5 Times Gwen Saved Arthur and 1 Time She Didn’tPrompt(s) (if used):
Superstition, Graceful, Dragonborn, Marble, EmbersRating:
I would love to own them but I don’t. BBC and Shine do.Summary:
The title says it all really.
Gwen took one step into the forest. She wasn’t supposed to be there - dad would be so angry with her - but the sun was shining high in the sky and the forest really didn’t look any more dangerous than the fields that she usually played in. Maybe she would be able to find some new wildflowers. The townspeople often spoke about the forest as if it were haunted but Gwen didn’t believe in ghosts. They were stories probably cooked up to stop her and the other children from playing in it. One of the more fanciful stories she heard was that if a boy rescued a girl in the forest, they would be bound together for life. When Elyan told her that, she had laughed at him. Anyway, she was going to be very careful and no one would need to rescue her.
“Is someone there?”
Gwen whipped around, her heart pounding. She was pretty sure she was all alone. And ghosts were not real, she chanted to herself.
“Hello! I can hear you, you know.” The voice sounded annoyed now, almost petulant.
“Hi? Where are you? You’re not a ghost are you?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I’m not a ghost. Will you come and help me?”
Edging closer to where the voice seemed to be coming from, she saw what looked like a disused well. She peered in and saw a blond boy glaring up at her.
“Took you long enough. Don’t just stand there! I don’t want to die here.”
“You’re so rude!” Gwen huffed as she leaned over the well and reached down. The boy grabbed her hands and with all the strength she had, she pulled. They tumbled onto the damp grass in a heap, breathing heavily. He was heavy and she shoved at him. Obligingly, he rolled over, panting.
“Are you ok?” She stared at him. He looked oddly familiar but she couldn’t place him.
“Yeah.” The boy eyed her warily. “Are you a servant?”
“I am a blacksmith.” She stood up so she towered over him. What a prat.
“I don’t believe it anyway.” He stood too and Gwen realised he wasn’t as tall as her. It was also then she noticed the royal shield on his belt buckle.
“Believe what?” She wondered who in the royal family he was. Surely he wasn’t the prince because who would let the prince wander around the forest on his own?
“That dumb story about the forest. Also, you’re not a boy and I’m not a girl and there’s no way I’ll ever marry a lowly blacksmith.”
Shocked at his impertinence, she stuck out her tongue at him. “Well, I wouldn’t marry you even if you were the King of Camelot.” Then she ran because he might be the prince and she didn’t want to get hauled into the dungeons for being rude to him.
All the knights of Camelot fought effectively. Well trained, they were quick and brutal, easily dispatching their opponents. The prince was different. He was just as effective as his knights but he was also a lot more graceful. Every movement was like a dance and Gwen loved watching him train, except she was never going to admit that to anybody because despite his finesse on the training grounds, he was still an arrogant, selfish prat. Anyway, today, she was here on a mission. A mission to keep the prince alive.
As a servant in the castle, she was invisible, which was apparently a good thing when uncovering assassination plots because that was exactly what she did as she dusted Sir Walter’s room. There he sat, uncomfortably (for her) shirtless, chatting quite carelessly to his friend Sir Something-or-another about his plan to poison the young prince.
Her first plan was to tell Gaius, the elderly royal physician but he said that unless she had proof, it would do her no good to tell anyone. Who would believe her? And so, after much fretting, she developed her second plan. She only hoped that the fates would cooperate and all would go well.
In front of her, the prince happily sparred with his knights, tauting them mercilessly before beating them easily and mocking them. Gwen rolled her eyes and not for the first time wondered if saving the prince was actually a good idea. If he died, they might get a better one installed on the throne, maybe her mistress even.
Still, when it was Sir Walter’s turn to spar with the prince, she watched intently and at the exact moment that Sir Walter lifted his poisoned sword, Gwen tumbled inelegantly into him, knocking the sword out of his hands and bowling the prince over. And once more, she found herself tangled in a heap with the prince. A very unamused prince.
“What was that about?” Not very gallantly, the prince pushed himself to his feet and then yanked her up.
“I’m fine. Thank you for asking,” she snapped, regretting the words the moment they left her mouth. Thankfully the prince just frowned at her.
