“… will be drafted from our lower nobility. I want a list of every eligible nobleman in our Kingdom that could fill the position. Make sure that it reaches me before the end of the day.”
“Good,” the Iron King said, pushing some documents to the side of his desk. “Then, onto the next matter. General Ector has called for a war meeting to discuss the current state of our military ranks. You will make sure that you attend this meeting. If you have to, you may cancel this week’s civil petitions. Do not be absent again, Arthur. Do you understand?”
Arthur nodded silently, going through the motions without really listening to what his father was saying. The Crown Prince couldn’t focus. He had been out of sorts all morning. Not a single thing on Uther’s never-ending list of responsibilities truly reached his mind. Arthur silently stood in the corner of the room, motionless, like he was part of the room’s interior decorations.
He knew that he was supposed to be paying attention. He knew that not following up on Uther’s instructions would get him in trouble later. But Arthur couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t bring himself to focus on anything else. The Crown Prince’s mind was occupied, taken hostage as his thoughts constantly trailed back to the conversation from the other day.
He couldn’t stop thinking about it.
He couldn’t stop thinking about her.
The memory of Guinevere’s face continuously forced itself to the front of his mind. Arthur kept seeing her expression, the thankful and relieved look in her eyes. He hadn’t even imagined that a gentle look like that could end up hurting him so much.
But it had.
The Crown Prince didn’t understand. They had been doing so well. Arthur had done everything he could in order to ensure that. He’d jumped through a dozen hoops, both social and political. He’d roped his sister into his plan, enduring the impish jabs that she’d constantly thrown his way since. He had manipulated Mithian to the point of hurting her feelings. Arthur had even humiliated himself before Lancelot, showing his second-in-command a side of him that he’d never wanted to reveal – all to make sure that he and Guinevere could be together.
All for her.
And, after all that… she’d left him anyway.
Arthur grimaced, trying and failing to push the memory away. The Crown Prince was only vaguely aware of Uther’s continued rambling in the background; as he was now, none of it seemed important.
“Then, about the refugee situation,” the Iron King continued, looking down at a small notebook. “Agravaine has reported that you’ve assigned part of the courtyard to them as a temporary shelter. This is unacceptable. I understand the sentiment, but we simply cannot compromise our own-”
She’d just… walked out.
She’d just walked out… and left him.
Arthur didn’t understand. He’d done everything. Everything he could think of.
Why was that still not enough?
“Arthur? Are you even listening to me?”
Arthur let out a groan. He bowed his head, rubbing the top of his nose with his fingers as he mumbled an apology.
“I… forgive me, father. I was… distracted.”
The Iron King raised a single eyebrow in response.
“Clearly,” he said, visibly displeased with his son. “I expect better from you, Arthur. I do not summon you to these briefings so you can give me your best impression of a mannequin.”
“…I know,” Arthur sighed, defeated. “Forgive me. I’ll do better.”
Uther didn’t answer him. The Iron King turned back to his desk, reaching for the next paper on the pile. The next second, his hand stopped. His father frowned, suddenly changing his mind. The Iron King glanced up at Arthur again from the corner of his eye.
“What has gotten you so distracted, anyway?” he asked. “I haven’t seen you this out of it since you were a child. Is there an issue with the duties I gave you?”
“No- no, those are fine,” Arthur said, shaking his head at his father. The Iron King raised his eyebrows in response.
“Your knights-in-training, then?”
“No. It’s not- it’s a personal matter,” Arthur replied, awkwardly trying to evade the question. “It’s… complicated.”
He knew that he couldn’t tell his father was what really going on. It would not end well. Admitting to the King that he was experiencing genuine heartbreak over a servant was the same as opening Pandora’s Box. Nothing good would come of it. Arthur wasn’t sure if the Iron King would even understand his feelings in the first place, given what kind of personality his father—
“Complicated? Is this about a woman?”
Arthur opened his mouth, then closed it again. Out of all the responses that he’d expected from Uther, this had not been one of them. He hadn’t expected him to guess right. Especially not right off the bat. Uther’s words came so far out of left field that the Crown Prince had no idea what to do. For a moment, Arthur genuinely had no idea how to respond.
