TITLE: Each Other's Silences
PAIRING: None, gen (well, maybe hints of A/G if only because it's canon)
LENGTH: 525 words
SUMMARY: Silence fills Camelot
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Takes place in the year Morgana was missing. No spoilers for season 3
Rebuilding Camelot was never going to be an easy job, but it was made worse by the deadly silences that now filled the cracks and crevices like stubborn clay.
They came from everyone.
From his father, and his endless escapes to the parapets, as if surveying the wreckage left behind and comparing it to the sylvan serenity beyond the city walls would somehow hold the key to bringing Morgana back.
From Merlin, a feat Arthur would never have thought possible. Too often, he’d disappear while Arthur was overseeing some aspect of the reconstruction, as if he thought Arthur wouldn’t notice his absence. He noticed, all right. But every time he was poised to mete out a punishment for failing to be at Arthur’s beck and call, Merlin would reappear, ready to do whatever was asked of him, pretending he’d never been gone at all. Arthur could have demanded to know where he went. He probably should have. But then more reports of more damage would trickle in, and he invariably decided his queries could wait.
The silences from Gwen were harder to bear. He’d almost believed things might change for them after she’d run out to greet him, the night he returned from slaying the dragon. She’d taken him inside, tended his wounds, and fell asleep against his shoulder when he tucked her into his side.
But morning had come, and she’d been gone, and he couldn’t even go looking for her because Uther demanded a report, and arrangements had to be made for all of the knights who’d fought and died so valiantly defending Camelot, and the castle and lower town had to be rebuilt. His needs were set aside. For now, Camelot had to come first.
He simply hadn’t expected Gwen to draw the same conclusion. Somehow, he’d hoped he might come first for her. But then, she wouldn’t be the woman he loved if she did.
Morgana’s silence weighed heaviest. Her absence was felt in every corner of the castle. Her body might have been gone, but her ghost still roamed the halls. Every once in a while, Arthur would swear he could hear her laughter, but it was always a trick, always a hope found manifest when the truth grew too heavy to bear.
Perhaps that was why he seemed to always be talking. There were orders to give, training to accomplish, a kingdom to rebuild. He needed to coordinate with the townspeople on what was deemed necessary to get their livelihoods back off the ground. The Council often turned to him when Uther was unavailable, a balance that grew increasingly precarious with each additional day Morgana was gone. He had gaps to fill, and though he would have much preferred the gaps not existing at all, he knew his role.
His own silences were in the dead of night, when nobody needed him, when inactivity gave his brain room to ponder the magnitude of everything that had happened, and everything that was yet to come.
He didn’t know how everyone else managed, or even if they acknowledged their silences at all. But Arthur did. And he bore them without complaint.