The jousting hadn't been a good idea.
When Mordred woke up in the medical tent it was not to the clomping of horses' hooves, although he could hear those two feet from his head, through the tarp, or the singing of minstrels, although he could hear those too. Instead it was the mumbled rhythm of someone very close at hand praying. He opened one eye without difficulty---the other one would not obey, but a voice at the back of his head, which sounded suspiciously like his mother, told him to be patient---and saw Galahad, head in his hands, sitting on a camp stool a few paces away. He still had his leg armor on, and his hair stuck up in tufts from when he had pulled his helmet off and flung it into the mud. Mordred remembered that, vaguely, as the last image he saw before fainting. The image was upside down (he was still hanging from his horse's left stirrup at that point) but the look on Galahad's face as it emerged from the helmet and he started from where he was waiting his turn at the sidelines had been priceless. Priceless and terrifying too, Mordred thought. Now, though, the hair was just ridiculous.
"You look ridiculous," said Mordred. "How is God supposed to take you seriously?"
Galahad dropped his hands, raised his head, and lunged in the campstool. He managed to keep his seat, but it now balanced precariously on two legs while he leaned forward. "Mordred!" he exclaimed.
Mordred would have laughed, but someone had gotten into his chest in his absence and inserted a tight iron lockbox that made sharp inhalations particularly fraught. Galahad looked like the Virgin Mary in one of those absurd Irish books the queen was so fond of; Mary was always fair-haired and wide-eyed, vaguely unwilling, and the angel was always raising one finger menacingly (the saints and prophets looked terrified; Jesus Christ was a hollow-cheeked scream). "You WILL do this," he seemed to be saying.
Mordred raised one finger. "At least my arms work," he said. "Do something with your hair."
Galahad patted it down distractedly. "Your arms work, yes. Your right leg is fine, the left one might be broken, the right side of your face, well, it looks a little like figgy pudding to be honest." He half-smiled and took Mordred's hand in his own. Galahad's hand was cold and Mordred shivered. "That's all. It could have been worse. Lionel got of his horse the minute he saw what had happened, and if he hadn't run over and grabbed yours you could have been dragged all the way to the forest."
"Good," said Mordred. "It was his fault in the first place. What business was it of his going away to France and training all season? I used to be able to unseat him easily." Mordred paused. Was it worth saying? The hell with it. "He's still jealous. He probably did it on purpose."
"I can be friends with both of you," said Galahad. "Lionel knows that."
That's not it, Mordred wanted to say, but he knew that Galahad knew: Galahad knew that that was not it and knew what Mordred meant and knew what Lionel felt. He knew everything, but he acknowledged nothing. That was one of his strengths. It kept him alive every time he sat at the round table.
"Were you praying for me, before?" asked Mordred, more to say something different than for any sense of curiosity. Of course Galahad would pray at a time like this.
"Yes," said Galahad. "If you knew how still you looked, before, on the ground, you would," he paused, cleared his throat, and did not go on.
"Has my," Mordred began, but it was his turn to stop. They must have given him something, a drug for the pain maybe. His tongue was dangerously loose, and he had almost said the word he must not say. Not now. "Has the king been here?"
Galahad squeezed Mordred's hands and released them. He sat back on the campstool, finally allowing all three of its legs to touch the ground. "He has. He came at once to make sure you were all right, and then he was called back to Camelot." Galahad bowed his head. "He wished you well. He touched my shoulder when he said it, as if he were touching yours." He looked at Mordred. "The king cares for you, Mordred. More than his other nephews, I'd wager."
"Yes," said Mordred, keeping back the bitter laugh. Galahad did not approve of any laughs besides the joyous variety. "I believe you're right. Gawain excepted, of course."
"Gawain excepted, of course. The age difference matters in that case. King Arthur sees him as a warrior, not a nephew."
"Well, I'm not much of a warrior at the moment," said Mordred, stretching what could be stretched and gingerly running his tongue over his teeth, "so nephew will have to do."
Galahad started working off his greaves and set them beside the stool. The rest of his armor would have to wait until a steward could be found. It was not easy to unclothe a knight.
Mordred settled back and closed his eyes. It had been Lancelot's idea to hold the tournament miles from Camelot. In Lancelot's opinion, tournaments had become overrun with women; suddenly they were not about feats of strength but about which knight had the most ladies cheering him on. Perhaps, Mordred thought, grinning, that was why Lionel had managed to unhorse him. Lionel had always found ladies a nuisance at best.