“What happened? You could have hurt yourself!”
Sir Walter sat on the ground, glaring at her but she ignored him. “I tripped.”
“While standing still? I noticed you were there, not moving until you suddenly fell into the training ground.” He moved closer to her, suspicion in his eyes.
“You noticed me?” Why did that even matter Gwen asked herself. What was wrong with her brain?
“Of course I noticed you.”
“Sire.” Sir Walter stood up. “She should be punished for her carelessness! You can’t let your servants be so impudent as to simply barrel into us when we are training.”
Gwen turned on him. “Impudent? I’m not the one trying to kill the prince for some money!”
“How dare you -” She ducked the hand that moved towards her then realised that the prince had caught it in a tight grip.
“Say that again. What did you say he was doing?”
Trying to appear more confident than she was feeling, she shrugged. “He has a plan to kill you.”
Sir Walter lunged towards her but was held back by the prince. “She’s a liar!”
“You do know what the penalty is for spreading lies about nobles.”
She could hear the warning in his voice and nodded as calmly as she could. “If you check his sword, you’d see it’s been rubbed with poison. He was supposed to nick you with it and let the poison seep into you.”
Gwen would never forget the sense of relief that swept through her when Gaius confirmed that the sword was indeed coated with poison. The King ordered a reward be presented to her and then dismissed her from the throne room so he could deal with Sir Walter.
A small bag of coins in her hand, Gwen whistled as she walked down the corridor. A hand darted out and grabbed her, pulling her into an alcove where she came face to face with the prince.
“I owe you an apology and a thank you. For saving my life.”
“I am just glad I was right - not that I am glad he wanted to kill you - but that he tried - oh -” Obviously her brain wasn’t working again but who could blame her when she was standing way too close to the prince who was staring at her with his bright blue eyes.
A smile crept onto his face. “You surprise me, Guinevere. And thank you again.” A light touch on her cheek and he was gone. Slowly she brought her fingers up to her cheek.
He knew her name.
Somehow, after that training ground incident, she and Arthur - she was even referring to him as Arthur and not the prince - developed some sort of strange, secret friendship. It started with Arthur insisting on rewarding her with dinner and them ending up chatting until the wee hours of the morning.
It was completely inappropriate and yet, they would bump into each other along the castle corridors and he would smile and ask how she was and she would attempt to be witty because it made him laugh and as much as she didn’t want to admit it, he had a nice laugh.
When Merlin suddenly became Arthur’s new manservant, Gwen found herself spending even more time with the prince. She had to admit that this wasn’t a bad development. Under the threat of torture, she might even admit that she quite liked the prince.
“You have to solve a riddle or you’ll have to fight Lord Samuel to the death, which may or may not lead to war between the two kingdoms? That doesn’t even make any sense.”
Flopping onto his bed, Arthur sighed dramatically. “You would make it sound so foolish. It’s all part of a larger quest.”
Merlin chuckled as he polished Arthur’s shoes.
“Oh shut up,” moaned Arthur, lifting his arm to grab a pillow to chuck at Merlin. “The point is I need to solve this riddle so I can go get past the guard and into the cave where I can retrieve the Crystal of - uh, what was it?”
“Of Estche.” Merlin obligingly answered. “Show Gwen the riddle.”
Arthur sat up and dug under his pillow, before retrieving a somewhat sad looking scrap of paper which he shoved in her direction. Putting down the vase she was holding, she reached over and grabbed it.
“Huh.” The riddle seemed easy enough so she wondered why neither of them were able to come up with answer.
“The answer isn’t dragon. We tried that already and all we got was a large fireball thrown at us. Good thing we are young and nimble. The problem is we only have one more try.”
Arthur simply groaned again. “Any ideas? I really don’t want to be the cause of a war between our kingdoms.”
“Then you shouldn’t go round taking things that don’t belong to you.”
“It was lying on the ground in the forest. How was I supposed to know it belonged to some great yet incredibly unreasonable wizard?” Arthur huffed angrily as he glared at Merlin who was shaking his head.
“Dragon eggs?” Gwen suggested. The two men shook their heads. Then it dawned on her. “Dragonborn! It must be. Look - the first letter of each word spells that out.”
