The Blacksmith's Son- Chapter One
Title: The Blacksmith's Son
Summary: He has the hands of a blacksmith but a heart of a prince- if only she could see that. AU fic, in which Arthur is the blacksmith's son, Gwen a princess and Lancelot the enviable (but smarmy) knight.
A/N: Thanks to lovedbyahero over on lj for her help. Writing Arthur as a peasant was hard to do whilst at the same time trying to retain his character, but hopefully it works. Also, even though I love Lancelot, this is not a Lancelot-friendly fic. Much. Also, the derivations of his name weren't thought of by me.
She lives in a castle that might as well be in the sky.
He lives in a house barely bigger than a shed, and his life is so far removed from hers, that she could be the sun and all he'd be is solid ground.
But he finds her fascinating.
He's watched her since he was a boy. Seen her as she's transformed from a shy little princess into a fully fledged woman set to be queen. She's kind and graceful, but strong and intelligent too. And he can't take his eyes off her.
Yet she never notices him when he passes her in the corridor with a smile on his face. She never sees him when he stands in the sidelines of the knights' tournaments; ready to replace the knights' weapons, but eyes constantly trained on her. She never observes him when she dances in court with other men; him wishing that he could be the one dances the night away with.
To her, he will always only be a peasant boy that she will never get the chance of fully seeing.
But to him, he will notice her always.
Her heart belongs to Sir Lancelot, the greatest knight in Camelot.
He watches from the edge of the stands as Lancelot takes part in yet another tournament. Guinevere doesn't take her eyes off him, of course, and nor does the array of giggly girls seated in the front, hoping that Lancelot would cast a glance at them.
"Lanceahot," a voice pipes up beside him.
Arthur turns to face his friend Merlin, who joins him at his side. "What?" he says, frowning.
"Lanceahot," Merlin reiterates. "That's what the fans are calling him. Lanceahot... makes the girls swoon a lot," he muses.
Arthur gives him a look and raises an eyebrow. "Thanks, Merlin, for that riveting piece of information." He thinks for a moment. "I'd rather call him Pratalot."
Merlin snorted. "You would."
They both turn their gazes on the knight, who is deep in combat with another knight.
He's good, Arthur thinks, watching the graceful way Lancelot handles the sword. He moves like a warrior and carries a certain grace about him that makes him seem like he was partaking in an ancient dance, rather than combat. But Arthur couldn't help but feel that there was something missing; a certain refinement to his moves. I could do better, he thinks almost wistfully. He's not a knight or a nobleman, but life as the blacksmith's son has taught him a thing or two about weapons. He can wield a sword faster than a flash of lightning; manipulate his mace with deadly precision and fire an arrow with extreme accuracy. He may never be deserved the honour of fighting alongside the knights of Camelot, but there's a warrior in him that refuses to be restricted by class and status.
He lets out a sigh and trains his gaze on Guinevere. Her eyes follow Lancelot's every move, and she bites her nails in trepidation. For a moment, he allows himself to imagine that he is the knight fighting for her honour, and she is the one looking on at him with worry.
"She's way out of your league," Merlin reminds him, as he seems at wont to do lately.
Arthur snaps out of his reverie and scowls at Merlin. "I'm allowed to look, aren't I?"
Merlin shrugs. "I don't know. Lanceypants could have you arrested."
Arthur snorts. "I'm sure he would if he knew that I existed."
"Then it's a good thing he doesn't know." Merlin pauses and thinks for a moment. "You know, I could curse him. Turn his ears into carrots or shorten his legs. Try and even out the competition for you," he suggests.
Arthur pretends to consider this. Ever since he discovered that his friend wasn't just a physician's assistant, the two of them would joke about Merlin's powers and what he could do. Well, mostly joke anyway.
"And you think that shortening his legs will make him less appealing to Guinevere?"
"If I make him about three feet tall I'm sure it would reduce it somewhat, yes."
"It's tempting Merlin. No, really, it is."
They both fall into a pensive silence.
"Even if I so much as garner her attention, what do I have to offer her? A shack for a house and a pathetic excuse for a blacksmith's workshop," Arthur suddenly says.
"And don't forget great biceps," Merlin quips and then looks sheepish when Arthur throws him another look. "Sorry," he says. "You have... integrity and honour and all that other fancy stuff. Wealth and status does not mean everything."
But Arthur can't help but think it does.
Before Arthur was born, his father used to be a respected knight of Camelot. In his prime, Uther fought many great battles and won plenty of tournaments. His status led him to meet the Lady Igraine, who would become his future wife and Arthur's mother. Uther loved her more than anything in the world, more than fighting and more than being a knight. When Igraine died during childbirth, Uther sank into despair and depression, and he became unsalvageable. King Thomas had no choice but to strip him of his knighthood, being no longer able to trust him. In turn, Uther lost his nobility, and in doing so, lost everything, and had to start again from scratch. Picking up the broken pieces of his life and having to bring up a newborn son on his own was tough, but he knew his wife would not have wanted this behaviour. So he became a blacksmith, and strived to become the best Camelot had ever seen.
A part of Arthur would always despair at the life that could have been, and it took him a long time to understand why his father had allowed himself to fall as he done. Falling in love with Guinevere made him eventually realise the effect that love could have on a person, and whilst Arthur might be angry some days at the hand fate had dealt them, he could not be angry at his father to succumbing to such a destiny.
Wealth and status could mean everything: power, prestige...and her.
Sometimes it was a struggle to remember that there were more important things in life.
He spends his days in the workshop, lost in a world of fine-crafted weapons, envisioning a scene where his weapons are the one thing that stops a group of knights from losing in a battle.
Now and then, Merlin would pop in and talk to him when he had finished Gaius' chores, despite the fact that Merlin hated the workshop for being too hot.
Merlin would sit and chat and tell him about the adventures he had got up to whilst doing his chores and Arthur would work and listen, smiling over the fact that only Merlin could make a simple errand such as delivering medicine end in disaster. Every so often Merlin would tell Arthur to stop working and Arthur would quip back that Merlin only wanted him to stop because he was jealous of the muscles his job gave him. Merlin would scowl and pretend to curse him before going off on his next errand; always leaving a smile on Arthur's face.
Arthur and Merlin were as different as night and day. One was stocky and fair, the other tall and dark. They had different outlooks on life, and certainly different destinies. Merlin was destined for great things, Arthur knew. With his powers, how could he not be? But Arthur had no distinction; nothing to set him apart. He would only always be just a blacksmith. And he wanted more than that life.
He is walking to the castle when he spots her high above in her tower.
He stops what he's doing and simply stares at her.
She's looking out the window, with a faraway look in her eyes and a glimmer of wistfulness. Her hair is done up in an elaborate twist and the colour of her dress sets of the warm brown hue in her eyes.
If anyone is meant to be a princess, he thinks, it's her.
The princess lets out a sigh and her gaze shifts, before landing on Arthur.
Arthur's eyes widen in surprise when he realises that he's been busted, but before he can move, she smiles at him.
Shocked, he manages to smile back, and for a moment they share a look; her smile drawing their two worlds together, and allowing him to forget his burdens. But this is immediately broken when the Lady Morgana comes up beside Guinevere and leads her away, leaving Arthur standing down below; reeling from the moment.
This might be the closest he'd ever get to her.