Some Tristhad for Tristhad Week: Offer Up at AO3 (6.5k)
For the wonderful @loshka, who gave me the prompt of galahad initiating an orgy with a bunch of roman soldiers in the tavern where tristan is trying to eat which I loved and which has become, honestly, one of the filthiest things i have ever written ever…
From over in the more bustling part of the fort’s courtyard, rising between the clash of bowls and click of dice, and the grumbling and boasting of warriors at rest, comes the loud, raucous cackle of Galahad’s laughter, and then a harsh clatter – he’s standing up, and his kicked his stool over.
Tristan, sitting in a quiet, shadowed corner, isn’t close enough to see the boy’s eyes. But he knows that they will still be shining too brightly - fever-sparkling, fierce with all his strangeness.
Sipping his ale, Tristan tilts back his head and allows himself the indulgence of a sigh, here in his own patch of darkness where none can see.
Not that anyone is looking at him, most especially not Galahad, who has all day – all week, all month, always – made a big show of when he looks at Tristan and when he very purposefully does not.
Sometimes this can be amusing. But today was long and cold and bloody – nothing special, and the worse for it, just a grim grind, more ice-cold mud than anything, thought the brief bloody parts stick with barbs in his memory – and Tristan does not have the patience for being loathed or poked at any more at present.
Five Woads, Tristan killed today. Warriors, or would-be warriors, or perhaps just people frightened and stirred up and running out of choice.
Twenty-three attackers altogether fell upon the patrol when they tried to pass through the valley, and it had been a desperate group, for whatever reason. No time, of course, between attack and reaction, to determine if it had been driven by some particular goal or fear.
Such episodes are only growing more common, these past months. Tristan needs to speak to Arthur about that, about what it portends.
Across the courtyard, Galahad has now smashed his pottery mug on the ground, shouting something in anger or irritation at whoever it is he’s cornered to talk to now. Tristan looks over despite himself – Dagonet is the one who’s listening and nodding, his hands full with Bors’ youngest whilst Kelda sees to the tables.
During the long ride back to the fort in the bitter wind, Galahad had argued with Gawain and Lancelot about the rights and wrongs of killing in the cause of defeat. Which is to say that Galahad had expressed opinions that were more Roman and more Christian in their origin than he would ever likely admit, and Gawain and Lancelot hadn’t bothered to do more than retort idly back at him in response. Galahad likes to speak of good and evil, Tristan has long learned, as though his tunic skirts make him a priest indeed, with some power to pronounce on the rest of them.
And Galahad had certainly pronounced then, and loudly, and had kept looking back to where Tristan rode some way behind the little knot of would-be philosophers, as if daring a response.
Half the time – most of the time – being the embodiment of Galahad’s distaste amuses Tristan and he feeds it idly with insults and insinuations, but today was too long, too much, one time too many. Despite what Galahad might think, Tristan is not the only man who has ever killed another, and killing well, efficiently, swiftly, is nothing for which anyone of sense should feel ashamed.
Oh, Tristan can relish a kill, can find a certain satisfaction in victory at its most absolute, but a killing is like a meal, and may be sour or ill-timed or inadequate or gratuitous or sickening, even as it can be nourishing.
And - to extend the comparison - both can be improved or ruined by the company in which they occur, and Galahad is no good for Tristan’s digestion.
As they had ridden homewards, Tristan had begun to tense himself more than once to set his heels to his horse’s flanks and speed on to meet Galahad’s words and looks in person, and tell him to close his mouth or let Tristan close it for him, and give them all some peace.
But that was what Galahad had wanted, and Tristan is not in the business of giving Galahad what he wants.