Spoilers: Upto 1x01
Summary: Princes have to grow up fast, especially when there's an old king who doesn't tolerate the old ways. Past fic, with kid!Arthur.
A/N: For hope_calaris, prompt “the relationship between Arthur and Uther with a hurt!Arthur ” - this one is more implied, by what Uther's actions do to Arthur but hope you like it. Thanks to sache8 for betareading.
There are blossoms floating on the breeze, girlish laughs resonating in the air as children play outside and the music starts. They've been building a bonfire all day on the outskirts of the city, and it's one of the few times Arthur can remember people doing that with joy and not remorse. Today is different. He knows it means something to everyone not of the castle (and a few here too, but they shouldn't let on).
It is May Day. They don't call it by the other name any more. Arthur is old enough to know there used to be another name it went by, but never foolish enough to ask what that was. His father is always tense during these festivals and Arthur has heard mutterings from servants who wonder if the king might outlaw them altogether – no one says why, it's one of those subjects that's well known and hence kept secret from him entirely by coincidence.
The festival days seem to be unofficial, there are public gatherings, merriment, traditions upheld, but Arthur isn't allowed to join in. He frowns as he stares at the book in front of him and his tutor gives him a sympathetic smile and leaves, promising to return shortly with a delight. Arthur isn't so sure his tutor's idea of anything fun will match his. He wishes he was out there. He's quite sure Morgana has managed to sneak out by now and won't be missed until supper time, unlike him. He stares at the book and curses being a prince.
Marcus rushes back in, shutting the door, as if anxious not to be seen by anyone along the corridor. Held fast in his tutor's hand is a small branch, the end sawn off in a hurry, and the rest of it in full bloom.
“Today is no different from any other day,” he repeats the king's rhetoric as he places the branch down in front of Arthur, “but if you are not allowed outside then we shall have to bring it to you.”
“But why this?” Arthur can't help but ask, curious and just a little rebellious at the same time.
His tutor is stony faced for a moment, before answering in a jovial manner.
“You are to study the composition of the blossoms. An understanding of how plants flower and crop would be a healthy addition to any prince's education.”
That excuse sounds weak to Arthur. He may only be nine but he has a good knowledge of what his father would approve of, or not, as the case may be. He doesn't question the man further though, and they sit in silence whilst they both studiously ignore the lack of work going on – Arthur stares at the blossom and for once dares to dream for more than a second, because he can tell that today is different and maybe fate will allow it.