And he didn’t have to. As Arthur floundered, dumbfounded and looking like a goldfish, Uther drew his own conclusions from his son’s continued silence. The Crown Prince watched as the harsh expression vanished from the Iron King’s face. In its place, Arthur could see something that he hadn’t seen in a very long time.
“So that’s why you have been absent from court so often,” Uther smirked, looking oddly amused at his son’s discomfort. “Spring youth. Don’t think I don’t remember what it was like at your age.”
I highly doubt that.
But Arthur couldn’t say that out loud. He couldn’t admit to what was really troubling him, either. But the Crown Prince hadn’t masked his reaction at all, and by now his father was so close to the truth that he wouldn’t accept an all-out lie anymore. So Arthur had to think on his feet. He quickly twisted the details into something that he knew King Uther would accept.
“Uh, yeah, sure. I… had a spat with Mithian,” Arthur said, awkwardly looking away. “It’s not important-”
“Nonsense,” the King spoke, waving his hand dismissively. “Mithian of Nemeth is a crucial investment in your future. It is important for you to stay in her good graces where possible. And I was young once, too,” he continued with a little smirk, ignoring Arthur’s visible cringe. “Out with it, then. What happened?”
Arthur really did not want to answer that question, especially not with Uther as his conversation partner. The two had never talked about things like this before. Not once. Arthur simply did not have that kind of relationship with his father.
But the Crown Prince knew Uther well. His sudden sentimentality probably wouldn’t last – Uther was rarely sentimental about anything – but Arthur knew that he couldn’t refuse, anyway. If he tried, the Iron King would just drag it out of him by force.
He had no choice. Arthur had to reply.
He almost wanted to turn into an actual mannequin, just so he could avoid this conversation.
“We had a… disagreement,” the Crown Prince grumbled. “She rejected me. Yesterday.”
“I see. And?”
“And now she wants nothing to do with me.”
Uther leaned back into his chair. The Iron King looked him up and down, clearly waiting for a continuation of the story. When nothing came, he raised a single eyebrow at his son.
“And?” Uther asked. “What have you done about it?”
“I… nothing? She’s made herself very clear—”
“And you left it at that?” Uther asked, incredulous. “You just gave up?”
The Crown Prince blinked. He didn’t understand what his father was getting at. Confused, Arthur watched as the Iron King shook his head at him in disapproval.
“Arthur, you do not give up after the first setback,” Uther lectured. “Winning a woman’s heart is just another type of battle. It takes time and patience. There are obstacles to overcome. It does not just happen overnight. Especially not if the woman you are pursuing has any worth,” he continued. “Do you think I won your mother’s heart in one day? Of course not. It took months of hard work.”
Uther never talked about his late wife. Ever. Dropping her name in conversation caused the Iron King’s mood to change dramatically, usually ending in him losing his temper. Arthur and Morgana had noticed this very early on. They’d learned to never bring her up.
But every once in a while, Uther surprised him. Usually when Arthur least expected it. And this time was no exception. For the second time in a row, the Crown Prince had no idea what to say. When he’d gotten up that morning, he had not considered for a second that the afternoon would start with him getting love advice from his father.
Morgana would never believe me.
Arthur hesitated for a moment, unsure if he should test this boundary or not. But then curiosity won out. With a raised eyebrow, the Crown Prince looked down at his father.
“So… she didn’t like you?”
Uther let out a dry laugh.
“Ha! No. When we first met, your mother despised me. Intensely. I recall her calling me a ‘crooked-nosed knave’ on multiple occasions.”
“My mother said that?” Arthur replied, gobsmacked. Uther gave him a single, amused nod in response.
“She did. Your mother had a rich vocabulary that was reserved for highly specific situations.”
“But I digress,” he continued. “My point is this, Arthur. If I had stopped there, if I had accepted defeat the first time that she walked away from me, you would never have been born. It would have ended right there. But I didn’t stop. I refused to surrender. I was patient. I persevered. And in the end, I won your mother’s hand in marriage because of that patience.”
