Uther and Igraine
Disclaimer-I do not own Merlin blah blah blah.
With his one-year-old baby son held securely in his arms, the King of Camelot strode carefully through the passages of his castle, his long cloak billowing out behind him.
The blue eyed boy in his arms was happily blowing spit bubbles and chomping on his father's medallion. Looking down at his precious bundle, Uther made a few little cooing noises before darting his eyes around to make sure no-one had witnessed the act. He relaxed when he found the corridor to be empty.
As he moved further down the castle the air around him began to feel colder. Pausing momentarily, he carefully stripped off his cloak before wrapping the baby Prince in it so he wouldn't catch a cold. The Prince's bottom lip jutted out in an adorable pout as he looked very disgruntled at being wrapped up. However, when his father tapped him lightly on the tip of the nose he let out a small giggle before reaching his pudgy hands out for the medallion again.
When Uther reached his destination he let out a mournful sigh as he faced the door. Seemingly able to sense his father's sadness the baby reached a hand up and delicately touched the King's cheek. He closed his eyes at the feel of the comforting touch before reopening them and smiling down at his son.
"I'm alright Arthur." He told the boy gently.
Taking a deep breath, Uther pushed the heavy door open before stepping inside. The room was cold and dark with a thick layer of silence and a musty old smell. Uther crossed the room, the sound of his boots muffled by the powder of dust that covered the stone floor.
Baby Arthur didn't seem to like the room and he started to sniff slightly and let out a few sobs.
"Hush Arthur." Uther soothed as he rocked him gently. "Daddy's right here, there's no need to cry."
The baby turned his head and buried his face in his father's chest and Uther suspected he would soon have snot on his tunic. He rubbed the boy's back comfortingly as he made his way through the aisles of tombs.
When he located the tomb he was looking for he sank to his knees and situated his son into his lap so that they were facing the same way.
"Say hello to mummy Arthur." Uther whispered.
Arthur made an indistinct gurgling sound before scrunching up his face in concentration. A minute later the smell of faeces assaulted the King's nostrils. He let out a small chuckle knowing that his deceased wife would have seen the funny side. All too soon Arthur began to cry, obviously uncomfortable in his soiled pants.
"Let's get you cleaned up champ." Uther said before standing back up and exiting the royal tomb.
He paced quickly through the castle until he reached the living quarters of his most trusted friend and court physician.
"Gaius?" He called as he entered without knocking.
"Sire." Came the reply as Gaius set down an old book and came to greet him.
Uther handed his son to Gaius and asked him to clean him up and watch him for a while.
"I know it's a difficult day for you sire." Gaius said gently as he set Arthur down on his work top so he could clean him up. "I'm sorry."
"Thank you Gaius." Uther replied before departing.
In no time at all he was back in the royal burial place standing over his dead wife's tomb. After removing the glove from his right hand, Uther tenderly placed his palm on the cold stone and traced the name that was engraved there.
"Igraine." He whispered into the silence.
It had been one year to the day since his wife's passing and the pain of her loss had not eased one little bit. His broken heart still beat dutifully in his chest, loving his wife with every thud just as his unbroken heart had when she was alive. Not a day went by when the King didn't long to once again see the face of his beautiful queen, to touch her soft skin, to smell her golden hair or hear the angelic sound of her voice.
"Arthur is well." Uther informed as his hand continued to caress the tomb as if he was lovingly stroking the hair of the woman who forever rested inside it in an eternal sleep. "He has your smile you know and he has my eyes. He's a curious child; he tries to get his hands on anything he can reach. I suppose he gets that particular trait from you. He'll be a brilliant fighter one day; he already has a very firm grip. I sit and watch him when he sleeps sometimes. He fidgets and squirms around as much as you always did. The little tyke always kicks off the covers. He snores too, just like me. But by morning he's still and peaceful as he contentedly sucks on his thumb. I never have the heart to wake him, I just let him sleep."
The King dropped to his knees again and rested his forehead on the tomb.
"There's nothing I wouldn't give to have you here with me my love." Uther whispered as a lone tear journeyed down his face. "I feel so lonely without you and the nights are so cold. That's when I notice your absence the most. You aren't there to steal the covers or kick me off the bed. You're not there to hold me or to massage my aching shoulders when I return from training with the knights. I miss everything about you my sweet Igraine; even those daft embroidered cushions that you insisted on keeping because they were a gift from your mother. Just the sight of them used to make me want to stab something. I was forever begging you to be rid of them. But now that you're gone I can't bring myself to do away with them. I still have them there on your side of the bed. It's foolish of me I suppose."
A few more tears escaped from the corners of the widowed man's blue eyes. He forcefully wiped them away before tilting his head upwards and taking a steady breath. The King lowered his head back to his wife's grave still feeling consumed by grief; the emotion clung to him like a second skin that he could never remove or even alleviate.
"It won't be easy for Arthur, growing up without the love of a mother." Uther commented. "But I'll do my best to raise him into a man, one that you would be proud of. I could never bring another woman into my life. No woman on this earth could replace you. When we married I swore that I would love you till death do us part. Yet death has cruelly taken you from me and my love for you still lives on. I'll never stop loving you Igraine. Not even for a second."
With a sad smile, he took off the glove on his left hand and looked fondly at the wedding band on his finger. He vowed to himself that he would never take it off.
