Author's note: Hello! First chapter woohoo! It may not seem like the plot is going anywhere at the moment, but it will. I just kind of automatically write introducing characters and their normalcy first, sorry! Anyways I hope whoevers reading this enjoys it and chapter 2 will be posted soon hopefully.
Chapter One: A line of Change
Uther loved the summer, everything about it suggested warmth, growth. And he was growing, into a man, he was beginning to notice things. Well it wasn't that as such, he had noticed a great deal of those things before, but now the want, the urge for those things was becoming greater.
He was training. He wasn't naturally a swordsman or a fighter, but determination and sheer practise had formed into a remarkable opponent.
A knight, one of his father's close friends, had been teaching him to fight with his left hand, should he ever injure his right, a useful skill.
A blow caught him on the head. And he fell, blacking out for a while. He woke up in a room, the smell of fresh green grass absent. Another smell, just as comforting arose.
Usually, a prince would be furious if he had been knocked out, but Uther didn't mind because it meant he got to go to the infirmary.
And that meant he got to see Gaius.
He sat up when he felt a sharp pain on the side of his head. He gasped. Then he heard a chuckle and turned round, too quickly, his head throbbing any more.
"Ow!" He placed his hand to his head, taking it away when feeling a sticky, wet… something. He looked down at his hand. Blood.
"You hit your head there pretty hard. Thought it best for you to wake up before I clean it up though." Uther smiled at the voice, and watched as the physician's apprentice walked over.
"Is it enough for you, the humble skill of an apprentice? Or do you wish to wait until my master comes back, your highness?"
"You'll do fine Gaius. Your plenty good enough for s scratch on the head." Gaius smiled, dropping a cloth into a luke warm bowl of water.
"So glad that I am worthy. Now keep your head still and follow my finger. With your eyes" Gaius moved his finger, and Uther followed it.
"Well what ever brain you had before is still there. I was hoping for some miracle improvement."
"I can have your head for that you know!" Uther exclaimed, laughing at the outragousness of it all.
"Oh I know but it seems a little drastic doesn't it? And with my head gone, who would be left to tend to yours?"
"The real physician. All though your all ready better than him. All right, I have decided to allow you to keep your head. For the moment."
That earned another chuckle.
"Thankyou for such an…unusual compliment. But I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as my master. I still have much to learn. And new things are being discovered every day."
Uther smiled unaware, watching Gaius talk about his work. He was passionate. He crush a herb and spinkled it into the water.
"Now, can you remember from your last visit what herb is good for cleaning scratches and cuts? Preventing them from being infected?"
"Well remembered. At least we know your memory isn't damaged. Now hold still while I get rid of the big red patch on your forehead."
Gaius picked up the cloth and rinsed it, he sat on the bed, placing a hand on Uther's cheek, gently dabbing at the drying blood.
Uther tried not to notice the light shirt Gaius wore, or the fact he could see part of his defined chest. He would look at Gaius face, only that was just as distracting. His sparkling eyes were like a labyrinth, you could so easily get lost in them.
Gaius was older than Uther, by six or seven years, but sometimes he seemed so much older, and at others he seemed so childish, laughing, playing around with the little poor kids.
"Where is the old bat anyway?"
"haven't you ever heard respect your elders?" Gaius was still smiling though.
"Uh… royal here."
"What's that got to do with it? I may be speaking out of line here your highness, but if royals only listened to royals, the world would be in a never ending war. That is, if there was anything left to fight over."
Uther listened, entranced by the young physician as he spoke while treating the prince.
"Gaius you intolerable fool. How dare you serve the prince. Your highness forgive me I was tending too Lady…"
"Its quite all right Efenath. I told Gaius to get on with it. I can't be waiting around for you all day."
"All done. And I am sure I'll be expecting you back soon." He stood up, putting away the materials.
"Not that soon. I'm not that bad." And he laughed as he walked out the door.
"Yes sir." Gaius took the bag, never losing the slight smile on his face and began walking about the castle, delivering various potions and cures and remedies.
"What are you doing out here?" Arthur called as he saw Gaius sitting in the next field, nose in a book and munching on an apple. Gaius tore his eyes away from the book at the voice. HE raised his head and he smiled.
"Shouldn't you be swimming in your potions and remedies? All those different liquids and herbs, I don't know how you remember it all." He leaned on the fence separating the fields.
"I have been known to take a step away from work once in a while. Its my day off."
"What you reading?"
"Oh nothing." Gaius said, setting the book down.
"Arthur your not talking to him are you?"
"He's a lowly servant. Not even a proper physician."
Other young lads formed a ring behind Arthur, duke and lord's son. Or, as Gaius thought more appropriate, stuck up rich kids.
"Gaius is my friend."
They began to laugh, but when Arthur glared they stopped, mouths still open.
"Well, lets see if he knows how to handle a sword." Damoch, a hot-headed egoist who needed to prove he was the best, climbed over the fence and threw a spare sword on the floor near the taller man, who had wondered nearer the fence during his conversation with Arthur.
"Gaius doesn't have to do this. He hasn't had training or…."
"Please your highness, if the boy insists." And he picked up the sword, swinging it a little, relaxing his arm.
The small crowd laughed, Damoch strutting towards Gaius staged a whisper.
"Last chance to pull out."
Gaius simply smiled.
"You asked for it." Damoch swung his sword, and everybody, including Arthur was surprised to hear the clash of metal, Gaius having met the blow with his own sword.
They fought a little, Gaius patiently waiting for the boy to make a mistake. It was working, the boy swung more ferociously, hitting harder and faster, forgetting about footwork and the opponent's moves, only thinking of himself.
