Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with King Arthur. Only my characters...
Chapter One: I'd Like You to Meet…
Sarah tried to relax as she stood rigid next to her fiery friend who seemed unusually apprehensive. She was the one who was supposed to be there for support and here she was as anxious as the other. It was contagious. It was nearly disturbing to see Vanora so unlike herself. Then again, she was waiting to see if her lover, and father of her children, was going to return… alive, that is. Sarah knew too that she was of course worried for all of the knights, but most of all Bors. The kids didn't seem too upset by it all though, they were all their normal selves, running around screaming and playing games and generally causing a ruckus. Even the unborn baby was excited as it kicked its mother particularly hard and often, which caused Vanora to touch her stomach and kindly chastise the babe. Sarah tried to make small talk in attempt to distract her from her worry, at which she failed terribly. The weather is not a topic that compares with life or death. Feeling her comrade peak with tension, Sarah removed her arm that was placed around her shoulders and took her friend's hand in her own.
"Vanora… Bors is going to be alright. He's a strong man and a skilled fighter." Sarah whispered.
"He is. Yes, he is. Plus, I can't think of a single person who would even want to come near him with the way he smells." Vanora joked, succeeding in helping both the women lighten up. Sarah tried to hide her giggle with her free hand but soon realized there was no need, as Vanora was laughing openly. Just then the gate opened and they were both returned to reality.
"Can you see them? How many do you count?" Vanora questioned quickly when her repose left as swiftly as it came. She stood on her tip toes but lost her balance due to her bulging belly.
"I'm not sure." Sarah straightened the woman before she completely toppled over, bringing herself down too, "Let me try to look." She was somewhat taller but the square was crowded with people to see the return of the Knights and their Commander, so she couldn't see much over their heads.
"Six or seven… I'm not sure." Sarah said as she continued to stretch her height to the limit.
"Well which is it? Six or seven?" Vanora became impatient, knowing there was a huge difference between the numbers. Sarah didn't answer as she counted again to be certain. "How many?!"
"Seven. There are seven riders." Sarah turned to her and smiled. Vanora let out a long sigh of relief and smiled back.
"Are you sure?" Vanora questioned cautiously.
"Yes. I'm certain." Sarah nodded happily. Vanora hugged her as tightly as she could and thanked her many times.
"For what?" Sarah asked as she returned the embrace.
"For being here with me... taking care of a neurotic old pregnant lady." She replied as she let go of her young friend.
"You're no lady." she teased and Vanora let out a boisterous chuckle, "Besides, I wouldn't want to break tradition. It's bad luck."
"Aye, I second that. Thank you again." With that she left quickly to gather her many offspring to welcome their father.
Sarah turned and fought her way opposite through the wave of bodies that were moving in to get a better view. It proved to be quite difficult and took her more than five minutes just to go the thirty feet to the outside of the square. She took a deep breath while straightening and smoothing her emerald colored dress and tucked a few loose strands of her light brown hair behind her ears once she had space to do so. Crowds always made her anxious, as well as any tight place where she felt she couldn't move freely. Sarah hopped onto a nearby crate to see if her friend met up with the man that had unintentionally caused so much stress. She could clearly see Vanora slap Bors and then kiss him passionately. She smirked at the sight of them.
"I guess she really doesn't like to break tradition." Sarah chuckled to herself. She dismounted from the wooden box and went on her way back to her jewelry shop. "Well, time is money." she thought. But as she got to the walkway it was on she could plainly see there were no prospective customers around, so in fact, time had nothing to do with it. She decided that she didn't want to sit there all alone waiting and looking pathetic and she wasn't in the mood to make anything. So, Sarah made her way to a little fruit stand.
"Good morning." She said smiling. An old round man with a scowl turned to face her.
"What's so good 'bout it? Eh? It's still morning…" The man growled or grunted, Sarah couldn't distinguish which, "This lousy day is dragging on… like an itchy rash that won't go away. You know what I mean?" Sarah shook her head with wide eyes. "Well, lucky you then. What do you want?" Another grunt or growl.
"Uh… just two apples, please." Sarah hid the grin that was fighting to come out. This man was very rude but somehow also very amusing to her. He handed her the two pieces of red fruit and held out a dirty fat hand, as to show her he wanted his coins. She placed two in his wrinkly palm and quickly turned, nearly running away. Not because she was afraid of him but because she couldn't hold the laughter anymore. She made her way to another shop on the street, only it was in the opposite direction of her own. Sarah quickly ran the fruit under the cool water of a fountain that was connected to the outside of a shop and went on her way. She soon reached a heavy wooden door and knocked on it. There was no answer. She knocked again but still no one came. Sarah was about to give up and leave disappointed when she heard faint voices. She turned the knob and pushed it open.
