Arthur taking in a pretty lady friend. He made a mental note to avoid the First Knight this evening. None of me business anyways.

Cat: Arthur ~ Secret Heartcat_o_wen on November 23rd, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC)
(continued from last entry....)

Once the door had clicked shut leaving Arthur and Aithne alone again, he continued…

“I will see that your brothers are returned to you safely. And you have my word that you will not lose your contract here. I want you to trust me, Aithne. Can you do that?” Arthur asked, his hand giving a gentle rub at the upper portion of her arm as he spoke. He then realized that the gesture was certainly crossing the line of decency and dropped his hand from Aithne’s slender arm. A small smile graced Arthur’s lips….and the memory of her kiss nearly brought a blush to his rugged expression.

“Please, sit and eat..before the meal has cooled,” Arthur gestured towards the tray of food that Jols had positioned on the corner of the Commander’s desk.
Ash: Lancelot knight by lessysasha_b on November 25th, 2008 02:12 am (UTC)
Aithne nodded grateful thanks at Arthur's squire as the man left to get her - hopefully - some ale or wine. The night had been much too long and full of fear and worry...she turned her attention to the food that sat on Arthur's desk, and picking up a piece of hard bread with cheese, bit into it. Delicious, of course.

She met Arthur's eyes as he touched her arm, rubbing at it gently.

“I will see that your brothers are returned to you safely. And you have my word that you will not lose your contract here. I want you to trust me, Aithne. Can you do that? Please, sit and eat..before the meal has cooled,”

As he spoke, Arthur seemed to realize just what he was doing with his hand, and dropped it rather quickly from Aithne's bicep. She smiled at him, blush rising on her fair cheeks, the imperfections on her skin showing bright and unwelcoming as the blood flowed in her face.

What if...what if things had been different? What if she'd gone with Lancelot instead of Arthur that night...would she have just gotten a quickie behind the stables...but look at how things were now. No different than they'd been, and she still unmarried and working.

Sighing, Aithne ate as Arthur went over the books he'd pulled out when Jols had mentioned the large purchase Lancelot had made. Oh, the ornery first knight - Aithne knew as she watched Arthur that she'd made the right decision - even if it had only ended up in her receiving a gentle kiss. She also had gained a good friend...and that was worth her current predicament.

She hoped.

"Thank you, Arthur," she said, swallowing the last bite of food. She laughed as she looked at the empty plates. "I am a country girl - we Britons can eat, I will say that. Brendan always told me I'd be as fat as a pig and stay alone forever if I didn't ignore my love of food." She shook her head, and wiped unnoticed at her dirt smudged cheek. "I am good at what I do for a reason," she added, her voice a whisper, the tone tinged with sorrow. She looked up, and met Arthur's gaze, feeling the blush that had risen earlier take the skin of her bosom and neck as well. "I...how can I repay you?" she asked, her voice dropping unintentionally into a throaty tone. "My family will owe you everything - "

"Here you go, commander. A drink for the lady, rooms prepared..." Jols stopped, a look of distaste crossing his face once, briefly. "And Lancelot."

The First Knight had followed Jols into the office, and he lounged against the wall, eyes taking in everything but Arthur as Jols stepped to Aithne and gave her her ale. "Drink up, lady," he murmured to her. "You'll need it." He turned to Arthur. "I'll wait outside should you need anything else. Let me know when you're ready to take her to her rooms. Lady," he nodded respectfully to her. "Lancelot." The word was little more than a grunt, and Jols was extremely happy to be out of Arthur's office. He shuddered, and then made his way down the corridor.

"Aithne," Lancelot spoke, his eyes catching the maid's. "Looking as fetching as ever." He crossed the room, and plunked his buttocks down on Arthur's desk. Swinging his leg, he regarded her with narrowed, sparkling eyes. "It's been far too long. What's brought you here?"

He cast what appeared to be an offhand glance at Arthur. "I took care of the horses," he said breezily. "Got new tack, too. I figured you'd want only the best for your men."

He held Arthur's gaze for a short, intense moment, and then refocused on the girl, his jealousy flaring and burning and roiling like a live thing.

Damn it all.

Why is she here? Why now? What does she want with him?

