Spoilers: Upto 1x02 “Valiant”
Summary: Everyone appears to celebrate, but things are never as simple as they seem. Arthur POV on events of the episode.
A/N: For hope_calaris, prompt “the relationship between Arthur and Uther with a hurt!Arthur” - I think it has a heavy dose of foreboding on the legend, with less hurt!Arthur than I wanted but I hope it does the job alright. Thanks to sache8 for betareading.
Everyone praises him; naturally, there'll be a toast to his success because the whole banquet is in his honour. There's Morgana on his arm and all smiles among the crowded feast room as he glances around at the scene – Arthur would almost be convinced all is well until he spies his father's look.
His father is smiling too, though Arthur knows what he's thinking underneath his subtly warm and relieved expression – there's one type of war craft they can't fight against and this win is really no win at all. It is a sign of what is coming, one they are happy to dismiss for the time being because magic has no place here. The difference for them is that it won't become real if they keep repeating it – ironically, it's not a spell and not a wish that will be granted.
What matters is that the House of Pendragon still stands, the valiant winner as always, as it should be. The family honour – almost tradition considering their reign - is upheld with the proud golden dragon standing out for all to see, against the red of the battlefield; the banners fluttering in the arena, where they will stay as reminders until the next tournament is held.
Order is returned to Camelot with everyone's faces turned away from the horrors, everyone ignoring what is coming apart at the seams, magic ripping through because it can never be truly denied. His father has tried for too long, for as long as he has known, and tried too hard, to the detriment of many other pressing issues that may not be quite so incidental, Arthur feels. Now they feel the magic rising up – only a druid or witch here and there, but more than is usual - and they can't resist, not forever, however much King Uther desires it banished. Arthur fears his father will be long dead before magic ever will be, if it can be.
He knows that for every win from now on there is a loss heading towards them, set far in the future he hopes. It's all building up to that day when he will disappoint his father. Perhaps his father already senses it, perhaps he has always known it will happen and that is why he has been tough, why Arthur has never lived up to expectations time and time again. Perhaps that is why Arthur never trusts praise to be as simple and unfettered as it is meant – he is too used to seeing something else, a worry to contradict that, behind his father's eyes.
Tonight Arthur embraces his father, accepts his care shown as genuine, but one day Uther will realise what it is held in those confused eyes, and Arthur will have to choose between family and what is right.