“You’re brilliant!” Merlin grinned as he squeezed her shoulder. “You might have just saved us all.” And before she knew it, the two of them, one initially sprawled on the bed and the other on the floor, were suddenly all ready to ride off to collect the crystal.
And out the blue, Arthur pressed a swift kiss to her cheek. “Thank you.”
For the next few minutes, Gwen stood slightly stunned.
“Are you free?” Merlin popped suddenly into the kitchen where she was helping cook with the dinner preparations.
Glancing at the usually grumpy cook whose face was about to fold into a frown at Merlin’s disruption, Gwen shook her head and mouthed the word “later”.
“Hurry. It’s important.” And then Merlin was gone, leaving Gwen wondering what on earth had happened now.
Later, after she carved the meat and dispensed the wine, she slipped out of the kitchen, surprised to see that Merlin was waiting for her outside.
“You and Arthur.” Merlin said meaningfully the moment they entered Merlin’s tiny room.
“You called me out for this? Really Merlin -”
“I’ve seen the way you two look at each other, how your fingers brush when you serve him wine -”
Gwen felt her face burn but she kept her voice calm. “I don’t know what you are talking about. The kitchen is busy today so -”
Merlin grabbed her arm as she turned to leave. “It’s quite obvious. Even a blind man can see how you feel about each other.”
“And even if that’s so, nothing will come of it.” Although her tone was flippant, the pain of this reality she had pushed to the back of her mind returned. As much as she enjoyed Arthur’s company, as much as she enjoyed the snatches of time she had alone with him, as much as she couldn’t stop remembering how he had grabbed her and kissed her after returning from a dangerous quest, the sensible part of her knew that whatever it was between them was impossible. Arthur was crown prince. He would, as all crown princes had in years past, marry a noble lady, possibly one chosen by his father. “What does it matter?”
He was still holding to her arm and she tugged at it. This was not a discussion she wanted to have.
“I need you to kiss him.”
“I think - no, I know you’re his true love. And right now, he’s been cursed and turned into marble and according to some secret sources, he needs a kiss.”
Gwen frowned at Merlin. “Turned into marble?”
“Are you really surprised? This is Camelot.”
“If all he needs is a kiss, then I’m sure lots of people would be willing to kiss him. I really have to -”
“A kiss from his true love of course. We have to at least try -”
Her heart sank as she looked into Merlin’s eyes. He thought she was reluctant because she wanted to keep her feelings a secret. The real reason was that she really didn’t want confirmation that she wasn’t Arthur’s true love because right now, at least she had her fantasies at night.
Kissing a marble statue was exactly what it sounded like - a cold, hard experience. Gwen did it quickly, pressing her lips briefly to his cold marble ones then pulling away. From a corner of Arthur’s room, she watched as he slowly came back to life, a mix of relief and misery in her heart. Before he could say anything, she left his room.
It was foolish to expect that he wouldn’t come by that evening, but she wished he didn’t look so pleased.
“Merlin tells me you’re my true love.” He smiled, his eyes full of affection as he passed her a single rose. “Thank you, for saving me.”
“You’re welcome.” Automatically, she took the rose then stood awkwardly as she watched as Arthur moved closer. His hand came up and cupped her cheek and panic overwhelmed her. This was such a bad idea.
Ducking, she quickly moved from him. “It’s late and I had a long day.”
Hurt crossed his face and his hand fell. “What is it? Tell me.”
“Maybe I’m your true love but that doesn’t mean you are mine.” That was nonsense and it tore at her heart to say it but it was best to end it all now before things got too deep.
“You don’t mean that. Guinevere -” Again, he stepped towards her and when she didn’t move, he cupped her cheek again. “I know I’ve never said it but I’ve never loved another.”
He was going to kiss her. She could see it in his eyes. And instead of stepping away, of telling him that this was a bad idea, she let her eyes close and her lips part. The kiss was slow, gentle, teasing. Her hands slid up his chest to his shoulders and she let him pull her closer until she wasn’t quite sure where he ended and she started.
Eventually, he pulled away and for a while, they just stared at each other. “Tell me you don’t love me,” he whispered, his breath brushing against her lips.
