Author: Juxian Tang
Fandom: King Arthur
Warning: extremely dark, rape, death, violence
Summary: It is an alternative universe where Tristan
and Lancelot are not dead but captured by Saxons. Please mind the warning.
tasted like rain. Like mud when rainfall washes off a thick layer of dust
covering the face. Like bread, mixed with mud, soaked - thrown deliberately
into a puddle - so that he had to work hard to get it.
dog." The man smirked and waited for what he would do, how he would reach
else is yapping here."
didn't move, sat and looked at the scornful face, unwavering - even when the
toe of the boot slammed into his side and it was so difficult not to make a
choking sound, not to curl tightly.
last the man was bored with standing under the rain and left, disappeared
behind the curtain of the tent where it was light, warm and crowded.
Tristan stretched his legs - his hands were chained to the collar around his
neck - and dragged the bread closer with his feet, took it between his knees -
quickly, till it got completely soggy - and like that, holding it between his
knees, he ate it, straining his neck as much as the collar allowed.
didn't know why he did it. Perhaps he could stop eating. It would've been much
easier and spared him so many humiliating motions. He didn't think they would
feed him by force - like they did Lancelot: holding him to the ground, arms and
legs pinned down, teeth opened with a knife - pushing soggy, crumbling bread
into his mouth, pouring water, covering his nose until he swallowed.
was not so important to keep him alive by force.
it was why he didn't die.
long time ago, after he had lost his beloved Isolde, Tristan felt that his
heart had gone cold. And since then there was no difference for him whether to
live or to die. He didn't particularly want to live - but the reverse of it was
that he didn't particularly want to die either.
could survive - even wounded, even under the rain and in cold, chained to the
post in the middle of the Saxon camp. And there was this bread that kept him
there was the link in the chain holding him, one weak link that he yanked and
pulled till it seemed that the vessels in his head would burst.
could survive; nothing was done to him that would damage him irreparably.
Cerdic was almost lenient to him. Cerdic was proud of his loot - the knight who
had dared to challenge him... and lost.
couldn't die. Exactly because for him it was possible - and for Lancelot it
behind the curtain, where it was light and warm - and where one could hear
drunken shouts and laughter - Tristan knew he was there. Naked, stretched on
the floor, his body so covered in dirt and crusted blood that you didn't even
notice his nakedness. Tied up - always, every moment, because Cerdic knew that
as soon as they gave Lancelot a chance, he would tear their throats... or would
make them kill him.
didn't want to be so merciful.
killed my son. He will pay for it. And," under the deafening laughter of
others, "we shouldn't worry about weak offspring. It's not like we can
make him pregnant."
wouldn't cry out when the next cock entered him - would only clench his teeth.
There was so little in Lancelot's face left of anything Tristan had known: a
fiery stare and a cruel smile, and cold fury that made him look both terrifying
and beautiful at the moment when he was taking out his swords. His eyes were
bloodshot and inflamed now - and his hands probably would never serve him
again. For Tristan Cerdic showed mercy from time to time, with his strange
logic - sometimes freed his hands, first one and then the other, for a short while,
to restore circulation in them. But he had no purpose for sparing Lancelot.
will die on a cock of one of us. It is what he deserves."
what do you deserve?"
didn't have to answer him - but he answered, with a smile distorting his bearded
will get what I deserve, knight."
Tristan felt that there was only one thing he wanted more than to wipe this
smile off Cerdic's face; it was to thrust his sword through Cerdic's heart and
feel hot blood splash on his hands. He had been killing Woads all his life -
and he'd never known hatred to them. He hadn't known what hatred was at all,
had forgotten how something so strong could feel.
hatred hurt to breathe. It made Tristan say things his rational mind would
a monster are you to do it to him?"
it anguish you to watch it, knight? Do you want to take his place?"
he said immediately:
he did think it would be easier for him. Any of them would have died for each
other in a battle. This... it was different from a battle and yet Tristan would
rather go through it than witness it, witness it again and again, as he was
bad, knight. We don't always get what we want."
day they took Lancelot in the middle of the camp, holding him on his hands and
knees. As they always did it - with a crowd around, under jeering comments of
others. They couldn't use his mouth, they never did, so it took a long while
before everyone got his share. And Tristan watched how Lancelot flinched when
another man thrust into him, blood red and fresh on his legs and where their
nails cut his thighs. Lancelot's hair was falling on his face, hiding it, and
he was so silent, through it all, and it was so horrible.
then once he raised his head, and Tristan understood that it was even worse -
because he couldn't bear to meet Lancelot's gaze.
night he dreamed that they were free. They escaped, he and Lancelot, left
behind them burning tents and bloody corpses of Saxons. And this dream was so
vivid that it seemed to Tristan he could feel Lancelot, exhausted but his eyes
alive with ruthless triumph, standing at his side, could sense the heat coming
from his thin, strong body - could smell blood and burning from him, could
almost touch his hair wet with blood and sweat.
they walked through half of the land, evading the enemies, fighting and
winning. And in Lancelot's brightest eyes Tristan could see his reflection -
and it was easy to meet his gaze now.
