It's difficult being a prince.
People don't realise it; they spend all their lives believing that the life of a prince is one of untroubled luxury, and in some ways, they'd be right. It is luxurious, undeniably so.
Yet it is far from untroubled. Duty to the crown, responsibility for the people, and the expectations of the king make Arthur's life difficult. He doesn't begrudge the duty he owes to the kingdom, but sometimes, just sometimes, it would be nice to forget it all. Just for a moment or two. It would be nice to able to lie back and let all the responsibility fall from his shoulders.
Arthur doesn't really know what he's doing. It's May; blossom decorates the foliage around the castle, and Camelot blooms in pretty shades of pink and red. The sun is high on the sky, beating down on him as he makes his way out of the lower town. He doesn't know where he's going; all he knows is that he wants to escape. Just for a little while, he wants to be free from the court, and have some time to himself.
So when he has gone through various fields and bushes to reach a secluded, quiet little meadow away from the bustle of the town, he isn't exactly pleased to find his lifelong tormentor and sometimes-ally lying on her cloak on the grass, idly plucking at stems of grass with her long pale fingers.
For a moment, Arthur considers leaving. She hasn't seen him; he could easily slip away, and she would never be the wiser. But something compels him to move forward. Maybe it's how relaxed she looks, hair fanned in a black halo around her head, eyes half-closed in the dappled shade. Whatever his reasons - and he isn't entirely sure he understands them himself - he continues on his way until he is standing over Morgana.
She becomes aware of his presence the moment his shadow blocks the last vestiges of sunlight filtering through the leaves of the tree above her. She opens her eyes fully and looks up at him with an expression that is half irritated, and half expectant. She doesn't look surprised. He doesn't think he's ever seen Morgana surprised by anything; she hides such emotions well. Arthur recalls how she hid her grief when she first came to live at Camelot, chin held high, little fists clenched tightly by her sides, and fondness wells within him.
"Oh, it's you," she says derisively, and the fondness rapidly fades.
"I was about to say the same thing."
"What are you doing here, Arthur?" She sounds bored. Her lilting voice captures his name in the way that nobody else ever could, or ever will. Arthur frowns at himself. Stupid thought to have, really.
"I'm… going for a walk," he improvises. No need to let Morgana that he felt the need to hide from the pressures of Camelot for a while. To admit it would be to admit weakness, and Morgana would pounce on that like a cat, he thought dryly. "And you?"
"I come here to get away from it all." She leans up on her elbows. "It's nice and calm here. You know what it's like at court."
"Mmm." Arthur is looking at her in a new light now - he never realised she felt the same way as him about such matters. The fact that she so easily acknowledges that he had classed as weakness makes him feel slightly foolish.
Her grey-green eyes are perceptive as ever as she takes in his appearance. "You look tired," she says critically.
"Long walk," he responds feebly
Morgana smiles slightly. "Why don't you join me?" she suggests, moving to the side and leaving half of her cloak free. "Have a rest." She sees his expression, and adds, "Just for a while, before you walk back."
"If you insist," he says gruffly, dropping down onto the grass beside her. It takes a few moments for him to get comfortable - the ground is hard, and the grass is annoying and lumpy under his back, but eventually he manages. He stares up at the canopy of leaves above them and exhales slowly, revelling in the relaxation that eases through his body, stripping away the responsibilities of being Prince Arthur.
Neither of them speak for a while. It's peaceful; Morgana was right, it's calm here, and almost impossible to feel stressed. Arthur is pleasantly warm and rested when Morgana turns her head and meets his eyes.
"It's okay to feel the burden of your responsibilities, Arthur," she says softly. "And it's okay to let go of them for a while, too."
Arthur is quiet, letting her words sink in. For once there is no teasing between them; the moment stretches lazily onwards, tranquil and tender.
Arthur smiles, and forgets the world.
'If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world?' ; Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol