Being a knight is a dream come true.
When I was a boy, there didn't seem to be enough hours in the day for me to prove my worth; to make myself known amongst the knights—King Arthur's knights!—I did every menial task I could think of to show them that I was worthy enough to be trained to be a Knight of the Round Table. I had no family to speak of, but the kind innkeeper with whom I lived admonished me and said that I should try to learn a trade that would be useful in my adulthood, not go gallivanting after a knight and be nothing more than a servant.
Obviously, I never listened to the woman, bless her soul. She just didn't understand. I'd thought that maybe my father had once been a knight—it had often been told to me by the innkeeper's young daughter, a girl who lied through her teeth as easily as a cow eats grass—but either way, I had my heart set on joining the exclusive order of brothers.
I was taught most often by a good, kind, strong man named Sir Lionel, who just so happened to be King Arthur's most trusted friend. He had infinite patience for my mistakes, which were numerous. He often reminded me of the knight's motto and advised me to be thoughtful and selfless. Chivalry is above all most important—ladies are to be courted and treated like flowers, not ordered about and treated like chattel. Sir Lionel had a daughter a few years younger than me, and he'd tell me all about her dreams to be a knight, and once joked that he'd love to see us become partners as knights and partners in the domestic aspect of life.
Being a young boy, I'd choked on my bitter tea and blurted out that I would never marry a girl, or even be near a girl knight. It's just not the way things were done. He's looked at me and shook his head, chuckling as he did so.
In a way, Sir Lionel was my father, and I was his son. After I was blinded in a horrific accident, he treated me exactly as he had before, if a little more gently. The patience and kindness he showed me was more than I deserved. Sure, I'd saved the horses, but in the process, I'd lost them their stable boy and let the stables be destroyed in the fire. Again I was reminded that I was not to blame, and it wasn't a problem—stables were easily built. And in time I learned how to go about life in them just as easily as I had with sight. I felt almost normal again.
And then Sir Lionel returned to Camelot for the last time, and died shortly after arrival.
Without him, I felt lost and alone. Thus, I took to the forest and hid from the world. I forgot the afternoons of training by the stables. I forgot the kindness that shone in King Arthur's eyes when he looked upon his subjects; the rustle of Merlin's robe as he wandered around the kingdom with his pet falcon. I even forgot the stories of the little girl knight.
What a life I had.
My life now is so full of life and happiness and joy that I can hardly contain myself. Laughter has become a daily affliction; I laugh so much at my wife that she teases me about when I'm to become wracked with guilt or shame. I pretend to be wounded, but nothing bad comes of our interactions. In fact, much good comes out of them. I see in Kayley a creature that understands life and its mysteries, who treats me like a normal man without pity or shame. She loves me for me, despite our rocky start. After all, she did marry me.
And she gave me a family.
We were full-fledged knights for three years, two of which we were married; Merlin had offered to marry us and bless us with magic, but Kayley had insisted that we use a local pastor to marry us. Magic wasn't something that she wanted to dabble in, regardless of her job and adventurous spirit. I could understand that, and our life was idyllic to the extreme degree, and it only increased when our first child was born.
My little daughter was named Sophia after the lady who raised me in her home for most of my childhood—she'd died from tuberculosis two years after I'd left, though some said from heartbreak. I'd felt a semblance of guilt for causing the death of a beloved lady, but Kayley had reminded me that illness wasn't in my control.
She took hold of my heart with a vice-like grip ever since I'd felt her features with my calloused hand. A small, button-like nose, two fragile ears, a small pursed mouth, and eyelashes that curled gently; when she was placed in my arms shortly after she was born, I'd smiled so widely that my cheeks hurt from the effort. "She's so perfect," I'd whispered, lowering my head to lightly rest my forehead against hers.
Needless to say, she was my little girl from birth.
I taught her how to walk and take care of the animals, since Kayley had decided it was her duty to teach Sophia how to ride a horse and be a knight, not a stuffy lady. Do not ever tell Lady Juliana that she is doing it wrong when she cares for Sophia when we're away on official knight duty. She'd be offended most egregiously. It's in my dreams that Sophia will follow in our footsteps and take her place as a knight; the king believes that it will become a family tradition to be one of his knights, as Sir Lionel was one, Kayley and myself are knights, so it makes sense that our children would follow down that path as well.
She's never seen the two-headed dragon I so reluctantly befriended years ago; the two stayed in Camelot just a little while after our knighting ceremony and simply disappeared. I'd like to think that the dragons who so violently rejected them finally accepted them because of their affiliation with us. I suppose we'll never truly know, will we?
It's so amazing to me how fortunate I've been. Yes, I'm nattering on like a fool, but I can't help it. My life, that seemed bleak as a child, is now full of sunshine and warmth that I've forgotten my dark thoughts—of course, the darkness to which I'm referring was simply my overwhelming despair and anxiety at never being accepted. And now? Now I am married to a beloved woman and father to such a talented little rider who never ceases to amaze me. I've—
"Garrett? Are you lost in thought again?" Kayley said, appearing like a ghost, albeit a lumbering ghost; she is not as quick or light-footed as she used to be before our knighting, or even after Sophia was born. It is almost time again.
"Yes, I was." I replied, collecting my staff and rising to my feet. She moved to stand in the circle of my arm.
"What were you thinking about?"
"Nothing of significant importance, my dear; how is the farm? Your mother is well, I take it?"
Kayley chuckled; her mother and she have never seen eye-to-eye, especially on the subject of having a family. "Yes, but she advises me to retire from being a knight after next month. She believes that children would be better raised with their mother constantly around, while their father is off seeing the world."
"Well, I don't know about seeing the world."
"Oh, you know very well what I mean! But after all those years of being stuck at home and finally being able to see the world makes me reluctant to give it up."
I sighed and embraced her. "You don't have to. Sophia understands why we are gone on journeys occasionally. And so will John."
She sighs contentedly, and my thoughts envelop me once again. I may have never thought myself lucky before, but now…now I have something even better than my sight: a life worth living.