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Fic: No Turning Back, Arthur/Gwen, G

Title: No Turning Back
Author: kepp0xy
Rating/Genre: G; angst, romance
Warnings/Spoilers: All seasons, no warnings.
Words: ~2630
Summary: Thirteen ficlets chronicling Arthur's perspectives on his journey with Gwen from Ealdor until his return from fighting the Dragon.

Author's note: Written for the Arthur/Gwen thingathon. For thedreamygirl who prompted: "Happiness hit her like a train on a track /
Coming towards her stuck still no turning back / She hid around corners and she hid under beds / She killed it with kisses and from it she fled" from Dog Days Are Over by Florence + the Machine. The fic also includes lyrics from various other artists: KT Tunstall, Mumford and Sons, Sarah McLachlan, Michelle Branch, The Fray and Duffy. So many thanks to imigination for listening to my rambles and helping me keep my head on, and to robinmarian for suggesting songs. ♥ thedreamygirl, I hope you enjoy this!



there's a drumming noise inside my head, it starts when you're around

There are hands. Reaching towards him, wakening something to twist in anticipation deep within before he fully registers what's happening.

Then there is hair. Rich curls, familiar curls, curls his hands have cradled as his lips moved on hers. The curls pass his face: his eyes, nose, mouth.

Finally it's her cheek and jaw, pressed tight to his. He can feel the grime and sweat from his own skin blend with the ash and sweat on hers.

She holds him so close, and he takes a moment to close his eyes and thank everything as he pulls her closer. He takes a breath he didn't know he needed.



do you know what the future holds? over on your side of the road?

If he'd had half a second, he would have considered her sooner. Gwen - Guinevere - Morgana's mousy maidservant who found her voice in tiny Ealdor so far from home.

Instead, she brings him breakfast and a tongue lashing as reminder of the previous night. Under other circumstances, he may have laughed. But there's something deeper than mere disapproval beneath her tones.

He identifies it, moments later, with her next words.

"Because I have faith in you."

He appreciates the qualifier that follows quickly, but it's the original phrase that matters.

Faith. In him.

He hasn't ever really wanted to live to standards that weren't his father's before.



you must know life to see decay but I won't rot, I won't rot, not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot

He may be base to admit it, but it isn't really Tom that he feels for.

Not specifically, at least. The ethical complications involved in Tom's case have thrown his entire perspective askew, further calling into question that which he once knew to be true, but which is increasingly becoming...

How certain he is of the depth of Gwen's suffering pangs extra guilt and discomfort. Even had her father been guilty, Gwen deserved none of the consequence of his crime.

Arthur suspects Morgana has already ... spoken ... with his father by the time he attempts to address Guinevere's place in the future. Uther is unusually willing to provide what he requests.

When he knocks on Merlin's door, the coward in him hopes Gwen will be sleeping and that Merlin can simply deliver the message later. If he discovers her awake, he has little idea what to anticipate.

"Sire!"

It feels like insult to injury that she stands so quickly, so prepared to drop obeisances to him after what happened.

But on that he doesn't comment. He simply says his piece, and her silence might as well be yelling for all the multitudes of things he imagines clog her throat as she holds them back for propriety's sake.

But Arthur feels he may have learned something as she opens very slightly, very tentatively, when he expresses his regret.



here in this lonely place, tangled up in our embrace, there's nothing I'd like better than to fall

All he knows is burning and pain and visions of things unpleasant that make him tremble in fear as he has not done since he was very young.

He knows his father's voice. Recognises the commanding tone he knows he will always heed. And it seems even the demons in his body and his mind must obey the king of Camelot. If only for a few moments.

Then he's slipping. It's easier in the darkness, though there's something also infinitely more terrifying here. Burning fingers and grating noises don't reach him, and some of the constant, driving ache in every limb seems to dim.

A voice does find him, though. It cuts gently through the frightening haze.

It tells him things that seem to slither through his mind into something substantial that wraps warm and secure around his heart.

The voice commands him, much as his father had earlier.

For the love of Camelot, you have to live.