“You shall do the same. Give it time, Arthur,” the Iron King continued, looking up at him as he leaned his elbow on the desk. “There is no rush. Mithian is in Camelot already, and you won’t need an heir to the throne anytime soon. Affairs of the heart are like a chess battle, son,” Uther concluded with confidence. “You need to be patient. You have time. You need to strategise and wait for the right moment to strike.”
“But – what if I don’t have time?” Arthur said, voicing his doubts to his father without a second thought. “What if the game has already concluded, and I lost? What if she won’t give me another chance?”
That was wrong. Arthur couldn’t place his finger on why. But he could tell by the reaction from the man in front of him. He’d said something displeasing. What little bit of paternal emotion there had been on Uther’s face vanished from his eyes in an instant. Arthur watched as the Iron King gave him an odd, cold look.
“Get a hold of yourself,” he scolded, his voice suddenly dripping with disdain. “You are not some random peasant boy waiting for romantic handouts. You are a Pendragon. You are the future King of Camelot.”
“I don’t think you do,” Uther spoke, coldly cutting him off. “This self-doubt and insecurity of yours is ridiculous. It is beneath you. Remember this, Arthur. When I die, your word will be law. You are not given chances. You take them. And as King…”
“There is no battle you can’t win.”
Two days after she’d made her decision, Guinevere had officially resigned from her position at the castle. Sarah was the last one that she informed. Telling her mentor had been yet another challenge to face – but when Guinevere finally handed in her formal resignation and turned over her key, Sarah had been nothing but supportive.
“What will you do for housing?”
“O-oh. I was, um… thinking of boarding a-at the Tall Tales tavern for a while. A-after that… I don’t know.”
“And income? How will you pay for it?”
“I don’t spend… much. I have enough saved up. I can sew, too… maybe I can apprentice at a tailor.”
“Good. As long as you think ahead, you’ll land on your feet. I have no doubts about that. If you do end up in trouble, make sure to let me know, all right?”
“I’ll help you out. I’ve got a few knights that still owe me a favour.”
Guinevere deeply appreciated Sarah’s words. Ever since she’d started working at the castle, the older servant had felt a little bit like a mother figure to her. She had that effect. They’d never said it out loud, but Guinevere knew that Arthur and Morgana felt the same way.
Sarah always pulled through when it mattered.
One day, Guinevere wanted to be like that, too.
As Guinevere stepped outside, she finally noticed the crowd that had gathered in the courtyard. She hadn’t even realised the hustle around her the other day. The girl had been so occupied with her own thoughts that she’d walked right by it all.
But now that her mind was clear, she immediately realised what was going on.
Half of the courtyard had transformed. The benches and decorations had made way for a strange, almost camp-like setup. Guinevere could see multiple tarps, spanned over wooden tables that were stacked with blankets and large pots of broth. The corner around the courtyard had been completely filled with dozens of small tents.
Guinevere could see a stream of people slowly trickling in from the main gates. They were carefully watched by the town guard and seemed to be of all ages; children, elderly, middle-aged and everything in between. There seemed to be no end to them. Guinevere immediately realised what was going on, and who they were.
Refugees from the war.
There were dozens of them. All looked weathered and weary from the road, with tired faces and ragged clothing on their backs. Some were barefoot. Many looked malnourished. They gathered in front of the tables, corralled by the knights into unorderly lines to receive broth and blankets. Many sat in front of the tents, waiting idly to be given a place to sleep.
Food and shelter. Guinevere immediately realised that there would not be enough of either.
“Please, sur, we juist need some fairn fur mah young’un-”
Guinevere’s eye fell on a familiar figure. On the other side of the courtyard, Gaius seemed to be in the middle of talking to some of the refugees. More specifically, he was being cornered by an old woman and what looked like a small toddler, looking back and forth awkwardly as she pleaded with him.
“Th’ lassie dennae hae any more claethes, ‘n’ it gets sae cold a’ night!” she begged, looking down on the little girl. “Cuid ye nae give us some more bedding? Please?”
Gaius was not one of the knights. He was not in charge, either. But his robes seemed to give off a different impression. Woman in front of him had desperately latched onto that impression. Guinevere watched as Gaius looked back at the tables, anxious and clearly affected by what was going on.
