by Gunbunny

In the courtyards of Hadrian's Wall, Bors turns at the sound of childish giggles and running footsteps. A little blond head comes into view from behind a cart, and soon the owner of it has grabbed onto Bors' legs, hiding behind them as Guinevere catches up.

"Lucan!" She exclaims, exasperated, hands on her hips.

"What's the little sod done now?" Bors asks.

"He's refusing to take a bath." Guinevere sighs.

"What's wrong with that? Bit of dirt never harmed anyone."

"Ask Vanora if she objects to the smell sometime." Guinevere says. "And it's not just a bit of dirt, he's been rolling around in the mud with two of your children."

"Rolling around in the mud?" Bors says with a proud grin. "Sounds like my little bastards, all right."

"Well, he needs a bath."

Lucan clings tighter to Bors' legs at that statement. Bors rolls his eyes, reaching behind him and picking Lucan up without any effort, holding him up to his face. Bors blinks. "You're right. That is a really dirty child. You, my lad, are in need of a full-on dunking and scrubbing." He tucks Lucan under his arm, as Lucan squirms and protests loudly and indignantly.

Guinevere crosses her arms and gives the young boy a look. "It's your own fault, you know."

"Next time I'm going to go to Gawain." Lucan complains.

"Gawain believes in baths. Got to, to keep his hair so nice." Bors says, walking with Guinevere in the direction of the bathing chambers. "You'd have been luckier if Tristan was still alive. He used to take great gobs of dirt and rub them on his face and any shiny bits of his armour to make sure he didn't get seen when he went scouting."

"What about Dagonet?" Lucan asks in a slightly tremulous voice. He's not wearing Dagonet's ring round his neck today - he sometimes takes it off if he knows there's due to be rough and tumble, afraid of losing it.

"Dag used to chuck me in the river if he said I stank too bad." Bors chuckles. "And then hold me down until I was clean." He ruffles Lucan's hair. "You can't escape baths, lad."

"See?" Guinevere says, then gives Bors a grateful smile, touching his shoulder in acknowledgement of his deceased friends.

"What's this about a wedding I hear, then?" Bors asks. "It's not too serious, I hope. Vanora might start expecting me to marry her."

"Not if she's got any taste, she won't." Guinevere says, stepping over a ball someone's left on the floor. "As for the wedding... Merlin wants Arthur to lead, you know that. He thinks he's got a better chance of uniting the country than any Briton chieftain would alone."

"So where does the wedding come in?"

Guinevere reaches up to push a strand of hair from her face. "It's... well, it's political. A marriage to a Briton would strengthen his claim to the position and show the rest that he's committed."

Bors snorts. "Course he's bloody committed. He could've left this place, gone back to Rome like he used to want. Stayed behind and fought with your lot, didn't he?"

"So did you."

"We were fighting for Arthur, then. And there's nothing wrong with fighting Saxons. Not like we've got any love for Rome." Bors grunts, pushing the door to the bathing chamber open.

Guinevere takes Lucan from him. Lucan's looking rather resigned at this point as she unbuckles his belt. "Well, we do appreciate your help. Come on, Lucan, lift up."

Lucan lifts his arms as she tugs his tunic up. "Don' wanna baff." Comes out, rather muffled by the tunic.

"You don't have any choice." She says sternly. "And we have to wash your clothes as well."

"So why're you agreeing to the marriage then? What do you get out of it?" Bors asks, sitting down on one of the benches.

"I didn't say I'd agreed to it." Guinevere says. Bors snorts in response. "All right, it's nearly finalised. I'm with them on it making sense. I'm fond of him, and it might grow to something more given time. We understand each other, at least. And we need him. He's a good leader. I don't need to tell you that."

"Watch out for the brooding and constant praying." Bors says. He looks down at Lucan, who's helping with his leggings. "And you never know, you might get one of your own soon enough. You ever think on that?"

"A few months ago I wasn't even thinking of chidren at all, let alone half-grown trouble-makers like this one." Guinevere grins. "You learn to cope, I've found."

"Suppose that's what happens to us all." Bors says. "Treat him well, will you?"

"I'll try." She nods as he gets up to leave, closing the door behind him. She looks down. Lucan's trying the last-ditch sniffle and big eyes. "That will not work, young man. You're getting a bath whether you like it or not."


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