His father's command had been a blessing. This one is a lifeline and he holds tightly to it until liquid passes cool through his cracked lips.



and the earth will turn below you, the pressure is building and something has to give

He doesn't understand it. Gwen is always there these days. Around the corner, across the courtyard, laughing with Merlin, gossiping with Morgana, aiding a fellow servant, wandering the town...

Saving him from gargoyles sprung to life.

The fear is all over her face as she stares to the sky and yet he can only stare at her. His head throbs quite horrifically, making his eyes glaze, but somehow he can still make her out clearly. He thinks daftly that he quite likes her in purple, and that the dirt smudges on her cheeks don't detract at all.

When she lands on top of him, he has absolutely no idea how she managed to push him down. She hardly seems heavier than a child's straw doll and barely any more solid.

It's then he realises he can only tell this because his hands are on her hips, and damn but his head aches as he mutters something idiotic about it being a pleasure that she saved his life by landing on top of him.



if I had known then that these things happen, would they have happened with you? 'cause I don't wanna go, we were finding out who we are

There's an ache in his chest he doesn't really recognise. It feels, perhaps, something like failure, though he can't pinpoint exactly what he failed at.

He breaks the heavy silence of the morning. It was too pregnant with words and actions left unsaid or unexplained; moments of promise never likely - or meant - to reach fruition.

He doesn't even know exactly what he's actually feeling, let alone what he truly wants.

Guinevere smiles sadly and it resonates deeply in him. And when she steps forwards, ratty rag in hand, a wave swift and strong rolls through him from belly to heart, rumbling out through his limbs. It makes him heady - he has received nicer things, of course, but never anything so sincere.

He feels the smile on his own lips, light and happy, and he doesn't remember ever feeling this way. Not like this.

She shrugs when he thanks her, as though it's nothing. She didn't have to do anything for him, but she let him stay in her home, gave him her bed, fed him her food, and taught him lessons on the way.

She showed him her heart.

With her brief, awkward grin, he realises it's her heart that he wants.

His lips have touched hers before his mind catches up with the action.

Then there's a moment of pure clarity, pure bliss, where he is absolutely aware of how soft her lips are, how full against his own. He notices the scent of her - lavender mostly, and lingering hints of thyme from their meal the previous night.

And just when he thinks he ought to pull away, a puff of air like surrender breezes below his nostrils. The warmth and pressure from her lips intensifies as she joins him, and his heart throbs, pounds, soars.

She follows him as he leans back, follows -

Whatever air he had left vanishes. His lungs are empty. He needs breath. Breaking away, her whole body sways towards him as he moves.

He can't read her expression, isn't sure he wants to, and he can't think anything clearly. There's a mess: he needs to explain himself; he needs to kiss her again. But really this all started because -

"I must go."

He leaves her.



and now my heart stumbles on things I don't know, this weakness I feel I must finally show: lend me your hand and we'll conquer them all but lend me your heart and I'll just let you fall

Reason and shame and betrayal battle viciously in his chest and sickeningly in his stomach.

He had told Merlin he could not expect her to wait.

It seems she shared that sentiment.

That didn't alter how much it hurt that he was so quickly replaceable. Lancelot is a better man, of that, there is little doubt. But...

He has no right to her.

And after speaking so rashly by the campfire, how can he blame her for choosing other?

His head aches, something cruel gnaws at his belly, his heart is in tatters.

And after all she had been through, Guinevere rides just behind him, stiff-backed and valiantly attempting weak conversation with Merlin.

The choice must have been simple for her.

He's just so bloody thankful she's alive.



you got me begging you for mercy, why won't you release me? I said release me

Her appearance is unexpected but he appreciates the company. Guinevere brings with her a calming presence, and he could do with some serenity.

It's easy, so easy, to confide in her. In the wake of his father's disgust, bare the broken remains of his certainty and allow her to collect the pieces, let her defend his morality in this moment when ethics seem to matter little in the face of his hurt.

He doesn't expect her to take it further. Doesn't expect that she'll take some of the burden he showed her and make it her own.

She's near now, and the kingdom falls away because Gwen holds the room, no matter how he wishes she didn't.

He doesn't feel fine as she speaks with such conviction about his kind heart, but he certainly feels closer to it. So close, his mouth lifts slightly upward without his having told it to, and he takes the moment to consider her earnest expression.

