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Blood on Stone

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Uther stormed into the throne room, his cloak flying out behind him, a ribbon of red against the white walls of his home. Blood on stone. Gaius stood behind the doors, waiting.
“What is going on?” He raged, his hands, fiddling with the cuffs on his jacket.

Gaius looked up. “Its Arthur,” He started, but Uther already knew. It was Gaius’ eyes that gave it away; his eyes, devoid of the twinkling spark that had danced there for so many years told him all he needed to know.

“What happened?” Uther whispered softly, reaching out for the pillar beside him and holding on tight, afraid that the whirlwind of pain in his mind would become real and sweep him away.

“He was on patrol,” Gaius said softly, starting to pour the king a goblet of wine. “There was some kind of, some kind of beast, sire.” He stuttered

“Take me to him.” Uther commanded

Gaius held out the goblet, “Perhaps you should drink first sire, prepare yourself.” He said, placing it in the stricken king’s hand

Uther looked up; the spark of rage that had danced in his eyes for twenty-two years was dimming, but had not yet gone out, “Damn the wine!” He screamed, dashing the goblet against the pillar, “I was drunk when I first saw my son.” He said his voice beginning to soften, “I’ll be damned if I'm drunk the last time.”

Gaius gaped, “I... I ... Sire, he may still recover. There may be, a... a miracle, or, a medicine, something.”

Uthers eyes locked with Gaius’. “I’ve seen this same face before Gaius, twenty-two years ago, on the night Ygraine died,” Uther paused, “You know as well as I that miracles never come to the house of Pendragon.”

Gaius bowed his head, “This way sire.”

Arthur lay in his bed; sweat coated his deathly pale face with a glistening sheen. His mouth, which once proudly bore host to his mothers dazzling smiles and his fathers haughty sneers now lay half open. His golden hair was matted with blood and sweat, never again would it shine in the dawn sunlight. When Uther walked over to the bed and sat down he found himself confronted by Ygraines dying eyes once more. And yet they were not Ygraines eyes, they were Arthurs, and that made the death he could see drawing in on them all the more painful. No father must have to bury his son, as all sons must bury their fathers. This was all Uther could think as Arthurs blue eyes bored into his own, the expression on his face a mixture of pain and sorrow.

“Father,” He whispered, the word causing him visible pain to say.

Uther blinked, and grasped Arthurs hand, “My son.” He muttered, dismissing Gaius with a wave of his free hand. “How are you?” he said, knowing how redundant the question must be but with no idea what else to say

Arthur grimaced, “I fear I may be slightly indisposed father,” He said, managing a lopsided grin, though the words brought flecks of blood to his lips.

Uther bowed his head, “So will you be able to joust next week?” Uther asked, knowing in his heart his son would not last the night.

“Of course.” Arthur said softly, his eyes defocusing for a moment before drifting back. “I am so tired.” He whispered softly. “Perhaps you could tell me a story, about my mother?”

Uther nodded, “Of course.” He said softly, leaning back in the chair and gazing at the ceiling. Arthur did the same, neither of them saw the ceiling though. They were both seeing a woman with golden hair.

“Your mother was the most beautiful woman in all of the kingdoms. Her hair was golden and shone like the sun.” Uthers eyes began to defocus as he became lost in a time long past “She would always laugh and smile and whenever she walked into a room it seemed to be full of light. And her voice, Arthur, her voice, it was like the song of an angel. She used to sing to you when you were in her stomach, and birds would perch on the windowsill to listen.”

Arthur gasped, then, breaking Uthers reverie and as the king looked down the creases of worry which had left for a fleeting moment returned. “It hurts so much.” Arthur whispered.

“It’ll stop soon Arthur.” He said softly “Gaius will find a cure.”

Arthur shook his head, “He won’t, and you know it.” Arthurs body shuddered and he grunted with pain as he pulled a pillow from beside him and placed it in Uthers hand. “Please.” He whispered, looking into the eyes of the crying monarch. “One last gift. Peace.”

Uther sobbed openly then, the tears falling from his deep green eyes and then after a moment he nodded, lifting the pillow into the air and rising from his chair.

Arthur looked up at him, his eyes dim, almost covered with a veil of pain. “Finish telling me about my mother.” He whispered softly.

Uther nodded and continued from where he had left off. “Her eyes were bluer than the sky,” he started, placing the pillow over Arthurs face and starting to push down, “they shone with an inner fire like no other eyes I have seen, except yours.” He continued, tears streaming down his face as Arthur began to thrash under him. “I loved your mother more than anyone in the world. She was just like you, only without the fiery temper.” Uther chuckled then, but it came out as a strangled sob. “That’s my fault.” He finished as Arthur stilled beneath him.

Uther stalked out of Arthurs chambers an hour after that. By the time his thoughts were in order and his tears had dried his son’s body was already cold and the flame of power and anger in his eyes had died. Brushing past Gaius he made his way through the castle, round corners and up stairs, ignoring everyone in his wake. Finally he made it to the roof. He used to come here with Ygraine when they were younger. They would count the stars or watch the clouds or just sit in companionable silence in the sun. Uther made his way to where they had always sat beside a chimney. There in the stonework were their names, cut into the rock in a time that seemed almost like a dream. Except dreams didn’t hurt this much to remember; dreams didn’t leave broken hearts behind. Uther sat for a while, tracing their names with his thumb, all the while muttering softly to himself. “I love you. I always loved you. No Father should have to bury you. No husband wishes to bury you. Its time. The house of Pendragon is over, and I shouldn’t have to bury you. There will never be another. The house of Pendragon is ended.” Over and over he muttered the words to himself before finally standing and stepping to the edge of the roof. “The house of Pendragon is ended.” He said to himself softly, “and I shall not be the one to bury you.” With those words he dived forward off the roof. His cloak flapped behind him as he fell, finally at peace, oblivious to the screams of those below. He would not bury his son; he could not bury another he loved as he had his wife. Uther Pendragon left the world with his mind at peace, as it had never been in his life. Finally he hit the ground. Red on white. Blood on stone.