Of Nightmares and Odd Confessions–an Arthurian short story

Okay first off I am so sorry for writing a short story that requires lore to understand. But if you don’t know anything about Gareth and Lynet, I think this story will really make more sense if you read the Wikipedia page about the story. This works out for me, because I really want more people to learn about Lynet! *insert evil laughter here or something*

Anyway, spoilers for a seven hundred year old (or something, I can’t be bothered to count) story: Beaumains is actually Gareth, Gawain’s little brother, in disguise as a kitchen boy for reasons known only to himself. Also you know how Arthur killed babies or something in an attempt to murder Mordred because of the whole prophecy thing and then it was never addressed again in Le Morte D’Arthur? Well, this story is my attempt at (sort of) addressing it.

(Also Gareth has ADHD in this. I don’t go into it too much in this story but yeah forgetting which conversations I’ve had including ones like ‘did I ever tell you about that time one of my family members tried to murder the other one’ is 100% something I would do.)

Here’s my pinterest board for these two characters! Also, I have an AO3 account now? (Also I have nothing to say about my username other than that my sister encouraged me and thus may also be held responsible. Obscure Arthurian in-jokes for the win I guess???) I don’t have anything posted on it so far besides this story, but I do want to write more fanfic, so hopefully I can change that assuming I can write fanfic that I can also convince myself to publish.

Also, on a more serious note, I found this NPR article listing charities doing work in Ukraine that you can donate to!

Lynet was ashamed to admit that she woke up much closer to Beaumains than she had ever meant to get in her life, and even more ashamed to find that he had woken up first. She had thrown an arm over him in her sleep.

She pulled away from him, face uncomfortably hot. Wind howled softly high up in the trees around the clearing. The night air was cold against her skin, making the hair on her arms prickle, and only a few flames guttered in the campfire by now. Lynet wrapped her cloak around herself, not having the energy to try to build the fire back up.

“I’m sorry,” Beaumains said softly, getting up and walking a short distance away before sitting down again. He rubbed at his eyes. “I think I woke you up. I had a nightmare.”

Lynet nodded, only halfway taking the words in. “What about?” she asked. The question suddenly seemed much too personal for some reason.

Beaumains tilted his head as he looked at her, considering. “Did I ever tell you about my younger brother? The youngest of the lot,” he said, with a smile that almost looked bitter.

She looked to the side. Each new thing he revealed about his brothers was stranger than the last, and she suspected he took some pleasure in that fact, which annoyed her. “No,” she said finally. And I don’t want to hear about him, she wanted to say, but she was too tired to carry a confrontation through to the end, so what even was the point?

“I didn’t think I did, but I wouldn’t know. I never remember anything. I heard my uncle drowned him when the boy was a baby.” He stared at his hands, his eyebrows scrunched together.

“Your uncle did what?” Lynet said, her voice much too loud. She stared at him, wishing she could get up and leave to avoid what was going to be an emotional conversation, and aware that doing so would be crueler than even Lynet was willing to be.

A wild animal scratched around in the underbrush behind her, and Lynet couldn’t stop her shoulders from tensing up, something in the back of her mind screaming that someone had finally caught up to them to murder them. It was just a wild animal, and not a very big one, from the sound of it.

If she could do away with knights and chivalry and all those things that had put her into this position, she would in a heartbeat.

“Oh, my uncle killed my younger brother,” Beaumains said, horribly unfazed. She was really too tired to deal with this. “No one speaks of it, but it was certainly either my uncle or…well, the man who was something of a mentor to him. I never figured it out. It happened when I was very young, and I only ever heard people whisper of it after, and they stopped the whispers as well soon enough.” He shrugged, as though he were simply mildly disappointed about this.

“Well…” Lynet worked to find the right words. “I’m sorry?” she hedged.

“Don’t be. I barely remember the poor lad.” Beaumains poked at the dying fire with a stick in a failed attempt to revive it. The fire sputtered, but otherwise didn’t respond. He sighed, gave up, and threw the stick in.

Lynet screwed her face up as she stared at the embers. She tried to reconcile this new information with the other things he’d told her, and she found she couldn’t. “I thought you said your uncle was a good man!” she protested. “What on earth—”

“More than one thing can be true at once,” he said, looking up at her with those keen brown eyes of his. “He’s a good man to many, and a bad man to my dead brother. Assuming he even killed the boy.”

He reminded Lynet of her sister, with those nice words that fell apart as soon as you thought about them for more than a split second. Both of them said such horrible things, and Lynet didn’t think that either meant a word of what they said. At least, she hoped neither of them meant a word of what they said. It was all so unsettling.

Lynet wanted to grab him by the collar and shake him until he said something that made sense. “You can’t commit infanticide and still be a good person,” she said, slowly and forcefully.

Beaumains leaned back onto his elbows, staring up at the stars. “I suppose not,” he said. “But then, I don’t even know that he did it.”

“I would kill someone over my sister,” Lynet said, her fingernails digging into her palms until it hurt. “I wouldn’t be able to rest until I found out—”

“Well, you see, it’s a good thing you’re not me,” he said, with a lopsided grin. “Seems like more people will stay alive this way. I’d kill to not find out. Although I’d rather not kill at all,” he added in a bitter undertone.

Lynet thought of telling him that he wouldn’t have to kill anyone if he simply left saving her sister to a more capable man, but even she had to admit that it was the wrong time. “Why?” she asked. “Why would someone murder a child like that?” She couldn’t wrap her head around the mindless cruelty such an act would take, and she had spent the last year and a half attempting to wrap her head around various acts of mindless cruelty.

