Bedivere remained kneeling where he was, for he knew not what else to do. All was quiet. There was not a whisper from the woods behind him, nor had the lake before him stirred since he threw the holy sword into its waters. There were no animals to be heard either, as even they seemed to be silence in respect at the tragedy before him.
His King, Arthur Pendragon of Camelot lay before him dying. Numerous wounds covered his body, but it was the blow dealt by Mordred that was killing him. With the sheath Avalon lost, Arthur had no way of healing or surviving his injuries. Bedivere's King had been betrayed and brought low, so now all that was left was the man's broken form, drifting in and out of consciousness as his breathing grew weaker. There were none left of Arthur's court other than himself, none left to stand by their king in his dying moments. So, Sir Bedivere knelt by his dying liege, for he was the only one who could carry out his final duty.
There was a small gasp, and Arthur roused himself once more, blinking dully. "Oh, again?" he said, his boyish face relaxed him spite of his wounds. "Am I alone again?"
"No, my king." Bedivere said at once, moving so that he could be seen. "I am here."
Arthur's eyes turned to look at him, and a small smile crossed his face. "Sir Bedivere. Thank you for your presence, though that was not what I meant."
"What did you mean?"
Arthur's eyes drifted out of focus as he spoke. "I had the most wonderful dream. I was able to live without regret. There were people that cared for me. A man and woman. I was able… to be human." He blinked slowly before turning his gaze back to his faithful knight. "I should so very much… like to see them again. Do you think that if I close my eyes… I will see that dream one more time?"
Bedivere looked at his king, in awe of the peace he seemed to obtain from his rest. Peace which he had never gained during his life. Peace which his king had so rightfully earned. "Yes, you can." He replied softly. "I have had such an experience before."
"Ah." The dying man said, and the smile spread further. "Thank you… my most… loyal… knight…" Arthur's eyes fluttered shut, and Bedivere knew that this was the last time they would close.
He tried to control himself, but the knight could not stop his fist from clenching at his side. It was not right. Arthur had sacrificed everything for Britain, and this was his reward? To be betrayed and slain? It was not right. In that moment, though he knew that it was foolishness, he hoped beyond hope that the dream which gave his king that small amount of happiness in his final moments was real.
Then… something happened. Bedivere was not sure what it was, but the feel of the air changed, as if it had become charged. He glanced around warily for a moment before he saw it. A… crack of some sort had appeared above the surface of the lake a few feet away, hovering there as if it was part of the air. The ragged vertical line wavered a bit, like its existence was uncertain. Bedivere's concern turned into alarm a few moments later however, when he noticed several fingers slip through the cracks and 'grip' the edges. There was a terrible groan and cracking, and the crack was opened wider, revealing an exotic looking man who seemed to be physically opening a hole in the world. He was strangely dressed and in some sort of brown longcoat, and his hair was red with bits of white peppered through it. "Saber!" The man called out.
"What sorcery is this?" Bedivere whispered to himself.
After the crack became wide enough, the man tumbled through, stumbling into the water. He quickly pulled himself up, and upon spying the form of Arthur he leapt forward. The knight however placed himself in his path. "Who are you?" He demanded, his hand drifting to his hilt.
"Get out of my way!" The other man all but snarled.
"I know not by what magics you have come here, but I will not allow you to defile the body of my king!"
In a swift motion, the man in the coat put a hand to his chest, and a golden glow burst forth. Bedivere began to draw his sword on reflex, but stopped when he saw that the other man was drawing something forth from his body, something which he recognized. The magnificent blue and gold body of Avalon was impossible to mistake. How had this man come to find the lost sheath?!
After pulling it forth, the man said. "I can help he-him! Just let me pass!"
The knight paused for only a second longer before stepping to the side. He wasn't sure just what was going on and nor did he entirely trust the man before him, but if there was even the slightest chance for his king to be saved, he would take it. As the man in the coat rushed past, Bedivere saw someone else tumble out of the crack. This one was a woman with black hair and an appearance which matched her with the first man, likely that they were of the same place. She began to walk after the man that came before her, but quickly turned when she noticed the crack beginning to close behind her. She held out a hand and muttered something, and the hole remained still. However, it seemed that she had to keep it open, so she stood where she was and looked on with an expression of worry.
