This is supposed to be a fairytale of sorts. Just a sweet little thing which i hope people like. In actual fact, i think i've heard this story before, probably on a japanese drama/anime so if you know where it's from please tell me (that was the main aim of the fic for me, to find out) obviously if someone's written it on then send me a link and i'll take it down immediately because, obviously, that's stealing a story, but until then...and im fairly sure it isnt from on here. So anyways. Enjoy.
The Lonely King
King Uther was lonely. Eighteen years ago he had lost his wife in exchange for the birth of his son. His beautiful, brave son who, just one year ago, had charged into battle, that screamed 'suicide,' selfishly leaving him trapped within the frozen stone walls of the empty castle with only iron plated guards and a rock throne for company. Yes, King Uther was very lonely. His bitterness grew with every passing day until he finally, inevitably, despised the entire world.
One morning, while sourly listening to the eternally cheerful birds chirping merrily in the garden and wishing he could possess their colour and freedom, Uther overheard his assigned sentinels discussing a strange rumour that was circulating throughout Camelot. In some forgotten forest to the far North, there was said to be a man, barely out of boyhood, who had grown the most beautiful rose in all the land. Some said it was magic, in which case Uther reasoned he should really have the boy executed, but some said it was tender care and love.
So, that very afternoon, Uther set out, disguised as a simple nobleman in his carriage under the protection of his four most courageous knights. They journeyed through gleaming woodlands soaked in the sweltering afternoon sun, glimmering through the fresh green of the summer leaves. They wandered cautiously through the starlit meadows and grasslands under the deep, moonless sky. They rode tiredly around a great lake, distracted momentarily by the reflection of the dawning sun on the clear water, all manner of golds and husky roses dancing across the surface. Finally, at high noon, the carriage stopped on the edge of a shadowed forest and Uther's coachman informed him of the five minute walk, impossible to travel by coach, to the glade wherein the peasant resided.
The glade was small, riddled with grasses and flowers. Ivy trailed over the little hut at the centre, nearly obscuring the thatch and wooded frame work from view. Flowers from all kinds sprouted up from scattered beds everywhere, but it was the rosebush at the centre, directly beside the cloth covered opening of the hut, that seized his attention. A man, peasant judging by his ragged clothing, crouched beside it, gazing softly at a large, newly opened rose, its branch completely empty of anything but thorns and leaves except for itself. As Uther approached the man, he came to the realisation that the rumours were true. It was unlike anything he had ever seen in his many years; almost beyond earthly in its beauty. It was a rare black rose. Dewdrops left over from the morning frost clung to the ebony petals, all appearing as if handmade separately to perfection, crafted by the most caring of dexterous fingertips of a deity. Uther felt almost offended that such a poor man should be feasting his eyes on such beauty while he spent his days staring at crumbling stone.
"May I help you, Your Majesty?" Asked the man, straightening and turning to him, dipping his head politely. He was not a large man, tall but no more than the average man. Perhaps he seemed more so because of his slim, almost willowy, frame. His dark hair curled around his neck, overgrown and unkempt, and his pale skin was patched with dirt and a dusted shadow of fresh stubble. It was his eyes that caught Uther's attention though. Large, cerulean eyes that shone with both a familiar lonliness and longing and a sublime, abstract happiness, somehow at the same time.
"Your name?" Uther demanded.
"And this rose? You grew it yourself?" Uther said stoically, jutting his jaw out towards the plant.
"Yes, sire, with my own two hands and the God's good sun."
"It is black," Uther stated, stepping forcefully towards it. "Why?"
"Yes, sire, ebony as my mother's shining hair. I planted this flower with the love I hold in my heart and memories of her."
"She is dead?"
"For a few years now, sire."
"I apologise," Uther murmured, signalling one of his guards and watching with pursed lips as the boy's brow furrowed in confusion. 'What are you apologising for?' his expression clearly read. "I will be taking this rosebush. Such perfection and glorious beauty is not suitable for a peasant. A King is far more worthy," Uther declared cruelly. He turned to his guard, ordered that they did up the bush and strode back to his carriage to await their departure.
Back to the lake, through the fields of butterflies and along the woodland road to Camelot they travelled, arriving shortly after dawn the next morning. Uther commanded the plant set in the garden immediately and, following a day of taxes and inspection, spent his evening pleasantly distinguishingly every curve of every ebony petal and every vein of every emerald leaf, every point of every thorn and every thread of every jade stem that connected to the beautiful flower.
