Arthur understood why he had pardoned the man. Shortly after Merlin's arrival in Camelot, Arthur had begun to see changes in himself. He had begun to question everything he had been taught to believe was true and more than once found himself entertaining ideas about his father's rule that bordered on treason. So it was no shock to Arthur that when he and Merlin had found the frightened peasant, Evan, in Camelot's grain stores that he had let him go. Even though he knew that there were dozens of other people in the kingdom inching closer and closer to starvation, Arthur still hadn't had the heart to let the man go empty-handed. Arthur understood his own feelings of compassion. He was the Prince and he was feeling the effects of the plague on the wheat; he didn't have to think hard to imagine what it must have been like for those who were not a part of Uther's court.
Arthur also understood why he sought Evan out. The man had reminded him of Will. The hair wasn't quite right and the lilt in the man's voice was all wrong, but the resemblance persisted in Arthur's mind. Something about Evan had made Arthur think of his manservant's best friend. Maybe it was guilt that made him do it. Merlin had told Arthur about how Will had lost his father. Then, Will had lost his own life saving Arthur's. Seeing Evan and hearing him talk about his starving children, Arthur had been reminded of how much Will had lost because of selfish nobles and of how this man was suffering while Uther's court ate to bursting every night. Arthur had wanted to make sure that Evan's family was going to be OK and to offer his help in the event that it was needed; a small act of penance for what had happened to Will. So Arthur had gone looking for him later that night.
What Arthur did not understand was why he had taken Evan to bed. After dismissing Merlin for the night and setting out to find Evan, Arthur had found the man lurking in one of the alleys in the lower town. Evan had just looked at Arthur and smiled, a strange cross between amused and expectant, almost like he'd been waiting. Arthur had felt himself spurred on by some unknown force and he was up against Evan in the alleyway, claiming the man's mouth with bruising force, before he'd even realized that he had moved. He had felt the maddening rub of fabric against his arousal where Evan's thigh was wedged between his legs and had a moment of confusion when he realized that Evan was not aroused. That had shocked him out of his haze and he'd moved to pull away, wondering what in the world he was doing. He hadn't come there for this. But as quickly as the thought entered Arthur's head, it was gone again. Evan had just pressed his hand against Arthur's groin and Arthur had felt white heat blazing through his veins, dragging his release in its wake. As he'd milked Arthur's orgasm from him with one hand, Evan had fisted his other hand in Arthur's hair and dragged Arthur's gaze up to meet his. Evan's once brown eyes were now startlingly grey and familiar in a way that spoke of dried blackened stalks of wheat and water turned to sand, but before Arthur could react or even think to protest, the world had gone black and when he'd woken up, Merlin was bursting into his room, a pitcher full of water spilling over his hand and Arthur had resolved to forget the whole night.