Just right for autumn!
Something for you "King Arthur" (the 2004 movie) fans. (And especially for those who like Arthur/Lancelot slash!)
Title: "Happy Samhain" (1/1)
Fandom: "King Arthur" (the 2004 movie)
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot (as portrayed by Clive Owen & Ioan Gruffudd)
Archived at: CamelotSlash.Com
Warnings: Slash (men/men). Very tame, really!
Title: "Happy Samhain" 1/1
Fandom: "King Arthur" (the 2004 movie)
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot (as portrayed by Clive Owen & Ioan Gruffudd)
Email: email@example.com (camelotslash-1 =at= qwest.net)
Feedback: Yes! Any and all types welcome, both good and bad.
Date: October 28, 2004
Archive: Sure, contact me first, please [template must stay with fic]
Archived at: CamelotSlash.Com
Rating: NC-17 for graphic sexual content.
Disclaimer: Don't own them and mean no infringement or disrespect. No money made, it's merely for fun. Arthur and his knights belong to the ages -- certainly not to me! This probably never happened... (Right?)
Summary: Lancelot convinces Arthur to attend the celebration of Samhain... (Note: This is set approximately two years before the events of the movie, "King Arthur.")
Warnings: Slash (men/men).
Author Notes: For those who've been told Samhain (usually pronounced 'Sow - in' -- rhymes with cow) is an 'evil' or 'bad' holiday -- associated with evil and Satanic practices -- you'll probably be surprised to find out it's nothing like that! It's actually an amazing holiday that encompasses a number of very worthwhile concepts. I hope I've done it justice here -- and that those who read this will go away with a better understanding of Halloween, the Christian version of Samhain! To those who celebrate, Samhain Greetings. To the rest, Happy Halloween!
Beta: Thanks as always to Mistress Marilyn for her wonderful help.
Dedication: To Mistress Marilyn -- who has had such a difficult time these past few weeks. And to our mutual friend Nik -- who recently announced his engagement! (Glad to have you playing with us again, Nik.)
Written for these lists that MM and I co-mod:
Lancelot swung around as he heard Arthur's familiar tread entering the stables. He'd been practicing his speech for days, highly annoyed that earlier attempts had not bent his friend and commander to his will.
"Ah, here comes the man who is too mighty and too refined to have a bit of revelry and fun with those who serve him," he said, continuing to brush his horse's mane.
Arthur's thick, dark brows knit and heavy creases furrowed his forehead. This was a warning sign his knights knew well, reminding them to use care and not push their commander too hard or far...
"We've discussed the matter, have we not?" There was undisguised exasperation in Arthur's voice.
"Indeed. But you're unwilling to even debate reasonably with me," Lancelot replied, patting the neck of his horse and moving to Arthur's side.
"I am a Christian, Lancelot. Samhain is a pagan practice."
Lancelot winced at the heavy amount of patience in Arthur's words. "There are few enough Christians around here to bother caring about your actions. But many of us can't help but wonder why you would ignore the local practice," he remarked, his tone light. "Besides, you know nothing of Samhain, with the exception that it is, indeed, a pagan holiday."
"Would it not be enough for me to stand by and observe? To smile as the knights and locals engage in their fancies?"
"You propose a compromise, then?" Lancelot's tone made it clear he was intrigued by the idea.
"I'll attend, and join the feast. Just as long as I need not recite nor do anything else that might be contrary to my own religion," Arthur agreed, nodding. "Will this satisfy you?"
Lancelot's face broke into a huge grin. "Yes. If you can relax enough for one day to enjoy yourself, then I can let go my wish for you to be a more active participant." He carefully put down the brush and rubbed his soiled hands on a nearby rag. Then he turned to go.
"Well, and where are you off to now?" Arthur asked, picking up the same brush and moving toward his own beloved mount.
"I'm getting help from Vanora with my clothing for Samhain," he answered. He left the stables laughing.
During the week preceding Samhain it seemed as if the entire fort -- as well as the surrounding settlements -- were all full of smiling and busy people. The happy bustle affected the knights, as well, though they managed to somehow stay focused on their regular schedules of training and exercise.
