Forget, wedding, Amy


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The Children of Kings
Forget, wedding, Amy
Title: The Children of Kings
Author: Diana Prallon
Rating: T
Word Count: 1713
Ships: Arthur/Gwen; Gwen/Lancelot; Uther/Ygraine
Genre: Family; Angst; H/C
Warnings: Dead characters, grieving.
Spoilers: It's set up a bit before 501; no spoilers for the episode though.

The Children of Kings

All the conversations revolve around the same thing.

Camelot needs an heir.

Arthur knows this – of course he does. “It’s been three years”, they say, and give Guinevere a look that makes it clear that she isn’t fulfilling her duty.

She never complains – not of being considered guilty for the lack of children or for her own lack of children. Guinevere has always loved kids, and that hurt Arthur too, for he knew that she’s want them even if the whole kingdom didn’t need an heir.

And he tries – he really does try, he does his best, exactly as they are told. Midwifes come to see Gwen, Gaius raises his eyebrow before handling Arthur an enormous list of recommendations to help his give their kingdom a future.

Arthur knows where his duty lies, and he never shrank from it.

But sometimes – many times, indeed – when he lies in his bed, late at night, he wonders if he’ll ever be able to have a child.

He remembers his reaction when he first new that Ygraine had been incapable of having children, that his father had looked for Nimueh to help them conceive. He remembers the softness in his dead mother’s face and her voice, filled with love for a child she never knew.

Maybe he is the problem – he was never supposed to be born. Merlin had told him, then, that Morgause had lied, and so had Uther. He believed them, as the trusting fool he was. Years later Agravaine had seen fit to tell him the truth: that Morgause had been right. That Ygraine’s life was traded for his.

The second time around, Arthur didn’t even want to kill Uther anymore, for his treasons and lies. They had ruined him, and his father, god bless him, was paying for his crimes. He could almost – almost – understand Morgana’s hatred then.

Of course that when he learned that Agravaine was a traitor, he had hoped that it meant that he was wrong. Arthur was normal, and not born from magic, those were just words from a man that wished for power beyond anything else. His power, his crown.

He married Guinevere in hope of a bright future. He could imagine their future, their happiness, their beautiful children running around. And as the first year went by without a single sign of a possible pregnancy, he had thought there was still time. They were young, the land was at peace.

He didn’t think much about it until two months after their second anniversary. He had been tired, but couldn’t sleep. His feet had led him to tiredly explore the kitchens, still dark, but the smells and sounds were already filling the place as they started preparing the castle’s breakfast.

And then – then – he heard it. The servant’s gossip, the words that he would never have heard, had they known he was around. There was pity in their voice as they spoke of their barren Queen – had it been another, they might have even sounded spiteful, but Gwen had been one of them. She was dear to those people, and they suffered with her.

It had all came back to him, then. He wondered about many things – things had he had believed and doubted, but that simply didn’t add up.

Why did Tristan defy Uther, why was he so sure that his father had been the death of Ygraine? Death in childbirth was a sad reality, and there was nothing Uther could have done to prevent it, for it was the probation for every wife, the same way a battle was probation for their warriors. One would never know if each would be their last. Uther could never have prevented it.
But he could have caused it.

And Agravaine – he too had spoken fondly of Ygraine, and he fed him the same story the ghost Morgause showed him did. A beautiful, barren Queen, in need of an heir, and a desperate King, willing to use everything in his power to guarantee their happiness.

He wanted to believe they were all lies, but it made no sense – their enmity made no sense, and a voice in the back of his head reminded him over and over that his birth and The Great Purge had happened at the same time.

So, he decided to go after the only person that might have the answers – the true answers – for those questions. The only one that wouldn’t lie to him, or so he hoped.


The old man looked torn, and said he had promised to never speak of it. It was late – too late – for him to try and keep Uther and his secrets safe. So, reluctantly, he had told Arthur how his father had asked the help of the Old Religion to give him a son, not knowing how much it could cost. Arthur heard of Uther’s despair in finding out that Ygraine’s life had been taken for Arthur’s, on how he had failed to understand that for a life to be created, another had to be sacrificed. Uther had been too arrogant to understand that it didn’t mean just any life, but one just as important, and that had been Ygraine’s death.