they found Arthur and others, who didn't recognize them at first, and Arthur
looked at them with his sorrowful, eternally guilty look, and his palm was in
Guinevere's hand. And with a strange logic that was peculiar to dreams, Tristan
thought that it was good, that now between Arthur and Lancelot it wouldn't be
as it had been before, even though Tristan had never minded their relations,
had never thought them his concern at all...
woke up in the quiet camp filled with the light of the rising sun. His cheeks
were wet with tears, and Tristan hadn't wept even when the Romans had come to
take him away from home, hadn't wept even when his beloved had been lost for
him. In the tent, behind the drawn curtain, there was no sound, and Tristan
didn't know if Lancelot could rest at least now - or if his mind didn't give
him a moment of peace, even when his body was not violated.
the worst thing happened two days later, when Tristan had to watch again - same
old, same old, they didn't seem to get tired of it - as they used him until
every one of them was satiated. And then they got distracted, looked away from
Lancelot, and Tristan saw suddenly that they forgot, Lancelot's hands were tied
in front of him, not behind him as always - and so there was a chance for him.
could do it - he was the best fighter of all them, deadly dangerous with or
without his weapon, and if he could kill even just one or two of them, he still
could leave them no other choice but to kill him.
he never did anything. He just knelt there, shivering, and his face was so
blank that it seemed dead, his eyes empty - like he didn't notice how his hands
were tied, like he also forgot about it.
it was when Tristan knew real sorrow that had never left him any more.
you want a gift from me, knight?"
gifts from Cerdic. Tristan remembered that time when Cerdic had offered him:
'Do you want to take him today, instead of my men?'
the choice was the most difficult one Tristan had made in his life.
refused then. He thought it would be the choice Lancelot would want him to
make. It was the choice Tristan would like to be made for him. Tristan couldn't
humiliate him - like that.
so many times after that he regretted it, regretted that he'd turned down the
chance to be with his friend. At least like that, at least for a short while -
but wouldn't Lancelot have got comfort from his touch, his closeness, even
though Tristan wouldn't be able to spare him in anything?
look at me like that, knight, my blood is freezing. I'm just in the mood to
please you. Would you like to talk to your friend?"
brought Lancelot, his arms behind his back, unchained only for a moment so that
they could stretch him and chain by his wrists to the poles. Tristan saw how he
clenched his teeth, his body must've been all sore, but his dark eyes hidden
under dirty black hair never looked at Tristan.
aren't you grateful to me, knight?" Cerdic asked, and Tristan spat,
awkwardly because of the collar, but Cerdic didn't miss the gesture. "It's
your luck I'm feeling generous today."
Saxons left finally, and they stayed alone - alone for the first time since
they had been captured. Wasn't it what Tristan had dreamed about - just a few
minutes to be able to tell Lancelot... what?
could he say? That nothing changed and he didn't become worse because of what
had been done to him? That he was still Lancelot, Arthur's first knight and
closest friend, Arthur's lover? That looking at him Tristan still saw the man
couldn't say that. Not because it wasn't true. But it would be too little.
Everything had gone too far. And they would never escape together, and there
would never be that merciless, triumphant joy of revenge in Lancelot's eyes.
then, making him shiver, the words came to Tristan, the words he had to say -
and the thought was simple and painful, and he knew it could be done, it had to
be done. His voice broke as he said it but he said it anyway.
can bite off you tongue."
a moment in Lancelot's darkest eyes there was nothing - and Tristan wanted
desperately to take his words back, to never say them - and he almost believed
it was possible. And then terrible, incredible joy flashed in Lancelot's gaze -
and at this instant Tristan saw him again - his brother, his fellow in arms,
closed his eyes tightly - and blood poured from his mouth.
didn't make a sound, and Tristan didn't either, he just sat and looked how
blood was streaming, in a wide, violent flow, running onto Lancelot's chest.
Lancelot's eyes were opened and now he looked at Tristan, constantly, and there
was gratitude in his gaze.
his eyes dimmed and Tristan kept looking, even when there was nothing to look
at but a defiled, dead body.
found it soon, and Cerdic was in rage, and Tristan felt spatters of Cerdic's
saliva on his face.
helped him to die!"
could I have done it?" Tristan asked calmly and smiled. He kept smiling
even when Cerdic's blows broke onto his head and ribs, even when blood poured
into his eyes. He kept smiling when they unchained Lancelot's body and took it
away. It didn't matter what they were going to do with it.
lost consciousness under the blows but before that, he saw how Cerdic's face
crumpled, making him look at once like a peevish child and an old man.
could you, indeed, knight."
nights later the link of the chain finally gave in - and Tristan got up onto
his feet at his post soundlessly. The man who liked to come to tease him in the
darkness died first. And then Tristan could leave. But he wanted to see deathly
fear in Cerdic's eyes when Tristan's knife pressed to his throat.
He saw this fear - and also disbelief, as if Cerdic couldn't understand how
Tristan could deceive him so.
"Get what you deserve, Saxon," Tristan whispered.
And when Cerdic's blood sprayed to his face, Tristan knew that it didn't matter if
he would manage to escape now or how many others he would kill before they
He was happy. He'd never felt more alive.