Arthur was secretly glad that Lancelot had forced his hand. For the first year since living at Badon Hill he was going to have the chance to join in the feasting and drinking that he'd previously avoided. It would be a pleasure to sit to board with his knights and watch them laugh and sing...
"Will you take part in Samhain?" he asked Jols, having come across the squire as he directed the activities of several younger servants.
"Oh, indeed, Arthur. I'm a local, after all. I've been celebrating Samhain since I could crawl, I suppose. It's our New Year celebration, you see."
"Is it?" Arthur felt a genuine curiosity. "I didn't know that."
"The knights have decided to be quite involved this year," Jols added, smiling. "Folks are mightily pleased about that, Arthur."
"I'm glad to hear it."
"It will be great fun to see them," Jols said, turning and gathering up a handful of bed linens. "Well, I must get back to my work."
Arthur didn't have a chance to ask Jols exactly what he'd meant by this cryptic statement...
"Yes, Arthur?" The young knight came quickly down the hall to Arthur's side.
"Your mother is a Briton, is she not?"
Percival smiled. "Yes, my father married her while stationed here as a knight. I am half Sarmatian and half Briton. Why do you ask?"
"You're familiar with the local rites, then?"
Percival nodded. "Of course. Mother and my sister are initiates, as will be my younger sisters one day."
"Ah." Arthur didn't ask for specifics about the religion in question. He believed that each man and woman should worship in his or her own fashion -- but it was probably best if he didn't put a name to what creed was followed by the people who lived here...
"You wish to know more about Samhain?"
"If you don't mind sharing. And if it's permitted to tell one who is not of your faith." In past months Arthur had shared something of Christianity with Percival, who had seemed very interested in knowing more.
"Some of the secret rites I know little of, it's true," Percival said, running a hand through his dark, curling hair. "But I can tell you how we celebrate -- and something of the meaning behind the holiday."
"Good. Exactly what I wish to know. Walk with me, then." Arthur was an active man and often liked to stride the grounds while in discussion. They moved outside, pausing to take several deep breaths of the cool, crisp air. "Winter's not far off now," Arthur remarked.
"Exactly so!" Percival exclaimed, rubbing a hand over his clean-shaven chin and grinning. "So as we end this season of harvest and plenty, 'tis a good time to do honor to the gods and our beloved dead."
"Go on," Arthur urged. He had a great thirst for knowledge and was immediately caught up in Percival's revelations.
"Samhain is one of two 'spirit nights' of the year. I'm sure you must know that Beltane is the other."
Arthur nodded. "Yes, I know of Beltane," he replied, calmly. Who could live at Badon Hill and not know of it? He'd heard many tales of this holiday of late spring that to Arthur seemed to hearken the beginning of the summer months. Those who celebrated Beltane took it very seriously.
Arthur also knew it was a festival of fertility, for he'd seen the pairings that took place round the large bonfires...
"Well, at Samhain -- as at Beltane -- time as we know it stops. Then the veil between other times and places becomes thin -- and many wondrous things take place! It's then that the souls of those departed may wish to come back to visit. And I have even been told that one might encounter those who will die in future, wandering in the mists as if lost." Percival shuddered.
Arthur nodded again without replying. Undoubtedly there was something here of tales told to frighten children, he reflected.
"Have you noticed how the women have been taking apples out and hiding them beneath a cover of autumn leaves?" Percival asked.
"Yes. I had thought that might be part of the rites."
"Indeed. This is food left to provide for any souls who might happen by without kith and kin to tend their needs. You'll see doors left open the entire day on Samhain -- as well as the night before -- with candles burning by the stoop and in the windows to guide spirits back to the homes of their families. Extra chairs, stools and benches will be placed at tables and fireplaces for these unseen souls to rest upon. And extra food is placed there, as well, should they be hungry."
It might be pagan superstition, but it seemed to Arthur to be both interesting and a harmless belief. Surely nothing wicked, as he'd once heard a Christian monk intone.