Why does it make me feel sick?


Cat: Arthur ~ Commandercat_o_wen on November 26th, 2008 08:58 pm (UTC)
Arthur had returned his attention to the ledgers while Aithne settled down in a chair and ate. The lines and figures marked on the scroll were a welcome distraction from the sweet memory of a shared kiss that had fluttered to the surface between them moments ago. That one evening so many months past….Arthur had felt pressured into the one night courtship by Lancelot and had been quite uneasy when left alone with the young woman.

Arthur had in his innocence never understood why his best friend had attempted to find the Roman a woman that night….Arthur had not Lancelot’s charm or good fortune with women. And Aithne had deserved better that night. He cleared his throat and shoved those thoughts aside – nothing had come of it other than Arthur’s embarrassment at not providing the lady with what she most likely had wanted; a charming suitor which Arthur was most decidedly not. Aithne needed something else now, and that ‘something’ was most decidedly what Arthur was - protector and savior. And even though Arthur had remained standing, he leaned his hip against the desk as he continued to silently fuss over the budget.

"Thank you, Arthur,"

Aithne’s gentle voice had Arthur lifting his intense gaze from the ledgers again, and he gave the lady a small easy smile. She laughed and he noted how the corners of her weary dark eyes crinkled and how the freckles on her pale cheeks were masked by smudges of dirt and grime….she had had a hard night and Arthur felt an ache in his chest in urgency now more than ever to rescue her.

"I am a country girl - we Britons can eat, I will say that. Brendan always told me I'd be as fat as a pig and stay alone forever if I didn't ignore my love of food. I am good at what I do for a reason …..I...how can I repay you? My family will owe you everything - "

The lady’s figure was of course quite pleasing, if a little on the thin side in Arthur’s opinion. His smile broadened until Aithne’s tone changed with the seriousness of the current situation….Arthur had parted his lips to respond and lifted his right hand in reassurances when the door opened again and Jols bounded back into the office.

"Here you go, commander. A drink for the lady, rooms prepared......and Lancelot."

Green eyes immediately snapped to the dark curly head of his lieutenant – and lover - as Lancelot followed in after Jols….and Arthur’s gaze continued to follow Lancelot only as the Sarmatian took up residence against the far wall – seemingly avoiding Arthur’s gaze completely. Would the knight remember Aithne at all? Arthur prayed not.

"I'll wait outside should you need anything else. Let me know when you're ready to take her to her rooms. Lady,"

“Thank you, Jols,” Arthur acknowledged his squire and then waited for the man to exit the now suddenly all too small office before looking back to Lancelot. Arthur’s fingertips pressed down on the firm surface of the desk on either side of the budget ledger. His weight shifted from where his hip had pressed against the edge to now stand more officiously behind the desk. He glanced down at the parchment again ready to discuss both Lancelot’s overspending and the reason for Aithne’s presence when the knight came to sit prominently on the corner of the desk and addressed the lady….with a familiarity that had Arthur nearly scowling. Of course Lancelot knew her…and not likely so innocently as Arthur would have liked.

"Aithne, looking as fetching as ever. It's been far too long. What's brought you here?"

(continued.....)
Cat: Arthur ~ Commandercat_o_wen on November 26th, 2008 09:02 pm (UTC)
(...continued here)

“She is in need of our help, Lancelot,” Arthur answered for the lady and briefly canted his head in her direction.

"I took care of the horses, got new tack, too. I figured you'd want only the best for your men."

Slowly, Arthur’s eyebrows rose upwards at Lancelot’s tone. And at last, Lancelot met Arthur’s gaze head on…and that ‘look’ in the other man’s eyes had the hair on the back of the Roman’s neck standing on end. What had Lancelot to be angry about? Had he not just come from working with horses and spending far too much of Arthur’s coin? These were typically things that had the Sarmatian smiling from ear to ear….not seething with anger. Of course Arthur would never imagine Lancelot to feel jealousy….

“Of course I want the best for my men,” for you. “I will speak to you about that matter later,” Arthur answered solidly and with a frown at Lancelot’s flippant tone. But the man was no longer looking at Arthur at all. The Commander released a small sigh and pushed off from the desk to stand at his full height.

