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Arthur crossed the threshold into her room with a nod of thanks, his feeling of guilt bubbling to the surface as he spots the bouquet of roses in the vase on the cabinet.
"I owe you an apology," he said, pausing in the middle of the floor and turning back to face her. "I'm sorry I didn't come back to you sooner...it wasn't my intention." He tries a small smile, fighting the urge to reach out and take her hand. Would she want him to? He wasn't sure what their night together had meant, but he didn't regret a moment of it. He had loved her for so long, as a friend first, for years before the line between that and this something else had started to blur. The phantom of a half-forgotten memory seemed to float between them, two teenager in a barn, Lilith in the doorway. It had been a mistake then, an error in judgement, a flood of adolescent hormones, but it was more now. Youthful memory and a long-seated affection had reunited them after first Damon and then Lilith had left them behind. They were older now, Arthur knocking on the door of his fortieth year, and whilst loneliness had bound them together once it had evolved into companionship. In his experience that was what older love, older passion was. Different from the dizzying heights of youthful passion, but no less true or deeply felt.

"I would have loved to have had you wake up next to me, to have eaten breakfast with you and soothed our pounding heads together." Arthur's smile grew a little, "I think we may be getting a little old for wine so close to bedtime." He drank too much wine. "Can you forgive me?" He'd wanted to get the apology out first; it was more important than the explanations which could so easily be misconstrued for excuses.
"The Peaks are fine," the king begins, finally addressing her question, "we intercepted the pirate ship and recovered the supplies." He ran his fingers through his hair; a touch of grey had started to sneak in to the mousey-brown around his temples. "That was the first day. The second and third day I was speaking with our lawyers about the upcoming trial of Mallos'..." he hesitated, unsure of what label to apply to Croe, "...Mallos' pirate." He sighed, "it's a bloody mess, Cia."

The king's eyes burned with tiredness as he shook his head.
"You know, I wish he'd stop and think! A king's supposed to uphold the law and dispense justice, and that's exactly what I can't do when I'm asked to pass judgement on the mother of my friend's newborn child!" He's stared to pace, back and forth over her rug. His usual mask, the cool and collected him giving way reluctantly to a degree of agitation. "I can't win in that situation, Cia. I can't. I'm supposed to be fair, which means no one gets preferential treatment, but how can I not offer just that to this woman?" Arthur runs his hands across his face. "Morgana won't talk about it, Mordred doesn't want to get caught in the middle of anything, and then I've got Tristan coming to me with this guilty look on his face to say 'Oh, Father, by the way, this woman saved my life once.' What am I supposed to do with that?" The king sunk down onto the bed with a sigh, and looks back at Ciara across the room. He held out his hand for her, "what am I supposed to do?"




Arthur
see heaven's got a plan for you


photo by Jon Nelson at flickr.com






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