Author`s note: Oi, look at me, writing a new fic for one. This week was Spring Break for me, so I`ve been typing up a storm with all these ideas I have. The most amusing ideas, by far, are what would knights or various characters be like as children? Hate all you want, but the idea was too cute for my girly self to turn down. Enjoy and be sure to scribe a review~! –Lucky Duck.
The Best of Chumps
Robin Clegg preferred to be indoors, thank you very much. Not outside. Outside was full of mud and dirt and filth, though everything in this village was coated with grime and waste. From the walls of the ram-shackled huts set out in dilapidated rows down the village to the layers upon layers of burlap everyone wore as clothing. Robin didn`t like dirt, in fact he detested it. Every day, he would take a sponge bath in effort to scrub away all the dirt and grime that came with the day, but still his daily attempts were never enough to clean him as thoroughly as he would like.
But his mother didn`t take dirt as an excuse. So, he tried infection. There was an extremely nasty plague going around, you know. His father had to take up another shift as his job as a dead collector, and the other dead collectors around town had to as well, just to manage it and keep from dead, decaying bodies from just laying strewn around the village`s roads. But, for some reason, even though this matter must have been close to her, she didn`t by it.
So, Robin tried marauders. He could very well recall the warnings other people gave about blood-thirsty bandits hiding in the woods, or three-headed beasts, or those knights in the woods who said a word so foul, so vulgar, that people seldom lived to tell the tale, or shrubbers who would beg you to buy one of their shrubberies. The outdoors was brimming with danger.
Still, his mother didn`t buy Robin`s reasoning and forced him into the wild yonder of their village to "go play with some other kids", in order to give her a break.
Now, Robin liked the company of other kids, more as his audience. His favorite game wasn`t hoodman`s bluff or prisoner`s base, but performing. He loved to dress up and dance for anyone who had the attention span- old cronies, plague victims squabbling in the mud, or the cats that gathered around whenever he dumped out scraps of leftover dinner for them to eat.
He also admitted, he didn`t like the strength-centered games the children of the village adored because, well, quite frankly, he was terrible at them. He was weak, scrawny and anyone could see it. But, he was a fast runner. Perhaps, because he so often liked to run away from things that scared him.
Sighing dramatically every so often, Robin trudged down the winding pathway that snaked its way through the vicinity, uncertain exactly what to do. His mother`s orders had been "Go play", frank and simple. He had finally come across a little stretch of grass close to a road that lead from their village to Camelot, so sparsely planted that the area was nearly all mud, where the other children of the village were playing.
Cautiously, Robin inched his way to the edge of the field and just stood there, awkward and uneasy. They were playing some sort of rough-housing game, the boys, at least. All of them were in what seemed like a pile- a sweaty, grimy, gross pile of boys that at least some way had to carry disease. It was positively savage.
Robin stood demurely, brushing down his white tunic that was tucked into a pair of trousers and smoothing out the creases of his brown wimple-like hat that covered his red-hair, uncertain about what to do. Should he just stand here and wait for one of them to ask him to join them or-? He didn`t know many children around the village by name, and, scanning over the heap of boys, he didn`t immediately recognize anyone. Oh, what was proper for this?
"Decided to crawl out of your cave, eh, Robin?"
He snapped at the voice coming behind him, knowing that the shrill voice belonged to Mrs. Galahad. He turned to see that the woman was standing there, pail full of fresh mud in one hand (though a lot of it was plastered on her face and clothes) and clutching her only son`s, Dennis, hand in the other. He was about Robin`s age, shrugged in just about the same amount of burlap and heavy cloth as his mother, with blonde hair what was almost always knotty and filthy and unclean, while Robin`s was kept far more groomed.
Robin simply nodded at her question, not even bothering to murmur a reply.
"Good thing, too. You`re a pale as skim milk, you could use the sunlight" she commented noting Robin`s pasty skin under his wimple. Mrs. Galahad suddenly thrusted her Dennis towards Robin, sending both boys into a little shock state. "Here, why don`t you play with Dennis for a little while? I need to go trade this in-" she held up the bucket of sloshing mud- "but I`ll be back shortly."
Leaning down, she brushed away a bit of Dennis`s scraggly hair and pecked each of his dirty cheeks with a wet, motherly kiss. "I`ll see you in a while, love. Have fun with Robin." And with that, she turned and left towards the village and out of their sight, towards the place where she would trade in all of that mud.
Robin wasn`t all the familiar with Dennis, to be truthful about it, so he didn`t know what to say to him. But, that didn`t mean they were not going to be without conversation, because Dennis knew what to say, and said a lot of things for that matter, even when he was requested to politely shut the hell up.
"You're wearin' a woman`s hat," Dennis said frankly, pointing to Robin`s wimple.
But there was one thing Robin knew for certain about Dennis. When he had something on his mind, he didn`t give consideration how that would affect the people he was speaking with, he just flat out said it.
"I`m not," Robin sniffed defensively, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Y' are. My mum says y' are," Dennis told him.
Figures. Robin assumed that Dennis' outspoken-ness had stemmed from his mother, who was out-spoken, herself with her views on everything, mainly with politics. But she didn`t reframe from being opinionated about anything and everything.
"Well, my mum says it`s perfectly fine for a man to wear-"
"Oi! Dennis! Robin!"
