Title: All Better
Summary: Young Arthur wonders on the healing powers of parents.
Word Count: 484
Author's Notes: Set pre-series.
Arthur didn't mind that his knees and elbows were always scabbed and sore. Each one was a badge of honor, no matter how much the knights laughed at his efforts to keep up. Sooner or later, he'd be their king, the best of all of them. He might only be seven now, but this was his vow. To himself. To Uther.
But once, he saw a boy fall over in the market, jostled by a pair of older, drunken men. He looked to be around Arthur's age, though smaller, dark of hair and lean of muscle. He landed on his hands and knees, barely pulling the former back before they were trampled. His trousers were ruined, though, torn through. As Arthur watched, a woman turned away from the vegetables she'd been examining in a nearby stall and swooped in, gathering the now-crying boy into her arms. She made cooing sounds that were swallowed by the crowd, worn hands smoothing over the lad's unruly hair.
His tears dampened her blouse. Arthur rolled his eyes at the weakness, ready to move on.
The boy held his hands out, exposing the bloody palms, tears lessening to loud snuffles. Encircling his wrist between her callused fingers, the woman kept him still as she leaned down and blew gently across the broken skin.
The boy stopped crying. Smiled. When they disappeared together into the throng, there was a skip in his step. Like nothing had gone amiss at all.
Arthur almost took chase, suddenly desperate to know how she'd made the pain go away. He ran several paces, only to skid to a halt at the drifting voices of the approaching knights. They wouldn't understand. They'd only mock his weakness, or worse, tell Uther.
After that, he saw them everywhere. The cook blowing on a cut finger of one of the youngest scullery maids. A noblewoman soothing her son's skinned knee with a butterfly kiss. Tom, the blacksmith, kneeling in front of his daughter and fussing over a burn on her arm.
Every child walked away, not unscathed but certainly better.
When Arthur blew over his own scraped knee, he didn't feel anything but ridiculous.
As far as he could tell, the magic had to come from someone else, a parent, a caretaker. Uther. The knights.
The only problem was nobody he knew would ever do anything to lessen the sting of a few scrapes and cuts. To them, injuries made one stronger, and wasn't that his main objective if he wished to be king someday?
Only one solution remained. Don't get hurt. Nothing to heal meant nothing to miss experiencing.
For the most part, he succeeded. He couldn't miss having someone to fuss over him if he never needed consoling.
But on the odd occasion when he did take a blow, he'd skim his fingertips over the jagged edges of broken skin.
And wish it might be different.