the lady of shalott

Summary: Nobody in Camelot could really say they ever took much notice of Elaine of Astolat, until one newly knighted Sir Lancelot smiles at her from across the way. Her life is forever changed. Playing with the BBC and Tennyson is fun!

Disclaimer: Arthurian Legend is full of people making stuff up all the time, so thanks in particular to the BBC and Lord Alfred Tennyson for inspiring this one.

Basically I love Elaine of Astolat. She's one of my favorite bits of Arthurian legend despite her small part. So this may or may not be the last you see of me inserting her into BBC's Merlin.

tirra lirra by the river

Elaine came to Camelot when she was eleven years old, the same year her mother died. She remembered little of her home village, a small quiet place along the river that they called Astolat. Her mother had been the village seamstress while her father was the armorer. While her father worked, she often sat by her mother's side, rapt with attention to every detail. In particular, she came to love her mother's beautiful loom.

The day they left Astolat, Elaine cried and cried, hugging her mother's loom and refused to let go. They had to drag her away. Once at Camelot, the precocious Elaine her mother had loved and adored was nowhere to be found. In her place stood a quiet, shy young girl who took to staring out the window day after day. Her father saw his daughter's depression, her isolation, and within months he gifted her with a loom of her own. It was not the same of course, could never be the same as her mother's...but it was better than no loom at all. So young Elaine took to weaving in front of the window, creating beauties her mother might only have dreamed of.

Now, the people of Camelot knew of the man from Astolat and his talented daughter. The villagers came to rely on him for repairs and other such skills. Not a blacksmith, he specialized in detail work. He did not create swords or armor, he merely took existing creations and made them better. All it took was for the young Lady Morgana to notice the man's beautiful tunic to make her inquire who made it, who decorated it? Soon Elaine was not just weaving for herself, but for others as well.

And yet, years later, none of the villagers of Camelot could say they really knew the young woman of sixteen who walked amongst them and added beauty to their clothes or repaired them out of the kindness of her heart. On the rare occasion that she walked about the town, no one really noticed Elaine of Astolat and she liked it that way. She was a young woman content to live her life alone and unnoticed. It always seemed like a blessing.

That is, until he came.

Elaine noticed him the first time he set foot in Camelot, before he ever became a knight. How could she not? How could she miss his dark hair and bronzed skin, his strong jaw, the way he took her breath away?

It began like any other day. Upon waking with the dawn and taking breakfast, Elaine sat at her loom and began to weave, singing softly to herself. She sang as if to say good morning, Camelot! and the sound had long since made its way into the hearts of the people as something they heard every morning, without fail, like the chirping of songbirds or the whistle of the wind. Dawn faded into the bustle of morning and afternoon as it always did, quietly and without drawing Elaine's careful attention from her work. She watched the world from the safety of her home, looking out the front window as she fell into a rhythm of work with ease. People interested her, she liked to watch them...but was happy to do no more than that.

And then a figure out on the road caught her eye. He stood not far from the home of Gwen, blacksmith's daughter, smiling at her. His broad, clear brow seemed to glow in the light; all the lines and angles of his face stopped her heart. Without thinking, Elaine stood from her loom and walked halfway across the room, opening the door without hesitation but not going beyond the frame. There was no power in the world that could tear her gaze from him, not one. The King of Camelot himself could appear before her and demand she meet his eyes or be imprisoned but as long as this man stood in her sight, even then she could not. It was as though Elaine of Astolat had been blind her entire life and only then, miraculously, gained sight and the wonders of the world overwhelmed her. Except it was only one wonder - him.

Gwen waved to him, she called him by his name, and he laughed. Oh, the sound of it was like a thousand strong bells were announcing the Gods down from the heavens. He turned to leave, and as he did, noticed the small young woman whom so few people ever saw. He did not know her but he gave her a kind smile before continuing off in the direction of the castle. His smile stole her breath away from her, and her heart along with it.

I have been cursed, she thought, hand to her chest as if by touch she could heal the aching of the organ she'd unwittingly given away. I have been cursed for I shall never live again as I have in this one moment.

Then Gwen approached her about some sort of work for the Lady Morgana but Elaine could not hear. She was not there. She would never be there again, not without him. Not without Lancelot.

fin chapter. this is going to be pretty short...three chapters. This one takes place during Season One's "Lancelot."