Pairing: None, really. No romance here ^^; Just fluff and cute.
Rating/Warnings: G. Lots of fluff. English mythology.
Summary: When Alfred is frightened by a thunderstorm, Arthur decides to tell him a story.
Author: Me! =D
It wasn’t the rolling boom that woke Arthur, or the flash of light that illuminated the door of his bedroom being pushed open. What woke him was the small body clambering in beside him, and the cold feet that touched his leg.
“Mmgh... Alfred, what..?”
“It’s scary!” Alfred squeaked, yelping and diving under the sheets as another crack of lightning lit the room and drowned out his yell of fear. Arthur rolled his eyes, dragging Alfred back up by the neck of his nightshirt and looking at him. The boy grabbed his arm and clung to it, his eyes squeezed shut as he began to cry.
“Oh...” The older nation smiled softly, and drew the child to him, cuddling him and murmuring soft words of comfort into his hair. The next boom was quieter, though still loud enough to make Alfred jump. Alfred hated English thunderstorms. Each time, he would jump into bed next to Arthur, and Arthur would be at a loss over what to do to placate the terrified child until it stopped. Yet, despite his apparent uselessness at making the boy feel better, Alfred continued to seek him out every time without fail. “Come on... it’s only noise.”
“It’s still scary!” the boy wailed, burying his face in Arthur’s chest. Arthur sighed, stroking one hand over Alfred’s hair.
“How about...” Arthur said slowly, pondering the idea even as he suggested it. “How about I tell you a story?”
“A... a story?” Alfred sniffed, looking up and wiping his eyes on the back of one hand. Gaining a little confidence, Arthur smiled and nodded.
“Yeah, a story.”
“Okay.” Arthur shifted to make himself more comfortable, and Alfred moved close to his side, his large blue eyes focused on Arthur’s face. “Once upon a time, there was a king called Uther. Now, King Uther was in love with a lady called Igraine, but she was already married, you see. But, King Uther decided he had to marry her, so he took his huge army, and he fought with her husband, and killed him. He married Lady Igraine, and they had a son.”
Alfred was gazing up at him with rapt attention. “What was his name?” he asked. Arthur looked at him, and smiled a little, ruffling his hair.
“They called him Alfred,” he lied, watching his young charge’s eyes grow wide.
“That’s right. Little Alfred was born in a castle, but it was very dangerous and the country was being attacked all the time, so King Uther sent his son away to a wizard, to keep him safe. He grew up in the country, with his foster father Sir Ector, and Ector’s son Kay.”
He paused as thunder interrupted him, but this time, Alfred didn’t even flinch. His attention was entirely on Arthur, who had never attempted to tell him a story before. He bounced a little, an eager look on his face. Arthur looked at him, and chuckled, hugging him close before he went on.
“So, when King Uther died, nobody knew about Alfred, so there was a lot of arguing about who should be the next king.”
“Did people fight?” Alfred asked innocently, missing the shadow that briefly passed over Arthur’s face as he nodded solemnly.
“That’s right. One day, a stone appeared in the churchyard of Saint Paul’s cathedral.” Arthur had once taken Alfred there, but the boy had not been all that interested. Still, his face lit up, and Arthur knew that he remembered. “And sticking out of the stone was a huge sword. There was a message on the sword, it sa-”
“What did it say?” The boy rolled onto his stomach, half sprawled over Arthur’s chest. His eyes were alight with interest.
“I’m telling you!” Arthur laughed. “It said that whoever could pull the sword out was the rightful king. A lot of people who wanted to be king tried to pull it out, but everyone failed, and the fighting carried on.”
“Alfred by now was fifteen years old. He had come to London with his elder foster brother Kay, to go and watch him fight in a knight’s tournament. Now, Alfred got into trouble, because he’d forgotten to bring Kay’s sword, so he went to look for one.”
“Oh no!” cried Alfred, a small fist grabbing a handful of Arthur’s nightshirt.
“Don’t worry,” the Englishman told him. “While he was looking, he found the sword in the churchyard, and he pulled it out, and took it back to Kay.”
Alfred bounced excitedly, giggling as Arthur ruffled his hair again. “What happened next?” he said eagerly. “Do they see the writing? That means he’s the king, right? Right?”
“Can’t keep anything from you, can I, Alfred?” The larger nation’s voice was fond as he looked at the bright face turned towards him. “You’re right, of course. They see the message, and they want to know where Alfred got the sword. They don’t believe him when he says that he did it, but he does it again, and everyone is amazed!”
“Yay!” Alfred rolled over and Arthur sat up, tickling him. The little nation shrieked and batted at his hands, his face turning red as he giggled uncontrollably. Arthur stopped, and Alfred lay there, letting out small spurts of laughter for some minutes before working his way back up and wriggling back under the covers to snuggle up beside Arthur. “What happened next?”
“Alfred got to become king,” Arthur told him. “But there were some bullies who didn’t want him to be, because they didn’t like a fifteen year old telling them what to do. So they started a rebellion.”
“What’s a re-bell-on?” Alfred asked, struggling with the long word.
“It means a war against the proper ruler. Do you remember the wizard who Alfred was sent away to?” he asked, and Alfred nodded. “That wizard was helping Alfred to rule the country. He took Alfred to a magic lake, and-”
“Magic? You mean like the fairies? And that unicorn?” Arthur smiled, and inclined his head. He loved being able to share that part of his life with Alfred – the boy had always been able to see the magical creatures that surrounded Arthur, unlike the other, older nations, and although Arthur believed that one day he would outgrow such things and most likely deny that he could ever see them, he was going to enjoy it while it lasted.
“Sort of,” he murmured. “He took Alfred to a magic lake, and the wizard’s friend, the ‘Lady of the Lake’, lived under the water. She gave Alfred a magic sword that he could defeat his enemies with. He led an army against the rebels who didn’t want him to be king, and there were lots of battles, but because Alfred had the magic sword, he won, and the rebels finally agreed that he should be king.”
Alfred cheered, a happy smile on his face as he threw his arms around Arthur’s neck. “Was he a good king?”
“He was a very good king,” Arthur told him. “And when he was older, he married a princess, called Guinevere. As a wedding present, her father gave them a huge round table.”
“A round table?” Alfred scoffed. “What a funny gift!”
“It was very important,” was the reply, and he tickled Alfred lightly. “Because all the knights in the country wanted to be soldiers for Alfred. The bravest ones were allowed to sit at the round table, and because it was round, all the positions were equal. No one was more important, not even King Alfred. Do you understand?” When Alfred nodded, he smiled and glanced to the window. The rain was still lashing against the glass but the thunder had stopped. “Good. Now, the country was still being attacked, but King Alfred and his Knights of the Round Table finally beat the people trying to invade at a huge battle, and everyone was happy and felt safe again. He spread his lands out and ruled over a lot of countries, and he and his knights had lots of adventures, rescuing princesses and fighting dragons and evil knights, and King Alfred was a hero.”
“That’s right. Everybody loved King Alfred, and he was a very good ruler. The end.”
Alfred smiled, and laid his head on Arthur’s shoulder. The older nation hugged him, and stroked his shoulder lightly, resting his cheek against the boy’s soft hair. Yawning, Alfred rested his arm over Arthur’s chest and shut his eyes. Quite happy to let him remain there Arthur let out a soft, contented sigh and drew the quilt up a little over the small nation.
“One day,” he heard Alfred mumble softly. “I’m gonna be a hero, just like that. I’m gonna make you proud.”
“I know you will, Alfred,” Arthur replied quietly. “I know you will.”