Robin had been cut-off mid-sentence. He turned around see who had rudely interrupted his explanation to Dennis that his head covering was perfectly acceptable for a man to wear, as told to him by his mother, and saw that it was Lance Cockburn, one of their friends.
The equally messy and burlap clad eight-year-old bounded towards his friends, his boyish smile broad that could only mean that he had either gotten into a bout of trouble that he was proud of or had received a gift from someone.
"Finally got some time off from gallivantin' around with a bunch a brats on me back," Lance told them as he came up to them, grinning. By "brats", he clearly meant his younger brothers. Ever since the boy`s father had disappeared, most likely to follow the pursuit of screwing with every woman in the vicinity as it was well known, Lance had his brothers trailing behind him everywhere he went. Lance`s mother had often said it was because Lance was the closest to a fatherly role they could get in their lives, but being a fatherly figure, instead of being a brother was flat out annoying to Lance.
Lance gave a devious smirk. "An' I got some time before they figure out I`m gone. `Ere-" The boy rummaged through the pockets of his heavy overcoat to pull out what looked like three glazed, little rounded honey cakes. "Brought these for you."
"Who`d y' steal it off of?" Dennis implored, gladly accepting one of them from Lance`s hand. "Mrs. Ector? She always has her stuff coolin' on the window still and she never notices that anythin' is gone."
"Didn't," Lance told him. "This nice little chap gave `em to me. Guess `e`s the new baker`s son. Seemed nice. Not to mention, `e was kinda cute . . . like a little kid. `E was only `bout six `an a half."
Robin seemed to be the only one who caught Lance`s blunder. Every so often, Lance would say something like that, calling this boy "cute" or some man "very handsome", like the way Dennis would refer to the girls of the village. Funny, though Dennis was oblivious to it. And everyone else for that matter.
Robin graciously accepted the honey cake from Lance and plopped himself down in a wet patch of grass that was facing towards the road and the throngs of boys playing. His friends followed suit, contently chewing away at the sweet and still-quite-warm bread.
While they snacked, Robin could hear the clamping of horse hooves and he jolted to look up at the road, catching notice that a group of what appeared to be knights were riding through the village, obviously towards Camelot.
Despite his love for music and dancing, Robin secretly wished to become a knight one-day. There was a lot of honor and glory to the title, of course, and he betted that there had be a lot of dressing up and dancing that came with it, too. Actually, becoming a knight in Camelot would be a strategic career move, he thought. What could he do with his singing here, in this little town? Nothing, except for maybe singing at Bar Mitzvahs or sleazy cabarets for the rest of his life when he wanted to see his name up at big theatres that Robin had only heard about through stories. When he would be in Camelot, he could have a lot more options about what he could do with his talents. Also, he heard minstrels there were notoriously fantastic back-up singers.
"Oi, look at `em," Lance commented, and Robin knew that he was equally captivated by the knights. "Ridin' around in their `orses like that. Bet they`re havin' the time a their lives. They make a livin` on getting' to fight."
One qualm with that dream job of becoming a knight- it meant bloodshed. The sheer thought of the sight of blood made Robin pale. Or the battle field. Or the thought of using weapons. Basically, anything involving killing made him suddenly sick to his stomach. Lance was the polar opposite. He craved violence and roughhousing, lusted for it, which terrified Robin and he sincerely thought his friend would need psychiatric help. Still, Lance couldn`t help but always find himself in scraps with the other boys of the village, or usually his own brothers whenever they got in fights.
"Oh, they`re just a bunch of civil servants who work for the dictator in Camelot," Dennis scoffed, taking a rather large bite of the honey cake and continuing his statement with his mouthful, which Robin found quite rude. If his mother had stuffed political views down his throat, why couldn`t she do the same with manners? "There isn`t anythin' special `bout it `em, other than they crippled under pressure from the government and got some fancy-pants title."
That probably had come straight from Mrs. Galahad`s mouth. Robin could just hear her saying that.
"Still, they get a lot a adventure," Lance sighed, eyes never leaving the knights. "Rescuin' damsels in distress, goin' on quests for that king."
"And they get to sing and dance," Robin added. His best friend well knew about love of song and dance, probably more than anyone else in the village did, even if it was quite evident. They had been friends for years, and Lance knew from the first instances in their childhood, when Robin would try to leap about in an impersonation of the bards who had come to town to perform during a festival years and years ago.
"Yup, that is the life," Lance said with a sigh as the knights had disappeared down the road, deep under the forest`s thick canopy of trees. "An' one day, we`ll be jus' like `em."
"C`mon, Lance," Dennis said. "Who are we to become knights? We live in a `ell of a time for the workin' class. When would they ever recruit somebody from the slumps of this kingdom to become a knight?"
"Thank you Dennis, the dream killer," Robin said flatly and then sighed and took a bite of his own honey cake, wistfully thinking about the future.
They were still kids; they had years to go before even thinking of becoming knights or what they were going to do with the rest of their lives. For now, they were young and life consisted of nothing more than day-to-day chores and playing around with each other. Still, he wondered what the future was going to have in store for the three friends and where they would end up in the next couple of years. Who knew what it held, though? Maybe, somehow, there was a way for one of them to become a knight? They would just have to wait and see.