He wonders if she knows she's beautiful.

Sharply, the interlude ends - a knock sounds, Gwen's head ducks and she takes a step away. Boundaries insert themselves against Arthur's will.

Verity beckons him; his father and the queen require him once more.



the light has fallen between the living and the dying and I try to hold it in

He finds her gaze as he steps down from the dais.

The look he gives is meant as unspoken recognition. Servant or lady, it no longer matters with Gwen. She has his ear as much as she reads his mind - and his heart. He tries to honour that at least.

And he hopes she understands that he defends Gaius not for her, but because of her.

But she only holds his gaze steady as he passes and he hasn't the time to consider what that may mean.

Later, he will wonder if he imagined the twitch of her lips as his eyes slid away.



struck from a great height by someone who should know better than that, she killed it with kisses and from it she fled

There is a blissful moment - a beat, in the space of time - just after an attempt to convey all longing - and love - into the pressure of his mouth on hers, when he thinks, perhaps, they will actually try... something. Talk, find a way.

Instead, pain rushes through his body like a winter downpour, and her hands rise to hold his neck, his face. Desperate to keep his attention, to focus him.

fight to the death -

The words swim in his mind, and bliss evaporates. He had seen so damn much in her eyes - she had been with him, each second, as he raised her to standing once more. Her smile, her eyes, her arms around his neck, the warmth and curve of her body pressed so tightly to his. The sudden sense of loss feels like a gaping void in the midst of the soreness he recognises easily as broken ribs.

Guinevere will never ask him to simply stay, not to fight; she shares, or at least understands, his sense of duty.

Possibility is gone, when her hands brace him, fingers touching, stroking, fighting for purchase in a way he doesn't fully grasp - because what the hell was going on, anyway?

Live for me, Arthur -

His eyes find her mouth again and he wonders if perhaps whoever he's fighting also managed to brutalise his heart because it hurts to watch her now.

- that's all I ask right now.

A reply forms clumsily on his tongue, born of the need to show her - confess - everything.

He just... He wants her.

But the bell rings, and he knows it's probably too late.



I will be your guardian when all is crumbling to steady your hand

It isn't right. Guinevere is not some doll to be left and discarded in the centre of a room. He doesn't care, for just a moment, the state of the rest of the kingdom.

If he can give her nothing else - no wakefulness, or time for proper attention and care - he will give her the resting place she deserves.



as I move my feet towards your body I can hear this beat it fills my head up and gets louder and louder

Run! Faster! Sprint! Get to her - now!

Hand on her back, push forward push forward push forward - go faster!

He feels the shift in the air as soon as the Dragon is upon them. Claws or tail or who cares, who knows, cut through his mail, but the same attack would have made ribbons of her dress.

No, ribbons of her.

It doesn't feel strange as she helps him from his armour; only natural, perhaps, she's so easily adept at removing it. It allows him the space to look at her, to make certain that the worst she suffered is bruises and scrapes.

He smiles a little; she seems almost exasperated as she settles him down and bustles away to find supplies. And he isn't surprised in the slightest, when she's sat in front of him once more, and she says, "You shouldn't have risked your life."

He looks at her. She's a mad woman, he thinks vaguely, studying the slight red on her cheeks, the disbelief in her eyes as she refuses to meet his gaze. Brave, clever, kind to a fault, and beautiful. But mad.

"I wasn't goint to let anything happen to you." It's simply fact.

Finally she looks at him, and smiles - a little delayed, but so sweetly. As she moves away, he captures her hand without knowing what he'll do with it - then thinks, what else is there to do? and holds it over his heart.

She smiles again, more accepting this time; he hopes she can feel the particular, peculiar beat of his heart, result of whenever she's near.



and there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears, and love will not break your heart but dismiss your fears, with grace in your heart and flowers in your hair

Tomorrow, he knows - because she taught him to expect it - reality will crash back.

There will be buildings to mend and homes to rebuild entirely. The death count will begin, and it will continue to rise until he thinks that none but the weeping must exist in the city. But he knows he won't see much; the strong hearts of Camelot's people, ever willing to keep going, they will share their sorrow behind closed doors.