"For weeks before Samhain, everyone around us will have taken time to walk out under the trees and through the burial areas, thinking on those who are gone and offering prayers. This is a time to remember their brave deeds -- and the goodness they shared with us while still alive. And 'tis also a time to reflect on our own actions from the year gone past. A time to atone for the evils we've all done others -- and to resolve to live a better life in the coming year."
"All worthy pursuits for any man, whatever god he might follow," Arthur commented.
"The practices vary according to the region, I've heard tell. But as night comes and the souls are set free to walk, there is always some fear of evil spirits -- those men and women who refused to repent their foul ways, even as death came upon them. Some of our customs are simply ways to hold such souls at bay, Arthur. The gourds that are carved and put on poles with candles inside, for example. The horrible faces of these lanterns are supposed to drive such wickedness and evil away." He stopped and smiled at Arthur before continuing.
"In these parts -- after the children have been fed and put to bed -- we'll go out caroling, singing from house to house. After many mugs of hard cider and spiced wine, things turn quite merry!"
"But what of the ceremony? When does this take place?"
"In truth, Arthur, rites have been going on for several weeks, in preparation for the final feast and celebration. Cattle and other animals -- including the game we've helped to hunt -- have been blessed and slaughtered. Some of the meat has been dried, and some salted, for use in the coming winter months. The last harvesting of vegetables from the fields -- and gathering of berries and nuts from the woods -- must all be done for the season. And the hay must be inside the barns for the feeding of the livestock.
"After Samhain, the turnips and carrots and other vegetables left in and on the ground are forbidden to be eaten -- as are the fruits and nuts left in trees and bushes."
"I'm afraid we knights have all broken those traditions on more than one occasion," Arthur said, voice rueful. "We'd have starved many times over if not for some leavings we found when we've ridden out."
"Yes, but I suppose there are times when such things must be forgiven," Percival said, glancing sideways at his commander. "The gods know more of our needs than we do, surely?"
Arthur stared at the handsome -- almost beautiful -- face of the young knight. As usual, Percival's dark eyes shone with sincerity.
"I suppose so."
"Anyway, the priestess and her acolytes -- and the priest -- have been kept busy going from house to house to offer blessings on all these foods being stored away. This is a time of strong magic, Arthur. I know that word often seems to bristle Christians, but 'tis true, even so."
"No, I'm not one to say there is no magic, Percival. I've seen remarkable things in my life. I'll not be one to argue that there is magic in the world."
"This magic is an important thing, I think." Percival said, solemn for a moment before continuing. "The hearth fires will be extinguished in early morning on the day prior to Samhain. I'm sure you've seen the bonfires that are built in the fields, haven't you?" Percival asked.
"Yes, like those that I see at Beltane," Arthur said, remembering.
"Exactly. After feasting, the bones of the meal will be tossed into these fires as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock and game in the New Year. Some of those who have been ailing will go to the priestess with large stones -- and other objects -- to ask for deliverance from suffering. These things, too, are cast into the flames of the fire.
"Sometimes if one has a strong desire, then this is 'wished' into a stone and cast in as well."
"I've seen this casting of bones and other objects, but had no idea what it signified," Arthur commented. "Interesting, indeed."
"It is also a time for divination, using the nuts and apples of the recent harvest. Have you seen folk bob for apples? This is one of the ways. The apples are put into a tub of water and each person in turn will kneel and try to catch one in their teeth. When they succeed, they can use this apple for divination. But the rite itself is a secret," Percival added, blushing. "I know little of it, having never done this."
"I thought it only a game," Arthur said. "It seemed like fun to watch the splashing and jesting as people knelt to catch an apple."
"Yes, 'tis fun to see -- and fun to try, I've heard. But those who win an apple can put it to use for seeing the future, should they wish it."
Arthur decided to watch and see if any of his knights played at this bobbing -- and whether they ate the apple after. It would be interesting to know if one of them wanted to have the future foretold them...
