Disclaimer: "If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended,
That you did but slumber'd here while these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme is no more yielding then a dream."

-Midsummer's Night Dream

Author Notes: Really? Uther has no fics written about him? He's such a gem of a character and he gets no loving? I'm not entirely pleased with this ficlet but I tried. I have every intention of trying again...hopefully. Enjoy?

Old Swords

You are King, and because you are King your steps are slower then they should be and heavier. Because you are old; older now then any Knight should be, your bones move slower then they should- old and aching from old wounds, and wars, and battles that in honesty you shouldn't have walked away from. But somehow you did, you took breath as you left every battlefield and melee although sometimes you were carried off- by comrades, long dead and cold in their graves- or by sisters in Abbeys and ignorant farm girls who only saw armor and gleaming clothes and thought they would get boons if they helped you.

And you wonder how you got so lucky.

Or you wonder how you became so cursed.

Because you are old, and King and you move slower now then you should and you think Knights should never fall into such disrepair.

The sword at your side is quiet in its scabbard, like an old maid tucked warm into her bed on winter nights. Your muscles are slender now, tanned with age. Gone are the days when you were lean and powerful; when your hands were hard and cracked from nights exposed to the Nature, when your body was beaten and forged by battles you lead men into.

Gone are the days when the world was simple, and brutal; when you could face your enemy and know him. When you had respect for the man, and the weapons and tactics you employed were honorable. Gone are the days when your friends; your bothers, rode by your side and the only tears you shed were joyous because the long wars were over and you were going home.

Now the days are just callous and cold. Everyday there is something that threatens the home you have made and each one is more creative and more insidious then the previous. They wear the faces of children, and ignorant men and grieving mothers. They ride in on eagle wings, under banners of peace, or on flower petals and they're going to take your son from you- one day. You won't be able to stop it. You know that. Years of warfare have taught you that the most important battles can be halted but they can never be won.

It's only a matter of time.

You are King. You're a father too. You shouldn't be either. Knights make terrible husbands, and unjust rulers. They know the laws of war, and battle. Duplicity and conspiracy escape them. They fought for honor and so little of life is honorable…

There are hundreds of souls within Camelot that look to you to keep them warm, to feed them and clothe them. There are hundreds more outside the walls of the city that do the same. They all look to you.

And you know that you are getting old. Your reactions are slower then they should be, old muscles do not answer when invoked, old nightmares are stronger in the daylight, swords are meaningless…

But you fight anyways, with any means you can; no matter how ruthless, how tyrannical because there are hundreds of souls that look to you.

And their children will one day look to your son; when you, like your friends, are cold and dead and he's not ready.

He's a Knight. The sword at his side is as sharp as his reflexes and bright as his dreams. His friends are dearer to his heart then his own life. God have mercy, he even places his servant before his own well-being.

And he doesn't see the Kingdom he'll have to rule.

He doesn't see the terrors at the gate that come each time in a new and terrible way. He has never cradled a friend's body in his arms who has died for his name, for his whim or his folly…

You are old, and there are many things you regret. And the crown on your brow pierce like thorns. And there is little solace in slumber and even less in waking hours. The wars you have waged have continued. But there was a reason- a war you had to fight, to win.

So your son would have kingdom; so those ignorant, rank souls that rest outside the gates and within the walls of Camelot would have some semblance of safety, for a day, or a decade, or a hundred years…

He's not ready for the lessons he has to learn.

And you're too old to see anything else except how young he is.

Your steps are heavy and every day they get slower. One day, too soon perhaps, they'll still and that old sword by your side will be silent and still: like an old maid who, disturbed by the winter's chill, turns over and returns to slumber forgetting the labors of the day. So unlike the Knight you were…

One day you will be dead and if you die before he learns…

Well, then it won't matter what you fought for- will it?