"Would you like to sleep now?" asked Galahad softly. "I can leave."
"Stay," said Mordred. "I sleep better when I can hear you clanking around and muttering to yourself. At least then I know someone's got control of my soul."
"Oh," said Galahad, "if it were in my power to control the souls of others we would be living in a very different world." He paused. "Sleep well, Mordred." He patted Mordred's arm twice. "I'm right here."
While he tried to drift off, Mordred counted back and decided that it had almost been three years exactly since he first met Galahad. Or, more accurately, since he first spoke with Galahad. They had been in the same room on multiple occasions, but it was not until Mordred thought that Galahad was about to burn himself alive that they actually spoke. It was during that same week---the week that Mordred and Galahad had their first conversation---that Lionel was drunk every night.
Mordred and Galahad had arrived at court about the same time, with Mordred coming to Camelot from the West in the spring, and Galahad riding through the gates from the East the following fall. Mordred first heard about it through his cousin Gawain, whom Arthur had handpicked to orient the poor lad. "Poor lad" was how Gawain had put it; the gentler he became, the more Scottish he sounded. Apparently, Gawain whispered to Mordred with raised eyebrows, Galahad was Lancelot's son. Mordred knew that most people doubted it when Galahad first arrived and Lancelot was nowhere to be found, but Mordred had reasons of his own to believe Galahad's story and simply responded to Gawain's raised eyebrows with a nod and a change of subject.
Nonetheless, the fact remained that Mordred never really had occasion to speak to Galahad until that week that Lionel, who had been assigned (by a more than usually frazzled Sir Kay, whose response to a sudden influx of young knights had been to give up smiling) to share Galahad's rooms, decided to handle his recent knighting by downing glass after glass of mulled wine and then retreating to his bed to sleep it off. This continued for days, and had already become a tired joke among the other newly minted nights by the time Mordred stepped into the Room of the Round Table and found Galahad asleep in the Siege Perilous.
Mordred's first instinct was to cry out. He did so: a loud ungainly shout that echoed bracingly around the hall and had Galahad on his feet in two seconds flat. "What?" he exclaimed, sounding as exasperated as any man who has just been awoken from a much-needed rest.
"You were," Mordred began and didn't know how to continue. Instead he stuck his hand out. "Mordred. Sir Mordred."
"I know," said Galahad. "You're Gawain's cousin. You just got knighted too." He took Mordred's hand and shook it. "Sir Galahad."
"I know," said Mordred.
"Then this entire introduction has been a complete waste of time," said Galahad, but he smiled kindly when he said it.
Mordred spread his hands wide and shrugged. "Yes."
"Do you know Lionel?" asked Galahad, apropos of nothing. He sat back down. Mordred tried to tear his eyes from the places where Galahad touched the seat, tried to look anywhere else, tried to appear as if this happened every day.
"Sir Lionel? The one who's been pickled ever since we got knighted?"
"We share rooms," said Galahad. "Ordinarily he's a perfect gentleman and roommate, but I haven't had a good night's sleep since that day. Either he's singing French ballads, or he's snoring louder than the Questing Beast, or he's got some new fellow over."
Mordred blinked. "Over to---?" He made an awkward gesture with his hands, and immediately regretted it. Who was he to assume that Galahad was not similarly inclined? Unlike Lancelot, whose affair with the queen had been a national scandal, and Gawain, whose wife had vanished---some said into another world---many years ago, there was as yet no gossip about what Galahad got up to in bed.
Galahad nodded sleepily in confirmation, leaning back in the chair.
"I had no idea." Mordred suddenly began to wonder whether there were rumors circulating around Camelot about himself, and if there were, which of the three ladies with whom he spent most of his time were mentioned.
Galahad's eyes were closed now, and he spoke as if he could barely muster the energy. "Well indeed. Anyway, I come down here to sleep sometimes when the Table isn't being used. And this seat isn't exactly in demand."
Mordred leaned forward. "How does it work?"
Galahad opened his eyes. "How does what work?"
"The seat. How do you sit in it?" He took a deep breath. "Before you came, I heard, but didn't see, Sir Friedrich of Saxony came and tried to sit in the Siege Perilous. He thought it would gain him instant admission to the Round Table. He burned from the inside out, they say; he crumbled to ash in front of everyone's eyes. Then it happened again to Sir Balan, and Sir Leander only avoided it when Kay tripped him. I never saw any of this, of course," Mordred repeated, "I only heard. And now---"
"It has to do with the sign," said Galahad, pointing upward.
