In the End:

Summary: Arthur dreams during the witching hour.

A/N: Hmm, I haven't been around very much and I'm sorry about that, but other FF fandoms have been grabbing at me. Done for a challenge over at KA fanfic.
Disclaimer: BLAME IT ON THE BUNNY!!! And no I don't own anything, wish I did.
Rating: Don't read if your to young to have seen the movie, and probably best not to read it if you get easily upset by graphic images though I'm rating it PG-13.
Archive: Yeah, that would be nice, just gimme a shout.
Feedback: It makes me happy, it makes my bunnies happy, it inspires so please give me lots of it!
In the End

'Do you know what time this is? No? Let me tell you of it.

It is the hour at the apex of night, the time when the darkest dungeons of hell are opened, when things born of nightmares become real. When the darkness closes in, but you can't see it for the shadows in your mind. It's the hour of night when fantasies form into reality and evil comes awake in the hearts of men, it's the time of night when guards on watch see evil in every shadow, sense hatred in every breath.

It is the Midnight hour, the Witching hour, the Hour of Wolves and Mice, hunting and being hunted in the darkness, which are you? Hunter or Prey? The Hunted or the doomed?

Do you even know? I think you don't, I think you wonder what you are, I think you know you do not belong here, in these dreams of darkness, I think you believe in things higher, purer.

Darker things than what are here. This does not make sense to you does it? But it will, it will. One day...

But tell me, are you the Wolf? Or the Mouse? Are you afraid? Are you angry? Are you happy?

Do these night dreams stay with during your waking hours? Do hate and fear run through your veins despite your best efforts?

Are you beloved? And if so by whom? Do you deserve their loyalty, their trust, their faith?

Or are you the mouse who runs, terrified –squeaking into the night, leaving your companions at the mercy of ravenous beasts?

Well? You have the use of your tongue so speak! I command you to speak! No? You say no? To me? Well...

Perhaps there might be hope after all, if it's not to late for it. You had best go back to sleep now, you'll be needed soon enough.'

Arthur shivered and woke with a gasp, above him stars glittered coldly at him.

"Arthur? Are you well?" he recognised the voice, Lancelot, the young knight sounded genuinely concerned for the words were soft and low, slightly rough. Arthur glanced at the young man; he had stood from the rock he had earlier chosen to be seated on his watch. Arthur nodded at him as he struggled to swallow the bile in his mouth.

Finally he moved away, his footsteps a little off, his breath jerky and pained, his heart was thudding in his breast and his mind was afire with horrible images.

Men burning and screaming, others falling too quietly to a sword or dagger or spear, others hung from crucifix's across the lands of the Roman Empire, Rome burning in a terrible fire...

There were too many images, to many smells and sounds, the young commander finally lost his battle with his stomach and knelt retching in the mud. With each retch he saw an image, the jumbled sounds and words, he shivered and retched, finally he had expelled all the contents of his stomach and still he half lay in the mud. He could feel a mixture of sweat and tears on his face and didn't care, pain racked him in strange way, hie head throbbed with each image and each ragged, sobbing breath.

He closed his eyes, as though that would take them away, instead he saw another image, a young woman, she was bound and gagged, blood pooled around and beneath her legs. She couldn't be more than sixteen, nearby a small girl child lay, barely twelve, if that. Her body still a child's, similarly abused, her tiny throat had been cut. Further over a middle-aged man wept as he struggled weakly at his bonds, the glassy eyes of his daughter staring up at the sky.

This last wasn't a dream; it was a reality. It had been Lancelot who had suggested they ride out to the man's house when he did not come to work. There they found the mother and oldest child, a boy of eighteen years murdered, they'd tracked the young men through the forest, for the Knights knew the family.

Shallo, the father was good man, he worked around the Wall, ding odd jobs, his family were sometimes there as well. His pretty daughter, Shiyan, with her blue eyes and golden hair had attracted more than one appreciative stare from the knights as they watched her become a young woman, yet somehow they felt she was out of bounds, even Lancelot.

And to find her thus had driven the knights onwards, they had found the killers not far away. Arthur had never seen such anger or brutality, two of the knights, Dagonet and Lancelot had charged ahead of the rest, dispatching five young men without pause, the sixth and last Lancelot saved, he wanted to know why.

He didn't get any real answer, they had come upon the house in the evening, drunk, they had seen Shiyan and they had taken her, the father and the daughter into the forest, the man didn't really know why they'd taken the father t make him watch but they had. The mother's death had been an accident, she 'wasn't attractive but she still worked proper and everything' the terrified man told them, in all seriousness this murderer, this rapist was about the same age as Shiyan.

Arthur shivered, Lancelot had gone wild then, he had lunged forward and broken the man's neck before anyone could stop him, then the knight had collapsed, weeping like a child. Now Lancelot sat watch as calmly as if none of this had been just half a day ago, that had been as the sun set that the knights had tenderly carried the two girls to their house and buried them in hastily dug graves. Their father had stood by weeping, his family all gone in one stroke...

Something, he wasn't sure what, made him look up. He froze. There in the darkness stood a wolf. Suddenly, with perfect clarity the dream's words came back to him, the figure in the dream came back, she was tall and slender, wildflowers in a wreath on her hair made of golden sunshine, she was smiling, her cheeks filled with the glow of youth, but her eyes. Her eyes were over-large and glassy, they were the eyes that he had seen on the forest floor, the eyes of her death.

'It is the Midnight hour, the Witching hour, the Hour of Wolves and Mice, hunting in the darkness, which are you?'

The wolf was still watching him, it's eyes seemed alight in the darkness, as if reflecting some inner fire, and he was suddenly afraid, very afraid. He didn't want t move and he knew he couldn't, he was the prey struck by the hunters stare.

'Hunter or Prey?'

Slowly the wolf took two steps forwards, it's nose extended to him, it's ears pricked sharply towards him. He found his breath stopping in his lungs, darkness was clouding at the edge of his vision, shadowing everything he saw with darkness.

'The Hunted or the doomed?'

"Arthur?" the wolf slowly retreated, turning away, head down it slunk back into the forest on silent feet, but still Arthur could not move.

'Do you even know?'

No he didn't, was his last thought as he drifted into the darkness.

The End