Tomorrow, necessity will dictate that he part from her, longer than he likes, longer than he fears, for Gwen is terribly certain of all but her own worth. Especially when it comes to him. Though he thinks he may be slowly rectifying that travesty.

But tonight.

Tonight, Arthur defeated the Great Dragon, and Guinevere told him he was someone for her to lose. Which means, equally, he is someone she wants to keep.

And he will dawdle in the idea that reality and private truth will one day be the same.

Arthur takes Guinevere's hand - grimly relishes the way her palm is nearly as callused as his, definitely as dry and dirty, signs of shared burden - and they walk together into the castle.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
robinmarian
Feb. 21st, 2010 03:53 am (UTC)
there's a drumming noise inside my head, it starts when you're around

GAH! bb! Just gaaaaaaaahhhh!!


Ok, let me sing you a song first ok?

I feel it in my fingers...I feel it in my toes...that love is all around me...and so the feeling grows...it's written in the wind...it's everywhere I go...so if you really love me...come on and let it show...you know I love...I always will...my minds' made up by the way that I feel...there's no beginning...there'll be no end...coz on my love...you can depend...

*LE SIIIIIIGH*

Gosh BB. How I MISS thee fics! This was just soooo lovely, lyrical, heartbreaking, beautiful and uber romantic! I really LOVE LOVE the lyrics that went with your ficlets.

It was just sooo lovely to read this from Arthur's POV. You know kinda like Edward's Midnight Sun. HAHAHAHA


I love all the ficlets okay but bb if I may choose a TOP fave it's gotta be "if I had known then that these things happen, would they have happened with you? 'cause I don't wanna go, we were finding out who we are" - I LOVE how you describe this wonderful MOMENT in Arthur's POV!


I love how you started and ended the fic with the 2.13 "I thought I'd lost you" scene. Brava!

K, never stop writing AG ok? I know sometimes they frustrate you but bb you write them soooooo well. It's like you know them inside out. Did that make sense? haha
kepp0xy
Feb. 25th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
♥! J, your comments always make me so gleeful! And LOL tysm for the song, bb ;D! I'm so pleased that the lyrics worked for you, J. You know how much trouble I had choosing them *L* and somehow I could've guessed that the ficlet for 202 would be your fave - thank you so much for the kind words about it.

♥!!!
tielan
Feb. 21st, 2010 06:51 am (UTC)
Lovely! The shades of it, the degrees by which their relationship develops - very subtly and well-done, in-character and beautifully phrased.
kepp0xy
Feb. 25th, 2010 06:27 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm so pleased you felt it all worked :]!
mancalahour
Feb. 21st, 2010 03:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, my lady. I think this has got to be one of the most beautiful things you've written, and that's really saying something, considering I cherish every word you write. You think you have trouble with Arthur's voice? I call bullshit. You have it down to a T.

All the quiet moments and all the thoughts that go through his head -- sometimes down to the motions that accompany them, so that your reader suddenly gets a light bulb over their head and goes 'oh! That scene!'

It's perfect. And so are all the song lyrics. AFTER THE STORM IS LIKE, MY ULTIMATE A/G SONG! Did I tell you that? Well, if not, even better. It was the basis behind your purple Gwen header! And I now want to know what all the lyrics are from so I can listen to each and every song and then add it to the playlist of A/G doom.

♥ ♥ ♥

Sorry again I've been so gone lately. THIS IS A WONDROUS WORK OF ART ♥.
zar33n
Feb. 22nd, 2010 12:26 am (UTC)
Oh wow, this was such a sweet recap. I liked these little snippets of Arthur's progression to loving Gwen. It makes me wish more that she reciprocates his feelings, even a little bit, because he feels so much for them both.

Which means, equally, he is someone she wants to keep.
Quite right!! Hang on to that, Arthur m'boy. Sure do hope tvArthur came to this realization too. I love how you interpreted those last words of hers.
kepp0xy
Feb. 28th, 2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
It makes me wish more that she reciprocates his feelings, even a little bit, because he feels so much for them both.

Oh, Gwen totes reciprocates. She's just totally unable to show her feelings safely. Arthur's in the position of security; if they're found out, Arthur loses Gwen. For Gwen, if they're found out, she loses everything.