"Each family will take flames from the bonfires and use these to rekindle their hearth fires. When the celebrating is finished and all are snug at home in their beds -- with the livestock settled in for winter -- then the holiday is done and the New Year begun. This celebration helps to see us through the hard months to come."
Percival took a deep breath and paused from his tale.
Arthur smiled at the young knight. "I will look forward to seeing it up close, then."
"You will attend this year?" Percival asked, surprise in his voice.
"Yes, I promised Lancelot I'd come and share the feast -- and at least watch the rest."
Percival grinned. "I think you'll find another aspect an amusing surprise. I won't spoil it for you by telling about it."
"It's another way we use to fool any angry or evil souls. It's fun for but one night each year."
"Then I'll look forward to the surprise and not press you for more."
They parted soon after and Arthur went back to work, reflecting on all Percival had related. He found himself looking forward to the holiday and actually excited to see what element had been kept from him. It helped to make the sometimes dismal hours of his work more palatable as the days flew past...
During the day on the eve of Samhain there was much bustling by the women -- and high spirits on the part of the men. Children ran about underfoot and were shooed with half-hearted good humor, for their elders were equally excited for day to fade and the celebration to begin.
Just as the sun began to set, the feasting began. Long rows of tables had been placed beside the fields, where the priest and priestess -- and her acolytes -- had already kindled the huge ritual bonfires, still known to some as 'bone-fires.' Arthur recalled seeing several of his knights helping to gather the wood for these.
Blessings were made over both the people present and the food set before them, then all began to eat and talk with animation and abandon. Finally the feast ended and the women and children began gathering up the bones and dashing to toss them into the fire.
Many people now moved to the priestess and had words with her before being directed by her pointing hand to approach one of the bonfires. Arthur could see stones and other objects being flung into the flames.
Nearby Arthur could see the priest standing and looking on as people knelt to bob their heads into the tub where floated many apples, bouncing merrily. They came away wet and grinning; almost everyone had managed to capture an apple between his teeth. Arthur watched Tristan kneel and immediately dunk himself almost to his waist in the water. He rose with his prize in his teeth after the first try, dripping, but clearly pleased. Then he held the apple tightly in his hand, though Arthur knew he was fond of eating them...
Arthur found himself surprised that their feast had been so sparse. He felt only half full as he watched the boards being cleared, signaling the end of the meal. Children gathered around the acolytes, who were handing out sweetmeats -- yet the adults seemed satisfied to do without desserts this night...
Finally the priest and priestess moved side by side and conferred with one another. Then both made signals in the air with large wands, and all gathered around them.
First they made prayers for the dead. All were solemn as certain of the departed were mentioned by name. Lists of their accomplishments were recalled by the priest or priestess, and these were added to by members of the gathering.
Arthur was surprised to hear the names of his various fallen knights mentioned. Lancelot added his own praises in a loud, clear voice as each name was called -- as did several other knights. He felt a lump grow in his throat as he thought of the brave men who were there in spirit on this night...
Then a blessing was given to all assembled. People bowed their heads or stared into the fires, each according to his own will.
Finally both men and women approached and lit torches from the bonfires. Arthur saw with some surprise that Jols and the other squires were there, too, gathering light from these sacred flames. At a gesture from the priestess, people departed and headed for home, each ready to again kindle their hearth fires.
"That was lovely," Arthur said, glancing into Lancelot's smiling face.
"Ah, but it's not over yet, Arthur. Go and wait by the gate of the fort while I prepare for the caroling."
Arthur had forgotten the caroling that Percival had described! No wonder the meal hadn't been heavy -- they'd be going from house to house eating and drinking as they sang...
Arthur stood by listening as parents sent their children quickly off to bed. He could hear dire warnings on every side as the young ones were warned to keep to their sleeping pallets and not peek out into the night! He moved to stand by the gate as Lancelot had instructed, waiting for his friend to return. What was Lancelot up to now, he wondered.
