Oh, The Places You'll Go

Why We Are

Notes: TEAM! That is all.


William comes first. No matter what their own urges, own desires, may be, William comes first because without him, they are nothing. Again.

***

Will was nowt but a scrawny lad when Roland had first clapped eyes on him. Truth be told, he hadn't been sure the boy'd make it through a week, let alone seven years of indentured service. That first night from home William had cried as if his heart were breaking into a thousand tiny pieces. Roland knew that hurt, knew it deep and well, and had held the boy tight as he sobbed for his father. The next day William'd thanked him with the air of one with ten, twenty, more years on his shoulders and trotted at Roland's heels as he'd gone to see to the horse.

He'd soaked up everything quick smart, had William, and his bright eyes and willing smile were soon the first thing Roland looked for when he returned from long errands away. There'd been something in him, even then, Roland remembers, something clean and clear in all the dirt of the road and the fear-sweat of the tournament trail. Will has never wept for his father again after that first night, but Roland's going to be there if ever he does.

***

Wat hadn't loved William at first sight and don't let anyone tell you different. It'd been Roland who'd picked Wat from the sorry group of hustlers at Miramont market all hawking for work (and don't even think about asking how he came to be there of all places, there's only so many hours in the day and none to spare) and not caring how they came by it. Wat had been ready to fight for the chance of a job, had squared up to the likeliest looking competitor and uttered the words that should strike terror into any soul: "I will fong you!"

The boy had only looked puzzled – a Frenchie, most like – but Wat heard a giggle, plain as day, and whipped round to see some...some...some kid with too much hair, laughing at him. And to add insult to injury, he'd had a hank of bread in one hand and an apple in the other. Food. It'd been days. Wat'd wanted to fong him then so bad he could feel it like sharp knives over his skin. But then the boy'd stepped forward and held out the bread towards him.

"Want some?" he'd asked.

So maybe it had been love at second sight. Maybe.

Whatever the case, Wat is William's man because William is his. End of.

***

Chaucer is both a pragmatist and an opportunist. He needs fed and he needs clothed and he sees his chance. And at first he thinks he'll stay for the coin and the adventure and then he stays because he owes William and then because he loves him – because who can help but love him? - and then...he can't say. He can't or he won't, and it doesn't matter which, because to act on anything that does not directly concern William's interests, does not feed the beating heart at the centre of their team, is to endanger them all. And that, quite simply, will not do.

So Chaucer aids William's rise because no one deserves it more than this champion among men, and when he has risen as far as he can go, then – ah, then – Chaucer will wend his way home with a warm coat on his back and such stories in his head as will busy his quill for many a long month. And if his step is a little heavy and his heart a little sore with words unspoken and deeds undone, then so be it. This was never his epic romance.

***

Kate knows that William played her the first time they'd met. She's not stupid enough to think that she was allowed to join their merry band of travellers for her pretty face or her sharp observational skills. At the end of it, though, she finds she doesn't care. It doesn't matter how she became part of this strange and beautiful team, it only matters that she is.

William has given her the chance to shine. To be who she is, to perform miracles with fire and steel while he does the same with wood and mount. She has value here, a blacksmith first and last. They forget sometimes, that she is a woman, and while that riles her a little, mostly she is content because she knows it means acceptance, it means comrades, it means family. And she hasn't felt heartwarm in a long time.

William holds this little family together; the youngest son on whom all hope rests. Kate knows their faith is not misplaced.

***

William comes first. No matter what their own urges, own desires, may be, William comes first because without him, they are nothing. Again.


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