Thanks for the lovely comment ♥!
zar33n
Mar. 2nd, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
Oh, Gwen totes reciprocates. She's just totally unable to show her feelings safely. Arthur's in the position of security; if they're found out, Arthur loses Gwen. For Gwen, if they're found out, she loses everything.
TRUFAX.

I want an episode where she can just let her guard down. Also, she stays optimistic about them and their future at the end of it. None of that Sweet Dreams pessimism, Gwen! And preferably taking place after Lancey's appearance.
thedreamygirl
Feb. 22nd, 2010 01:22 am (UTC)
Ohhh my gosh, thank you so much!!! :D I saw your post just before I left for work in the morning, but I promised myself I wouldn't read it until after I had put the finishing touches on my gift for the thingathon so it could be my reward once I was completed, and oh what a lovely one it is. I really love what you did with the prompt and, oh, I have to talk about all the song lyrics first because I don't know them all, but the ones I do I love, and they all fit so well. AND OMG YOU USED MICHELLE BRANCH'S TUESDAY MORNING; DID YOU READ MY MIND OR SOMETHING? I actually listened to that song for the first time in a while a few weeks ago and it really struck me for Arthur/Gwen in 2x02, and I actually listed the song as a vid-prompt for camelot_love's 14 days of a/g with that in mind so the fact that you not only used the song, but put the two lines together that I had thought were the most A/G *and* for the bit describing the first kiss is just too perfect! Honestly, I had to pause reading when I got there and have a little squee.

Arthur's POV is quite an interesting one I think, and you've done such a wonderful job portraying these moments. The ones from episodes 1x12, 2x01, 2x02 and 2x04 are possibly my favourites because I really like how much you can feel the differing, sometimes conflicting, things Arthur's feeling, especially post-Lancelot, but it is the last line of the moment in Ealdor that really stole my heart. SIIIIGH. It is just so beautiful! Thank you again! *G* :D
imigination
Feb. 22nd, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC)
K, ftmfw!! <3
I knew I missed your fic writing, but I didn't know I'd just die of happiness when you started back at it. You are so brilliant - so brilliant - and such a talent.

You've capture the essence of Arthur perfectly. Your characterization is spot on, and I love how you delve into these little moments and find that little unspoken something within. And on top of it, your style and the lyrical quality of your story telling just draw me in and keep me. Each move, every action ... effortless. You move the thing along and you aren't afraid to linger and you aren't afraid to be brief. You've just got such a command of what you're doing here, I'm beyond impressed.

He's just so bloody thankful she's alive.

YES YES YES YES YES. Just spot on. You can move from these beautiful, beautiful pictures to husky confession and I just died at that line.

I especially loved the opening line of 210 ... and If he can give her nothing else - no wakefulness, or time for proper attention and care - he will give her the resting place she deserves. ... and the supplement to the dragon's attack, beginning with that action.

I know that I have a tendency to watch and experience each of their moments from her perspective, analyze and fill them from there because we don't get much of her explicitly in canon. But you've amplified his view just ... wonderfully.

LOL this is an incoherent review. I am sorry. But the point:

Impressive as always, K. ♥



Edited at 2010-02-22 07:46 pm (UTC)
rubberglue
Feb. 23rd, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
Aww ... this was just lovely. I have soft spot for fics from Arthur's POV (mainly so I read about how great Gwen is) and this was a brilliant one. I like how you captured his thoughts, feelings and character.
cifan70
Feb. 23rd, 2010 01:57 am (UTC)
Very nice story. I loved it.
mag2425
Feb. 23rd, 2010 03:28 am (UTC)
WOW!!! This is just to beautiful. I loved reading from Arthur's POV. And you captured his feelings for Gwen so wonderfully!! Amazing job!!
genstarwen92
Feb. 23rd, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
Just.So.Beautiful...I can't even.....GUH and you used parts of 'After the Storm' double GUH.
manzanas_verdes
Feb. 23rd, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
I absolutely adore the flow of this, the progressiveness of his emotions and
how he realizes what's going on with him, and then with her. It's all just so many kinds of wonderful!