There were a few other Romans nearby who had been invited to join in the feasting and fun. Arthur stood quietly, feeling glad he'd allowed himself to be included this year. Suddenly there was a sound of singing that drew ever closer. Arthur turned and gazed in the direction of the music and could see a large crowd of folk approaching. Among their number were many who carried lanterns made from gourds swinging on poles -- these gourds had faces carved into them that lit up the dark night. A full moon gleamed in the sky over their heads and the stars seemed like distant pinpricks of brilliance.
A lovely woman made her way to Arthur's side and stood close beside him. Arthur glanced her way and did a double-take as he saw the woman's beard!
"Now aren't you sorry you didn't agree to join in?" said Lancelot's familiar, teasing voice.
"What is this?" Arthur asked, glancing around to find that several of his knights were nearby, all garbed in the clothing of females.
"The souls of the evil ones will not know us dressed in this fashion," Vanora replied, joining them. She was dressed as a knight, wearing britches of leather that could only belong to Lancelot. "And now we go caroling," she added. "Bors will greet us at our house. There will be some of his wonderful cider to drink -- and some of my best pies!"
"I look forward to seeing Bors as a woman," Arthur replied, laughing. "That's one sight I find hard to imagine!"
"Come, Arthur," Lancelot said, holding out his hand. "It's time for you to escort me on our way."
Arthur found himself automatically putting a protective arm around Lancelot's shoulders. He was amazed by the sight of his first knight; the man was truly a marvel dressed as he was in a woman's gown.
Nearby Arthur caught sight of Percival, teasing with Tristan. Percival's androgynous beauty was greatly enhanced by his garments, though Arthur noted that Tristan had only been coaxed into a shawl, worn round his shoulders and over his usual dress. Arthur stared into Tristan's face and could not blame his scout for the hunger he saw as the man watched Percival twirling the skirts of his gown. (The younger knight most assuredly made as pretty a picture as any a fair maiden.)
Arthur glanced again at Lancelot, still held against his side. Lancelot's face was beaming and he was laughing at some joke -- unaware of Arthur's scrutiny. He looked lovely, though as manly as ever, gown or no.
The singing began again and the people moved through the fort, then outside to each of the homes within easy walking distance. Merry fires were now burning brightly on each hearth -- the new fires of Samhain!
Each visitor was greeted and offered both food and drink, though all were expected to 'sing for their sup.' The caroling was often more enthusiastic than melodious, but no one seemed to mind.
As the darkness turned black and the night drew closer toward midnight, the priest and priestess moved silently among them. The priest stood aside now and the priestess began dispensing quiet blessings. Each person grasped the hand of someone else and moved hurriedly through the night, obviously heading toward home.
Arthur and Lancelot, too, received blessings. Arthur offered a solemn nod to the stately woman, his green eyes boring into her mysterious gray ones almost obscured by the shadow of the large hood on the robes she wore. She nodded back and gave him a small smile before moving on...
"Well, it's time for bed, I suppose," Lancelot said, sighing. He and Arthur, too, held hands as they moved back to their enclosure inside the fort.
"That's a lovely invitation," Arthur said, pulling Lancelot to him. They pressed into a corner of the dark hallway where Arthur embraced his friend and knight, kissing him full on the lips.
Finally the kiss ended and they stared at one another, both smiling. "I could not have hoped for so much," Lancelot said. "I suppose it should not surprise me that you finally see my charms when I resemble a woman."
Arthur shook his head. "You may be dressed as one, but I do not mistake you for other than a man. A very arousing man, at that," he added, nuzzling Lancelot's neck.
"Arthur!" Lancelot put his hands in Arthur's hair and held tight.
"I'm tempted to try lifting you in my arms, Maiden," Arthur teased. "But if you'll hurry to my room we'll both save our strength for better uses."
"Agreed," Lancelot replied, pulling away and dragging Arthur by the hand down the hall.
"There's more to Samhain than a New Year, it seems," Arthur remarked while they both quickly disrobed, tossing garments unheeded to the floor.
"I'd say it's a new life we look at, Arthur. And new love."
"I couldn't have said it better, my dear." Arthur was delighted by the look on Lancelot's face as he used the endearment.
