The slight figure ran through the forest, crashing through underbrush and trees at top speed. Instinct told her she was being too loud, but she knew they likely couldn't hear her over the crashing of their horses. She leapt off a log and reached up for a branch, pulling herself upwards into the tree. It seemed a good enough place to hide until her would-be captors passed by underneath.
"Where in damnation did she disappear to this time?" a bearded, dark-haired man growled as he bounded into the clearing on his horse, followed by another of his comrades. He looked around in the dark, his brown eyes deftly searching through the dark.
"You get to explain to her father how she slipped away this time if we don't find her, Galahad," his much larger, jollier comrade said, chuckling.
"Keep looking, Bors. Why must she insist on being so, so… insufferable? We have much more important things to be doing than searching in the forest for her. If if were up to me, I'd just let the Woads have her," Galahad shouted as he looked through the dark underbrush.
"Apparently the Roman soldiers have no luck searching for her," Bors replied. "Say she's too quick and too quiet."
"More like they're too slow and clumsy," Galahad retorted. "Half blind as well, apparently, if they let her slip through the gate so much."
"Someone obviously sees her. They sound off the alarm every time she sneaks out," Bors said with a chuckle.
"She's here," a third man said, this one riding up behind them and speaking much softer. The woman froze, attempting to be as silent as possible, holding her breath. She should have known her father would send out the scout, Tristan. He would make sure to find her quickly.
"And where is she, Tristan?" Galahad said, nearly close to losing his patience. Tristan pointed up. All three men looked into the branches, just barely making out the silent figure wrapped in a dark cloak and holding to a large branch in the dark.
"Alessandra, would you please come down? I'd rather not have to climb up and drag you out. Again," Galahad shouted, his annoyance apparent.
"You might as well leave me! I refuse to go back to that horrible man! And I can wait up here all night!" she shouted back down. Galahad rolled his eyes and motioned to Tristan, who pulled out his bow and arrow. An arrow whistled up into the air, causing the woman to shriek as the branches rustled.
"That nearly hit me!" she shouted back down.
"We have more where that came from!" Galahad shouted, waiting. He looked over at his companions and nodded. Tristan sent another arrow up.
"For fuck's sake, Galahad!" she shouted.
"Tristan's the one shooting," Galahad said boredly. "And what would your father say if he heard you say such things?"
"Tell him to stop before he kills me! I'm coming down!" she shouted. Galahad nodded and Tristan sent another up into the tree. "I SAID I'M COMING DOWN!"
"Just wanted to make sure you didn't dally," Galahad shouted. He hopped off his horse and stood waiting. After some crashing and grunts, the woman dropped to the forest floor unceremoniously. Galahad immediately jumped on her, quickly tying her hands behind her back and then her feet.
"Is this really necessary?" she shouted as she scowled up at him.
"Considering the last time you managed to hop off my horse and run off, yes," he said before hoisting her off the ground and over his saddle.
"You know if any harm comes to me, there will be hell to pay with my father," she shouted, causing Galahad to roll his eyes and his companions to chuckle.
"Seeing as he's the one who sent us out here, I don't think he'll mind if you have a few bumps and bruises," Galahad said. The group made its way through the forest back towards the fort.
"What's this make, Lessa? Two, three times this month?" Bors asked.
"Three," Tristan replied. "Though she nearly made it a fourth time."
"Why do you live to torture your father so?" Bors asked.
"Me torture him? He lives to torture me, Bors," she said. "I'd like to see you attempt living him with." Bors chuckled as he reached over and smacked the woman on the thigh, causing her to shriek.
"I'd be quite happy to live in a big nice house, Princess," he said. She lifted her head, attempting to look over at him.
"Watch it. I'll tell Vanora," she said. "And I'm no princess." Bors stared at her.
"You wouldn't," he replied.
"Watch me," she shot back.
"If you can't keep your mouth shut, I will gag you," Galahad said.
"You know, you'd almost be handsome if you weren't so grumpy," Lessa said.
"And you'd almost be tolerable if you weren't so vexing," Galahad shot back.
"Please, Galahad, we all know you enjoy our time together," Lessa said, grinning up at him.
"Don't think I won't gag you," he replied. Her grin quickly turned into a scowl. She shut up and continued to sulk as they made their way through the gate and back into the fort.
"Did you really need to hogtie her?" Lancelot shouted as he watched the three approach, mug of ale in hand. "Though I must say, the view is lovely." He took in Lessa's rump appreciatively.