“I - nothing can happen between us. I’m just a servant.”
“No. You’re not just a servant. And things will change.”
“Arthur.” She stepped back although her hand was still in his. “We are fooling ourselves.”
“Do you trust me?”
She should say no, shake her head, tell him he was being ridiculous. Instead she nodded silently.
“I love you Guinevere and I promise you, we’ll be together. Just wait for me, please.” It was foolish she knew but sometimes it was good to have hope, so she nodded again, praying desperately that this was the right decision. She sank into his embrace and for the first time, he stayed the night at her house.
While Gwen was perfectly comfortable crafting a sword, plunging one into the back of a bandit who was attempting to kill Arthur from behind was a completely different thing. The feel of the blade entering flesh, the scream of the bandit and the blood all made for a very disturbing experience, one she fervently hoped she would never have to repeat.
Arm trembling, she dropped the sword and stared as the bandit writhed on the ground, blood spilling out of his wound. Arthur quickly dispatched the other bandit, then quickly finished off the one on the ground. Gwen swallowed and turned away. Realising that their little picnic date was completely ruined, Arthur wrapped his arms around her and took her back to Camelot.
After Uther’s death from an unknown disease some months ago, their relationship had suddenly exploded into public and no one batted an eyelid as the King and her entered the castle and he whisked her quickly into his room.
“Merlin. Prepare Gwen a bath.”
Merlin opened his mouth, about to make a quip when he saw Gwen’s pale face. Nodding he disappeared from the room.
“I’m fine. Really. I’ve just never really had to do something like that before. The most I’ve done is clank swords with some people.”
Arthur settled her on his bed and rubbed her back. “And I wish you never had to. You’ve saved my life again. How many times has this been already?”
Leaning into his pillows, she chuckled. “Far too many to count.”
“Hmm. Good thing that I snapped you up the moment I could then.” Arthur dropped a kiss on her head before Merlin entered again, dragging the bath behind him. Quietly, he prepared the bath, occasionally looking at Gwen with concern. Every time he did that, Gwen tried to smile. Arthur was fussing enough over her. She didn’t need Merlin doing the same.
Although the screen maintained her privacy, it was slightly awkward to bathe in the same room as Arthur. As she splashed the water on herself, she wondered what Arthur was thinking. Did he have the same thoughts of her as she did of him late at night? The thought sent shivers down her spine to her center and she quickly turned her thoughts to the list of chores she needed to complete.
Later, Arthur and her sat on the ground in front of the fire as he slowly towelled her damp hair. It had taken a while for her to be comfortable in this relationship. Now, she couldn’t imagine things being any other way. For a long time, they sat in silence watching as the fire was reduced to embers.
“Remember the very first time you saved me? In the forest?” Slowly, he shifted so he faced her. There was seriousness in his eyes and all she could do was nod. She hadn’t thought of that incident in a long time. “You know the superstition that rescuing me in the forest meant we would be bonded for life?”
She nodded again. Where was he going with this. She had an idea but was reluctant to get her hopes up.
“Let’s make it official. Marry me.” She stared at him. What did one do when the King of Camelot proposed? “I planned to ask you at the picnic but that didn’t turn out so well. Say you’ll marry me.”
“Yes.” It was a whisper but it was enough. Through the night, In front of the burning embers, they sat holding each other, basking in the novelty of being engaged.
“I remember someone saying that he wanted to spend more time with his children. You did promise to take them to the fields and they are all excited now.”
Arthur gulped as he looked at Gwydre and Anne, both staring innocently at him. “Are you sure you won’t come along?”
“No. Merlin and I have plans.” Gwen grinned as worry shone from Arthur’s eyes. Their children were really darlings but with Arthur, they could be little terrors. It didn’t help that he was a complete pushover when it came to them. “You’ll be fine. George will be with you.”
“Yeah sure,” Arthur muttered unconvinced as he swung Anne into his arms while Gwydre clung to his leg demanding to be carried as well. “I might have been slightly hasty in promising this.”
Laughing, Gwen reached up and kissed him. “Be good ok?” She said as she hugged the children before waving off her husband.
Maybe some time later, she and Merlin would go by the fields to see how Arthur was coping.