"Enough of romance," Lancelot cried, throwing back the blankets and lying naked on Arthur's bed. "Let's have a randy coupling!"
Arthur was anxious to comply. He moved to the bed and fell quickly to Lancelot's side, pressing his naked flesh to that of his knight. They wrestled and groped, lips moving in exploration across hot skin -- only to press again and again in fervent kisses.
Their hands, too, explored each other. Caresses became more and more intimate as they tweaked a nipple, pinched an earlobe or stroked the inside of a thigh.
Lancelot was the first to put his hand around Arthur's manhood and begin to carefully pump. Arthur bit his lip and tried to restrain himself, only to fail after a few seconds of expert manipulation.
"You do that very nicely," Arthur gasped, spending against Lancelot's leg.
"I've had much practice," Lancelot replied, finally letting go of the now-flaccid organ.
"Have you?" Arthur couldn't quite manage to keep an edge of jealousy from his question.
Lancelot must have both heard it -- and seen it in his eyes. He smiled wider and playfully punched Arthur's round bicep. "Silly. I only mean that I've spent many a night in giving pleasure to myself. It's practice enough for doing the same to you, my love."
Arthur felt himself blushing as he, too, broke out in a wide smile. "I don't know why I said that, Lancelot. I meant nothing by it."
"I'm glad to see you care enough to feel some jealousy, Arthur. But it's not as if I've never offered you release by my hand."
"True enough. But that was different. Most all the knights do that."
"For you, they do. But not for one another."
"Really? I just assumed..."
"Arthur, sometimes you are so sweet and naive. It amazes me still. You are our commander. We all love and serve you. So we do this for you, as it needs doing. It's just another sign of our devotion and loyalty."
Arthur was at a loss for words. He swallowed and managed a nod, lifting his large fingers to stroke the side of Lancelot's face.
"Might I please you now?" he asked, after several silent seconds had passed.
"Please do. I doubt I'll last as long as you did, though. I'm near to bursting!" Lancelot chuckled and Arthur joined him.
Arthur reached around and trailed the fingers of his hand down Lancelot's spine, stopping to play at the dimple just above the valley of the knight's round cheeks. Then his fingers pressed and wiggled in the crevice. Lancelot groaned.
Arthur moved to take Lancelot quickly in hand, using the same method of pumping that his friend had used with him. Lancelot's hand covered his and began to guide his movements, slowing him and showing him where and when to apply more pressure.
"I like that," Arthur said hoarsely, continuing his ministrations with Lancelot's gentle supervision.
"I'm glad to hear it," Lancelot managed to reply. "That means you'll soon be stiff again."
They both laughed, though Arthur managed not to pause his actions. Lancelot, too, was quick to climax -- they rested with their arms wound around one another, both panting and sighing with pleasure.
"I think we may have wasted a few years," Arthur finally said, shooting Lancelot a grin.
"I've thought so for some time," Lancelot answered.
"You're so naive, my dear one," Lancelot said, laughing. "I knew it had to be your choice, or it would never come to anything."
"Not fair!" Arthur cried.
"Perhaps not, but I know you better than you do, yourself, Arthur. You'd have felt your god opposed to it or that it showed you favored me. You'd have had some excuse if I came to your bed as more than a friend."
Arthur chuckled. "Perhaps so. But I intend to make up for it now."
"I'm glad to hear it. Though I've long loved lying beside you in your bed or bedroll, I'd prefer to find the additional pleasure of loving your body."
"And I," Arthur readily agreed.
Lancelot began to apply wet kisses to Arthur's chest, moving steadily downward. Arthur groaned at the feel of Lancelot's hot breath on his stomach.
"I have so many delights I wish to share with you," Lancelot said, grinning up into Arthur's face.
"I look forward to each of these."
"One last thing, Arthur, before I continue," Lancelot added, breathing hot air toward his commander's exposed and rampant loins.
"Yes? What is it?"
"Happy Samhain, Arthur."
Arthur laughed heartily. "The same to you, Lancelot!"
FIC: "Happy Samhain" (1/1, slash, "King Arthur," Arthur/Lancelot)
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