"Cillian? Are you in here?" She hollered.
"I'm here." An attractive young man came from around a corner holding a worn iron hammer. He wasn't as young as Sarah, but he possessed a unique youthful appearance, mainly around his jade eyes. The attitude: I am Forever Young radiated from him. His dark blonde hair ran down in messy waves, touching the top of his shoulders. He had a black smudge, what Sarah guessed to be charcoal, across his tan forehead. Cillian had obviously been working on his artwork, which made her happy because she knew it made him happy.
"I brought us a bite to eat." Sarah smiled and threw him one of the apples, which he nearly dropped as he juggled between it and the tool. She pointed to her forehead to let him know there was something on his.
"How did you know I didn't eat breakfast?" Cillian beamed and attempted to wipe of the mark. He only managed to smear it more.
"It's a gift I have." Sarah replied. Just then another man she didn't recognize personally rounded the same corner. She could tell, however, that he was one of the knights. "Oh, I'm not interrupting business am I? I have the worst timing. I can come back." She babbled and instantly felt silly.
"No, no. Stay. I'd like you to meet Tristan. Tristan, this is Sarah." He motioned back and forth to the two people standing on either side of him. "Sarah is good friends with my cousin, Vanora. And also a friend of mine, of course."
"It's nice to meet you." Sarah smiled kindly at the rugged man.
"You too." He replied simply and barely looked at her as he took a seat on a stool. She noticed him eyeing her snack.
"Oh, would you like it?" Sarah offered and held out the fruit to him.
"No… You brought it for yourself." Tristan said quietly and gently waved his hand at it.
"Please, I insist. I'm not even hungry." She handed him the 'gift' knowing he was just being polite and truly wanted it, "It was just an excuse to come bother my friend."
"You don't need an excuse." Cillian taunted, deliberately leaving out the fact that she wasn't bothering him at all. Sarah merely rolled her eyes and played along with their habitual friendly teasing of one another. Cillian took a juicy bite out of his own and chewed like a child, smiling foolishly at the young woman.
"Is it good?" Sarah's smile was tainted with triumph. Cillian nodded quickly, still chewing. She noticed the knight had pulled out a dagger and was about to cut into it, "Oh! You may want to wash that first. The man I bought it from complained of having a mysterious and extremely uncomfortable rash that is incurable." She made a flippant gesture with her hand and glanced sideways to Cillian's response. He had stopped chewing. Tristan was looking up through his untidy tresses, trying to figure out if she was joking. She kept a straight face. Cillian promptly spit the contents of his mouth to the ground and glared at her as she was now nearly doubled over laughing at his reaction.
"So that's why you had no problem with giving it away." Tristan muttered.
"No, no… It's fine." Sarah managed and caught her breath, "Really, it's safe. I washed them on the way over." She reassured the men when she regained a calmer composure. Surely Cillian was about to say something witty to humiliate her when she suddenly spoke. But not to him.
"Oh no! You're injured." Sarah took Tristan's left forearm into her hands gently and began to inspect the blood stained cloth. The men were both surprised at her actions, although Sarah had no reason to feel embarrassed, she wasn't doing it to flirt with the man, so the thought of it being forward or inappropriate behavior never crossed her mind. It did Cillian's though. He observed the way she carefully examined the wound and couldn't help but feel jealous of Tristan. All of her attention and genuine concern was on him, not to mention her hands.
"It's nothing. Doesn't even hurt…" Tristan spoke quietly as usual, Sarah looked at him with a skeptical expression as to say: "Stop acting tough like a big strong man and tell the truth." Tristan shrugged, "Anymore."
He was surprised that she actually got him to admit it with just a single look. There was something about her that made her very approachable, someone you could say any truth to and it would be alright with her, it was actually what she preferred. He began to wonder why he hadn't seen her around the tavern, where he spends a lot of his free time, she seemed like a sweet girl. Then again, maybe that's the reason he hadn't seen her around there.
"How did it happen?" Sarah asked and she returned his arm to him.
"We were attacked by Woads… One of them somehow caught me off guard."
"Bastards." She said it quietly but they heard her clearly. She looked up to see them both with slightly amused looks on their faces. Cillian's, a little more so. Her cheeks flushed ever so slightly and she apologized for using such language.