"The sign?" Mordred asked. He looked to where Galahad was pointing. He saw nothing.
"It's engraved in Latin." Galahad stood up, turned around, kneeled on the chair and examined the top of its seat back closely. He gestured for Mordred over his shoulder. "Come closer."
"Not a chance," said Mordred.
"It can't hurt you unless you sit," said Galahad. "Come on." He twisted around, and reached out to grab Mordred's hand and draw him near.
Galahad's hand was, even then, very, very cold. Mordred only avoided pulling away by a miraculous feat of self-control; instead, he stepped closer, and looked hard at the dark woodwork. Yes, there, faintly, he could make out words. "I never learned Latin," said Mordred.
Galahad let go of his hand. "What? You? Never learn Latin? But your family is noble," he stopped.
"And?" asked Mordred. "My Uncle Lot spends his time drinking and chucking pebbles into a barrel seven feet from his chair. If my Aunt Morgause knows any Latin it's for spells, and---"
"Spells?" asked Galahad, eyes wide.
"I thought everyone knew," said Mordred. "My aunt is a witch."
Galahad's eyes grew, if it were possible, even wider. "I thought people were being figurative."
Mordred burst into laugher. It grew to be too much and he leaned on the chair, forgetting his fear. When he could finally speak: "No," he said, "no."
"I see," said Galahad. He cleared his throat. He turned back to the seat. "I'll read it to you. It says, 'Let only men of purity unsurpassed and demeanor unshadowed find their rest upon this seat. All others shall perish.'" Galahad slid around and sat back down, facing Mordred. "So. You see."
Mordred was about to reply that, no, he didn't see much of anything, but got no further than, "All right, but," when Lionel entered the room.
Lionel was a relation of Galahad's, somehow, on his father's side, and they looked remarkably alike. They shared eyes, chin, cheekbones, and height, but where Galahad was fair and well groomed, Lionel was dark and tousled. Upon seeing Mordred, he patted his hair down a bit, for form's sake, but it sprung back up immediately. He sidled over to where they were, Galahad sitting in the seat, and Mordred standing before him. Lionel squeezed between them, facing Mordred and giving him a smiling once-over, and rested against the edge of the table itself. "Hello there," he said.
"Lionel, this is Mordred," said Galahad.
"I know," said Lionel.
"Mordred, this is---"
"I know," said Mordred.
"I don't know why anyone bothers, then," muttered Galahad, half to himself.
"I need to speak to you," said Lionel to Galahad. He glanced up at Mordred briefly, clearly wishing him out of the room with his eyes.
"It was nice to have met both of you," said Mordred. "Officially." As he left the room he could hear Lionel saying, "You don't know what Hannelore has been saying."
Mordred found out before the end of the day who Hannelore was, and what she had been saying. Apparently, Lady Hannelore, also relatively new to court, wanted Sir Galahad. Apparently Sir Galahad, when confronted by Lady Hannelore, had shoved her away so violently that she had tripped over a basket of apples left carelessly in the courtyard and had fallen head over heels into a pile of straw. Apparently she had been picking straw out of her garments for days afterwards.
Mordred had all this information from his cousin Gareth, whose appreciation for court life knew no bounds. He was fascinated by everything and everyone in Camelot and loved it all. Mordred appreciated Gareth's fascination, but found that there were unpleasant doings at court alongside the pleasant things. Of his family members, Gareth was closest in age to Mordred and had only been knighted the previous year (after an anonymous stint washing dishes in the kitchen which Gareth had seemed to find necessary and which Mordred considered ridiculous), and so Mordred often went to him for gossip. Gareth wanted to know everything, and everyone trusted his fresh-faced enthusiasm; it was the perfect combination in a source.
It wasn't long before the rumor was verified, to a point, when one day Mordred found Galahad in the armory. Mordred had gone to see whether there might be other swords with better balance. Galahad, it seemed, was there for the same reason, as were many other young knights. Galahad and Mordred decided that returned later, when the smith was not as rushed, would be a good idea and they stepped out into the corridor.
"Hannelore," said Mordred. "Anything to it?"
Galahad turned to him. "You don't waste any time, do you?"
"I was brought up to value directness," said Mordred, which was only half true. "So?"
Galahad sighed. "Well, I certainly didn't shove her over the way people are saying. I just gave her a little push---not even a push: a nudge---to give her the idea and she fell over. The fact is, I had to react as quickly as possible, or," he stopped. To Mordred's great surprise, Galahad was blushing.
