He walked away now, feeling lighter than he had before. When he made it back to his room, he felt weary – as though he had been awake for days without sleep. It almost felt like his life had taken a swerve, passing that corner that he couldn't seem to get around before. Maybe, Galahad thought hopefully, maybe now the nightmares would subside. He opened his door, leaning heavily on it as he pushed it forward. He found Gawain sitting on his bed, but he didn't startle, didn't even flinch.
"Did you and Tristan co-ordinate this?" Galahad inquired wearily, closing the door behind him. "Because it has all the appearances of a well-oiled device."
"Come here," Gawain beckoned, patting the bed beside him. Galahad went without a fuss, dropping himself heavily down onto the bed. Gawain wrapped one arm loosely around Galahad's back, resting his fingers on his hip. Galahad leaned into this, his head on Gawain's shoulder. "I'm sorry that we fought," Gawain finally said. Galahad could feel the vibration of the words. "It was endlessly silly."
"It's over," Galahad murmured. "It was over weeks ago."
"I'm still sorry," Gawain went on. He pressed his lips to the side of Galahad's face and murmured, 'I'm sorry,' once more, the words hushed and run together, barely there. Gawain pulled away, but only slightly. "Don't die on me," he said simply. "Just, don't. There have been too many years growing used to you, learning to know you…"
"Understanding?" Galahad cut in and asked with a wicked tone to the word.
Gawain gave a dark laugh. "Yes, understanding. And perhaps even feeling something more than friendship. Maybe love. Maybe."
Galahad turned into Gawain's body, pushing him down slowly and crawling on top of him when Gawain's back was resting flat against the bed. He leaned down and slowly kissed Gawain, spreading his body out against Gawain's. He didn't push the kiss into something faster. He didn't turn it into a furious attack. He merely kissed him, memorizing the taste and the feel. Gawain surrendered immediately, his body relaxing and responding to each of Galahad's touches, gentle and hesitant. Gawain's arms wrapped around Galahad and brought him closer.
Gawain pulled away slightly, their noses touching.
"Please," Galahad said quietly, not allowing Gawain to speak.
"Yes," Gawain murmured, pushing Galahad off of him and taking his time in undressing Galahad, his hands a warm presence all over his skin as Gawain slowly disrobed him. Galahad lifted his arms above his head and felt the shirt go ghosting past his face, setting his hair into a frenzy. Gawain threw the shirt off to the side, his head tilting and pressing one long, continuous kiss down Galahad's neck.
It was slow, it was warm, it was…
'Perfect.' Galahad gasped as Gawain bit down into his shoulder, nibbling slightly, enough to leave a mark. He tilted his head back to the ceiling as Gawain fumbled with the clasp on his belt, undoing it finally and letting his breeches completely loose. Galahad shifted to push them to the side, not moving from the attention Gawain was giving to him with both his hands and his mouth.
Gawain's hands created a tight grip on Galahad's shoulders, leaning forward so that his back was off the bed and he wrapped his legs around Galahad's hips. He rocked up against Galahad's body, his erection pressing against Galahad's and creating friction that made Galahad lose his train of thought and dig his nails into Gawain's arms. Galahad moved his fingers to the hem of Gawain's shirt, tugging it up and off his head – getting caught around the shoulders for a moment. The both of them laughed at the mess they created before getting it off with a great deal of trouble.
Galahad's own laughter became muted as Gawain stepped off the bed in order to rid himself of the rest of his clothing. Then he gently sat himself atop Galahad, straddling him and looking down upon him with clear eyes – it was almost as if Galahad could read his intentions. He ran his hands up and down Galahad's legs slowly, reclining him backwards and taking the legs over his shoulders.
"I want this," Galahad commented quietly. "Because you're you. And I do want this, and not because of anything Tristan did…or said…"
"Galahad," Gawain advised, his hands firm on Galahad's thighs as he pushed in slowly. "Shut up and just feel."
Galahad closed his mouth, closed his eyes and did as he was told, focusing on his senses as Gawain pushed in slowly, his hands pushing with a little more pressure as every thrust went deep. Unlike Tristan, Gawain took his time and didn't once increase the pace. It was still inexorably hot, waves of heat pulsating through Galahad as he tilted his head back and breathed in and out heavily, unable to tell up from down – not even able to speak, not now.
