Portrait of a Young Man (Detail)
Tristan, Galahad, Gawain.

It was the afternoon of an uncharacteristically warm June day which found the whole keep slowed to a lazy rhythm, everybody from bar wench to soldier to their unruly children too stunned by the sudden weather to tend to their normal activities with more than a half-hearted enthusiasm. Most of Arthur's knights were nowhere to be seen save for Lancelot, who was entertaining a tableful of idle men letting tepid ale grow even warmer in their tankards.

Tristan meandered into the stables scratching the back of his neck with the fletched tip of a ruined arrow he meant to repair in the marginally cooler shade of the bleachers. The rough fabric of his tunic stuck to his back even without his jerkin and as he contorted to pick at the damp wool, he looked up at the sound of hooves beating the dirt floor at an uneven pace. There Galahad was, atop his mount, reining it through odd circles and steps, forward and back in the bright beams of dusty light cast from the windows above.

Tristan skirted the benches to reach Gawain, who sat motionless watching his friend. Toying absently with the arrow, Tristan looked at Gawain's face for a moment, then turned to follow his gaze back to Galahad.

He'd always been easy to look at, with his fair face and generous curls, but this past year had seen him grow out of the childish beauty he'd clung to longer than the rest. Now there were moments, such as these, where Galahad's more masculine comeliness was truly breath-taking, for ones inclined to notice such things -- or mock them, leastways, as Bors and Kay did. Tristan noticed simply because it was in his nature to.

Watching Galahad's elegant horsemanship, Tristan had to admit there was a certain sexuality to the younger man's ease of movement, to the shifting of firm muscles in his bare thighs and calves against his mount's flanks, to the supple curve of his spine and the loose angle of his elbows.

Tristan leaned toward Gawain slightly, keeping his voice below the sound of hoofbeats. "When exactly did he grow up?"

"Hush, watching." Gawain held out a hand to silence him, his eyes never leaving the scene before them.