"I remember the first time I laid eyes on you." Uther chuckled as he relived the memory. "You were standing on the outskirts of Camelot trying to catch the autumn leaves as they danced around you in the wind. I heard the delightful sound of your laughter and that alone was enough to make my heart beat unnaturally fast. Intrigued I moved closer desperate to get a better look. Your hair was a frightful mess from the wind and it was flying in different directions, the hem of your dress was speckled with mud but you were still glorious to me. Then I stepped forwards and introduced myself to you. From the moment our eyes met I was infatuated with you my sweet. However the same could not be said for you. At my introduction you merely rolled your eyes and scoffed not at all impressed. You even dared to call me a prat. Perhaps that was what made me fall for you even deeper; you didn't treat me as a Prince, you treated me as a person. It was refreshing. I promised myself then and there that I would win your heart. It wasn't as easy as I'd first assumed. It was three whole months before I finally convinced you to agree to take a walk with me. Then it was a further two weeks before you told me your name. I believe it was almost a year later when Camelot hosted a ball and you accepted my request for a dance. I think I must have crushed your foot at least five times I was so nervous. Amazingly you found that endearing and three weeks later you accepted my hand in marriage. You still thought I was a prat of course, but I was a prat you grew to love."
Pulling his gloves back on, Uther pushed himself to his feet. He cast his eyes around the crypt feeling as dead as the countless bodies that rested in their lonely graves. It was strange really, how he felt at greater ease here amongst the dead then he did with the living.
Since his wife's passing, Uther had become very withdrawn and found it difficult to connect with anyone. Not even Gaius was truly able to reach out to the King. For the past year, very few smiles had graced the King's features. A light that used to sparkle in his blue orbs had faded out in the same instant that Igraine took her last breath. Happiness evaded the ruler of the kingdom whilst loneliness encased him like a cloak he could never take off.
In the eyes of his people, the mighty Pendragon was now a mere shadow of the man he once was, a crude imitation. He was a walking shell; the soul that made the man seemed forever lost.
Though beneath the surface, and out of view, Uther's love for his wife lived in giving him the strength he needed to carry on through each lonely day. For the love of Igraine, he forced himself to be strong and to care for their son, the one thing on the world that connected him to his wife.
"I so wish Arthur was fortunate enough to have met you." Uther sighed. "You would have made such a wonderful mum. I love you forever my darling. Rest well." He bent down and placed a kiss at the head of the stone tomb before exiting the royal crypt and the dead who dwelled there.
He stalked through the castle to Gaius' chambers. When he entered, the physician was gently trying to remove Arthur's tiny fists that were clutched tightly in his hair. After watching for a while in silent amusement, Uther stepped in and came to Gaius' rescue. He thanked his friend for watching over his son before he carried the young prince to his chambers.
With great care, Uther settled Arthur into the crib that was stationed a few feet away from his own bed. The little boy stretched his arms out and kicked his legs in the air as he let out a string of nonsensical noises. A smile tugged at the corner of the King's mouth as he took one of the embroidered cushions from the bed and placed it on the cot. Arthur clasped one tiny fist around the corner of the cushion then brought it up to his mouth and began to chew.
"Happy Birthday Arthur." Uther said to him as he tickled him under the chin.
The Prince giggled happily as he tried to hit his father with the pillow.
"You mean more to me than anything in this entire world little one." The father told his son. Arthur blinked up at the King and tilted his head to one side. "One day, you'll be older and inevitably you'll ask about your mother. I do dread that day. But until that time comes, let me tell you about the happier times."
Baby Arthur seemed to listen intently as his father spoke fondly of happy memories with his mother. When Arthur began to get drowsy he let out a little yawn and Uther looked down at him with a soft expression he only wore for his son.
"One day Arthur, you will meet someone." Uther said. "This person will be unlike any other. They'll take your breath away. When you're around them you'll feel as if you're walking on air. This one person will make you feel special, not because you're the Prince and the heir to the throne, but because you're you. With one smile and one touch you'll fool head over heels my boy. Of course, this person will think you're a complete prat." Uther produced a small chuckle and Arthur grinned as his eyes began to flutter closed. "Promise me Arthur, that when you find that person, don't ever take them for granted. Tell them every single day how much you love and care for them. I only wish I'd told your mother more often. She knew my feelings of course, but still, she deserved to hear everyday how special she was, how beautiful."
The King looked down at the Prince and saw that his chest was rising and falling as he slept. In no time at all he was fidgeting around and rolling over. Uther smiled at him before crossing to his window and looking out at his kingdom.
In the distance, he could just make out the edge of Camelot and the place where he had first seen the love of his life. He bowed his head and a fresh tear formed at the corner of his eye. With his eyes closed, he found that if he concentrated hard enough he could almost feel his wife stood behind him wrapping her arms around his waist and resting her chin on his shoulder.
Uther never wanted to open his eyes for he knew she would not be there beside him. He wanted to keep his eyes shut forever just so he could hold on to her. But that was selfish of him; he had to open his eyes. He still had their son to protect.
With a deep mournful sigh the King opened his eyes. He looked once again to the spot where he had first met his wife.
"I love you Igraine." He murmured and the gentle wind carried his words away with them. "For always."
Pulling the drapes over the window, Uther wiped the tears from his eyes. He then moved over to his bed and pulled off his boots. When he was changed into his night clothes he checked over his sleeping son in the cot. Satisfied that Arthur was well he climbed into his side of the bed. He ran his hand across the side of the bed where Igraine used to lay before grabbing hold of her old pillow and clutching it tightly to his chest wishing more than anything that it could be her.
"For always." Uther repeated in a whisper before drifting off to sleep drawing comfort from his son's soft snores.
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