"Lancelot! You so much as touch me-" she shouted, starting to wriggle over the horse.
"Please, continue," Lancelot said, smiling. She started kicking instead, nearly landing one on his face.
"A little more feisty than usual tonight, aren't we?" he said, sidestepping away. Galahad brought his horse to a stop and hopped off. He then lifted the squirming woman off the horse and tossed her over his shoulder. "If you need to burn off some of that energy, you do know where to find me."
"Oh, sod off, Lancelot!" she shouted, glaring at him, though there was a hint of a smile. Lancelot chuckled as he watched Galahad continue to carry the woman into the large household locate next to the knights' barracks.
"Why do you think she keeps trying to run away? She knows there's nothing out there, doesn't she?" another man asked, walking up to Lancelot.
"I think she does it to annoy the ever loving life out of that father of hers, Gawain. Or maybe it's because she loves being thrown over a man's shoulder," Lancelot replied with a chuckle. Gawain gave the curly-headed knight a look. "I dare you to tell me that you weren't thinking it." Gawain just chuckled and turned to head back to the tavern.
"Come. We best have a giant pitcher of ale waiting for Galahad for his trouble," he said.
"Must you insist on carrying me the whole way? I can walk," Lessa shouted as Galahad walked into the main hall of the residence.
"You might run again," he replied before setting her down and facing the short woman.
"Thank God, you found her," an older man said as he strode into the room. "Were the restraints necessary?" Lessa looked up at Galahad smugly as he reached around and cut the ties on her wrists.
"I assure you, it was," Galahad replied before bending down and cutting the rope around her ankles.
"Thank you so much for bringing her back. Again," the man said. He then turned his frown to his daughter. "Really, Alessandra. Why must you be so troublesome?"
"Maybe if you weren't so suffocating, I wouldn't try to run," she said, glaring at her father.
"If that's all, Captain?" Galahad said. The man nodded.
"You may go, Galahad," he said. Lessa stuck her tongue out at the retreating knight's back.
"All I asked God for was an obedient son," the man muttered.
"Well then, father, either God has an incredible sense of humor or you must admit that He, in fact, does not exist," she said, rubbing her wrists before removing her cloak. She heard a soft chuckle and glanced over, seeing Galahad give a slight roll of his eyes before leaving.
"You know if I had had any other choice, I would have sent you to Rome long ago, Alessandra," her father said sternly.
"Yes, it's what you always say. But yet, you choose to keep me here in this godforsaken country," she said before plopping down in a chair. "Not that I would care to go to Rome, either."
"As you have made abundantly clear," her father said.
"Rather I prefer to be anywhere where you are not," she muttered. Her father glared at her.
"I do not have the patience to deal with you this night, daughter. Go to bed," he said wearily. Lessa rolled her eyes and stood.
"Goodnight, father," she said before disappearing upstairs.
"I really don't understand why she's hellbent on getting herself killed by running off into the woods every other week," Bors said as the men sat around a table at the tavern.
"Because she lives to torture us," Galahad said, falling onto the bench next to him.
"And why is it they always send you out?" Bors asked.
"He's the only one besides Tristan who can seem to find her the first go around," Lancelot said.
"More so, because Lancelot will attempt to have his way with her in the woods and end up with a black eye or worse," Galahad said, glancing at the man in question across the table from him.
"I would do no such thing. She would gladly let me take her," he said, grinning.
"And then the captain of the Roman guard would have your head on a spit," Tristan said calmly.
"He would never know," Lancelot said with a wink.
"She does seem to have a certain fondness for Galahad here," Gawain said, grinning. The young knight rolled his eyes. He took a long drink of his ale and stood.
"I'm in no mood for this," he muttered before stalking off.
"Come now, Galahad! We're just having a bit of fun!" Gawain shouted.
"Another night!" Galahad shouted back. He quickly made his way through the village to the barracks and his room. Once inside, he shut the door and turned, leaning against it with a heavy sigh. The woman lived to drive him crazy.
"Wondered when you'd make it back," a voice said from a chair. Galahad looked over a sighed.
"Lessa, isn't sneaking out once enough for tonight?" he asked pushing off from the door.
"But I thought you loved our little adventures," she said with a smirk, standing and pulling her hood from her head, revealing light blonde hair pulled back in a braid.
"I'd like it if you didn't run off into the forest. There are Woads out there and they will kill you," he said sternly.
"Not this close to the wall," she said, crossing her arms in front of her. He stepped close to her, their noses almost touching.