Gaius couldn’t really make Arthur understand how that had led to Tristan’s challenge, or to the hatred between the House of Bois and the House of Pendragon. There were too many feelings between the two of them, their adoration of young Ygraine and his belief that Uther had never been fit to rule. His uncle Tristan, he learned, had always been an arrogant man, with his own ideas of how power should be yielded.

When Arthur questioned Gaius if that might be the reason why he and Guinevere hadn’t had even a hope for a child, the physician didn’t know how to answer. Some things were beyond even his comprehension. The secrets of life and death belonged to the High Priestesses and them alone – and the really funny thing was that the only one that could answer him was his sister. He could hear her voice taunting him even knowing that she was nowhere to be found, maybe dead, maybe not.

It was when the nightmares begun.

They weren’t truly nightmares – but they were dark dreams, in which he saw his mother, her golden curls and a sad smile looking at him.

“Some sacrifices are needed” she would tell him, reaching for him. “I wasn’t sure of what would happen, but I would not have hesitated.”

“I can not bear the thought that you died because of me”, he’d say, and she’d shake her head.

“Any mother would have done it for her child” she said, seriously. “And even more for a child such as you.”

And Arthur would cry, wishing he hadn’t been such a curse on her life, and she’d call him her blessing even after she was gone.
They made him wake up with tears in his eyes. Guinevere never said a word about it, as if she hadn’t noticed, but Merlin would look torn whenever he found Arthur after such a night.

Arthur knew this Ygraine wasn’t real, that she was just a dream, but he came to love her anyway. She was always kind, and never blamed him, even if he blamed himself. He’d have laid down his life if it meant she would live again.

“And what good would come of it?” she asked, patting his head. “This land needs a King, not a barren Queen. I would do it all over again, Arthur.”

It was no good.

“Guinevere would do it, you know?” she said, once, and for the first time he snapped his head at her, surprised. “If you asked her. She would, even knowing what it might cost.”

“I would never” he promised, looking at her. “I’d never do such thing.”

Ygraine shook her head as if she was expecting for such answer, but didn’t agree with it.

“You need an heir” she said, quietly.

“I’ll find another way” Arthur replied, holding on to her. “I’ll never forgive myself for you.”

“There’s nothing to forgive, love” she said, caressing his head. “It’s not your fault. It was no one’s fault. It’s just how it is. It was for the best, for all of us.”

He gasped, for he really couldn’t understand how she could even say such thing.

“You have to be less emotional” she warned him, sadly. “This isn’t about your personal happiness, but about your kingdom and all the people that depend on your protection. You need an heir. Camelot needs an heir.”

“I will not use magic” he repeated, but he knew she was right.

Then, for the first time, Arthur wished that Lancelot had lived, for he would be the solution to all of his problems – an honorable man, which he could trust, and that would have fulfilled the duty he could not. It might break Arthur’s heart; but it would protect their people and give Guinevere a happiness that he couldn’t.

But Lancelot was gone, and that too was his fault, and there was no way out but to hope that even though he shouldn’t have been born, he’d be able to create life without sacrificing another. And as he cried in his sleep, clinging to the mother he never had outside his dreams, Arthur understood all the things that he had been told before – that his happiness meant little close to the responsibility he bared, and that this had been the same knowledge that had led Uther to act on it, and cause the doom of so many, as he dealt with his guilt and his failure.

Arthur could only hope that he’d show more sense than to go for those who hadn’t done him no harm.

And even if it broke him from inside, even if it unmade him, he would have to make a choice to keep everyone around him safe as he should. This was his burden. As he felt himself awakening from what he knew would be his last dream of Ygraine, he could only hope that this child – his child – would be able to understand the sacrifices they were doomed to do.

This was what meant to be the children of kings.


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