Tangible Schizophrenia


Learning Curve

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Arthur/Lancelot, Gawain/Galahad
Feedback: Good lines, typos, etc.
Disclaimer: Versions from the movie.
Notes: Arthur’s around eighteen. The other knights excepting Bors and Dagonet are around sixteen.
Summary: Lancelot’s unofficial guide to getting around the cavalry troop.


Rule No. 1: When raiding the storerooms, playing pranks on older knights or otherwise doing anything that could be considered criminal, do not take along Galahad.

“We’ve got perfectly good reasons for being here, sir. You see, I’m—”

“And anyway, you’re not our commanding officer. You have to talk to Arthur about any punishments.”

[The centurion turns an impressive shade of red. Lancelot drops his head in his hand and uses his other hand to smack Galahad in the head.]

* * *

Rule No. 2: Despite his books, love of laws, and generally octogenarian outlook on life, Arthur is in fact quite young. Young enough to still catch you and drag you back should you make a break for it.

“I’m sixteen! This isn’t fair! I’m too old for this!”

“Lancelot—” grunts and claws Lancelot around so is not being threatened by wildly flailing limbs “—there are two ways to know when you’re too old for this. When you grow up and stop being such a brat, and when you’re too big for me to hold down over my lap.”

“It was a legitimate training exercise! I was probing our defenses—you’re always saying we should keep an eye out for weaknesses that need to be shored up. Thanks to my actions, I might’ve saved the whole garrison from a Woad attack!”

“Certainly they won’t get all the laundry of the other men that you’ve completely ruined.”

[Vigorous smacking. Much howling and thrashing on Lancelot’s part.]

“…you didn’t do this to Galahad. Unjustifiably unequal treatment is a crime in the eyes of God and man.”

“I didn’t because I could assign Galahad to help rewash all that laundry as punishment and not worry that he’s going to charm all the laundresses into doing it for him. But don’t think you’re getting off so lightly. Now you’re going to go clean the boots of all the legionaries whose clothes you spoiled. And stop trying to split hairs with your excuses. That’s not what I taught you to do.”

“Rationally defend your actions against your persecutors till they give up out of exhaustion?”

“…why must you always pick out exactly the opposite of my intent?”

“And you say I never listen to you.”

[A rare trace of annoyance passes over Arthur’s face. He heaves Lancelot, who’d been beginning to settle in now that Arthur’s lap wasn’t a painful place to be, off and forcibly scoots him out the door.]

* * *

Rule No. 3: You sleep, eat, fight, and bathe with your fellow knights. You’re closer to them than anything else except your swords and your horse. Don’t assume they never notice what you’ve been up to.

[Galahad sets down a basket of freshly-cleaned clothing and nearly collapses with exhaustion over it. He spots a mud-splattered, disgruntled Lancelot slowly picking stones out from between the hobnail soles of a pair of boots.]

“On second thought, I guess I got the better end. At least I get to see girls damp and rosy from the hot water.”

[Done with the boots, Lancelot decides he can take a break and beat Galahad into the ground. But when he starts to get up, he discovers his ass is not only sore as can be, but also has stiffened up. Galahad notices.]

“You know, laundry’s actually really interesting. Especially the bedsheets from Arthur’s room, but I suppose you knew that already. Should I stop by on the way back and collect the newest dirty ones?”

“Galahad, you know what’s wrong with your mouth? My fist isn’t in it. Let me help you with that.”

[Scuffle ensues.]

* * *

Rule No. 4: Always assume Tristan’s within earshot. Always. Even if you’re on top of a gigantic rock pillar with no one in sight, assume he can hear you.

[Galahad has fought bravely, but in the end his smaller size and weight is telling. He’s now limping up from the ground, red-faced and trying not to rub at his ass, while a slightly happier Lancelot resumes boot-cleaning.]

“Do you have to do everything that Arthur does? You’re always copying him even when you’re making fun of him for it.”

“I do not! And anyway, sometimes he has a good idea. You look better when you’re bent over like that.”

“Does he?”

[Galahad’s voice hasn’t quite settled yet, so when he shouts it comes out more of a shriek. He jumps over his laundry basket, which is still miraculously clean. Lancelot instinctively flings the boot he’s holding, which Tristan easily ducks.]