"You are the daughter of the captain of the Roman guard. They will either kill you or take you captive," he said. "And then I and my men must put our lives at risk because you're bored or angry with your father. It's not funny." Lessa rolled her eyes and stepped over to the table, pouring a goblet of wine.
"You used to have a sense of humor," she said. Galahad walked over and spun her around.
"I cannot risk losing you or you getting hurt," he said, imploring with his eyes for her to take him seriously as he gripped her upper arms. "I know how badly things are with your father, ,but you must stop this foolishness, Lessa."
She huffed slightly.
"Fine. I'll think about it," she said.
"You will stop," he urged again. Lessa stared evenly at him.
"Fine," she said softly. Galahad let go of her and stepped back.
"How did you get in?" he asked, taking the goblet from her and taking a large gulp.
"Same as usual," she said, grabbing the goblet back.
"And no one saw you?" he asked.
"Of course they didn't," she said with a snort. He sighed and leaned his forehead against hers.
"Your father would kill me for this," he said. "Or have me locked up or exiled."
"What? For allowing his maiden daughter to be in your room this late at night unchaperoned?" she asked with a smirk.
"Lessa… you know this is crazy," he said, looking at her, his dark brown eyes meeting her dark blue ones. "Soon we'll get our papers and then I'm going back to Sarmatia."
"And I'm going with you," she said matter-of-factly. He sighed.
"You're the daughter of a Roman captain," he said.
"You forget I'm half Briton as well," she said, frowning at him.
"You belong with Romans. Either here or back in Rome," he said. Lessa scoffed.
"I've never been there. I was born here. I don't belong in Rome or with the Romans. I belong with you," she stated.
"You can do better than a Sarmatian knight," he said softly.
"Would you let me make my own decisions, Galahad? I belong with you. The man I love - wherever that is," she said firmly. "My father be damned." Galahad sighed.
"You're going to be the death of me," he said solemnly. "If the Woads don't kill me sooner."
"They won't. You won't let that happen because you have me to come home to," she said, smiling before she kissed him gently on the lips.
"You better get back before your father finds you missing again. And for the gods' sake, will you stop running around in those breeches," he said.
"You sound like my father," she said, frowning slightly. "They're easier to get around in. You can't expect me to climb in and out of windows and over walls in a dress."
"You shouldn't be climbing in and out of windows or over walls to begin with," he scolded slightly.
"Yes, but then we'd never have moments like this, would we?" she said, leaning in close and gazing up at him through her lashes.
"Lessa," he said, warningly.
"I wasn't doing anything," she said, smiling sweetly.
"I told you… I'll not do anything before we are wed," he said, taking a deep breath.
"Oh, so now you want to wed me?" she said, inching closer. Galahad rolled his eyes and stepped away.
"Would you please get home before you get both of us in trouble?" he begged, though the edges of his mouth twitched as though he could barely keep from smiling. Lessa stood on her tiptoes and kissed him softly.
"If that's what you wish," she said softly before turning away and walking towards the open window, swaying her hips. Galahad rolled his eyes and let out a soft groan of frustration as he reached out and pulled her back to him. Lessa giggled as he wrapped his arms around her waist and nuzzled her neck.
"You drive me mad, woman," he growled into her hair.
"And just think… you get this for the rest of your life," she said, laughing softly.
"At least I know life will never be boring," he said, kissing her neck. She turned around and faced him, taking his face in her small hands.
"You will get your papers soon. The bishop is coming to deliver them in not more than a week's time. And then you will be free. And I will be yours. Completely," she said solemnly.
"Until then, my love," he whispered, gazing into her deep blue eyes. She kissed him soundly and then backed away, smiling.
"Until then," she said before turning and crawling out the window.
Okay, so I realized that in my (kinda drunk) excitement when I first posted, the chapters were way messier than I usually post (seriously - I do at least 3-4 rounds of editing/rewriting before I usually post and the original went up after maybe one). Some of the dialogue wasn't meshing well and a plot point I ended up adding in later didn't completely fit it with the way I had written the beginning. So I went back and edited as well as added in some things that make it flow much more smoothly.
Reposting the first two chapters and adding a third.
And this isn't going to be a super long story. Honestly, I started it on a whim after King Arthur was on TV one night. I had always wanted to write a Galahad fic and started it without any sort of clear idea where it would go. And then posted the first two chapters before I finally decided on a general direction (which I usually never do) so now I'm just trying to clean that up and move forward. ^_^
Hope you enjoy!