“I’ll… I’ll see what I can do,” Gaius replied, cautiously. “We’re not supposed to make exceptions, but I’m sure that we can get your little one some extra if I talk to the knights. There’s not much left to go around, though. I’ll see if I can take some more blankets from the infirmary—”
Gaius tried to say that quietly. But the crowd around him had picked up on it, anyway. Guinevere could see multiple people immediately turn their heads, leaving their spot in the line.
“Oh, sir, could we come to the infirmary too?” a farmer girl pleaded with him. “My grandmother hasn’t been well since we made the journey over here and—”
“Hey, no fair! We want blankets, too!”
“Sir! Mister Peteran, sir! We’re cold, too!”
“Ah- No, I’m not actually a—”
But it was too late. Guinevere watched as Gaius got swarmed, very quickly getting surrounded by a lot of unhappy people.
“Why are only the women and children getting blankets?! Us elderly walked just as far!”
“Sir, my grandmother, could you just-”
“I want potato soup, too! We’re hungry! Mister Peteran!”
“Juist a pair o’ socks wull be enough, please-”
Guinevere and Gaius shared a moment of eye contact. The physician didn’t say anything. But he didn’t have to. The expression on his face spoke volumes. Guinevere immediately, instinctively, understood what message he was sending her.
“Who do you want to be?“
In an instant, Guinevere’s mind was made up. She quickly descended the stairs, crossing through the courtyard with quick, determined steps. The girl dodged refugees, servants and armoured guards alike until she was right in front of Gaius. The physician looked like he was at the end of his rope. She could see him lock onto her like she was a piece of driftwood in the middle of the ocean.
And she was. She could be.
She could be anything she wanted to be.
“Do you… need some help?”
The physician let out a big, weary sigh.
“You have no idea.”
Arthur couldn’t help but drag his feet on his way to his next appointment. As always, his whole afternoon was packed with tedious tasks. Eleven civil court petitions. Four criminal trials. Three outraged and quarrelling nobles, together with two meetings on the refugee situation. All of them needed his complete focus.
But Arthur’s thoughts were still scattered all over the place. He was still hurting. And now, on top of that, Uther’s words would not stop floating through his mind.
Arthur had a pretty good idea what his father had meant. It didn’t help that Uther was right – as Crown Prince, Arthur could do anything he liked. He could bend almost any rule to his whims. As King, he could even change them outright. Arthur could simply refuse to give her up. Part of him, a selfish, tasteless part of himself, wanted to. He wanted to simply command her to stay with him.
But Arthur could never do that. He’d be no better than a villain. Besides, the Crown Prince had promised her. Arthur had sworn to Guinevere that she could always say no.
If he betrayed that trust now…
Arthur would never forgive himself.
This was the right choice.
Letting go was the right choice. For her.
But… what about me? What about what I want? Doesn’t that matter, too? Father is right. I’m the Crown Prince.
When do I get what I deserve?
What do I deserve, anyway?
Arthur was so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice his sister passing him until Morgana called out to his back.
“What’s this?” she smirked. “Have we stopped greeting each other entirely now?”
“…Morgana. Sorry. I was… lost in thought.”
Arthur blinked, trying to shake the thoughts of Guinevere and Uther out of his head and focus on his sister. She looked… oddly happy. Arthur could see a soft smile play on her lips, her eyes glimmering with a shine that he had not seen in a while. It didn’t look like a mask, either. That was very unusual. For a moment, the Crown Prince forgot about his own troubles as curiosity took over.
“You look pleased. Did something good happen?”
Morgana smiled at him in response; an odd, satisfied grin that he couldn’t quite place. The Princess nodded.
“Yes. Yes, it did.”
“Care to tell me about it?”
“No. not yet.”
Of course. Typical.
“Fine,” Arthur huffed, immediately losing his composure. He crossing his arms angrily as his curiosity turned into annoyance. Why had he expected anything different? She never shared anything with him these days. The Crown Prince spun around, letting out another huff as he turned his back to his sister. He’d already made it halfway down the hallway when Morgana called him back.
“What?” he snapped, annoyed. “Did you have more cryptic things to hide from me?”
But she shook her head at him.
“No. I have a promise, Arthur. I will tell you soon. Just be patient.”