::mems::
neptune47
Feb. 24th, 2010 01:05 pm (UTC)
omg. OMG. OH MY GOD. This is...WOW.

I adore Arthur introspection like a mad women, and these is even better because you've written it for scenes in which I really wanted to know what was going through his head. Plus, your prose is just amazing. It totally drew me in, and, more importantly, helped bridge Arthur's emotional arcs through out the episodes.

Okay, there are so many lines I love, that if I named them all I'd just end up pasting the whole fic in here. But here are a few snippets.

There's a mess: he needs to explain himself; he needs to kiss her again.

I especially loved your explanation of what Arthur was thinking here. I've really wanted some insight into what all the motivations were here, and you might as well be canon for me, so I was ecstatic to read your take on it.

Guinevere told him he was someone for her to lose. Which means, equally, he is someone she wants to keep.

YES YES YES TO THIS. I practically kissed my monitor when I read this line. It was so brilliant.

Okay, that's enough squeeing outta me. Thanks for writing, as always.
devvieish
Feb. 24th, 2010 04:54 pm (UTC)
Lovely :). I really like how you got some of the smaller moments here too - after Tom's death, It feels like insult to injury that she stands so quickly, so prepared to drop obeisances to him after what happened, during Beauty and the Beast, after the Dragon. grimly relishes the way her palm is nearly as callused as his, yes, that's my Gwen <3.
felix_aeternus
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:54 pm (UTC)
K, DUDE. I hope you know how BRILLIANT you really are, because I'm running out of words to tell you. =O

I *ADORE* Arthur's perspective of all those scenes, and I'll TRY not to quote the entire thing...but:

"He hasn't ever really wanted to live to standards that weren't his father's before."

"He doesn't understand it. Gwen is always there these days."

"He looks at her. She's a mad woman, he thinks vaguely, studying the slight red on her cheeks, the disbelief in her eyes as she refuses to meet his gaze. Brave, clever, kind to a fault, and beautiful. But mad."


so true, so hilarious, and so so so very Arthur! xD

and...and this *entire* thing:

It's easy, so easy, to confide in her....

He doesn't expect her to take it further. Doesn't expect that she'll take some of the burden he showed her and make it her own....

He wonders if she knows she's beautiful.


*DIES* THAT, and his recognition of how equal they both are, by the end!!!! THIS is the A/G that I love!!! <3<3<3

*flails* =D
felix_aeternus
Feb. 24th, 2010 05:56 pm (UTC)
uhm...
I'm a bit slow, but...

If he can give her nothing else - no wakefulness, or time for proper attention and care - he will give her the resting place she deserves.

...I read it like ten times and I'm still not sure I know which part/episode it's related to... o.O
(Anonymous)
May. 18th, 2010 05:51 am (UTC)
Re: uhm...
at first i was confused about what part it was too, but it finally clicked. It is from 2x13 where Arthur finds her in the floor unconscious and gently picks her up and puts her on the bed.

WOW! Just wow I have no words I have these big huge A/G butterflies swimming in me and they are just squeeing and fluttering away. Gosh I still cant quit smiling that was just wow
circular_8
Mar. 2nd, 2010 10:07 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. It really shows his growing feelings for her by just illuminating the scenes from the show. Arthur's characters feels spot on. This fic really expresses beautifully what I love about the pairing.

My favorite parts:

He appreciates the qualifier that follows quickly, but it's the original phrase that matters.
Faith. In him.
He hasn't ever really wanted to live to standards that weren't his father's before.

That didn't alter how much it
hurt that he was so quickly replaceable. Lancelot is a better man, of that, there is little doubt. But...
He has no right to her.

He's just so bloody thankful she's alive.

And he hopes she understands that he defends Gaius not
for her, but because of her.

Seriously, THIS.

It seems to be that's it's very easy to say "she makes him a better person", but I think that's it's that simple. I think you express it really well here.

I also love the scene from 202. I won't quote the whole thing here, but that must have been what was going on inside his head during that scene.

All in all, loved the fic. Thanks for sharing.
jen2976
Jun. 15th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
Wonderful fic! :) I've always loved his expression after the first kiss, of being stunned that he kissed her, and you put the perfect words to share what he was thinking then.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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