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Erudite

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Once he realized how he actually felt, Arthur found he couldn't speak to it. Not at all. Not in a whisper, not shouted, not when he was alone, not when Lancelot was with him, in his space, in his rooms or in the courtyard or anywhere.

It ate at him. He was angry and afraid when he thought on it, and tried prayer, tried mental flagellation, tried distraction, tried patrols, tried sparring.

The worst of it came on a winter's evening that was as cold as any he'd ever seen, and Lancelot was sweating and taunting him as they circled one another in the ring, Arthur's Excalibur heavy and slippery as he narrowed his gaze at his opponent. Lancelot flipped his blades in arcs, the silver tone of the steel sparking reflections in Arthur's eyes that had him tripping when he hadn't meant to, sliding in the snowy muck at his feet, his own sword falling from his grasp. Lancelot stood over him, broad smile of triumph on his angular face, and Arthur snatched at the other man's trouser leg without realizing what he was doing.

Lancelot hit the ground with a surprised oof and Arthur, allowing his unconscionable feelings to roar up and take him, an idea spiraling in his mind, grabbed Lancelot's hair and tugged.

"What are you -"

Arthur spoke into the other man's ear without meaning to, but his Greek was impeccable and the words curled up out of him, from his gut and the place he held dear and close to himself.

His mother had said those words to him in Greek, in Latin, and in the British tongue she'd grown up speaking. She'd smiled at him and tousled his hair and had told him to learn as much as he could, for it would benefit him one day.

Later on, away from the snow and the cold and away from anyone that could see Arthur's face when he spoke to the other man, he said the words again, Lancelot's body drowsing against his, the other man seemingly asleep. Arthur spoke them in the Greek, and he trailed a hand through Lancelot's dark, wild hair, freezing when Lancelot spoke without opening his eyes.

"Are you sure about that, Arthur?"

Arthur forced his hand to move, and looked anywhere but at Lancelot. Those particular words were very dangerous. The most dangerous things Arthur could say.

"You can't possibly understand me."

"My father learned Greek from traders to our lands. Why would you assume I'm an uneducated heathen? Because I come from a place so many leagues from the light that is Rome?"

Lancelot still hadn't opened his eyes. His sarcasm bit at Arthur and yet - Arthur touched his arm and the other man finally looked at him, the darkness in his gaze too deep and Arthur forced himself to meet the brown eyes that were -

Lancelot spoke a phrase then in his native tongue, one Arthur had never heard from the other man, and then closed his eyes, settling in to the warmth that permeated the bed. Arthur opened his mouth, but Lancelot laughed softly and burrowed deeper under the furs.

"Now who is the uneducated heathen?"

He could only hope Lancelot would teach him.

~

 

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