"Or," continued Galahad, "I might not have been able to react at all." He glanced over his shoulder and after determining that they were alone in the hallway. They were. "She had her hand on my, you know."
"On your cock," said Mordred.
Galahad turned even redder. "Yes," he hissed.
"I don't see the problem," said Mordred. "I mean, doing it in the courtyard is a bit much, but it's nothing a well-timed word won't fix. There's no need to turn the lady over."
"You don't understand," said Galahad. "The whole reason I am a knight is because there can never be such a thing as a well-timed word. The seat sees to that, even if my mind doesn't always, you know."
Mordred was finding it difficult to understand what Galahad was saying, even without taking into consideration the degree to which his voice had sped up. His legs had too, and Mordred had to double his pace in order to keep up as the rounded the corridor and spilled out into the sun of the stables. "Come here," said Mordred. He seized Galahad's arm and brought him over to the flowering tree just to their left. They stood beneath it, and Mordred dropped Galahad's hand. He crossed his arms. "Now. Explain."
Galahad slid put his back against the tree. "It's like what it says on the Siege Perilous. Only the pure can sit there. I can sit there. I'm pure. If I weren't pure, I would crumble to dust the way you said Sir What's-His-Name did."
"So you're saying---"
"Lady Hannelore makes it very difficult to value purity as it should be valued. She went too far. It was for all our goods, really. I'm going to find the grail." Galahad sighed. "It sounds so pompous out like that."
"You're going to find the GRAIL?" Mordred was aghast.
Galahad's cheeks turned slightly pink again, but it was nothing to the blushing of before. "I don't know for sure that I'm going to find the grail. It's something a soothsayer told me once. But the seat makes it easier to believe. There are things in this world we can't account for."
"Witchcraft explains it," said Mordred. "Someone's playing a trick on you."
"Witchcraft isn't the answer to everything," said Galahad. "No matter what your aunt might tell you."
Galahad was actually, Mordred was surprised to see, becoming a little offended. To sooth him, Mordred brought him back to what was, in Mordred's opinion, the more interesting point anyway. "But you're saying you've never been with a woman? You're a virgin?"
"No," said Galahad, "and so, yes."
Mordred shook his head. "Well that's amazing."
"You have?" asked Galahad. He sounded genuinely curious.
"Two women," Mordred said without thinking. He saw the look on Galahad's face and couldn't resist. "At the same time."
And then he spent the rest of the day trying to convince Galahad that he had been lying.
When Mordred opened his good eye (and the other one partially) he was no longer in the medical tent. He was lying on his own bed back in Camelot, and there was a new fur blanket spread out on top of him. Further inspection of the room revealed that Galahad was sitting by the fire reading a small book. "I can hear you watching me," Galahad said.
"It must be your holiness-heightened senses," said Mordred, using his good leg and his arms to push himself to a seated position, leaning against the headboard. His broken leg protested at being dragged across the mattress and he breathed heavily for a while.
Galahad came and sat next to him, leaning against the headboard and stretching out his legs as well. "You didn't wake up during the entire journey," said Galahad.
"I know," said Mordred. "They obviously gave me something."
"I rode in the cart with you," said Galahad. "Lionel brought our horses back." He paused, staring ahead of them as if they were both at the brink of a cliff by the sea. "You were talking about sleeping with two women at once."
"I was not," said Mordred. He hesitated. "Was I?"
Galahad chuckled. "Of course not. Why would you talk in your sleep about some stupid story you made up to tease me with?"
"Ah ha! So you believe I made it up!"
"Of course I do," said Galahad. "We were children then. Where would you have found the time to sleep with two women at once?"
"Anything's possible," said Mordred. "If you've been touched by God, isn't it possible that I've been granted impossible luck?"
Galahad didn't answer. The look on his face was solemn. Mordred sensed that something as about to be said.
"You never talk about your father," said Galahad. "And I don't ask, but." He stopped. He started again. "I've always sensed that we've had something and common and I prayed for so long that it might be a spiritual connection, but." Again he stopped.
"What is it?" asked Mordred. "Just say it. It can't be that bad."
"Sometimes I look at us and I see the tragic consequences of two bad nights," said Galahad. "I'm illegitimate. I never told you, but I assume everyone knows, just like everyone knows you're illegitimate too." He swallowed. "We arrived at the same time, we both have these fathers, and sometimes to me we feel like two sides of the same coin. Where you go, I go too, but the other way." Galahad shifted his position, turned to look at him, and Mordred was surprised to see a look of sheer misery on his face. "Do you see?"