“It seems the Woads have become even bolder. They have threatened Aithne’s village and they have taken her two brothers hostage….a ransom for supplies,” Arthur explained, arms crossing over his chest and his determined gaze turning from Lancelot to the flames dancing in the brazier. “We will resolve the matter and rescue her brothers.”

It was that simple for Arthur.
Ash: Lancelot falling by lessysasha_b on November 28th, 2008 03:34 am (UTC)
“She is in need of our help, Lancelot,”

Ah. No wonder the girl had suddenly appeared at the fortress, after so much time had passed since the harvest night when Lancelot had first tried to claim her for Arthur - and then thought about himself.

Unfortunately for him, she hadn't been very agreeable on that matter. Not that anyone but himself and Aithne needed to know that.

He smiled at Aithne, noting how the freckles on her face stood out, and how creamy her skin was, despite the obvious exhaustion that warred for thing-most-easily-seen. He opened his mouth to speak to her, but Arthur continued, his commander mask in full view. Lancelot's shoulders tightened even after the workout he'd gotten with the horses; fuck, but he'd been in a such a lovely mood up until he saw -

“Of course I want the best for my men,” for you. “I will speak to you about that matter later. It seems the Woads have become even bolder. They have threatened Aithne’s village and they have taken her two brothers hostage….a ransom for supplies. We will resolve the matter and rescue her brothers.”

"Later, hm? Well, best not to forget, commander. I have plenty of expenditures for you to add to the books for the men." His dark eyes glittered at Arthur as the other man canted his gaze to the burning brazier. Lancelot followed Arthur's lead and stared at the hot coal as well; a vision of himself, always chilled and never quite properly comfortable, sitting in Arthur's warm quarters, his eyes only for the Roman, his hands on Arthur's arms, his backside finding a happy spot on Arthur's thighs. Content, not hungry, warm. Loved.

He swung around to look at Aithne, and repressed the sudden wave of ridiculous! jealousy that flared at the sight of her slender body, round and soft where his was strong and lean - wrapped in the overcoat that Arthur had worn that morning.

He stood, and snugging his jerkin about him - goosebumps broke over his skin despite the lack of chill in the office - he moved to stop in front of the girl. "Aithne," he said, his voice low and purr-like. "If what Arthur says is true, by all that I can offer, we will help you. Gods forfend you loose your business or your contract here. Besides...we could use a pretty face to liven things up around here, hrm, Arthur? It being all us crotchety men all the time...." He laughed, but it did not do anything but quickly crease the sides of his mouth.

Aithne in the meantime had been watching the strange exchange between the two men and the shift in Arthur's mood. Lancelot. Ever the cad. She sighed as he flattered her with false modesty; the knight had his place, but she preferred men of true wisdom and kindness. Not that Lancelot wasn't an eyefull - but she had a feeling had she gone further than allowing him a kiss on her cheek, she might be pregnant and alone by now.

"Sir," she smiled back at him, although her tone, like his, was not indicative of her real feelings. "I am more than grateful for any help you and Arthur can give me. My family will be in your debt," she turned her dark eyes on Arthur, as did Lancelot.

"I cannot thank you enough, commander," Aithne added, shutting out Lancelot's strange body language and sarcastic words. Her real champion would always be the man she was watching - and would always watch, even if from afar.

The Sarmatian ticked his eyes quickly to Aithne as she spoke, and then back at Arthur. His smile stretched to a mocking grin - and he straightened up, the light from the coals flickering on his black clothing and the small amount of sweat left on his brow from his workout with the new horses. "Perhaps we should see to her family immediately, Arthur," he said, voice smooth and deep. "I'm sure one of the legions would have someone to send to the village - unless you wanted guard duty?"

He blinked lazily, innocently. And yet his blood boiled, rushing to lie dormant - for now - under his thin skin. How dare that girl try and sink her claws - ah, fuck. Lancelot himself had set the two up.

(continued)
Ash: Lancelot falling by lessysasha_b on November 28th, 2008 03:35 am (UTC)
(cont.)

