Part 49: link
Arthur walks through the لائبریری doors in just enough time to see Vivian sprint from behind the counter into the children’s area. He laughs at her childish behavior, but he doesn’t want to deal with her, either.
“Hey, Arthur,” Autumn greets him. “How was work? I heard about Luigi’s. Bummer.”
“They’ll be back up and running in no time.”
“Hope so. Gwen’s around… somewhere. Not sure at the moment.” She looks around, peering towards the shelves.
“I’ll find her.”
“I’m sure آپ will,” she says with a smirk.
Arthur heads toward the main لائبریری just as Gwen comes around a corner and into view a distance away. She spots him and waves, then holds up one finger, indicating she’ll be there in a minute. He spins on his heels and heads back to the lobby to wait, leaning against the counter on his elbows.
“I am so hungry,” Gwen says, walking directly to Arthur for a kiss, which he happily gives.
“Where would آپ like to go?” he asks, resting his hands on her hips, thumbs absentmindedly stroking the line of her waist.
“I don’t care. Just so long as I get some food.”
“I saw one of those food trucks that have been around lately over سے طرف کی the park on my way here. We could get something there and eat in the park. It’s really nice outside.”
“Sounds lovely,” she says, kissing him once مزید before pulling him out the door.
“How’s your sandwich?” Arthur asks, taking a bite of his own. They found an open picnic میز, جدول at the park and are watching the children play at the playground.
“Very good. Yours?” Gwen has egg ترکاریاں, سلاد on a croissant. Arthur has a toasted ham and swiss, and they each have a packet of crisps and a drink.
“Needs مزید cheese,” he peers into it, lifting the سب, سب سے اوپر slice of روٹی slightly. “Of course, I generally want مزید cheese.”
Gwen laughs. He tells her all about the آگ کے, آگ Monday night. She tells him that she took the تصویر in to get fixed up and framed, and that they promised that the تصویر would be better than new when they were finished.
Arthur is pleased سے طرف کی this news, and Gwen smiles. What he doesn’t know is that I ordered a سیکنڈ one for him to have as well.
“What are آپ grinning at over there?”
“Hmm? Nothing. I’m just happy. Enjoying my lunch with the man I love.”
“For a منٹ it looked like آپ were up to something. آپ had that look about you.”
“I am a picture of innocence.” She bats her eyelashes at him.
“I don’t believe that for a minute.”
“Oh—how did Leon fare in your absence?” she deftly changes the subject.
“Really well. Wayne couldn’t even think of any rude remarks.” He sighs. “Now I’ll have to write a recommendation for him to the superintendent. I hate paperwork.”
“Would آپ write it for me?” he asks, jokingly. Sort of.
Arthur guffaws at this, and Gwen smirks.
“I will proofread it for you, though.”
“You are too kind,” he nods his head to her respectfully. “Wow, آپ were
hungry.” She almost never finishes a meal.
“Told آپ so,” she says, popping the last crisp into her mouth with a crunch. “You ready for رات کے کھانے, شام کا کھانا with your father?”
He sighs. “Ready as I’ll ever be, I guess,” he says, standing to throw their wrappers into a nearby trash bin.
“Can I help you?” the maitre d’ looks down his nose at Arthur as he walks in. What’s his problem? I’m wearing a کوٹ and tie.
“Yes, I’m meeting my father. Uther Pendragon.”
“Oh! Yes, he’s in the lounge. He’s expecting you, sir.”
“Thank you.” Arthur walks towards the lounge, rolling his eyes. Sir. Only after he found out who my dad was. Snob.
He spots Uther sitting in a leather chair سے طرف کی a window, مارٹینی, مارٹانا in hand.
“You got here extra early on purpose,” Arthur says, sitting across from him.
“I always come early for a drink before dinner,” Uther says innocently. “I got آپ a pint,” he points to a بیئر sitting on the table.
Uther notices the box Arthur has brought along. “Ah. So that’s it.”
“Mr. Pendragon? Your میز, جدول is ready.” The waiter takes their drinks on his tray and leads them to Uther’s table.
They sit, and the waiter sets their drinks on the table. “Can I interest آپ in a starter this evening? We have a lovely کیکڑے, جھینگا کاک, کاکٹیل tonight.”