"Don't worry about it, I've had worse… and heard worse." Tristan smiled as he tried to reassure her that there was nothing to be embarrassed about. It helped a little.
"Knock, knock! Anybody home?" A loud male voice bellowed into the room where the three were conversing. Two men stood on the stoop on the other side of the open door, "Ah, so this is where the welcome festivities are being held!" The blonde man spoke again as he stepped into the building, the other followed.
"Gawain! Galahad! Good to see you both alive and well." Cillian greeted them each with a strong pat on the shoulder, "What can I do for you?"
"I have a chip on the blade of my axe. Think you can fix it?" Gawain handed him the weapon so the expert could give a verdict, all the while he was looking at the young lady standing behind him.
"It'll be no problem. I'll make it better than new before you know it." Cillian explained.
"That's great." Gawain continued to gaze at Sarah, "And who is this lovely young lady? The one from your drawings no doubt?" He asked Cillian as he glanced between her and the sketches hanging on the wall. Gawain continued before he could answer, "While you are a talented artist, my friend, I do believe you failed to capture the true radiance of her eyes." Sarah broke his gaze, looking to the floor and couldn't help but blush again, albeit knowing that he was obviously just a womanizer and probably has a million more compliments on the tip of his tongue.
"The most beautiful brown eyes I've ever seen. Like the richest soil of our Mother Earth." Gawain continued, he glanced to the other men and noticed that Cillian's expression was rather irritated, "Oh, Cillian, please forgive me, you never mentioned you were married." Cillian furrowed his brow and then realized what Gawain was assuming.
"No, no, no. We're not… he's not my husband. I don't have a husband." Sarah smiled uncomfortably as she hastily explained, "It's just, unfortunately for him, I'm the only friend of his that has enough spare time to pose for the drawings. We're just friends. " Cillian nodded in agreement and put on a happy face, though he felt like Sarah had ripped out his heart. She had corrected the knight rather quickly, too quickly for his liking, as if she was embarrassed if anyone even thought of them to be married.
"No husband… Well, in that case," Gawain stepped up close to her and took her hand in his, "Allow me to introduce myself…" He brought her hand to his curled up mouth, "I'm Gawain, at your service." Tristan and Galahad rolled their eyes. Sarah noticed that his hands were rough and calloused, but surprisingly his lips were as soft as the petals of a rose. She had to admit the man was attractive, but if she had to choose it would be his dark haired friend standing quietly off to the side.
"I'm Sarah. Pleasure to meet you." Sarah nearly giggled like a little girl, amused with his over the top flirting.
"Believe me, the pleasure is all mine." Gawain kissed her hand again before slowly letting it go, "Galahad! You're being awfully quiet over there." Gawain turned to his best friend standing behind him.
"It's kind of hard to get a word in edgewise with you… when there's an attractive woman within shouting distance." Galahad smirked as he stepped up to next to him.
"He exaggerates." Gawain shook his head at Sarah. She smiled and nodded.
"I am Galahad." He offered his hand, which she took, and placed a quick peck on her smooth knuckles. He was trying his best to stay cool and collected though he found his heart had been beating rapidly since he first saw her.
"Sarah." she replied and hoped she had said it loud enough, she couldn't hear much over the loud drumming of her pulse. Sarah had never had an experience so intense before, especially when it came to a man, her entire body began to feel hot and felt somewhat self-conscious. "Very nice to meet you, Galahad." She made sure to say his name so she would not forget it. Plus, she wanted to know what it sounded like coming from her own lips. It sounded wonderful. And it rang in Galahad's ears as well, making him want to hear her say it over and over. If his name was the only thing he would ever hear again for the rest of his days- no, eternity, it would be alright with him as long as it was Sarah who said it. More beautiful than music, more intoxicating than ale, more exciting than battle. Yes, his day would be bliss if he could hear it just once more.
"Galahad!" He heard his name but Sarah's mouth did not move. Apparently, the two had been gazing at each other and their attention could not be caught by any other. Until Gawain, who understood the whole spectacle that was playing out quite clearly, snapped his friend back into reality.
"What?" Galahad questioned with an airy voice as he tried to recover his senses.
"You came here to ask Cillian something." Gawain smiled knowingly at him.
"I did?" he asked Gawain, who nodded slowly, "I did! Yes… I, uh… forgot." He was glancing at Sarah every other word he spoke. Galahad forced himself to take his eyes off her for just one sentence and talk to Cillian, "I was wondering if I could get some more of those arrows you gave me last time."
