Leon couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but something was different.
He prided himself on always knowing what was going on amongst the knights. Arthur counted on him to know. Leon was quiet and considerate, which made him a good observer. Sometimes, of course, he was meant to ignore his observations. This was a practice he had become quite proficient at over the past few years. A few too many instances with trolls and murder attempts, you see. Camelot was an odd place.
The point was, though, Leon had the distinct feeling something had changed and he was determined to figure out what it was.
“Yes, Mother, I’m fine,” Elyan interrupted, catching the eye of Gwaine, who snickered.
Leon hesitated, affronted. “I was just asking--”
“You’ve been hovering like a mother hen for days, Leon. If we need help, we’ll say so. Promise.”
“Well. Yes, all right, very good.” Leon walked off with as much dignity as he could muster.
All right, so, perhaps he hadn’t been as subtle as he could have been. It was difficult to ascertain what was amiss when you didn’t know what you were looking for.
The thing was, the knights’ camaraderie had never been better. All the teasing and the banter only served to underscore the level of trust and affection they held for each other, and Leon knew without a doubt that each and every one of these men would die for him, as he would for them.
No one was ill. No one was having family troubles. Nothing seemed to be wrong at all. Or at least, nothing of note.
Leon should have been glad. Instead he was only confused. What secret was being hidden from him?
It was only after Arthur sent Gwaine and Percival on a scouting mission that Leon began to puzzle it together. In their absence, his feeling of wrongness dissipated. All seemed to be normal.
And then, upon their return, that feeling swept through Leon again.
Which could only mean that the wrongness was emanating from either Gwaine or Percival. Or both.
As he thought upon it, Leon realised that Gwaine and Percival had been spending more time lone together recently, more sanctioned time away from the castle, and that seemed to coincide with Leon’s vague sensation of discomfort. But they didn’t seem unhappy. Far from it, in fact. The two talked often, laughed easily, and shared private jokes.
Something might have been different, but perhaps it wasn’t bad. That didn’t mean Leon didn’t want to know what it was. It was his business to know, after all. Arthur counted on him to know.
Of course, that didn’t mean Leon couldn’t ask if Arthur knew what was going on. It was only logical.
He stopped Arthur after a training session, standing with him while Arthur foisted a couple of extra practice swords on Merlin. “Have you noticed anything odd recently?”
“Odd? Like what?”
“I don’t know, exactly. Maybe with Gwaine? Or Percival?”
“You worry too much, Leon,” Arthur told him, clapping his shoulder before walking away.
“If you’re waiting for Arthur to notice things, you’ll be waiting a very long time,” Merlin said with a grin before hurrying after Arthur, nearly dropping the swords as he scrambled off.
“That was useless,” Leon muttered to himself.
After that, he tried Elyan and Lancelot. He was similarly rebuffed.
“Gwaine is always weird,” was Elyan’s unhelpful response.
“They both seem fine to me,” was Lancelot’s equally unhelpful response.
“You were right,” Elyan said, approaching Leon one evening with Lancelot and Gwen in tow. “Something is deeply wrong with Gwaine. I asked if he wanted to come to the tavern and he said… he said no.” Elyan’s expression was horrified.
“Oh, so now you believe me,” Leon said, slightly miffed. Though he could understand why such an occurrence would serve as the impetus to change Elyan’s mind.
“Perhaps he’s tired,” Gwen offered.
Leon gave her suggestion exactly the consideration it was due. (Meaning none.) “What could be wrong with him?”
“He could be ill?” Lancelot suggested.
Leon shook his head. “He’s been acting differently for too long.”
“Or it could be the illness of maturity,” Gwen said, though again, her comment went unremarked upon.
“It is a true dilemma,” Elyan said, a statement with which Leon very much agreed.
Leon and the knights accompanied Arthur and Merlin on a hunting trip, which took them away from the castle for a few days. It was a chance to enjoy themselves, to relax, and it also served a greater purpose in Leon’s mind.
It was an opportunity to discover just what was going on with Percival and Gwaine.
Or at least, that had been the plan, anyway. It hadn’t turned out to be all that successful as of yet.
Lancelot had gone with Merlin to collect more firewood while the rest of them found various ways to amuse themselves. Arthur was carefully tending to his sword, slightly away from the others, while Percival stood watch, gazing out into the shadowy woods. With a slight nod of his head, Leon indicated that Elyan might like to join Percival. Elyan grinned at him, catching on quickly, and stood up, stretching, before casually walking over to Percival. That left Leon with Gwaine, who was staring into the flickering flames of the campfire.
Leon sat there for a few moments, wracking his brain for something to say. Why was Gwaine being so quiet? Normally you couldn’t shut the man up. Leon would know.
“Lovely night,” he tried eventually.
“Nice enough,” Gwaine agreed.
“Perhaps we’ll have better luck hunting tomorrow.”
“I expect so.”
Frustrated, Leon focused on Gwaine and said, “Gwaine--”
But a smile was tugging at Gwaine’s lips.
Leon punched him lightly on the arm. “You’re doing this on purpose.”
Laughing, Gwaine said, “Hey, you’re the one who always says I talk too much. I was trying to do you a favour.”
“You’re an arse.”
“There’s no pleasing you, is there?”
Leon glanced over towards where Percival and Elyan were standing and noticed Percival watching them, smiling faintly at Gwaine before turning back to Elyan. Leon hoped Elyan was having more luck than he was.
“Everything’s… going well with you?” Leon asked.
Gwaine’s answer was in his eyes, happy and genuine. “Never been better.”
The hunting trip was an utter failure. Leon was no closer to sorting out his dilemma than he had been before.
“I don’t see why it matters,” Lancelot was saying. “They’re happy, both of them, so what does it matter if one of them does have a secret? People keep secrets for perfectly good reasons.”
“Sometimes,” Leon allowed.
“Let’s face it,” Elyan said. “We’re just damn curious now.”
“Shall I remind you what curiosity does?” Lancelot asked.
“Oh, stuff it, Lancelot. I get enough of that from my sister.”
Lancelot laughed quietly but Leon lengthened his step as they approached the stables. Elyan was right. Maybe he didn’t need to know, but he wanted to, and maybe that was worse. He felt like he needed to know, desperately, and he couldn’t rest until he did.
Consumed by his own train of thought, Leon almost didn’t notice that the stables weren’t empty - and he didn’t mean the horses. He came to an abrupt halt, his brain furiously trying to make sense of what he was seeing.
It appeared that… Well. There was Gwaine, and there was Percival. Considering that they were kissing quite enthusiastically, they hadn’t done the best job of getting out of sight.
Leon just stood there for a few seconds, not entirely sure how to react. He sensed more than heard the other knights catch up to him and then felt Elyan’s arm curve around his shoulders.
“Well, that explains a lot,” he said.
“Yes,” Leon said, a smile beginning to form. “Yes, it does.”