“Sounds lovely, but—” he glances at Arthur, who is looking at him with raised eyebrows, “I think we’ll pass on the shrimp.”
“Very good, sir.” The waiter opens the menus in front of them and leaves.
Uther barely glances at his, since he knows it well. Arthur takes his time, knowing full well that his father is glaring at him on the other side of the menu.
“You had to know this was coming at some point, Father.”
“I was hoping not.”
Arthur puts his menu down. “I want to know about Mother. And I want آپ to tell me. It’s time for آپ to stop hiding behind your grief. It’s been twenty-five years.”
Uther sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose. “This is not fair, Arthur. Ambushing me. Here.
“Fair? آپ really want to talk about what is and isn’t fair?”
The waiter comes and takes their order. Uther has the roast duck; Arthur orders the prime rib. Hey, he’s buying, why not?
Arthur beats Uther to the punch. “What’s unfair is آپ keeping my mother hidden from me for my entire life. I deserve to know. And this,
” he pushes the box across the میز, جدول to his father, “just goes to prove that آپ haven’t shut her memory away completely.”
Uther gingerly opens the box.
“I didn’t read the letters.”
Uther picks up the first تصویر from the stack and looks at it.
“Father. Please. You’ve denied me this my whole life. It’s… it’s selfish
of آپ to keep her locked away along with your heart.”
“I haven’t locked my دل away,” Uther says, finally speaking again.
“Could have fooled me. Do آپ know how hard it was for me growing up? Honestly, Father, do آپ think Mum would have approved of the upbringing آپ gave me?”
I gave آپ everything! آپ had anything a boy could have wanted!”
“Just things, Father. I didn’t need things.
I needed to know that my father loved me. I needed to know that… that آپ didn’t wish that I had… died with her. یا instead of her.”
“How could آپ say such a thing?” Uther leans forward, whispering harshly. “You have always been my priority!”
Arthur stares. Really?
“You could have mentioned that before now,” he says quietly.
“Look, Father. I know آپ love me. I know that now.
Now that I’m an adult. But as a child, all I knew was what I saw; what I heard. I saw other children with their parents. How they acted with each other. It didn’t look like what I saw in my own house. I heard how Merlin’s mother talked to him, how she treated him. I wanted that.
I craved that. No amount of bicycles یا footballs یا model cars یا fencing lessons can make up for what I was missing.”
“I know you’re not a demonstrative man, Father. I never expected آپ to ہلکی پیلے, گڑگڑانا all over me یا anything ridiculous like that. But a few kind words now and then would have gone a long way. A long
way. To hear آپ tell me that آپ love me, that you’re proud of me…” he breaks off and quickly reaches for his drink.
Arthur clears his throat and continues. “That’s
what closing off your دل does. It hurts other people. And it’s always the people to whom آپ are closest.”
Uther stares at his son for a few moments that feel like an eternity. “You’re so like her,” he finally says quietly, looking back down at the picture in his hand. “Every time I look at you, I see her. آپ have her eyes, her smile. Her blonde hair.” He looks up from the تصویر to Arthur. “And it hurts.
Even today. As much as I try to lock her memory away, آپ are a living, breathing reminder of who she was.”
“You should embrace her memory instead of locking it away,” Arthur tells him.
“I’m beginning to realize that.” He picks up the rest of the stack of تصاویر and flips through them. He smiles at a few of them. Then he sees the newspaper clipping and lifts it out.
“Did آپ read this?”
Arthur nods, and Uther places it back in the box without even unfolding it.
“She didn’t need to work. I didn’t want her to work. She was going to quit when آپ were born. A compromise. She loved her job; loved helping people. آپ get that trait from her.”
“Certainly didn’t come from you,” Arthur teases, chuckling.
Much to his surprise, his father smiles. “Heh. You’re probably right. I begged her to quit when she became pregnant with you, thinking that would be a good reason. She wasn’t having any of it. Headstrong, she was. Another trait آپ inherited.”
“Oh, now, don’t sell yourself short, Father. You’re certainly not lacking in the stubbornness department, either.”
“True. I did get her to promise me that she would stay ہوم once آپ were born.” He sighs. “She only had two مزید weeks.”
Their food arrives. Uther carefully puts the تصاویر back in the box, closing it and setting it aside. He orders another drink.