For twelve days, Uther returned every evening to gaze upon the glory of this flower until, on the thirteenth day, the perfect rose began to wither. Its petals shrivelled. The green of its stem faded to a dull, dying brown. Even the thorns appeared lifeless, falling to the floor beneath. And on the twentieth day, all that was remained was an array of sharp twigs protruding from the dry, mourning ground as if they were all that remained after a fierce fire.
King Uther was distraught, storming through the gardens and trampling the sticks until the remains of that heavenly rose were nothing more than dust. Snarling to his guards, he demanded horses be readied at once and, due to the heavy, bone breaking pace he commanded, they reached the edge of the forest in which the glade rested before nightfall that very same day. Swinging himself from his panting stead, Uther raged into the clearing. He spotted the peasant beside a small, trickling stream on the other side of the glade. He marched passed the rosebush and directly to him, stopping only when he was baring down, towering really, over his crouched form, his shadow blocking the low evening light.
"Why? Why did your rosebush die?" Uther challenged, voice stern, gruff and raising in volume with every word he spoke.
"I'm sorry, sire, I don't know," came the calm reply.
"I want…" Uther began to specify when suddenly he stopped, a strange thought occurring to him, and twisted back towards the clearing. Sure enough, beside the opening to the hut stood a rosebush, fully grown. Edging towards the plant, Uther gasped at the largest of all the flowers nestled in the twining, embracing arms of a coat of quivering brambles. It was a flushed crimson colour, gallant and passionate, smiling up at him.
"This…cannot be." He swivelled to face to peasant again. "No rosebush can be grown in a mere twenty days."
"It was fed by my love for my mother, sire" the peasant replied, stepping up beside the King. "Love is a powerful nourishment."
"Yes, sire, the colour of my mother's lips when she kissed my forehead goodnight in the light of the moon."
"I'm taking it," the King said and strode away, muttering to himself, "such beauty and perfection is not deserved by a peasant. A King is much more fitted and worthy."
But, alas, on the thirteenth day after the magical rosebush had been planted the leaves began to wilt, the petals dyed a ruddy brown before floating to the ground on the gentle breeze and the brambles seemed more to writhe in pain than with life, until finally on the twentieth day no life remained and again Uther was angry and immediately departed to the peasant's far away home, quickly becoming obsessed with the domination and possession of the ethereal beauty that resided in the world.
Thrice more this happened; one rose a flushed peach the colour of her blushing cheek in winter, one rose a deep azure the colour of her glimmering eyes and one rose a blinding gold the colour of her faux wedding ring, until Uther took it upon himself to confront the peasant. So when he reached the glade for the sixth time he decided to ask the peasant. He watched him carefully, and with an indescribable tenderness, water the latest rosebush, complete with glorious rose of perfection, this one a glittering crystalline that still looked as if it were made of velvet rather than hard rock. "The colour of the jewel she always wore in a brooch pinned to her shawl," the peasant informed him upon his quiet entrance into the glade.
"If you know I will take every rosebush you grow, why do you continue to grow them still?" he asked the peasant.
"Because you need them more than I."
"But I am taking the love you have for another."
"No, good King. It is true that they are grown and fed with the love I have for my mother but that love lives eternally with me in here," the peasant gestured to his chest, his heart, "and here," he indicated his head, his memories, "such love can never run out." A gentle, secretive smile appeared on his lips. "She is precious to me but these roses are not a physical manifestation of that love and I do not require them to remember her.
"I continue to grow these roses so you can take them, for you desire and need them far more than I."
"I'm afraid I so not understand you," Uther said coldly, only to receive another enigmatic smile.
"You seek beauty do you not, sire?" The peasant chuckled lightly to himself. "Yet with your twisted and bitter heart you cannot create it yourself. Even though your loathing for this world will inevitably curse and disease every one of the flowers you take from me, I will continue to grow them with my own love so you may take them from me and enjoy their beauty while they live their short lives in the hope that you will be a little less lonely while it survives.
Merlin glanced up at him through thick eyelashes, that mysterious, magical smile still present on his lips and, for the first time in a long time, King Uther felt an echo of happiness at the compassion of this peasant. This happiness struck the centre of his heart and it had been absent for so long it truthfully hurt him. In all truth, it was this more than the roses that abated his lonliness, even if just slightly.
Smiling his first genuine smile in eighteen years, albeit shyly and half-concealed, Uther roughly signalled his guards to uproot the tree and turned his back on the peasant, mumbling of royalty being worthy and undeserving peasants, that small, grateful smile hidden by the turn of his head to the rest of the world.
Reviews would be much appreciated. - again if you know where the original story is from (jap-drama/anime probably) please tell in a review.