But you went away
How dare you? I miss you.
They say I'll be okay,
But I'm not going to
Ever get Over You.
~Miranda Lambert, "Over You"
Night fell. And tonight, it did seem to slip from the sky like a blanket dropped carefully over the body of an exhausted child. There was a hush to the way it came upon Camelot, a gentle warning against any whispering or laughing. The bed that was the night was warm, but dead silent and still, as though the place would never move again.
On the street, emptier than it should be on any other day, a lone figure was ambling slowly, like a drunk with no destination. But the person was not drunk, not this night. His mouth was dry, but for once he felt no urge to fill it with alcohol to make him stupid and stumbling.
He stared straight ahead, letting his hair fall in his face as he walked. He would keep walking, he had decided. Once he reached the gate of Camelot, he supposed he would keep going. He didn't know where he would go. It didn't really matter, though. Nothing mattered tonight, he knew. Everyone knew. Nothing mattered tonight. Camelot had stopped, and not even the wind blew. In the morning, then he would have to find his way back.
But not tonight.
Tonight was not a night for living; it was a night for barely surviving.
Across the street, another watched him, the darkness nearly hiding him in his plain clothes. The second man, the larger by far of the two, saw his friend walking without stumbling, but without his feet seeming to leave the ground, and he found a memory flashed through his mind. A man he'd once known, so far away from the sleeping city, who had found himself stabbed in a fight. The man had known he was wounded, but had gone away from the site, faltering along with a blade between his ribs, unable to feel the pain. The pain had come later. Then, there had been numbness.
The first man paused suddenly, the swagger he had once possessed gone, leaning against the wall next to him as though he would fall through the earth otherwise. The second picked up his feet, his shoes tapping against the stones as he crossed over to his friend and slipped an arm around his shoulders.
"Gwaine," the second man said, "Come, let's take you home."
The knight swiveled his head around nearly blindly, barely recognizing the man holding him up. "Percival," he whispered. "Percy."
"Yeah, I'm right here. Let's go home."
Gwaine didn't think he had any strength in himself, but his arm tightened almost spastically around Percival. "I was just walking. I'm not drunk." He sounded almost desperate, as though it was important that his fellow knight know he was sober now.
"I know," said Percival.
Gwaine nearly buckled as Percival led him away from the walk.
They walked in silence for moments. Before Gwaine, his voice choked, said, "Do y'think… Do you think it always feels like this?"
Percival kept Gwaine up, and for several seconds more he was silent. "Maybe," he said. "I don't think so."
"It doesn't hurt," Gwaine said despairingly, "but it should."
"It will," Percival promised him, and the worst part was that the best condolence he had to offer.
She'd tried to stay in her chambers by herself, but the quiet that had taken over all of Camelot was too much for her. She could hear the pieces of her insides writhing in pain, and it made her shudder. Her pillow offered no solace, though she'd taken to it in hopes that it would soak up all of her tears.
The tears hadn't come, and though she curled herself tightly in her bedspread, the pain was dry and excruciating.
She could only think of one thing she wanted; company. She needed to be with someone else right now, someone who understood. Her first thought was of her husband, but she couldn't go to him. Not yet.
Forgiveness would come with the morning light, but tonight she was too broken.
She uncurled herself, her dark skin sliding across the bedspread smoothly, and stood. It was a long way, but she didn't run to the physician's chambers. Running was too lively for tonight.
She slipped like an unwelcome ghost down Camelot's halls, praying she wouldn't come across anyone before she got where she was going. All her nerve might fly away from her.
But soon she was there, and the door opened at a touch from her fingertips. Inside, it was dark. When the light from behind her in the hall spilled into the room, it reached the old, bowed figure with his head in his hands.
He looked up immediately, the hope beginning to spring into his eyes crushed when he saw the white-clad woman standing there with her brown eyes pitying.
Despite how his face fell, to the extent she was able to feel right now, she was glad she came. He had been sitting here alone in the dark, just as she had, and it occurred to her that it wasn't right.
She left the door open as she walked in and sat beside him, her face in his old shoulder.
He patted her hair. "Gwen," he greeted her, new titles discarded.
"Oh, Gaius," she said. "I'm sorry. I should have come to check on you earlier."
He shook his head. "No," he said. "It's quite alright." He knew it was a lie, too. She wished he wouldn't. Not tonight. He could tell her it would be alright later.
"I can't believe it," she said. "I can't even cry yet, I just can't believe it."
He pressed her head into his chest as he turned to her and enveloped her in a hug, closing his eyes. "I know."
"And Arthur… I know how he must feel, but I just can't go to him, not after…"
Gaius nodded. He seemed so hollow. Gwen recalled what her father had once told her at a friend's burial, as the distraught mother had cried. "No parent should have to see their child go first," he said. "It's not right."
Gwen clenched her arms tighter around Gaius. "I love you, Gaius," she said, the words slipping out of her mouth.
"And I, you," the man who had been a father to them all replied.
And thought neither said it, both wished that somehow they could hear a voice reach across the years and laugh at both of them, "That's disgusting. She's young enough to be your granddaughter…"
He sat, not feeling the cushion of the chair beneath him, staring into the fire. He didn't know who had built it up. Once, it would have not even been a question; he would have known.
He didn't know much any more.