But things were different now. Very different, and Lancelot's mark was on Arthur, and by the gods, but no one would wash it away. He rubbed at his neck, and winced as his long fingers found a sore spot even as his thoughts rattled around inside his angry head.

His mark on me. Mine. Things are different now.

Aithne's gaze was still on Arthur, her body tense even though she was finally well fed and drowzy. A weird feeling emanated from Lancelot - it made Aithne feel - hunted? She shook her head; nerves and exhaustion. Tugging at Arthur's overcoat, she opened her mouth to speak, and a great yawn split her lips. She laughed tiredly and covered her mouth.

"Let us get the poor thing to her rooms, Arthur," Lancelot broke in, haste evident as his face scrunched to show his 'concern.' "She is obviously worn out, and my dear," he added, turning to Aithne, "don't fret about your brothers. I'm sure between the commander and myself we can come up with something that will work out. They will be safe."

That was the one thing he'd said since he entered the office that wasn't meant as duplicitous or false. If there was something that needed to be done, well, Lancelot would get it done. And not for the sake of any 'suffering peoples' or for the might of doing the 'right' thing, as Arthur would try to impress upon him. No, Lancelot would get it done, and with all due speed, because of his pride in his skill. And only for that.

Unless it's him in danger...gods.

He bit his lip slowly, and fingered the laces to his jerkin. "What say you, Arthur?" I'm sure she'd be more than happy to stay near you this night.

Jols better have given her the furthest rooms in the damned fort.


Cat: Arthur ~ Secret Heartcat_o_wen on November 29th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)
The lady had come with an urgent matter that required Arthur’s attention, and all that the Commander could feel right now was the annoyance? that radiated from the other occupant in the room. Lancelot’s nearness certainly had an effect on Arthur – one that the Roman did not wish for Aithne to pick up on. Arthur reached up to nonchalantly (or so he prayed it appeared) tug at the leather trimmed collar of his tunic; his gaze still fixed on the brazier when Lancelot commented….

"Later, hm? Well, best not to forget, commander. I have plenty of expenditures for you to add to the books for the men."

A small flare of a flame seemingly leaped from the fire to alight in Arthur’s emerald eyes as his focus returned to Lancelot. Later, indeed. Yet, Arthur was truly not angry with his lieutenant about the expenditures…still, a tension persisted….and Arthur could not put his finger on the true origin of it. But the moment he would have Lancelot alone, Arthur would put an end to whatever had the other man agitated. His lieutenant then stood and Arthur’s assessing gaze travelled the whole of Lancelot’s shape from the tips of his curly black hair down to his booted toes. And all that the Roman – God help him – could see and feel was the wildly unbridled passion that constantly flowed between them. He shall be my undoing.

"Aithne. If what Arthur says is true, by all that I can offer, we will help you. Gods forfend you loose your business or your contract here. Besides...we could use a pretty face to liven things up around here, hrm, Arthur? It being all us crotchety men all the time...."

Arthur had to suppress the notion to roll his eyes at Lancelot’s words….and was the other man truly attempting to charm the lady? Right in front of Arthur? He chewed at the insides of his mouth and offered his own reassuring smile for Aithne while resting both hands on his hips. The lady’s dark eyes seemed focused on Arthur rather than Lancelot which was not typical female behavior around the knight.

"Sir, I am more than grateful for any help you and Arthur can give me. My family will be in your debt, I cannot thank you enough, commander,"

“No need to thank me, Aithne,” Arthur had started when Lancelot continued with his own concerns and reassurances. Green eyes remained gentle for her despite the seriousness of the matter. The lady’s safety and comfort must be Arthur’s priority at this moment.

"Perhaps we should see to her family immediately, Arthur, I'm sure one of the legions would have someone to send to the village - unless you wanted guard duty? Let us get the poor thing to her rooms, Arthur. She is obviously worn out, and my dear don't fret about your brothers. I'm sure between the commander and myself we can come up with something that will work out. They will be safe. What say you, Arthur?"

Arthur only briefly glanced over at Lancelot, long enough to indicate his agreement with the other man’s words. And then he extended his left hand to Aithne.

“Allow me to show you to your room,” Arthur kindly offered as he slightly and respectfully tilted his head towards Aithne.

