Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

The Queen's Champion Arrives At Sloan-Kettering

On the third day, Sir Percival finally took off his armor. None of the families in the ICU waiting room seemed to mind the way it bent the coatrack. Their minds were all on weightier matters even than good steel plate.

It wasn't so much the weight of the armor--he'd been wearing it for centuries--but rather the problem of rust. All day, he poured and poured the Grail out over the Fisher King. "To clean things away that need cleaning away," he explained to the nurses. "I may not know much, but I know about purity. And it'll help keep the fever in check."

A familiar voice said, "Oh, you know about purity, all right. How's my second favorite prig doing?"

Percival didn't even need to look up. "Hello, Lancelot."

"Could you use a hand there?"

"A worthy knight is a humble knight," Percival said, and saying it took the sting out. "Yes, I could use a hand. But you realize, you're trying to force the patient to be the Fisher King and Sir Urry at the same time. It's hard enough, just crossing redactions. I've changed the spelling of my name so many times in the past three days, I think I'm getting a touch of dyslexia, and I know I'm developing a serious case of postmodernity. Some moments, I can't even tell if I'm thinking in French or German or what. Are you sure you can handle this? Are we sure he can handle this?"

Lancelot examined Sir Urry, whom 110 other knights had proved unable to heal. "Everyone in the Grail Castle says he's a fighter. They talk so much about his beating the odds, you'd think they'd been wagering on him at tournaments. So, if he'll never be healed until the best knight in the world searches his wounds, we'd better get his dressings off."

Percival swallowed his pride. He'd been second-best after Galahad, and now he would bear being second-best after Lancelot. The story had to be bigger than he was.

The two knights gently peeled the dressing off the wound, and Lancelot whistled low in amazement.

"There's something wrong with his blood, too," Percival said. "They've been searching his wound for a while."

"Better not delay, then," said Lancelot. "Just think what a report this will make when we go home for Pentecost. If it were any knight less pure than you telling the tale, they'd never believe it."

So the knight of worldliness and the knight of purity tended the wound in the world. The wound in the world happened to be in the mortal frame of Everyman, any man, the Maimed Knight, the virtuous king, a person who knew how to think in myth, a person who was still hanging on in that terribly literal body.
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