He reached for the cup next to him and sipped out of it again, but the sting of the wine made him feel dry.
His mind was empty right now, for all the brooding he appeared to be doing. He had been thinking, but it hurt too much, and he couldn't. So he sat, and stared, and drank, and wished the night would pass.
Time passed, he knew, but he didn't record it. It went without measurement, but it was still too long. He wished it was next week, next month, next year. He didn't want to be him right now.
At some point he became aware that a woman was in the room, that she was watching him, and he recognized her without consciously thinking it over. His sword was next to him, but he didn't reach for it, not yet.
"Have you come," he asked her, "to kill me?"
"I did," she answered, coming forward into the light, her green eyes glittering as she pushed back the wild black hair she had ceased to care for. She was still beautiful, but it was a wild beauty now, a dark kind that didn't look right in his castle.
"Why haven't you?"
She tilted her head. She wasn't smiling, and her voice was not sickly sweet. He hadn't been so far from hating her in a long time. Maybe he didn't have room.
"Didn't feel right," she admitted. "You look as though you might do it for me."
The idea was a tempting one. Slowly his hand slid to his hilt. "Why tonight?"
"I thought you would be off your guard."
"Did you do it, Morgana?"
She looked surprised, sitting down on another chair beside him and not answering.
"Did you kill him?"
She eyed him as though weighing what effect her response would have. "No," she said truthfully. "I hated him, but I didn't kill him."
He released the weapon. "I did," he said slowly, and she raised an eyebrow in silence. "It was my fault."
She fingered the chair she sat in. "Was it, Arthur?" She hadn't called him Arthur in so long. She hadn't sat beside him in so long. Why she was doing it, she didn't know. But the world wasn't moving tonight, and no one was him- or herself now. And she wanted to know.
"When I found out," he said, "I kicked him out. I told him to leave. He protested and I wouldn't listen."
She wondered if he would go on. It was just more material for her to hurt him with later, hadn't he learned she was the enemy by now? She would have no mercy. He should be silent.
She didn't stop him.
"It took me two days to go after him," he said.
"Why did you?" Morgana asked, looking at her fingers.
"I wanted to know what he was going to say," Arthur said. "I wanted to know what he had tried to tell me, and I had to find him and ask."
Morgana used to love that they had been such good friends. Years ago… So many years ago, when she still cared, she had liked that Arthur had a more human side when it came to him. The thought that it might be good for them both had crossed her mind. Arthur was so strong, and he was so kind.
And he had been kind. Not harsh or vindictive. She couldn't bring herself to say good, but he had been kind.
"I found him," Arthur said, taking another sip of dry wine. Without thinking, he passed it to her. She took a sip as well. His voice caught and his eyes grew haunted as he went on, "Something had hit him; his ear was mangled and his cheek gashed. But it was the injury in his…" He had to stop, to breathe. He'd forgotten to breathe. "It was his chest wound that killed him," he said. "I don't know who did it. I don't know, but it was my fault."
She finished off his wine, but it left her throat still parched. "You didn't go after the one that did it?" she asked, surprised.
"There were no tracks. I'll look," he said. "In the morning. Not tonight. I can't do anything tonight. I brought him back, but I couldn't…"
"The whole of Camelot is unmoving tonight," she mused. "Over a servant boy."
He looked at her. "He was more than that," he said.
"What was he?"
Arthur shrugged. "He was… a lot of things. He was great. He was… a friend. A best friend."
She nodded, her lips twisting. "Your best friend. That was an awful lot of help to him, wasn't it?"
He flinched, but she refused to feel remorse if she had twisted the knife. He knew she was the one who would not console him. If he wanted to be coddled, he would have sought out another. He had lost his main comforter this night, and it was his own fault. He told the story to her, and she was not his friend. Arthur did not want to be comforted. He wanted her to make it hurt more.
Because if she knew one thing about Arthur Pendragon, it was that right now, he hated himself.
"Maybe he did it himself, somehow," she commented. "After being rejected…"
Arthur drew back. His face hadn't shifted, but she knew it had found its mark. He hadn't wanted to hear that.
Perversely pleased with herself, having given him what he wanted so much that he didn't want it, she stood. It wasn't mercy, she told herself. But she was tired of kicking him while he was down.
She turned to leave, knowing he wouldn't stop her.
But he called out.
"You are the only one," he said, "who hasn't one good thing to say about him, aren't you?"
The way he looked at her… She didn't understand it. Where the two famous friends of Camelot were concerned, she didn't have a heart. She picked her own loyalties now. But the way he looked at her, it was like it brought to her mind as well as his very good thing she'd ever watched him do.
She could have left him sitting there staring after her, she knew. But her mouth opened of its own accord.
"He," she started, and stopped. She shook her head and started again. "He was brave."
That was all she was willing to give to bury the man she hated with. It was only for the love she'd long since laid to rest.
Arthur closed his eyes for a second to let that sink in, her last admission, and she turned and swept away in her dark dress. The night was too still, and she didn't like it. She would go home, and she would sleep—then, tomorrow, it would all be back to normal. Or so she liked to believe.
She slipped away, leaving Arthur staring into the fire with an empty cup at his side. His blue eyes were open, and finally, finally, they were wet.
A/N: Well, it just kinda came out of nowhere, so I wrote it. Sorry. I don't know if it was any good, but…. Here you go!