In Plain Sight
Arthur walked into his room, sweaty and gross. Immediately, he began to remove his armour and piling it off in the corner of the room to be cleaned and polished. As he began to strip away his shirt, he called to his chamber maid, "Kassandra, draw me a bath, I smell worse than the pigs."
He continued to remove his soiled clothing until he remained barely decent. He flopped onto his bed and groaned, morning practice had been quite brutal. He could already feel the bruises forming under his skin. Lancelot had not been going easy on the grieving prince as many of the other Knights had been doing. In a way Arthur had been thankful as he had much anger pent up inside him. He was angry at the sorcerer who killed his father but mainly he was angry at himself for not being able to fight back against the assassin, which ultimately led to the death of his father. He was mad that his father's death was his fault and he was wanting to put somewhere and half assed fighting partners were not the place. Lancelot seemed to understand that.
Arthur didn't want to retire to his rooms though, despite his aches and horrendous smell. For in his room there was nothing to distract him from the loneliness he felt and the emptiness of the castle that was full of people. Tonight at dinner, he would rise, in front of many, and sit in his father's place, in the king's throne. That was the one thing he dreaded most about his father's death, taking Uther's place and Uther took his place deep in the ground. Although he had always known it would one day come to pass, for that was the only way he could ever rise to power and his destiny, it was far too soon. He had been unwise to trust the sorcerer as he knew his mother died by magic. There was a reason magic was forbidden, magic was evil, sorcerers were evil. If he was too blind to see that how would he ever be able to rule a country? He was a pathetic ruler and his decisions seemed to only cause pain.
"Kassandra," he called as he winced and sat up, "Do you think... I'll make a good king?"
Kassandra was busy cleaning, as was the usual now. Doing all these chores that she had never done before until more recently felt a little odd. Being here each day felt longer and longer now that her father was dead and she couldn't exactly mourn out in the open. As a servant she didn't think it was a good idea to show those emotions. How could she even begin to explain his death if someone asked? Someone of low birth wasn't likely to die out on a battlefield or something. Maybe just saying of old age would have been a good idea, had she let anyone know what was wrong.
Hearing Arthur come in she immediately went to run the water after giving a curtsy. Kassandra tried hard not to be in the room at inappropriate moments. Being highborn she technically shouldn't have been in a room alone with a non relative male at all but that couldn't exactly be helped when her father and Uther had put her here under the guise of a maid. No one else besides herself knew that seeing as both were now dead. Focusing on getting the water she didn't want to think about their deaths and how it kind of left her stuck here and no way to get back home. No one was likely to believe her if she told them who she was anyway. Somehow she had to get back on her own.
Hearing her name again she peered out of the other room. Sometimes he actually spoke to her, and not just to give orders. Not all highborns did that and admittedly she had only ever been somewhat close to her personal servant. Not so much any of the regular house servants. He was asking her opinion about being king? Technically she didn't know a whole lot about that, but supposed it wasn't a whole lot different than how her father was lord. There was just a lot more responsibility being king, she thought. "I think you'll make a fine king, Your Majesty."
Arthur winced, both at his injuries and the title of Majesty. Majesty was a king and queen's title and no matter how much he wanted to tell the maid to never call him that again, he could not. Instead, he flopped back down on the bed with a small grunt of pain. He mumbled to himself, "Majesty..." After a moment of lying on his back, he rolled over to stare at the wall and waved his arm, "Thank you Kassandra, you are free to carry on."
There was a stinging in his eye that he fought against. Men, knights, did not cry over loss and death. He lay there in silence, listening to the bath that began to fill. He attempted to remove his thoughts from those of his parents. He listened to the sound of the water, first hitting the bottom of the tub and then hitting more water. The splashing seemed to calm him slightly however he felt his cheeks damp. As quickly as he sore body allowed him, he wiped away the tears and rolled back over to stand up. It was a slow movement the act of standing and far more painful than getting on the bed. He didn't walk into the bathroom yet, instead he paced slightly before walking to his pile of armour. Pulling out his sword, he held it tight in his hand. He yelled as he swung it in fury at his bed post, lodging it in the wood. Staring at the impact, he released the hilt and took a step back. He left it there are as he turned into the bathroom. He looked at Kassandra, "That is enough water, I'm sure. I just wish to bathe now... You may go."
Kassandra got the feeling she said something wrong. But she wasn't sure what else she could have said. Even had she not been playing the part of maid it was always a bad idea to speak ones mind. Not that she thought badly of him, she just couldn't think about any of that when the world seemed to be a mess because of magic and her fathers death. Yet here she was, having to play the part of some lowly maid because she was stuck and couldn't go back home. She missed her home, and more so missed her family. Plus she missed the more 'simple' life rather than having to worry about chores and if she was even doing a good job because of not being used to them. How she was managing felt like a miracle, truthfully.
Going back to doing the water, she did that without really thinking. Anything she wanted to think about just made her depressed. How much longer could she keep this up? And how was she to get home? Traveling on her own was not a smart idea as anyone could easily attack and harm her. The sudden noise caused her to jump almost out of her skin. It startled her, and she hated to admit that. Keeping her eyes down she was quick to leave the room after that and suddenly wondered what had been the point in putting her in Camelot. Yes pretending to be lowborn helped keep possible danger away from her. But what did Uther and her fathers deal matter if no one else besides herself knew?
