Written for the Sweethearts Week Challenge of the usxuk community in LJ. Loosely based in The Sword in the Stone and the Arthurian legend in general. Beta check by strawberryburst [at] LJ 3
To say that the forest was silent was a lie. There was the sound of leaves being brushed by the wind. The sound of animals, singing birds, thin streams of water... and the steps of a young boy, who answered to Arthur, making his way through the dried leaves and bushes.
He was heading to the kingdom's capital where his adoptive father, Sir Ector, and his son, Sir Kay, had headed some days ago. Arthur was supposed to have gone with them, but his tutor Merlin, the old and wise sorcerer, had asked Arthur to stay behind so they could meet in the forest some days later. And so, young Arthur was in search of his mentor, not really knowing what to expect (the man was known for never letting out what he was thinking)
The forest was full of noises, and Arthur was skilled in recognizing every one of them. He could even tell when there was a sound around that didn't quite belong to the forest, and there was a sound like that just then; at first, it didn't sound menacing, but as the sound seemed to get closer and closer, Arthur began to get worried.
Despite the sound, he decided to stop for a moment to eat. Unfortunately, he had to resign himself to eating birds. The forest was full of rabbits, but for some reason, he had never been able to kill one (not to mention the fact that they seemed to really like him!) Arthur had talked to Merlin about this fact, the man merely gave him a small smile, murmuring something that maybe, his liking for rabbits could be relevant in the future. Sometimes, Arthur just couldn't understand the old man.
Arthur was getting ready to continue when a crack louder than any others sounded, indicating someone nearby. He could tell it was a human, not an animal; and it was the same person as before, for sure. But was it friend or foe? There was no time for questioning, since a single second of indecision could cost him his life. Grabbing a pebble and his sling, he got prepared for imminent danger.
And then, he saw it. A cloaked figure, dimly lit by the sun. Arthur knew he couldn't show weakness so he roared to the stranger.
"Show your face, you villain! Or else, you'll regret having met me!"
The cloaked figure shrieked. "D-don't hurt me! I'm not a villian, I'm a hero! I'm too young to die!"
The 'villian' was trembling so badly that his cloak fell off. Arthur saw that the guy was right; he seemed really young, perhaps younger than Arthur himself. He looked harmless and unarmed, but he had to make sure first.
"Why were you following me?"
"Uh...hold on. You're Arthur, right? Merlin's pupil?"
"I am," Arthur replied warily. "How do you know my name?"
"It's Merlin...he sent me in his place, because he was going to be busy dealing with some sorceress. I think she was called, uh... Morgay? Faerie?"
"Morgan le Fay?" Arthur raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, that's the name!" Alfred beamed. "You're smart!"
Arthur sighed, lowering his guard. The boy didn't seem to be dangerous, just a little bit of an idiot. Anyways, if he trusted his word, and this boy really was an envoy of Merlin, there should be a good reason for that. Even if it didn't seem like it.
"I guess we haven't properly introduced ourselves yet. My name Arthur Kirkland, I come from the village of Tintagel. For some reason, Merlin likes to call me 'Pendragon', though." He groaned. "And you are...?"
"Oh, I'm Alfred F. Jones, Merlin's apprentice! Nice to meet you!" He enthusiastically shook Arthur's hand. "How should I call you? Art? Artie? Bushy brows?"
"Arthur's fine, you dolt! Do you always go around changing people's names?" Arthur spat. "Whatever. Where are you from?"
"Me? I come from the Burgerville county!"
"What kind of name is that?" Arthur raised an eyebrow, a derogatory tone in his voice.
"Oh, it's a great place, I can assure you!" Alfred beamed, apparently ignoring Arthur's mocking tone. "We're well known because of our traditional dish! Basically, it consists of meat wrapped in bread. We call it 'burger'. It's the most amazing dish ever!"
"I don't think it is all that famous since I have never heard of such a thing before today. However, based on your description, it must be a terrible and distasteful thing," Arthur groaned with a look of disdain.
"You're mean, Artie!" The young apprentice pouted, ignoring Arthur's shudder over the nickname. "Someday, the burger will be a popular and well-loved dish all around the world. You'll see!"
"I sincerely hope I won't live long enough to see that." Arthur smirked. "Anyway, you said Merlin sent you to find me me?"
"Yeah, he told me I had to make sure you would fulfill your destiny--I mean..." He stopped after seeing Arthur's puzzled face, "...to make sure you would arrive safely at the city where your brother's waiting for you!"
"He is, indeed. I heard he was heading there to take a challenge in order to become this kingdom's lord. Whatever. You said you were Merlin's apprentice? Does that mean...you're going to be a sorcerer? Can you can perform magic?"