She accepted his hand, albeit with a moment of hesitation that no doubt stemmed from being privy to the odd behavior between the two men standing over her.

“I will send men to protect your village immediately. And then Lancelot and I shall set off to retrieve your brothers and settle matters with their captors at first light. You have my word that this matter will be taken care of and you were right to come to me,” Arthur continued as Aithne stood up and allowed the Commander to lead her to the door. Yet as he passed by Lancelot, Arthur’s free hand brushed over the knight’s leather clad hip. It was a gesture born out of the Roman’s affections for Lancelot, but if the other man saw it as a reassurance…then all the better.

Arthur reached around the lady and opened the wooden door indicating that Aithne should step out into the corridor.
Ash: lance b and w by matasasha_b on December 3rd, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
Aithne's dark and red-rimmed eyes flickered back and forth between Lancelot and Arthur as Arthur reached out a hand and offered to take her to the room he'd provided. The office felt strangely thick with some kind of weird ... maleness that had her wanting to fling up her arms and run screaming from the both of them, but when she met the attentive green eyes of the commander, she pushed aside the strange thoughts and stood hastily.

Something was obviously bothering the usually full-of-himself Lancelot (she knew how he was all too well, thank you), but Arthur was refusing to act on the knight's attitude with Aithne in the room. Or so she assumed.

“Allow me to show you to your room. I will send men to protect your village immediately. And then Lancelot and I shall set off to retrieve your brothers and settle matters with their captors at first light. You have my word that this matter will be taken care of and you were right to come to me,”

She smiled at him as they passed by the petulant first knight into the crisp afternoon. Aithne shrugged more deeply into Arthur's overcoat; now that she'd rested and eaten, she suddenly wasn't hot anymore. As a matter of fact, it was quite the opposite. She slid a bit closer to Arthur as they walked, trying to absorb some of his body heat. "I shall thank you if I choose," she told him, the freckles on her nose disappearing briefly as her skin wrinkled with smiling. "And you will be repaid. Of that I can guarantee."

Lancelot tried to hold in check his fuming; did Arthur not notice, nor see at all the chit trying to flirt with him, as she'd not done when she had the chance? The Sarmatian bit his lip and cursed internally - she was a pretty thing - thus, the reason for his interest in her in the first place. And not just for Arthur; but she'd been too shy ... or something of that nature ... and Lancelot had had to turn his attentions to another young lady that evening.

He stood as Arthur led Aithne out, the small office pushing them closer together than Lancelot would have liked at the moment, and his eyes widened in shock when the commander passed by him and touched his hip as he exited the office with the girl.

Lancelot froze in place; what did that mean? Was Arthur trying to tell him to shut the fuck up...or was he just being Arthur in a new relationship and staking a claim?

Or was he trying to silently communicate his affection for Lancelot?

Shaking his head, Lancelot followed the two out into the courtyard, his skin burning beneath his leathers where the Roman had barely brushed his fingers. His flesh in his suddenly too snug trousers made itself known, but Lancelot growled fiercely at it, and his body responded - for once.

He quickened his step as the courtyard and Jols came into view, and he pressed his right shoulder to Aithne's left, even as Arthur matched her right side. He smiled, a toothy thing that should have blinded her to his true feelings. "It is chilly, sweet. And don't worry; things will be handled here as they should be."

Again - he didn't lie on that sentiment. Lancelot figured there was no reason to not take care of Aithe's problems. He was a knight; he was the best knight, and he'd be damned if some stupid Woad made him eat those words.

Especially if it was a Woad that was associated with the Magician.

Jols saw the trio coming and sprang into action. "Commander! I've placed the young lady in the section where visiting wives usually stay; I hope that's satisfactory?"

At the very same moment, a group of legionaries caught sight of Arthur in his official finery and ran to intercept the commander, even as Lancelot made to answer Jols. Fucking infantry.

"Commander Castus, sir! I've been looking for you - Optio Regulus wants to know what you have planned for evening rotation, sir!"

Lancelot winced at the volume of the soldier's voice - good gods, but did the damn Romans have to be so fucking smart and salute-y all the time? He opened his mouth to intervene - again - but the soldier had stepped in front of him, as if he weren't even there.