Refocusing his attention, Bedivere saw the man in the coat place Avalon on Arthur's chest, his own hands griping the sheath as he muttered something. A soft golden glow spread outward from the metal and quickly encompassed the king. The knight watched in awe as wounds mended and blood flowed back into the body. Whatever the man was doing, he seemed to be enhancing the magic of the sheath even more that it's considerable amount.
And yet… even as the injuries healed, the king did not stir. Flesh was mended with ease, but the life which has flowed from Arthur's body could not be replaced so quickly. In moment's, Arthur's body was in perfect condition, but that was all.
It was too late.
"No…" the man whispered in horror. "No, no, no no no! Not again! I won't let this happen again!" He yelled, tears streaking down his face as he knelt by the body. "Think damn it! There has to be something I can do! Something to call it back-" he suddenly stopped, his eyes growing wide. "Oh. Of course." He said in a perfectly calm tone. The man then swiftly bent down, put his hand behind Arthur's head and kissed him.
Bedivere blinked at this. It was not too uncommon for a man to give a noble male a small kiss as a sign of greeting and respect, but there was something far more… intimate about this one. To the point where it made him a little uncomfortable to watch.
He was about to intervene when there was a sudden intake of air through Arthur's nose, and the King's body jerked. He could swear there was a small, white light between the king and the other man's lips as they broke contact. "Saber…" the man said softly, still holding him in his arms.
The knight did not know why he had addressed Arthur as such, but the king's eyes opened at these words. "Shirou…" Arthur said, and the brightest smile Bedivere had ever seen crossed his king's lips. It did not last long, as moments later energy left the blonde haired man and his eyes closed again, but this time he fell into a comfortable sleep, his breathing strong and restful.
Tears began to flow from the man in the longcoat once more, but Bedivere could tell that these were of relief and joy. "It worked…" he said to himself before he turned to his companion. "It worked!" He yelled out in a half-laugh, half-shout. The woman sunk to her knees in the water on hearing this (though her arm remained stretched towards the crack), her own relief and tears clear on her face.
In that moment, the knight knew who they were. These where the ones Arthur had spoke of. "How- how is this possible?" Bedivere whispered. "How have dreams become real?"
The man in the coat turned to him. "Do you know what a miracle is?" He asked. "Men and women have prayed for miracles ever since they have found something out of reach but want with all of their beings. The sad truth is that wanting something doesn't make it true. Except, human will alone can change the world, just not in any noticeable way. The odds change slightly, but it's so small that theirs almost no difference. And yet, sometimes, something can be so close to happening but will never happen on its own. It's those moments in which a simple human wish can change the course of the world. That is a miracle." The man gave him a heartfelt smile. "Thank you, Sir Bedivere. Thank you for being that little bit which made this miracle possible."
The man then got to his feet, carrying the smaller Arthur in his arms before turning and walking away. "Wait!" Bedivere called out. "What are you doing? With the King of Britain alive, we can-"
"What would be left for your king if he remained here?" The man in the coat asked as he turned back. "What kind of life would he have to endure?"
The knight stopped. He knew well that in light of all that had happened, Arthur would likely not be welcomed back by the people. Many considered the civil war to be his fault, and while the King would bear it stoically, he would not know anymore peace than he did before. Looking at the form of the king in the man's arms, he found that he could not bear to take away the measure of peace which had been gained. "It… my king deserves a better life than that."
The man nodded. "Then let it be know: King Arthur Pendragon has died this day. That is what should have happened, and that is what the world must think has happened. Only we will know otherwise, for the sake of one who deserves more than he was given."
There was a moment of silence before the knight nodded his consent. He knew that his king would disagree and would demand to stay if he could, but Bedivere would not let that happen. If this would grant his liege happiness, then this would be the knight's first and last act of disobedience to his king. And a secret he would take to the end of his days.
Arthur stirred in the other man's arms. "Shirou…" he muttered. "I am hungry."
The man gave a small chuckle at this. "Of course, Saber." He said as he turned to walk back towards the lake.
"Come on, let's go home."
A/N: Well, 18 months and 100k words later, I have finally finished my first one-shot that got away from me. I'm not sure why I've felt such an attachment to the character, but I feel good that I've managed to give his story some closure. I would like to thank the seven or so of you who are still reading this for following the story to its end, and hope you enjoyed it.
I don't know if I'll ever get back to Unlimited Trope Works, but I'd like to think I will some day. Hell, I've even thought of a possible sequel to all this:
The Once and Future Queen
Till next time readers,