"Uh... sort of. What I'm really aiming for is to become a knight! So, in the meanwhile, I'm learning some magic tricks. But Merlin won't let me look into the coolest books... not that I haven't looked at them. But please, don't tell him!" Alfred begged.
Arthur thought Merlin was right by not letting this boy handle such dangerous books; it was worrying to think what he could do with them. "So you can perform magic tricks? Like, which one?"
"Oh, once I did a really neat trick! I made brooms dance and clean by themselves!" Alfred cheerfully said. "Something went wrong, though. Suddenly, they were against me and everything started to get flooded with water. Merlin was really angry, after that..."
Now Arthur found himself thinking that, had he had to face any danger, he wouldn't have any chance having this git as his partner. What was Merlin thinking? Arthur started to really wonder about the old man's sanity.
However, the rest of the trip passed without any problem, and in no time they found themselves in the capital. Finding Arthur's foster family wasn't hard either, since the whole city seemed to be gathered in a single place.
Arthur had been ordered to clean his brother's weapons, while Alfred looked with curiosity.
"Can I help you, Artie? Can I? Can I?"
"I already told you my name's not Artie!" he spat. "And no, you can't. Kay would kill me if something happen to his weapons."
"Oh, they will be safe with me! Can I take them? Pleaaaaaase?"
"Oh, for God's sake! Alright, you twat! Take them! And stop making that puppy face!"
As soon as Kay's sword was in Alfred's hands, he mentally casted a spell. In a matter of seconds, a perfectly new iron sword was broken in two.
"W-what did you do, you idiot?!" Arthur shrieked. "Now I have to fix that before Kay..."
"Did someone mention my name?" The brother said. His eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when he saw the broken sword. "Who... who's the one who did this?!"
"I... I can explain, brother..."
"There's no time for that! Now go to the city and bring me a new sword!"
Groaning, Arthur took Alfred with him in search of a new sword. It was a bad idea, though, since Alfred had cast a silent spell that kept every single sword in the city away from Arthur's view. In the end, the only sword left was an old but shiny sword, stuck in an anvil in the midst of a graveyard.
Merlin had warned Alfred not to cast a spell in the graveyard; Arthur should be able to pull out the sword on his own. And Merlin was right; Arthur pulled out the sword with such ease it made the anvil seem as if made of sand. But Arthur wasn't someone who would marvel himself with such thing, and, gesturing for Alfred to hurry up, he headed back to his brother's side.
Arthur handed the sword to Kay who immediately noticed that there was something wrong with it. He was astonished to realize that it was the sacred sword and, having no time to lose, he quickly approached the nobles.
"My Lords! I, Sir Kay, have successfully pulled the legendary sword from the anvil! I am your king, England's king!"
The crowd gasped in awe, but the nobles were more cautious. "Do you have any proof of what you're saying, Sir Kay? Is there any witness of your heroic deed?"
"That man's lying, honorable Lords!" Alfred yelled. "This boy, Arthur Kirkland, pulled out the sword, becoming the heir of the Pendragon's dynasty! I witnessed it myself!"
"Are you trying to mock us, boy? The strongest knights of the kingdom tried and failed... and you're saying this pathetic excuse for a man did it?"
"Who's a pathetic excuse for a man, you sodding--" Arthur began to say, but Alfred managed to stop him at the last moment.
A more prudent noble suggested for the sword to be returned to the anvil and have Arthur pull it out again. That way, everyone could witness the miraculous event and celebrate it the way it was meant to be. Of course, Arthur wasn't all too keen about this idea, and he mentally cursed Alfred for forcing him to stay not one, but twelve days in that crowded city. Damn citizens and their liking for making things big.
On the appointed day the crowd was gathered in the graveyard, and Kay tried with no luck to pull out the sword. Once he gave up, the crowd booed him and Alfred stuck his tongue out at him for a second. Arthur had had enough of the spectacle and just wanted it over. He quickly approached the anvil where he pulled the sword out in a less-than-spectacular way. The graveyard was filled with a deathly silence and Arthur began to grow nervous.
Finally, one of the nobles spoke. "God has spoken today, people of England. Here is your king!" Alfred sighed out of relief.
As the crowd screamed 'Arthur shall be our King!', Alfred could have sworn that he caught a glimpse of Merlin's blue eyes and white beard among the crowd. A second look told him that Merlin was no longer there, however and Alfred doubted he would ever see the old sorcerer again.
He recalled Merlin's last words to him: You, my boy, shall be the one to take care of Arthur from now on. Arthur will enlighten England's path, while you will brighten Arthur's path. No matter what happens, stay together my boys...