There was nothing to say to such a thing. Life with his mother had prepared Mordred for a lot of things about Camelot, but not this. "The king is my father," is what he ended up saying. "I'm Arthur's son."
It was as if a clap of thunder had ceased to echo around the room. The silence was such that Mordred was sure he could hear Galahad's heart beating, as well as his own.
"Your mother is his sister," said Galahad. "Your father is her brother."
"Illegitimate is the least of my worries," said Mordred. He had tried for light, it came out with a thud.
Galahad spoke as if he had something in his throat he was trying to keep down. "Does Arthur know?"
"I don't know," said Mordred. "No. He must. No. How could he? I never told anyone."
Galahad brought his head down to his knees.
"I trust you," said Mordred. "I had to tell you."
"What am I supposed to say?" asked Galahad, his voice muffled in his legs.
Mordred brought up a hand and laid it on Galahad's back. "Why are you always so cold?" he asked.
"Magic," said Galahad, and laughed bitterly.
The fire started to hiss and die down in the grate. Someone in the hallway ran by, laughing. A woman. "When you came to Camelot, they let you sit in the Siege Perilous because of whose son you were," said Mordred. "Which makes no sense. Lancelot's only son was to have the honor of burning alive."
"But I didn't," said Galahad.
"If I had told everyone when I arrived that I was Arthur's son," said Mordred, his voice drifting out like smoke on the air, "I wonder. Would they have trusted me? Would they have let me sit in the seat?"
"How can anyone know that?"
"They let you sit in the Siege Perilous," said Mordred. "They must trust you."
"Not really," said Galahad. "They might trust me, but they don't have to. The seat would burn you alive, whether they trusted you or not."
Mordred said nothing. He stared at Galahad's back until at last he sat up straight again, back against the headboard, inches from Mordred, and turned to meet his eyes again.
Mordred watched Galahad evenly, his eyes unblinking, giving nothing away. "Would you stop me if I tried?"
Galahad extended his hands, palms upward.
"Would you stop me if I tried?" asked Mordred again, this time leaning just enough to touch his arm to Galahad's.
"Of course I would stop you," said Galahad. He took Mordred's hand in his.
It was months before Mordred could walk with his old swagger. Sir Kay was surprisingly considerate in allowing meals to be carried up to his rooms. Oftentimes it was his cousin Gareth who did the carrying, always bringing with him some scrap of gossip from his old friends the kitchen staff. Once he brought the food and set it down and lowered himself into the chair beside Mordred's bed with difficulty. "It's Lancelot," said Gareth. "They say he's gone back to carrying on with the queen."
Lancelot was one of Gareth's heroes. It was difficult for Gareth to imagine him doing such a thing, especially when the affair had been broken off in the past and the lovers had sworn never to give it the chance to ruin their lives. Gareth looked mournfully at Mordred. "What does your friend Galahad have to say about this?"
Mordred did not find out until he was finally able to get up and walk about the castle for extended periods of time. Galahad had been in Gaul with Lionel, settling business of some relation of theirs, and when he came back Sir Kai, to make up for his absence, gave him task after task. Lionel was also given tasks, but it was not his presence Mordred missed over dinner. It was therefore with some amount of trepidation that Mordred encountered Lionel outside the great hall on one of his first cross-castle walks.
It was the first time Lionel had spoken to him since knocking him of his horse, and Mordred took a little pleasure in the frightened look on Lionel's face when he saw Mordred limping around the corner. Lionel apologized. Mordred accepted his apology. Lionel explained why he hadn't apologized sooner. Mordred believed him. Lionel turned to go away. Mordred called after him, "Have you seen Galahad recently, by any chance?"
When Lionel turned back around to answer, it was with an entirely different expression on his face. Suddenly, he was standing in front of Mordred. In a voice that would terrify Lancelot himself, Lionel said, "Why? So you can ruin him?"
Mordred, literally taken back, took a step away. "What do you mean?"
Lionel smiled coldly. "We're not so closely related that I didn't look at him when we first met. I thought, there's a handsome man, and it looks like I could have him too. Of course, soon I find out that there's only one man in his life and he's much, much older. It's hard to compete with God, and I don't like wasting time, so I moved on. It wasn't difficult. This is Camelot. There will always be knights swarming in and out, and Galahad will always be my friend. The Siege Perilous even makes sense, in a strange way. Why wouldn't Lancelot's son be destined for something his father was always too imperfect to achieve? There's poetry there. I understood purity in pursuit of a goal, even if it is impossible. What I don't understand is you."