Beaumains hesitated for a while before answering. “I don’t know,” he said, with a grimace of a smile. “I never tried to find out.”

“I really don’t understand you.” Her voice came out flat. “I’m sorry for you, but I don’t understand you, and I hope I never will.”

Beaumains let out a laugh. “I hope you never do either,” he said soberly. “I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” He shifted, rubbing at his forehead. “I never told anyone this story before for a reason,” he whispered, half to himself. “Please speak of this to no one. I don’t know at all if what I overheard was true, and sometimes I convince myself that I never heard it at all.”

Lynet lifted her chin. “I’m not stupid,” she told him. “I know when things should be kept secret. Stop worrying.”

He let out a laugh. “You aren’t half as bad as you pretend to be, you know,” he told her as he went to lie back down. “As foolish as it is, it is a relief to tell someone. So thank you.” He pulled the blanket over himself.

Her cheeks felt hot for some reason. “Shut up,” she snapped. “I despise you, and I want you to shut up.”

“If you wish,” he said, sounding like he was holding back laughter.

Lynet hesitated, before she decided that she was very cold. “Don’t you ever dare speak of this to anyone, either,” she said, as she lay down beside him, wrapping her arms around him for warmth.

“I wouldn’t dream of it, my lady,” he said sincerely, as he pulled a blanket around her.

They fell asleep that way, curled up into each other.

I hope you enjoyed! I kind of feel like it wasn’t my best, but also I don’t care, and I like it well enough. Please, tell me your thoughts!

6 thoughts on “Of Nightmares and Odd Confessions–an Arthurian short story

  1. *squints* Gareth and Lynet who, now…?
    *hastily scans helpfully provided Wikipedia page in preparation for reading this* Aha, so THAT’S who these kids are. Man, I should really educate myself more on lore and such things…
    *proceeds to read the actual thing.*
    I really enjoyed reading this short story, Becky! The contrast between the two characters really works for the conversation. I must say I relate more to Lynet, but Beaumains/Gareth is really intriguing. I really liked the line “Both of them said such horrible things, and Lynet didn’t think that either meant a word of what they said.” Characters like that are so interesting for some reason?? Like, you kind of sound like a horrible person, but there is a lot more going on here, maybe?? (But maybe you are actually horrible…?) I don’t know. Whatever it is, it works really well in the scene. I mean, the fact that he kind of has this “Heck, I don’t really care” attitude but also just woke up from a nightmare is kind of delightfully inconsistent, if you know what I mean. Lynet NOT HAVING IT when it comes to people straight up murdering children is me, though. I just love that they both have such different approaches but you kind of get where they are both coming from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynet is delightful, I’m so happy I was able to introduce you to her. My life’s work is complete. Also, if you want to read more about Arthurian legend, I can give you some recs if you want!

      Thank you so much!!! That’s interesting, because I feel like I relate more to Gareth? NOT in regards to the ‘excusing the attempted murder of his brother’ thing, but I will admit that I too am deathly afraid of my own emotions and can be bad about compartmentalizing things that I shouldn’t. I was actually worried about Lynet’s characterization, so I’m glad you liked her! Yeah I LOVE characters with that sort of ambiguity. I feel like I write characters like that a lot? I like writing characters where what they say clashes with what’s shown, and I also tend to write characters who have weird responses to trauma, and I feel like that tends to result in characters who say horrible things while MAYBE not actually being horrible. Maybe. Yeah Lynet is me in that regard, too, lmao. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sure, I’d appreciate some recs if you have them. 🙂

        I love writing characters like that too! I can definitely relate to it on a certain level, honestly. To a point what we say and how we behave aren’t going to match up, and that’s a super interesting thing to explore in writing. And weird responses to trauma? I love exploring that.

        Liked by 1 person

        • For short romances about a hundred pages long or so: Chretien de Troyes is a really, really good writer! Knight of the Lion is genuinely amazing, and Knight of the Cart is really good as well? (You PROBABLY won’t be missing anything by skipping both Erec and Enide and Cliges. I don’t regret reading them, but I’d say I have a fairly high tolerance for weird classics and the bad male leads contained therein. Erec can choke and while I admit I don’t remember a lot of Cliges, I remember it being kind of a weird story?) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is also great! I also love The Perilous Cemetery and Lancelot and the Hart with the White Foot, but it’s possible English translations might be hard to come by for those two? I managed to find them online (I can send you the link if you want!).

          I’m currently reading through the Vulgate Cycle (also known as the Lancelot-Grail Cycle) and Le Morte D’Arthur, and they’re both really good so far! Both the Vulgate Cycle and Le Morte D’Arthur cover the story of Arthur and his knights from Arthur’s birth to his death. Also I haven’t read this one yet, but I must rec the Mabinogion because Welsh Arthurian legend. I’ve also been reading the Alliterative Morte Arthure, which is a middle English poem that I really like! The Alliterative Morte Arthure covers Arthur’s war with Rome and Arthur’s death. I haven’t finished it yet but I’ve heard that Mordred is portrayed kind of sympathetically in the poem, which is interesting? Also, I love The Wedding of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnelle with my whole heart, so I’ve got to recommend it. There are also several Arthurian pseudo-histories, such as Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain (which really helped popularize Arthurian legends in the middle ages), and Layamon’s Brut, but I haven’t read them yet, so I couldn’t rate them on entertainment value, lol!

          Liked by 1 person

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