Alfred was sure there had been a hint of a smile on Merlin's face. Feeling satisfied and enthralled with the perspective of the unknown future, Alfred smiled as well.
Ten years later....
Camelot's castle was, once again, witnessing one of the most important events to ever occur in the kingdom… the knighting of a brand new Knight of the Round table. It was a serious and solemn ceremony where the whole kingdom would have their eyes on the new knight.
King Arthur stood majestically, holding his loyal sword Excalibur. The same one that had been by his side during the last ten years. And a young man named Alfred, who was said to be one of the king's closest friends, was currently kneeling in front of Arthur.
"In the name of God, and by virtue of your merits, I, King Arthur of England, do ordain you, Alfred F. Jones, as a Knight of the Round Table. From now on, you will be known as Sir Alfred, and you will protect this kingdom and its king while obeying the law of God and the Knighthood code."
At this point, Alfred was supposed to reply, but no sound came at all from the kneeling man. Given the solemnity of the ceremony, fortunately, nobody noticed the snore that Alfred -Sir Alfred, by now- had just given. Nor did anybody notice the kick King Arthur gave to his knight.
The new knight stood up, grabbing his sword and shield as the crowd cheered. The shield was a rarity in and of itself; the symbol that Sir Alfred had picked was some sort of dish made of bread and meat. Everyone was really puzzled over this decision; this is, everyone but Arthur. Not that Arthur could understand what was happening inside Alfred's head for daring to use something as utterly ridiculous as that for his symbol. But that was proof that Alfred hadn't really changed over the last ten years, and even though it didn't look like it, Arthur hadn't changed either.
Once the celebrations were over, and there was just the king and his knight, they could finally talk. Not as king and knight, but as Alfred and Arthur.
"That was a hell of a good party, eh, Artie?"
"Shut up, you twat. You didn't need to go around dancing with every girl in the city!"
"Jealous, eh, Arthur? But fear not; you are, after all, my one and only king!" Alfred noticed Arthur's blush, and turning his voice into a whisper, he continued. "The queen seems to not be around, as always. You look tired, my king. Shall I walk you to the Royal bedchamber?"
Arthur caught the hint, and smirking, he replied, "You must be very brave, or very stupid, to make such request to a king, Sir Alfred. I'm afraid I'll have to test, then, your courage. Are you up to the challenge?"
"Sure I am!" Alfred grinned with his million watt smile.
And so, as night fell over the sacred land of Camelot, the King and his knight headed to have their own, private, ceremony. Far from the eyes of the kingdom and the world, where honor and knighthood virtues had little to do when love was--
"YOU BLOODY GIT!" A nation with prominent eyebrows yelled. "What do you think you're doing, twisting and tarnishing the legend of the great King Arthur?"
"Awww, come on, England!" Another nation known as America replied. "You must admit I made it more awesome and less stuffy than it was!"
"Awesome my arse, you twat! Not only are you implying Arthur cheated on Guinevere, which is an outrage by itself, but you're also suggesting that Arthur was... was homosexual!
"Sure thing. If Guinevere cheated on Arthur, why couldn't Arthur be able to cheat on Guinevere? Sounds fair for me. Especially considering Sir Alfred was quite good-looking and sexy man!" America moved his eyebrows suggestively, ignoring England's huffing. "Come on, England! You're Arthur and you're gay. So what's the big deal?"
"I'm not... I'm not King Arthur!" England stammered, furiously blushing -as America giggled, because England hadn't denied the other half-. "And, to start, Sir Alfred doesn't even exist!"
" He does in my story!" America pouted. "You're just jealous because it's not your idea. Trust me, this book will be a best-seller!"
England sighed, not feeling like arguing anymore. "Whatever. I'm going to sleep, oh-great-writer. Are you coming, or not?"
"But, England! Do you realize you're stopping me from writing what could be the biggest best-seller ever?"
"Nobody said you had to come, you git. But I thought you would get some ideas for writing Sir Alfred and King Arthur's bedchamber scene?" England smirked in a mischievous way. "Or maybe Sir Alfred would want to tame a fierce dragon?"
"That sounds like an idea..." America frowned, giving a thoughtful look. "But, can you make it easy for me? I'm tired..." He finally yawned.
"Ah, I'm afraid taming the dragon isn't an easy feat, brave knight. Who knows..." England approached America, grabbing him by his tie. "...maybe the knight could end up being eaten by the dragon, instead."
America just smiled sheepishly, already feeling the blood rushing to his cheeks and other areas of his body. "You know, this book could end up being way more interesting than I had originally planned..."
Soon, America's laptop would lay forgotten along with the unfinished draft of The Chronicles of Sir Alfred. After all, what was more important for writing a book than doing 'research' and getting inspired?