“Just water, please. I don’t have the luxury of a driver, آپ know.”
They eat in silence for a few minutes, both thinking about what the other has said.
“I’m not trying to upset you, Father. Just so آپ know.”
“I know that.”
“This was Guinevere’s idea,” he tries, thinking it might be a trump card.
“Oh?” he raises his eyebrows. “I should have guessed.” He smiles.
“She was impressed سے طرف کی how handsome آپ were in the pictures.”
“Now you’re just flattering me.”
“Why on earth would I do that?” Arthur rolls his eyes. “Honest, though. She کہا the way آپ were looking at Mum in some of those pictures is exactly how I look at her,” Arthur studies his plate, a bit embarrassed at the turn the conversation has made.
“That doesn’t surprise me.” Uther is nonplussed. “You’re completely nuts over her. Just like I was over your mother.”
Arthur just grins. “Yeah.”
“So what would آپ like to know?” Uther sighs.
“What? Um, I guess I didn’t come prepared with a list. I… I guess I just want آپ to be مزید open to discussing her. If I should have a question. If there should be something I want to know about. I don’t want her to be taboo anymore. Take some of those تصاویر آپ have stashed around the house out of hiding and put them up, for Pete’s sake. Stop hiding her.”
“I didn’t burn everything of hers. But آپ probably know that, don’t you?”
“Of course I do. I’ve seen enough evidence of that,” he smiles.
“Leah’s going to think I’ve lost my mind.”
“Nah, she’s going to think you’ve gotten it back.”
Arthur sets his fork down. “Okay, this is my final argument and then I’ll let it go for the evening. Gwen and I are getting married. We do want to have children. Make amends to me through them. دکھائیں them the love that آپ were unable to دکھائیں me and all is forgiven. Deal?”
“Deal.” He reaches آگے and the two men shake hands. “When did آپ get to be so smart?” he asks.
“I’ve always been smart, Father. آپ just never noticed before,” he says, but the bitterness is gone from his voice.
They finish their رات کے کھانے, شام کا کھانا pleasantly enough, with Arthur telling his father about the various misadventures he and Gwen had in the Cotswolds, including his encounter with Sophia and the consequences that followed. Uther laughs at Arthur’s misfortune and lauds Gwen for her feistiness.
Arthur walks his father to his waiting car. Uther turns to him, a strange look on his face.
He clears his throat. “I was going to tell آپ this closer to the wedding, but now feels like a good time.”
“What’s that?” Arthur asks, curious.
“I’m giving آپ the house. آپ and Gwen.”
“No, I’ve decided.”
“I… I don’t know what to say. Thank you. I’ll need to talk it over with Guinevere before we officially
say yes, but I don’t think she’ll have an issue.”
Uther raises an eyebrow, noting the slight look of concern on his son’s face. “You got in trouble, didn’t you? About having the wedding there.”
“Little bit,” Arthur says sheepishly, and Uther laughs. “She called the three of us Neanderthals and accused us of hijacking the wedding.”
Uther laughs even harder at this. “I knew I liked her.”
“Where are آپ going to live?” Not with us.
“I’ve purchased a penthouse in the city. I’ve seen Tom’s; it’s amazing.”
“When did آپ see Tom’s house?” Arthur is surprised. They’ve been seeing each other socially?
“We played golf a few weeks پہلے and he had me up for drinks after. I bought a place three buildings down from him, still under renovation. That way I can have them customize it to my specifications.”
“Oh, please, father, you’d have that done even if it was complete.”
“True. You’ll be able to اقدام in November first. Provided Gwen approves, of course,” he smiles.
“Thank you. This is brilliant. Really.”
“Call it a wedding gift.”
Arthur smiles. “Don’t think that exempts آپ from buying us something fantastic.”
Uther laughs at this, a genuine laugh that makes Arthur’s دل feel good.
“It’s late. Go ہوم to Gwen,” Uther says, putting his hand on Arthur’s shoulder.
“Good night, Father.” Arthur turns to leave, but suddenly Uther’s grip on his shoulder tightens, and he pulls his son to him for a tight hug.
“Your mother might not approve of how I raised you, but she would definitely approve of how you’ve turned out,” Uther says quietly into Arthur’s ear. “I am proud of you, son.”
Part 51: link