Geoffrey of Monmouth
I almost forgot about the Dubois’s nearly as soon as they had arrived, not expecting their visit to have any impact on my life.

But as so often happened, I was quite wrong in this assessment, not least of all because of what happened a few days later.

I was preparing for another day of archiving when who should wander into the library, but Princess Ygraine and her brother, Prince Agravaine, who she was leading along by the hand.

I was more than a little surprised to see them there, since after all there were plenty more interesting places in Camelot, especially for children, but perhaps they’d all ready seen them? Or more likely, weren’t allowed to leave the castle proper with an escort and there wasn’t one to spare.

“Good morning!” Princess Ygraine chirped - for lack of a better word-looking up at me with big blue eyes. “I’m Ygraine! Who are you?”

“Er...Geoffrey...Geoffrey of Monmouth,” I replied, uncertain.

“Is this where you live?” She asked, taking in the shelves and the books.

“Yes.” I wondered where Cedas was, he had a habit of disappearing when visitors came to the libray, sometimes I wondered if he did it on purpose.

“That’s amazing! Have you read all the books here?” The Princess wanted to know.

I couldn’t help but laugh. “I fear not, I’d never have the time for anything else.”

Princess Ygraine smiled at me, the brightest smile I’d ever seen before, there was something truly ethereal about the young girl. “Can Agravaine and I have a look? We’re well behaved,” she promised her voice full of complete sincerity. “Aren’t we Agravaine?”

Prince Agravaine was sucking on his fingers and looked up at me with dark brown eyes and simply shrugged.

I’d never had a child that young in the library before, but I supposed the Princess had a good grasp on him and he didn’t seem to look like the sort of child who would suddenly run out of control and start destroying the books.

Besides, it was not as if I was really in a position to turn them away, they may not be royals from Albion, but they were still royal.

“Certainly...umm...just be careful.” I spoke the last bit quickly, almost too fast for them to hear, but I felt I needed to issue a warning of some sort.

Princess Ygraine giggled again and nodded, her hair which was held in two plaits bobbing about. “We will! We just want to see, right Agravaine?”

Prince Agravaine nodded and continued to clutch his sister’s hand and the two wandered off down the aisles while I returned to my work and every so often wondered where my mentor was.

Eventually, he wandered in, yawning and apparently only just awoken, apologising for his oversleeping.

“I was kept up late last night,” he explained, “King Aurelius wanted to see me regarding the history of treaties between us and the kingdoms of Brittany.”

“Treaties?” I asked, surprised, not expecting that at all. “Why?”

“The King wants to make sure that the kingdom of Leon or its predecessor has never reneged on a treaty, it seems King Hoel has come here for a very singular reason.”

I was definitely curious now and prompted Cedas to tell me what that reason was.

“It’s linked to you in fact,” Cedas replied mysteriously.

“Me? I’ve never been to Brittany in my life...”

“I know that, but you do recall how our most glorious Majesty was extremely upset when you returned having secured Prince Uther’s noviate with Duke Diodantes.”

“Of course I do, it was barely a month ago” I grimaced, my cheek still ached whenever that time was mentioned as if the King’s blow had left a mark upon my face.

“He said that Camelot would owe the Duke a favour and it appears King Hoel has come to accept it.”

Cedas sometimes had the most annoying habit of speaking in riddles, I was certain that he did it mostly for his own amusement, and he seemed to take the most pleasure in doing so at the most inopportune moments.

“How does he figure into this?” I asked impatiently.

“His son, Prince Tristian is of an age to be a noviate himself,” Cedas explained patiently, as if I were foolish for not being able to follow his rather torturous explanations. “The Kingdom of Camelot is considered to have some of the finest knights in the land, and chief among them is our own Crown Prince.”

Well, I knew all that, of course. “And?”

“King Hoel wishes for the Crown Prince to take Prince Tristian on as an apprentice of course, with a strong recommendation from Duke Diodantes. Cornwall does have a treaty with Brittany it would seem, or at least a trade agreement.” Cedas took a seat in his chair behind his desk.

“That’s it?” I felt a flash of annoyance, the King had acted as if he’d owed the Duke of Cornwall some sort of blood debt that would haunt the kingdom forever. Now it seemed that all Duke Diodantes wanted was a good position for his ally’s son. It wasn’t as if Crown Prince Kentigern would have any problems training a novice, he was so well-respected that any young man would absolutely jump at the chance to be under such tutelage.

“Well, perhaps the King will see know that being in debt to the Duke of Cornwall was not something to punish a person as harshly as he done so with me.” I grumbled in a low voice, since my comments were rather close to treason.

Cedas gave a wry smile. “Well, perhaps, but King Aurelius is nothing if not paranoid, which is why I had to spend most of yesterday night looking at Leon and how they honour their treaties. Fortunately for all of us, they do so very well. Refusing King Hoel’s request would be considered quite an insult and could even draw us into a conflict, not to mention the offense that would be given the Duke of Cornwall.”

“But everything’s fine now?” I asked, slightly unsure as really one could never tell with Pendragons.

“I believe so, if nothing else the Crown Prince has taken quite a shine to young Prince Tristian. I think he misses having someone to look up to him as Prince Uther has always done.”

Well, that wasn’t very surprising, if nothing else the Crown Prince was a Pendragon, and Pendragons did enjoy been the centre of attention.

“So Tristian’s going to stay here?”

Cedas and I were surprised by the voice that seemed to come from nowhere.

Turning we saw Princess Ygraine and Prince Agravaine, apparently they had completed their investigation of the library – without making any noise like shelves falling over or the sound of ripping pages – and now were standing in front of the desk.

And it seemed like they may have been there for a while.