“So you’re teaching Galahad what Arthur taught you?”

[Tristan speaks expressionlessly, but somehow conveys a mocking, lewd meaning. Galahad is now a brilliant scarlet.]

“No! Just with Gawain! I mean—I don’t—not—you’re in for so much pain when I’m done with these stupid clothes, Tristan.”

“Tristan, you’ve got a filthy mind. Arthur’s the most upstanding knight in the Roman Army—you practically have to throw him into it to get him to do anything immoral. Does he look like the kind of man that would seduce every fresh innocent Rome sends his way?”

* * *

Rule No. 5: Watch what you say in public spaces. When they’ve got nothing to do, soldiers are worse gossips than women. They also have worse hearing, thanks to all the sword-rattling and shield-bashing that goes on in battle and the drinking hang-overs that happen out of it.


“Oh, Cei. What can I do for you?”

“Nothing. I just stopped in because…well…I’m embarrassed to even be bringing this up and it’s obviously one of those ridiculous rumors that go around because we’re not drilling the men far enough into the ground—”


“Sorry. Anyway…you obviously know what you’re doing, and I’m not questioning your methods given their results…but just how many of your knights are you…do you have intimate…relationships with? I thought it was just Lancelot.”


“Ah. I thought so. It’s just like that time where everyone was saying Dagonet had taken a vow not to speak till he had killed and eaten the hearts of a hundred Woads, isn’t it? Or when that one idiot found the pet hawk Tristan was hiding and thought it was actually him transfigured? I bet it’s those same young nuisances again.”


“Don’t worry, some of the older knights like Bors are already roaring that it’s arrant nonsense. I’m sure the rumor will die quickly.”


“Arthur, you’re going blue in the face. Breathe, man!”

“…I believe I’ll be quite red in the face presently. Thank you, Cei, but I’m afraid I need to go run an errand right now.”

* * *

Rule No. 6: It’s never your fault.

“What? I never said that! I don’t know how it got started—it’s plain ridiculous!”

“I’ve traced it back to you, Galahad and Tristan.”

“I said exactly the opposite!”

“So you did say something.”

“…no. Yes. Look, I was defending your honor. Tristan was being an insulting little…stop looking at me like that, Arthur. This is as bad for me as it is for you. You think I like everyone thinking that I’m not enough for you?”

[Arthur’s face is indeed red, but he looks to be more in pain than seriously angry.]

“That…wasn’t exactly what I meant.”

“Lancelot. I think you probably should spend the next week in the barracks. At least till I’m certain I won’t strangle you.”

* * *

Rule No. 7: When all else fails, multiply eye size by three times and beg shamelessly.

“Lancelot, please let go of my shin. This is…is absolutely absurd behavior.”

“But it wasn’t my fault! I cleaned all the damn boots and put up with a sore ass, so I’ve been fully punished for this morning! This is unwarranted extra punishment—that’s what it is! Please, Arthur?”

“…dear God. How did you—never mind, I don’t want to know. That’s…that’s disgusting to look at.”

“But you’re not trying to shake me off as hard. Come on, Arthur. My ass is really sore. I’m limping. I’m a poor unjustly accused innocent that’s injured into the bargain. Are you really going to throw me out into the cold like this? Are you?”

“God in Heaven, I can’t—Lancelot, stop that right now. Whatever you’re doing to your face, just—”

“Can I stay?”

“Fine, fine! Just stop that! Make your eyes normal!...oh, thank you. Thank Our Lord in His Mercy.”

“Oh, good. What’s that on your desk, today’s work? Wouldn’t you rather help me to the bed so I can rest my tired, abused little body?”

* * *

Rule No. 8: Don’t stop when you’re ahead. Stop when you’re too damn sleepy and you’ve got Arthur stuck under you so he can’t go anywhere.

“…hope you’ve learned your lesson.”

“Of course! Next time, I’m letting Gawain give Galahad those ‘extra sword-handling lessons’ and taking someone competent along.”

[Arthur puts his hand over his face and groans. Lancelot grins, snuggles down, and happily goes to sleep.]