Gawain pushed in slowly, every single time, hitting the spot that made Galahad give out tiny gasps that might have been cries had he the ability to make noise. It wasn't until he climaxed that he regained control of his vocal cords. Galahad had no idea how long it had been since Gawain had first entered him – time seemed to have become insignificant – but he finally let out a great broken cry, no name spoken, no word uttered. Simply as long a cry as Galahad could muster.
The next thing he recalled, Gawain was turning into Galahad's side, sharing their warmth. Galahad blinked at this, unused to such physical displays of affection – with Tristan, they had never intentionally clasped each other in their sleep. If it happened, Galahad had never known. He couldn't recall one instance of it.
He sighed contentedly as he leaned into Gawain, enjoying the warmth and the way Gawain draped his arm over Galahad's chest – almost protectively.
And when he slept that night, no nightmare came.
Galahad couldn't shake himself of the darkness. This time, there were flames. All around him, a circle of fire burned and through it all, he couldn't find anyone. They were lost somewhere out there and he was supposed to save them, but he couldn't find his way around the fire, and he couldn't see through the black clouds of smoke.
"Dagonet!" he shouted. No one came through the smoke. "Lancelot!"
"Tristan!" he tried uselessly. The name echoed in the air around him and the smoke didn't clear. Galahad stumbled forward with his sword, trying to find them, trying to save them, but he couldn't see. He couldn't find his way out. He coughed at the smell clouding his lungs, falling to his knees as his vision began to blacken and the world spun around him.
He woke with a start.
And what he saw was something that surprised him more than anything he'd seen in years. He rubbed at his eyes, trying to sort his head out and finally brought himself back to the present. They were setting out today for Sarmatia, homebound at last. Gawain had commented that they would get about two leagues over before they realized how great a mistake they had made and track back.
Galahad knew he was right, but decided not to comment. For once, they were doing something that Galahad had wanted instead of something that Gawain had committed the both of them to. But the sight that was truly striking Galahad of words was Gawain in the corner, irritably feeding Tristan's hawk. The hawk seemed more interested in nipping at Gawain's fingers though.
"Ah," Gawain jumped, drawing back his hand as though he had touched a flame. Galahad bit back a grin and sat up in bed, raising an eyebrow. "Guinevere wouldn't let Arthur keep the hawk."
"So you took it?" Galahad asked.
"Do you know anyone else who would have?" Gawain quietly replied. He shrugged. "I like this. It's like he's still with us. I've got a piece of Dag's armour and," he stopped and laughed quietly, "and Arthur gave me Lancelot's swords…but nothing of Tristan's."
Galahad went silent. Gawain had asked for these pieces in remembrance of their lives, but Galahad was content to live by the memories. The nightmares he had were regularly featuring the three recently fallen Knights though, something he hadn't spoken aloud. The last thing he wanted was Gawain needlessly worrying because Galahad was having nightmares once more.
"It's a piece of him. He won't be forgotten, not ever. This is just a memento of his life," Gawain continued, a touched smile on his face. "He's still going to outlast us all, if only in the memory."
"And he's free now," Galahad added in a muted and heavy voice. "We all are," he said, swallowing down the emotion swelling in his throat and threatening to choke him off.
"We're all free," Gawain repeated, making his way over to crouch down beside Galahad.
"Put this miserable life to rest," Galahad muttered to himself darkly, a shadow of a bad mood flickering over Galahad's face. Gawain shook his head, resting his hands upon Galahad's knees.
"You can't just forget," Gawain told him. "It's a part of you."
Just as the nightmares and the darkness had stayed with him, just as the brutal killings had become easier over the years, Galahad realized that he had a new chapter of his life to lead. He knew that the physical pain was in his past now, but the emotional scars that had taken so long to heal would stay with him.
He just hoped they would patch up properly, the stitches of time sealing them off.
And truly, Galahad knew, time was far better at stitching than Gawain and Tristan combined.