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Of Classes and Camelot

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For the first time in a few semesters, Bennie Ryan made sure to be in their classroom before the students on the first day of classes.

They leaned back on their chair and put their feet on their desk as they watched the students file in. Sam Winchester was one of the first, they noted. He sat in the third row and was one of the few students who already had all of the required books. Another student plopped dramatically down next to him and Bennie sighed.

“Back again, Mister Vulpin?”

“It’s true, you’re not dreaming. Prince Foxy has really arrived.”

“And hopefully here to stay this time,” they said pointedly.

“Of course , Professor.”

Sam whispered something to Rey, who waved it off.

“Usually,” Professor Ryan began once everyone was present, “I start the very first class with a lecture about the dark days of Camelot. However, I recently had to attend a New Year’s Gala hosted by a Modern Uther Pendragon and have no desire to get into the details of how much of a fuckwad the original one was.”

They paused for the usual murmuring about their language. Bennie put their feet down and spun to fully face the students.

“So, who signed up for this class because they watched Monty Python or The Sword in the Stone ? Come on, be honest.” A few hands went up. “How many of you signed up because you believe you have a passing knowledge of Arthurian Legend?” A few more hands. “And how many of you can recite the prophecy of the Once and Future King?”

Everyone lowered their arms. The room was silent for a few moments.

“Prophecies are notoriously dismissed by the masses and yet they still believe in fate. Destiny. Anyone who has ever had a destiny has been screwed over six ways to Sunday. Arthur Pendragon, Merlin, Morgana LeFay, Mordred, Isabene Rhian, they were all fucked by their destiny .” Bennie locked eyes with Sam Winchester. “So, let’s talk about fate , shall we?

“A lot of the prophecy of the Once and Future King was bullshit talking about the Rise of Camelot and her involvement in Albion. The gist of the important part was that the Once and Future King, with the help of the Eternal Warlock, would unite the Kingdoms of Albion in a reign of peace, prosperity, and magic with the Lady of the Lake acting as the guardian of their future. Essentially, King’s job was to rule, the Warlock’s job was to protect the King, and the Lady’s job was to protect the Warlock. Fate made sure to make them all equal. Without the Lady, the Warlock would be vulnerable. Without the Warlock, the King would fail. Without the King, there would be no Albion.”

“So Arthur was the King, Merlin was the Warlock, and Isabene was the Lady. If Isabene was protecting Merlin, who was protecting her?”

“Miller, wasn’t it? That’s a very good question. Even when studying accurate texts, people often gloss over the bond between Arthur and Isabene because it’s not as universally acknowledged as the bond between Merlin and Arthur or it’s overlooked because of Isabene’s more blatant emotional ties and repeated declarations of loyalty to Magic-- specifically Merlin -- over the Crown. But Arthur and Isabene were very close. Later on in the semester, we’ll discuss the implications of Arthur knowing of Isabene’s abilities and why Isabene left and returned to Camelot when she did, but a very important detail to acknowledge is that Arthur repeatedly tried to convince Isabene to return to Camelot with the promise of protection despite her powers. The Trio of Heroes the prophecy speaks of are a circle, a loop. Isabene protects Merlin who protects Arthur who protects Isabene.

“For the loop to remain stable, of course, would require cooperation, which is where everything fell apart. The blame for which I am inclined to lay partially on Merlin, but mostly on Merlin’s advisor of draconic persuasion— who, before any of you ask, is not an ancestor of Professor Drake’s. I have checked.”

“Are you suuuuuure?” Rey whispered to Sam, who tried to hide a smile.

“I’m quite positive, Mister Vulpin. Though if you doubt me, you can always ask her yourself.”

The rest of the class went as expected. Bennie was used to the way first classes went. Only a handful of students ever spoke up on the first day, whether it was because they weren’t paying attention or they didn’t believe a word Bennie said.

“This is a joke, right?”

They tensed. “I’m sorry?”

A thin-faced blond boy near Sam scowled. “I thought this was a Lit and History class, but you've been going on about prophecies and wizards and dragons,” he protested. “That’s not history.”

“Benson, yes?” Bennie leaned forward on their desk and fixed him with a stare. “I assure you, Mister Benson, everything you will learn in this classroom is absolute fact. I will not tolerate the lies and fantasies so-called historians spread about the history of Camelot. The stories I tell you are not stories, they are real . Whether you choose to believe me or not is your choice, but skepticism will not get you a passing grade in my class. You would do well to remember this.”

Benson gulped. Bennie smirked, pleased. “I’m gonna let you guys go a little early. Make sure you have all of the required materials by Thursday so we can go over the syllabus in depth. Class dismissed.”

The students began to pack up and Bennie made a mental note to make the next class a little more difficult for Benson. They looked up just in time to catch Sam passing their desk. “Winchester, do you have a moment?”

“Sure, Professor.”

Bennie waited until the last of the other students had left before speaking. “I heard you had a busy last week of break, Mister Winchester.”

“I... um...”

Bennie smiled. “Relax, Sam. I wanted to thank you. Memories or no, my idiot brother should’ve known better than to walk into that mess alone. You probably saved his life.”

“He saved mine,” Sam said. “He’s the one who completed the spell.”

“Regardless, I owe you one.”

“Any chance I could cash the favor in for an automatic pass?”

Bennie laughed. “That I cannot do. But you know, something tells me this class might be a little easier for you than my average student.”

His expression looked oddly schooled for a moment.  “Like Benson?”

They scowled. “There’s always someone who waits until the end of the first class to question me. No one gets away with it, though I should probably be more subtle than I was with Kennedy.”

“It happens every semester, then? The first class is always like this?”

“Every semester, like clockwork. But I’ve gotten used to cycles in my life.” They said it dismissively, but something about that seemed to bother Sam. “Everything alright?”

“I was just thinking about what you said, about how anyone who has a destiny got screwed over. I imagine it would suck to have your future be set in stone like that.”

For a moment, Bennie wondered if Sam knew about his future, about what he was destined for. The idea bothered them and they couldn’t help but think about Morgana, and how much worse things would’ve been for her if she had known exactly what Kilgharrah had said about her destiny. “Prophecy is not a universal law, Sam,” they said seriously. “It’s hard to shake, sure, but free will does exist. Nothing is inevitable and anyone who says differently is lying to your face. Do you understand?”

Sam offered them a bitter smile. “Yeah. Thanks.”

“Alright. Get out of here, Winchester. I’ll see you on Thursday.”