"Of course… no problem." Cillian replied with a forced smile. Gawain wasn't the only one in the room who had noticed their 'tender little moment,' "Sarah," he spoke to the woman, who was, to his dismay, of course staring at the other man, "this may take a while… so… maybe I'll come by your shop later?"
"Oh… alright. Yes, see you later." Sarah was somewhat surprised that he had dismissed her so bluntly. A few minutes ago he was fine with her being there, even with 'customers' around. She didn't understand what had changed and she found herself feeling hurt by his indifference. Sarah looked between the three knights, "It was nice meeting you all." She twirled around and headed for the door, almost running straight into Vanora.
"Oh! Sarah! I knew I would find you here. Good, good." Vanora led her back into the shop against her will. She knew Cillian didn't want her there, so she didn't want to be there, "I need to ask you a favor… well, actually two." The red head smiled at her and didn't notice the uncomfortable expression on her face, "Cillian, this is Bors' weapon thing," she held it out awkwardly as if she had no idea how to hold it, "can you fix it love?" He took it and nodded then walked into the back without saying a word. Vanora went to each of the knights and hugged them as she went on, "Bors is with the children, giving me a short break, as long as I brought that blade to Cillian. So, I can't stay long." she turned to the other woman and handed her a necklace, "It was me grandmother's… can you salvage it? Number nine pulled on it and it just popped off."
Sarah examined it carefully. She realized that she needed a tool that she didn't possess… She would have to ask Cillian. That was the last thing she wanted to do; he seemed angry with her, and she didn't know why. Had she said something to offend him? No. Was he upset that she had come to see him unannounced? No, he never minded before. Could it be that he was jealous of the attention she was receiving from the knights? No, no. She and Cillian were just friends. She knew that. He knew that. It's always been that way and she's never wanted that to change or go away. Maybe he was just being over protective. While she was going through the many possibilities of his coldness in her head, Sarah sensed Cillian return to the room, so she mustered up the courage to speak to him.
"Cillian?" she waited to see his reaction to his name being spoken by her. He looked her in the eyes and raised his brows, as to say 'yes?', but still he did not speak, "Do you have some pliers small enough for this?" She held the trinket out to him so he could see it closer. After a moment he nodded and disappeared into the back once more. He was driving Sarah crazy, making things feel so awkward, she knew everyone else felt it too.
"What's his problem?" Vanora questioned a little too loudly for Sarah's liking.
"I'm not sure." Sarah whispered and shrugged.
"I think I know." Gawain wriggled his eyebrows up and down at her. Galahad back handed him in the gut, which caused Gawain to let out a loud puff of air and rub his belly.
"Ha! You don't think or know anything." Vanora teased. Just then, Cillian came back into the room. He came to stand to Sarah closely and talked softly, almost a whisper. It made Sarah have to strain her hearing, and Galahad as well. He wanted to know what he was saying while standing so near to her.
"These should do fine." he held them out to her, but as she went to take them he pulled them back, "I want these back." Sarah was shocked that he would think that she would try to keep them.
"Of-of course." she nodded and looked away for a moment. When she returned her eyes to him he was smiling and she realized he was just teasing her. He held them out and she reached for them, only he didn't let them go.
"I'll come to you… to pick them up later." Cillian said and she could feel his breath on her ear. She smiled kindly and nodded, but to be honest she felt a little uncomfortable with the way he was acting. Galahad stood, arms crossed with a frown. Gawain couldn't help but smirk at the scene between Sarah and Cillian and it causing the pitiful look on Galahad's face.
"Alright. Thank you, Cillian." Sarah said quietly as she received the instrument.
"Sarah…" Vanora stepped between them, "as for the second favor."
"I'll do whatever it is you need me to do." Sarah nodded.
"You shouldn't be so quick to agree to it before you know what it is…"
"It's not watching the children for the night is it?" Sarah interrupted anxiously. She loved those kids to death but being with all of them for more than a couple hours is enough to make a saint go crazy. She honestly didn't know how Vanora managed.
"No." Vanora laughed and waved her hand, "One of the barmaids can't work tonight… says she's sick," she rolled her eyes, "You see, with the knights back safely the tavern will be very busy with celebration and right now I only have one barmaid besides meself, so…"
"You want me to work in the tavern tonight." Sarah stated and the other woman pleaded with her tired eyes, "Oh, I don't know, Vanora. I've never done anything like that before, I wouldn't know what to do."
