The Third Law

Jay Tryfanstone
January 2003-January 2004

I don't even know if there's a term for Arthurian slash.
Never mind. This one's been haunting me for a while,
won't go away, don't have anything else to say...

"Again and again Love reopens the wound he has dealt him."

Chrétien de Troyes, Launcelot


I remember the smell of beeswax, and the light through the door. So light. The king always had light around him, candles in the solar, braziers in the hall, so the shadows lie layered, hard-edged, and ambush the unwary in corners. Firelight is golden, beeswax white: but the light from the great ruby on his finger burnt red. His hand, and the knight's, interlocked. I remember all the tendons standing stark out from his hand, brown against the knight's milk-skin, the pale hand under his so lax - that was the first thing I saw, their hands interlocked.

When I set my own hand to the latch I was holding my breath. Even then, I think, I knew this was something I should not witness, but I was young and foolish in my youth: we all thought we were blessed, we of the court of light, before we knew we were cursed.

So I saw the knight's eyes. Once, one second, the blue of his eyes, fixed: his face on the coverlet, turned to the crack in the door. He had eyes like no-one else, blue as the sky at midday in high summer, when you lie on your back and stare into it, when suddenly you know what lies beyond the blue is not light at all but darkness as far as sight can see. There was nothing in his eyes at all. I saw that look again, later, in the eyes of a woman when the soldiers had finished with her, and once in the eyes of a bear brought knowing to death, but that was the first time and the hardest.

He was gone in the morning. You know the tale of it, the penance he paid, the mad hermit in the wood, the lovers, the witch and the spear and the cup...We were there, you and I, when it ended...But I was there when it begun, and I remember.