He was walking through the town of Camelot connecting with his people had been a part of his regime ever since he was King. If he had learnt anything from his father, it was to listen to his people, protect them no matter what. His father, though sometimes a little too harsh, was respected by his people. If anything, Arthur was more so.
Confusion struck Arthur as he walked through the town, a small voice shouting for him; "Daddy!" over and over again. He could feel a tugging on his arm but when he looked there was nobody there. The high-pitched shouting reached its climax as something hard batted him in the stomach.
He woke, a small being on his chest, beaming down at him. Her long blonde was hair falling over her shoulder, and a few teeth missing in her grin; "Daddy!" she said triumphantly, climbing in between Arthur and Gwen – who had just woken up just as confused as Arthur had been – and bounced.
The girl was five now, the youngest of their four children, and the only girl. Unlike her brothers she had the blonde hair of her father, though it curled madly like her mothers. She took after Arthur in most ways. She liked attention, she liked running in head first, and she fought with her brothers like a trooper. Above all else she had his eyes. Those that were filled with so much love and adoration of everything she cared for. Especially the carved wooden dragon Merlin had given her when she was four years old; she seldom played with anything else.
"Rae?" they had chosen to name their only daughter after both of their mothers, Igraine Isobel Pendragon. As a young child she'd never managed to say her name, so her own name for herself, 'Rae' stuck.
"Play! Play! Play!" she chanted excitedly, bouncing with every word.
"Sweetie, the sun hasn't risen yet. Daddy (not so sure about the "Daddy" thing … I personally always see the kids using "Mother" and "Father" and the adults using simply the names … you know what I mean? But maybe that's just me sticking too much to protocol ^^) needs to sleep," Gwen reasoned, rubbing her hand up and down her daughters arm.
"Daddy said he'd play! He said 'When you wake up I'll play'! And I'm waked up!"
"Sweetie, it's still early."
"But he promised!"
"She's right," Arthur stretched, looping his arm around his daughter and hooking her into his chest, "I did promise," Rae reached around her father's neck, cuddling into him, "Let me get dressed and I shall come, okay?"
"You give into her too easily," Gwen commented, trying not to fall back to sleep. She could just about see the sun rising through the turrets of the castle wall opposite their window.
"As you did to Llachen, Gwydre and Amhar."
"They're Mother's boys."
"Don't say that too loudly, you know what they say about Mother's boys."
"What?" Gwen should her head, "If you spoil her too much the boys will get jealous and we'll have a coup on our hands. We don't need the three of them against us. Or her for that matter."
"They're grown up, I'm sure they can manage."
"They don't completely take after me, Arthur. I know how you reacted when Morgana would get something new and you didn't."
"Completely different circumstance."
"How, exactly?" the only way it was different made Arthur look worse for kicking up a fuss. Morgana was rewarded and treated because both her parents had died. Arthur making a fuss about it made him seem selfish. He'd been nine at the time, could you really blame him?
"Alright, no special treatment for Rae. But I did promise her I would play with her this morning, I'm the King, I can't be seen to go against my word, or she'll turn out like Morgana. I don't need her against me as well," at the mention of her old mistress and friend, Gwen nodded at her husband.
Morgana was still a sore subject for the both of them. But Gwen knew what he was saying. Morgana had turned against Uther in the end, in turn against the lot of them. Keeping their daughter, and sons at that, sweet was a priority.
"Go on, she'll be waiting for you."
Arthur leant over the bed to place a quick kiss to Gwen's lips, grinning at her and taking off at a jog in the direction his daughter had left in ten minutes before.
"Daddeeeeee," Rae complained, hitting her father's hands away from her wooden animals, "You're doing it all wrong!"
"How should I be doing it?" he asked, leaning back and letting Rae reset all the pieces he had moved and in turn ruined her game. She started garbling away about how the Dragon didn't hurt the ponies and how the Knights won, because the magician protected them all. He couldn't help but smiled, ruffling her blonde curls.
"Daadddy!" She complained, crawling away from him to sit on the other wise of their game.
"Can we go pick flowers?" Arthur's eyes went wide. Flowers? He didn't pick flowers, he sent Merlin to pick flowers to make him look good. He'd never actively picked a flower. Despite what Gwen may think, "please?"
How could he deny a face like that?
"Mummy says these ones are called dogroses, but Gaia told me it was called a rosa caninny. Which I think is a silly name. But they are pretty so I think we should have some for Mummy's bucket."
"That's what I said, bucket!" she ran off in another direction, towards some yellow plumes, "He said these ones were called see-dum achey, Mummy didn't have a name for them," They reminded Arthur of the flower that he had to get for saving Merlin. He forgot the name, much like her imagined Rae had forgotten exactly what Gaius had called the flowers she was picking and passing him. Luckily his reputation as a non-flower picking being could stand intact. He was merely a flower holder – much more manly.
They had been hunting for flowers for 'Mummy's bucket' for over an hour and Arthur had managed not to squash all of the plumes she was passing him.
"I think we have enough flowers for your Mum now."
"But I've not got any eplobum!"
"It's just over here, I can show you! Mummy loves it."
"As much as lavender?"
"Lavendula angustifolia," he was lost. She was five and she was already smarter than him. She'd do well for herself, however she planned to live. Maybe she'd fall in love with one of her brother's menservants, and if she did, he hoped she knew he would never disapprove. If she was happy, Arthur was happy.
Arthur sat himself in the tall grass, perched, watching his daughter go after some sprigs of lavender to add to the bouquet. He looked up at the sky and watched as the clouds moved. He saw a cloud in the shape of a rearing horse. Another he saw a simple flower. The sort of flower a normal child would draw.
She drew them correctly, not in cartoons. She would be quite the artist one day.
"What are you doing, Daddy?" she'd hiked up her dress, and was jumping over the tall grass towards him. She clutched the purple flowers - and herbs – tightly in her small hand. On reaching Arthur's side she passed them to him, and he added them to the bundle he had rested at his side.
"I'm looking at the clouds," he points to the one shaped like a horse, "See that one there?"
"It looks like Milky," Milky, her rearing horse wooden statuette that Merlin had carved for her, where he'd gotten that skill from Arthur would never understand. But he'd watched him do it one evening as they made their way back from a foreign land so Arthur could be back for his daughter's birth.
As it were he only just made it in time. That hadn't made him particularly popular with the Queen, and she'd nearly broken his hand.
"What about that one?"
"That looks like Uncle Merlin's hand," Arthur laughed and squinted at it and laughed more.
"Like when he stopped me falling out the tree."
"You fell out a tree?"
"Uncle Merlin stopped me, with his magics."
"Right," he was still trying to get used to that. Merlin with magic. The amount of times he'd denied it to his father and the fool he felt when he'd finally seen him in action. The only thing stopping him from handing him over to his father was his saving of Gwen from a flying creature, "Remind me to thank him when we get to the castle."
Arthur laid back into the grass, holding his arm out towards his daughter. She crawled over to him. She flopped down onto his chest, making him groan but he wrapped her arms around her regardless.
Out there - without his crown – they looked like a father and his little girl, sitting in the morning sun. If passers by saw them, smiles - contagious from the happy pair – on their faces. Right there, he wasn't the King, and she wasn't a princess. They were normal. And Arthur wondered if this was what Gwen used to do with her father.
His youngest child nestled into his chest, Arthur could feel his stomach growling beneath her stick of an arm.
"Come on sweet heart. It's time for lunch," he whispered down to her, sitting up and scooping her up with him.
"Don't forget Mummy's bucket!" he picked up the bundle of flowers, and handed them to Rae, she cradled them as he cradled her and carried her back up to the castle.