“I don’t believe you,” the Crown Prince grumbled, making Morgana’s smile widen even further.
“You have my word, brother. Trust me.”
“Soon, you will know everything.”
6 thoughts on “3.44 – Patience”
I love this update with the scene with Arthur and his father ❤
To Arthur’s surprise, the Iron King was once a young man with human desires. It is probably typical of all generations of young people that they think that everything starts with them and least of all they think that their parents have been in their place.
This contains both a promise and a warning. You shape your life by deciding which person you want to be. Arthur makes an important choice when he decides to relinquish power and respects Guinevere’s choice.
His father is a warrior and thinks like a warrior. His message is that all battles can be won when you have power. However, it sounds like he is having a rare deja vu to the young man he once was, where the formula for winning a woman’s heart was patience. In doing so, he involuntarily delivers an admission that patience can be a stronger means than force when it comes to achieving one’s goals.
A soulful, honest meeting between father and son… except that Arthur wraps his heartbreaks in a lie by mentioning the name of a woman other than the one who preoccupies him the most.
While Arthur fights all kinds of inner anguish, it seems that both Guinevere and Morgana have finally found peace with themselves.
I’m very curious about what Morgana has in mind, but I assume I’ll find out more in the next few chapters 😊
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Arthur and Uther don’t get a lot of father-son moments, but every once in a while, they do pop up. And you’re spot-on with younger generations thinking everything starts with them – I think there’s a lot of people that don’t even realise their parents had a life before them until they’re well into adulthood, sometimes parenthood themselves. It’s a shame that there is still a barrier to true honesty between them – who knows what the relationship would be like if Arthur was able to be truly forthright with him?
Morgana and Guinevere have both found their own source of strength and calm, each in their own way. We’ll see how far it will take them in the third act of this arc. 🤭 You assume correctly! Though, about what exactly you’ll find out more, that remains to be seen 😊
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It’s hard not to take what happened personally, but Gwen just felt like she had to do what was best for her. Sometimes that involves hurting people you care about, because sometimes you just have to put YOU first and not everyone else. Whether or not it was the right thing for herself is yet to be seen, but…I want to say I love Uther guesses right away, but I also don’t. If he finds out it’s about a servant shit will hit the fan. At least he bought the thing about Mithian, dodged a bullet there. I don’t think Uther’s speech there got through to Arthur because he’s nothing like him. He wants to be just, not ‘Lol I’m king now and you little fuckers will all listen to me or else.’
I still love Sarah so much ;-; Ahhh darn, I had a feeling when I saw the tents it was refugees. I laughed at Gaius just ‘Help? What, physical or professional? I NEED BOTH’ XD
HOOOOOOOO BOY SO is he soon gonna find out about her magic? IS he? Hhmhmh,glgll
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Yeah, it’s hard not to take “Hey, I want to be happier, I’m breaking up with you” anything but personally 😆😅 the poor guy is doing his best, but first true heartbreaks are… oof. It’s an experience that stays with you. LOL you’ve pegged Uther pretty well there. “My way or the highway” is pretty much how he rules. He’s still King, though, so he must be doing something right, right? Right? No? 😆
Gaius is so not equipped to deal with all of those random townie sims, lol. Neither is my PC. I had to replace half by deco sims because the massive castle lot is already too much and the game kept freezing. Thank the gods for everyone who made medieval decoration sims. They’re the true life savers here, lol.
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::looks down at my “I don’t care for Uther t-shirt::
I’m so conflicted about him. I do think he’s a huge jerk, but just when I’ve given up on him, you write another moment that makes gives him new layers. He is wrong. And he has, I’m sure, done some awful things. But I don’t think he realizes it. He’s bad but not malicious if that makes sense. I’m still going to wear my t-shirt, but you know, sometimes I’ll put a sweater over it when he warms my heart.
Arthur – you’re a dummy. Get it together.
Guin – IT’S REALLY HER CHOICE TO HELP THIS TIME!
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Hehee. It’s only fun if they’re layered and have redeeming qualities even if they’re “bad”. No person is all black or white, and all 😀
It is! It’s all her choice. And that’s incredibly significant 😄
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