Cedas quickly bowed. “Princess Ygraine, Prince...” he trailed off, somewhat helplessly, apparently at a loss to remember Agravaine’s name, I leaned in and whispered it to him and he quickly spoke it.

“You said that Prince Kentigern’s going to train my brother to become a proper knight, but that means he has to stay here, in Camelot, doesn’t it?” Princess Ygraine looked slightly distressed, but was obviously doing her best to remain calm and composed.

Cedas threw me a rather despairing look and I realised why, such conversations were no doubt privileged, or at the very least not for the ears of small children. Even if those small children were related to the people the conversation pertained to.

“Well?” Princess Ygraine sounded slightly more imperious, but not much.

Cedas’s overwhelming respect for royalty kept him quiet so it looked like I would have to deal with this.

“We...we don’t know, Your Highness,” I spoke in the most respectful tone I could. “My mentor Cedas was just helping King Aurelius with some things...neither of us can say.”

“I don’t want Tristian to leave,” Princess Ygraine’s lower lip seemed to be trembling, which was the last thing I wanted. I had never dealt with a crying child before, Prince Uther had been complete closed and cold in that regard.

I coughed. “I...as I said, we really don’t know, don’t be upset, Your Highness.”

Princess Ygraine swallowed hard, and her lower lip fortunately stopped shaking, but she still looked very distressed. Prince Agravaine meanwhile seemed bored by the whole conversation or maybe he just didn’t understand what was going on.

I threw Cedas a rather worried look, the last thing I wanted after everything that had happened was for Princess Ygraine to go running to her parents with a story about how she had found out very upsetting news in the library.

“I hope you...I’m sorry if we upset you,” I said to the Princess quickly, not sure exactly how I was going to salvage this situation.

Princess Ygraine looked up at me and a small smile returned to her face. “It’s all right, it’s not your fault.” She sighed though and looked down at her feet. “It’s not fair though, he wants to be a knight more than anything and he’s going to be the best, I know it,” the pride in her voice was evident. “But we don’t have lots of good knights where we are....they’re mostly just normal soliders and Tristian always tells me there’s a big difference.” She rolled her eyes and shook her head. “But we thought he would go and stay with Dio.”

It took me a moment to realise she was referring to Duke Diodantes.

“But Papa says someone’s all ready training with him, so that’s why we’ve come here.”

I felt a stab of guilt, though it was rather ridiculous, I couldn’t have possibly known about what Princess Ygraine was telling me, and beyond that I had been ordered to do it by a Crown Prince. Still...

“We know Dio, but we don’t know about Prince Kentigern and Camelot, are people nice here?”

It was a rather innocent question, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to answer it. For the most part the people here seemed nice, the Crown Prince in contrast to his relatives for example seemed almost saintly! But without a doubt no-one could call most of the Royal Family...nice.

“Prince Kentigern is a very fine prince,” I finally answered, that was true at least.

Princess Ygraine looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “Are you just saying that because he’s the Crown Prince?”

“Er...” I looked at Cedas, who was no help whatsoever. “No...not really. I mean I don’t know the Crown Prince on a personal level, but he conducts himself well.”

"Tristan likes to have fun, though," Princess Ygraine was looking at me with the utmost seriousness. "Does the Crown Prince have a lot of fun?"

"Uh..." I scratched the back of my neck, nervously, unsure how to answer. It wasn't as if I knew what the Crown Prince did in his own time and besides what was fun as far as Prince Tristan was concerned? Because for me fun was a good book, but I was quite sure that wasn't the usual thing. "Well, I'm not exactly well-acquainted with the Crown Prince, Your Highness. He seems to enjoy hunting, though." Which was truly the only thing I could remember the Crown Prince enthusing about outside of his typical knightly duties.

As it turned out, I picked the right the thing, Princess Ygraine's eyes brightened. "Tristan's the best hunter! He can track down anything! Well...except me," she gave a giggle.

I wasn't sure what to say in response to that, but I couldn't help but smile at the Princess's enthusiasm.

"The hunting is good in Camelot, then?" The Princess wanted to know.

"Uh..." Two steps forward and one back, it seemed...what did I know about hunting? Probably about as much as Cedas did. Speaking of which, I tried to catch my mentor's eye, but he'd managed to to make himself scarce, not actually leaving the area - he hadn't been dismissed after all - but clearly I was on my own.

"I fear, I couldn't really tell you, Your Highness, hunting isn't an activity I undertake."

The Princess gave me a critical look and the replied with a grin. "I guess you wouldn't. But it isn't all chasing animals, there's riding! Do you like riding?"

If I didn't know better I'd have thought I heard Cedas give a snort of laughter. I gave Princess Ygraine a rather embarrassed look. "I fear I'm not much of rider either, Your Highness." Although I would have thought that the Princess was too young to be allowed to ride, I was certain even the smallest pony in the Camelot stables would tower over the small girl.

"No?" Princess Ygraine looked at me as if I was some odd creature, but finally she beamed. "I guess you have to look after all these books. Thank you very much for letting Agravaine and me look around."

I gave a nervous bow. "You're very welcome, Your Highness."

With that she gave a little curtsy and then giving Agravaine's hand a tug, they were off, the Princess's long blonde hair bobbing.

I turned to Cedas, waiting for him to make one of his laconic remarks, finally he looked up with smile. "Well, my lad, it appears that once again you have made good with royalty. Perhaps you could train the rest of us in this special skill."

I gave him a wry look. "I'd hardly say I have any particular skill, the King is certainly not pleased with me."

"I was thinking more with the younger generation, but I see your point." Cedas gave his beard a tug. "Still, having the Crown Prince on your side is sure to be to your benefit later on."

I shook my head. I really didn't have any interest in the royal family, I'd much rather continue with my research and archiving. And I certainly could so without all the drama that came with it.
 
 
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