"Me? What's to not understand?"
Lionel rolled his eyes. "Ever since I knocked you off that damn horse. Or maybe even before. It seems that the only person who can compare with God is you."
Mordred sank to the ground almost as an afterthought. He didn't realize until he was sitting on the stones, leaning against the wall, that it had happened at all. "I assure you, Lionel, there's no reason for this jealousy, like I said. I've told you before, there is nothing to---"
"I don't know what you're trying for. I know better than anyone maybe how hard it is for him to do what he has to do. You don't love him, and you can't want the seat because it wouldn't be any good to you, so what is it?"
At that exact moment, Galahad appeared in the corridor.
He came around the corner with an armful of something. When he saw Lionel and Mordred he stopped. "What are you doing on the floor, Mordred?" he asked, gently putting what he was carrying---Fabric? Armor? Mordred didn't care---down and crouching in front of him. He peered up at Lionel. "Lionel, what's going on?"
Lionel threw up his hands. "You tell me," he said, and turned and walked away down the hall.
"I think I overestimated how far I could go," said Mordred, "today."
"I'll help you up," said Galahad. "It's impressive that you made it this far."
"Wait," said Mordred. He put his hand on Galahad's sleeve. "I don't want to go back to my room. I want to visit the round table." Seeing Galahad's questioning gaze he said, "It's been a while."
The hall containing the table was not far from the Great Hall, and Mordred walked quickly, leaning on Galahad every so often to catch his breath. When the went in, no one was there, and out of habit they walked around to their regular seats, side by side.
Galahad sat in the Siege Perilous, perched in it more like, waiting expectantly for what Mordred would do next.
Mordred cleared his throat. "There is nothing separating us. We could be the same person."
Galahad looked down. "That's not what I meant before when I said---"
"Let me sit in the seat," said Mordred.
Galahad glared. "Don't even joke."
"I'm not," said Mordred. "Let me sit in the seat. Nothing will happen."
"I know you don't believe in religion but you have to trust me," said Galahad. "You said it yourself: men have sat here and burned from the inside out. They crumbled to dust. Why would you want that?"
"I don't want that," said Mordred. "It won't happen."
"Just because you say it won't---"
"I lied," said Mordred. "I've never slept with anyone. Women. Men. Whatever. I've never done it. I'm pure too. Let me sit down."
Galahad's jaw dropped. "You lied?"
"Yes. Let me sit down."
Galahad paused. "No."
"I can't risk it. How do I know you're not lying now?"
"I'm willing to risk my life to sit in that chair. Why would I lie?"
"Why do you want to sit in the chair?"
Mordred threw his hands in the air. "This is pointless. I say I'm pure. You say that's what you need to sit in the chair. Let me sit in the chair."
Galahad looked at him for a long time. Then: "All right," he said. He got up and stepped aside. "Sit."
Mordred got up. He walked over to the Siege Perilous and turned around. He lined himself with the seat. He was about to let his muscles go and sit when Galahad exclaimed, "No!" He shoved Mordred out of the way and took the seat himself. "No," he repeated, hoarsely. "There's more to purity than sex. I know myself, but I can't know you. I can't risk losing you. No." He brought his hands out in front of him, a leveling force. They didn't shake at all.
Mordred sagged against the table. He was strangely out of breath. "More to purity than sex." He shook his head, bewildered. "All right."
"We're meant for different things," said Galahad, "but that doesn't mean I love you any less." He swallowed. "And I do, I think, whatever that means."
"All right," Mordred said again. He straightened. He started walking away, still a little dazed. Then he turned. "You'll give me a glimpse of the grail, though, when you do find it?" He smiled. "I'm sure you will. I don't believe in it, but I'm sure."
Galahad exhaled, as if he had been holding his breath. "I promise," he said. "If you promise to, one day, introduce me to your father."
There was silence in the room. Finally Mordred spoke. "All right," he said. "I promise."
"I'll see you at the Round Table meeting tomorrow?" asked Galahad.
"You will," said Mordred, almost out the door. "I've missed it. And I'll be sitting," he pointed at the chair next to Galahad's, "right there."
Galahad smiled, but Mordred was already gone.