"Nonsense! It's very easy." Vanora put her arm around Sarah, "A lot easier than makin' all that lovely jewelry of yours." She pointed to the colorful and beaded bracelet around Sarah's left wrist.
"Yeah, and you've got me and Tristan to look after you." Gawain chimed in, "And Galahad as well. Right, Galahad?" He elbowed him to speak up.
"Yes. Absolutely." Galahad nodded his head vigorously. They all waited for a moment for Sarah to make up her mind.
"Alright. I'll do it." she answered and Vanora gave her a strong hug while thanking her, "What time do I need to be there?"
"Oh, right after nightfall. Should give me plenty of time to show you around." she answered happily.
"You hear that Cillian? You'll have to come before then if you want your pliers back." Sarah said, "I'll see the rest of you later. I better get to work on your necklace, Vanora."
A cluster of 'nice to meet you' and 'see you soon' preceded her departure.
"I want to be there when Sarah arrives." Galahad spoke to Gawain as they walked side by side around the market, discussing when to go to the tavern. Tristan followed close behind, every so often picking up a trinket and dropping it back down, never buying anything.
"No, no." Gawain shook his head slightly, "You'll come off as desperate, or worse; a man with a drinking problem."
"Then… a few hours after opening?" Galahad asked and stopped walking. Gawain and Tristan both shook their heads.
"No. She'll think you're not interested." Gawain said and Tristan agreed silently, "Besides, we promised to look after her."
"So when?" Galahad was becoming tired of this game.
"Give Vanora an hour with her to teach her a few things. That will give her enough time to become comfortable and more confident." Gawain scratched his chin, "Yes, that will be perfect." With that he began walking again and the two other knights followed.
"You could have just said that from the beginning." Galahad stated, somewhat perturbed.
"Yes, I could have just told you the right answer… But then you wouldn't have learned anything." Gawain patted his shoulder, "Now you know why it's the right answer, and most importantly, why yours were the wrong ones."
Galahad rolled his blue-green eyes.
The sun had already begun to set and Sarah was still attempting to finish her task. She was being extra careful with the necklace, considering it was an heirloom. She was so focused on it that she didn't even notice someone enter the shop.
"Still not finished?" Cillian's voice startled her and she almost dropped it, "Sorry, didn't mean to sneak up on you."
"That's alright…" Sarah smiled and sighed, "This one is proving to be quite difficult."
"Are the pliers no good?" he asked, stepping closer and peeking over her shoulder.
"No, the pliers are fine," she handed them to him, "Maybe you could give it a try… Apparently, I'm not strong enough." She stood to allow him to take a seat. Cillian attempted many times but his fingers couldn't keep a grip on the small clasp.
"I can't do it…" he said standing again, "My hands are not steady enough for this kind of delicate work."
"Here let me see… Stand behind me and give me your hand." Sarah took one side of the necklace and then placed her hand over Cillian's that was still gripping the pliers, "I'll steady it, and when I tell you, go ahead and squeeze."
It was hard for Cillian to concentrate on what they were doing. His chest was pressed against her back and her hand felt warm on his own. He was helpless to the impure thoughts running through his mind and caused his hand to tremble more. Sarah tightened her grip to keep him from moving too much. Before he knew it, and wanted, they had succeeded.
"There!" Sarah exclaimed happily and released him from her hold, "Thank you, Cillian. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you."
"Anytime." He smiled, though he was disappointed with the too little contact with her.
Sarah glanced out the window and noticed the darkness engulfing the buildings.
"Oh, where does the time go?" she questioned as she frantically put things away, "I have to head to the tavern. Thank you again for helping me and letting me borrow the pliers." She handed them to Cillian who nodded. She glanced in a mirror hanging on the wall and fixed her hair. How he loved her hair. He stood admiring her reflection silently.
"How do I look?" Sarah asked as she turned around for him to see.
"Beautiful, as always." Cillian replied, making Sarah smile. She came to him and weaved her arm in his. They walked outside together and she made sure the door was locked. She turned quickly and gave him a brief hug and peck on his cheek.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" Sarah said as she began walking backwards away from him.
"I'll make certain of it." he replied and waved good-bye to her. She waved back and turned. He watched her go until she turned a corner and he could no longer see her.
Hello all! Hope you enjoyed the first chapter! Remember to review! This is my first fan-fic and I'm just having fun with it!