Arthur watched as the maid scurried out of the bathroom like a mouse running from a cat, not looking at him, eyes on the floor and moving quickly. He wondered if he had startled her or frightened her, neither of which he meant or wanted to do. There had been a time where he did not care for his servants, a time where he had bullied them. That had been before Merlin had stepped in, the twig defending an even smaller twig. His courage had impressed Arthur and, although he would never admit it, Arthur wished to be more like that, never concerned about one's safety even against a larger and clearly stronger opponent. Watching out for the underdog.
He might have left the room to check on the girl but he smelt so foul he didn't wish to subject to the scent again. Instead, he removed the last of his clothing and climbed into the tub. Grabbing soap, he quickly took to washing himself, giving himself little time to enjoy the heat on his aching muscles. He grabbed a bucket and washed his hair. It wasn't long until he had managed to cleanse himself of the smell and leave behind nothing but the smell of soap and a dirty tub. He climbed out and dried himself, changing into the clothes that had been put out for him at one point or another than left the room. He walked back over to his bed and without a word, closed his eyes, planning to sleep till the dinner.
A small knock came at the door and a black hair man poked his head in. Seeing the empty room and a sleeping Arthur, Merlin crept in. He had seen Arthur's difficulties walking earlier when he retired to his room and figured that wasn't the strongest image of a new King. He sat at his bed side and held his hands over him. His blue eyes turned gold as he used his magic to heal a few aches.
Going back to the tiny little place that was considered 'home' it only made her wish to go to her real one even more. Her father hadn't known but she had secretly brought things with her from home. While she couldn't exactly wear the nice jewelry or let anything be seen that would look odd for a maid to have, it was still comforting. Taking a bath herself she sometimes felt absolutely disgusting after all the work. It didn't help that the clothing she wore made her feel uncomfortable. Plus it felt too revealing. Revealing as in no corset and lots of undergarments like she was used to so she felt more exposed even though technically none of her skin was really showing.
Making sure to eat it was always hard to say when she'd get the chance to. Usually early morning and at night was a safe bet but lunch was another matter entirely. Afterwards she headed back up to the castle to see if there was other things she had to do. Unless she sold the nice things she brought, she couldn't really afford to not keep up the pretenses of a maid and doing cleaning in the castle since her father hadn't really given her money. Just enough for her to have a place and it wouldn't look odd and her being homeless.
Merlin smiled at his friend before quickly gathering himself and sneaking back out of the room. Mere days ago, Arthur's father had died at his hand, through his magic, of course Arthur had not known but he felt it were necessary to pay him back for the horrible thing he had done. Even in simple ways as healing sore muscles.
Arthur awoke, not long after, and sat up. He winced, anticipating pain that never came. He looked down at his body in shock, it seemed the bath and rest had done its wonders on his pained body. He smirked ever so slightly and jumped from his bed. His mood had lifted ever so slightly, it was nice to do the thing he dreaded with a body that didn't want to go and curl up in a corner. He changed into more regal clothing, black, for mourning, and red, for his coronation. His male servants helped him with the last touches before walked over to his sword. Grabbing the hilt he ripped it form the bed post then felt the notch in the wood that he had left behind. He re-sheathed his sword then left his room.
In a matter of moments, he would walk through a crowd of his subjects, sit on the throne, and be crowned king. He wondered if his father felt this way when he took the throne.
Kassandra tried to just keep herself busy so she wouldn't have to think about other things. In a way she was glad no one knew who she was since it made it easier to not draw attention to herself but also it meant no one knew what she was going through. Dusting off one of the statues she wondered if maybe she could secretly write to her brother and send it out without anyone's knowledge. That was the only possible way she could think to possibly get back home. He'd come to get her, or send someone. Either way it meant she could go back home.
Soon it hit her that today was the coronation where Arthur would be crowned king. She'd have to go there as was expected of everyone. Finishing up the statue she made sure her clothing looked half way decent before she headed to throne room where the crowning would take place. Keeping off to the side where Merlin and the others were she stayed quiet as she watched and waited for everything to happen.
Arthur stared at his feet as he waited for his 'big' entrance. He hated this but most of all he hated that he had to look like he was happy. Music began to play and Arthur looked up and removed him from the wall he was leaning against. He straightened his back and stood with his chin high, trying to give off the air of confidence, despite the fact that he had none. The doors swung open and Arthur took a moment before he walked forward. The people, his people, were standing on their feet and watched as the Prince walked down the aisle. He felt like he should be wearing some white dress and crying from the way people were looking at him like a bride. He walked slowly to the throne and knelt before the priest, who had the honour of crowning him. He said some words that Arthur was not listening to, then he watched as the crown was lowered to his head. He closed his eyes as the crown took its spot and knelt there a moment.
Finally he rose to his feet and looked out at his subjects, with a stoic expression. Then he took his seat on the throne as the people began to cheer and applaud. However, his face did not change. He merely bowed his head in thanks.
Merlin turned to Kassandra, "There is a ball tonight in the King's favour. Everyone is invited... If you can find some semi fancy clothes, a few of us who are lower down are going to celebrate. I think it will make Arthur happy to see some friends."
Watching in silence she got the feeling he wasn't doing any better of than she was as far as loosing a parent went. But she didn't do any comparisons. It seemed pretty silly to do so, and she knew he was worse off since she at least had family back home whereas the only person kind of considered family to him, Morgana, had ran off and turned against Camelot. Or so she had heard. Everyone cheered as he was crowned king. Offering a smile and some clapping it seemed like it went rather fast.
The mention of a ball had her throat clench up. Her go? All of her clothing was either too simple or too extravagant. There was no way she could come up with something semi-decent but also not too nice that it would be suspicious for her to have it. "I'm not sure I have anything ball appropriate," she decided to 'admit' sheepishly. "But I could try to come up with something to show support," she added.