Arthur, just like the rest of the kids, was amazed. He never knew Gaius could fight. So gracefully too. But he saw the tight frown on Gaius' face, the concentration, the grimace. What was wrong?
Damoch swung his sword high, slightly losing his balance, only for a second. But that was enough, Gaius ducked and darted forward, catching Damoch at the back of the legs, he fell. Before he could get back up Gaius moved the sword to his throat.
"Surrender?" Gaius asked politely, smiling once more. Damoch, fuming, stood and walked away.
"And that is what you get for judging a book by its cover." Arthur turned to the remaining boys, arms folded, a look of dismissal about him. They left, hurrying after the defeated boy, still glancing back in shock and awe of the physician's apprentice.
"Please, you were just as shocked, and as judgemental, as they were." Gaius looked at the sword, not quite knowing what to do with it.
"No, I knew you'd surprise us. Just not what that surprise was."
"Do you have an excuse for everything?"
"Why aren't you training to be a knight or lined amongst the guards? I mean with the way you fight, it mustn't be hard. You were amazing."
Gaius' face had changed, he was still smiling, but it was a sad smile.
"Things happen. They change."
"What do you mean by that?"
Arthur was left to wonder about it while Gaius returned to his book.
Later, when Gaius returned to his quarters, he found a servant, sent to summon him to the main chamber. Baffled, he followed the man.
"You are Gaius?" The King asked, keeping his voice in a monotonous sound, giving nothing away.
"Yes your majesty." Gaius also kept his cool, his appearance anyway. But inside his mind was shooting questions, why was he here? Had the spoilt brats told on him? How could they tell on him, he hadn't done anything wrong!
"I hear your going to make an excellent physician."
Gaius tried not to blush.
"I have a long way to go yet your majesty."
The King tapped against his throne, titling his head slightly.
"Uther is going on a hunting trip, the first time he will be leading one. I cannot accompany him, I have duties here to attend to. I want to make sure he is safe however. You will go with them. Him and a small group of knights are leaving at first lights tomorrow. Pack for three days. Go."
Gaius turned to leave and then stopped.
"Might I be so bold as to ask why your sending me with them?"
"Injuries that cannot be spared time. You have a calm persona and a sense on your head. If a group of competitive boys are going off to play who can shoot the largest deer, I wish them to have someone to keep them in line, should they get… a little restless. Your services will be useful in other ways… and you will be rewarded."
Gaius nodded slowly, the King was waiting, even expecting him to react in a certain way.
"Is that all your majesty?"
The King nodded. Gaius bowed, still puzzled and left, throwing a glance over his shoulder at the King, who was still watching him.
"What do you think?" The King turned to a close friend, who had been watching the exchange.
"My guess, he's innocent."
"We shall see."
When Gaius returned to his quarters Efenath was in fouler mood than normal. Muttering to himself, vials going anywhere. Gaius could see his patients did recover, but in such an awkward way, being treated was a chore, when you were ill, you shouldn't have to worry about politeness or saying the wrong thing or upsetting someone.
Gaius thought that if he should ever become a real physician then he would do it with kindness and understanding, the treatment would be more effective, people respond quicker because they believed they would gat better.
"I'm going away for a short while. On Arthur's…."
"The prince's boy, remember your place!" Efenath snapped.
"On the prince's hunt."
Efenath seemed to realise what had been said, he dropped a glass and turned around.
"I'll only be gone for three days. Surely you can cope without me for that long?" The young man watched his master grow panicky and frightened. He felt something turn in the pit of his stomach, and remembered the strange look the King had.
Suddenly, he wasn't excited about the trip any more.
"it's the King's order." HE said, feeling as though he should be adding an apology onto the end. The old man, who was so stubborn and strong-willed, har as iron, had turned into nothing but some sort of jelly. His stiff back now seemed old and bent, his strong frame fragile, his emotionless face worn and tired and scared.
"I suppose you had better pack then." The man said bitterly, bending to pick up the smashed glass, He slipped and a large fragment wedged into the middle of his hand, cutting the palm.
"Here, let me."
"Don't touch me! Go on, go get ready for you stupid hunt."
"Calm down!" Gaius had never raised his voice before, and that was enough for the old man to stop, even if it was only because he was surprised.
Gaius helped him into a chair, and then grabbed a cloth and some warm water from the pot hanging above the fire, pouring some into a bowel and adding a pinch of a sweet, purple plant that he had crushed up earlier.
After dressing the rather deep gash he looked at the man, who was clearly worried about something.
"How do you manage to be so kind?"
"By having been around people who only yell and order and boss. I know what it feels like to wanted to be treated well."
"I'm sorry. I have a bit of a temper."
"actually I wasn't referring to you. Even if you do do that."
"You are remarkably talented. I guess you kind of call it a blessing in disguise."
"Like you? I mean you're the devil to work for, but, I learn a lot, and if I ever work for anyone else at least I know it won't be as hard.
"You're a fool if you think I'm the worst thing out there."
"Maybe not the worst thing."
Efenath chuckled and they sat in a comfortable silence, for the first time in six years, when Gaius had first met Efenath in the infirmary.
"Why don't you have a family?" Gaius blurted before he knew what he was doing.
"Nobody ever loved me." The old man said solemnly, after a while.
"Did you ever give anyone a chance to love you?"
"Do you always have an answer to everything?"
"Yes. But we're still talking about you."
"Not any more we're not. You better pack, those hunting will leave without you if you're late and then the King'll have it in for you."
Gaius spent the night packing, in his head asking, why, after all this time, should people finally begin to notice him?
In his heart; why was everything lying on a line of change?