Characters/Pairings: Arthur/Gwen, Merlin, Gaius, Uther, Random Camelot Noblewoman # 3190, mentions of Morgana
Genre/Rating: G. Angst, romance, comedy, drama
Spoilers/Warnings: Allusions to events from 2x10, 2x12 and 2x13
Summary: 22 snatches of conversation starting at the end of series 2.
A/N: I'm very intrigued by the open endedness of the series 2 finale in terms of what may be coming for Arthur and Gwen, and so this is my first attempt at playing with a possible scenario. The style is somewhat experimental - mostly dialogue, with as little narrative as possible. For all that it may be a somewhat strange style, I hope you enjoy it ♥
Now with absolutely stunning fanart by felix_aeternus. ♥!!!
originally posted here, and
originally posted here.
"Are you sure about this?"
"Absolutely sure? It will mean waiting, and, and probably secrecy, given..." He clears his throat. "Our previous inclinations."
She smiles, very slightly. "I know, Arthur... I can't lose another - I just - I won't lose you."
He waits for her to look at him. "All right."
"Arthur? I didn't have time to do the gauntlets, but the rest of it is - Ah! God! Sorry -
"It's fine, Merlin."
"It bloody isn't. Get out!"
But Merlin's hands go to his hips, armour clattering to the floor, and his frown would do Gaius proud. "Look, I know it's hard keeping this secret, but you're practically begging someone to discover you when you do that in here."
"I know. It was - It was an accident -
"That was no accident."
The pause is brief and awkward as Arthur's hands drop and Gwen carefully retucks her hair.
"We'll be more careful."
"We'll remember to lock the door."
Merlin only narrows his eyes.
"Thank you for inviting me, Gaius."
"It's our pleasure, Gwen. I know Merlin isn't much of a cook -
"But I always find the entertainment of watching him try well worth it."
"The food... wasn't terrible -
She smiles apologetically. "But the company was wonderful."
"Gwen, before you go -
"I have been meaning to ask you this for some time."
"What is it, Gaius?"
Gaius gathers his thoughts; Merlin stands stiff and staring into the fire. "How is Arthur?"
"He's fine. I mean, good. That is, when I see him, he appears quite healthy -
She swallows. Then meets his gaze through her embarrassed flush with a hesitant smile. "You needn't worry about me. He's... Arthur is every bit the prince."
"I'm glad to hear it. But Gwen, if ever you need anything, know that you can come to me."
"Thank you, Gaius. I'll remember that."
"I don't want you to be a secret."
She blinks. Their conversation had been political, not personal. "Pardon?"
"I said, I don't want you to be a secret."
"I... When we first agreed to this, you said -
"I know what I said. And I want to take it back, or change it, or... You shouldn't have to sneak. This isn't who we are."
"Will you stand by me, Gwen?"
The pause is long. She bites her lip.
"Let me tell you tomorrow."
"Gwen. I didn't expect you."
"I seek your advice, Gaius. You said I could come to you, if... If I needed anything."
"I did." At her silence, Gaius leans forward. "Arthur hasn't asked of you anything you are unwilling to give?"
"Well, in a manner of speaking..." At Gaius' scowl, Gwen gasps, then blushes. "Oh, heavens no! Not that. He hasn't ever - I mean, he wouldn't ever - That's just, that isn't - No."
"... What is it, then?"
Her fingers knot in her dress. "What do you believe, that is, if the king were to find out - about Arthur and I - how do you believe he would react?"
"That is what Arthur wants to do?"
"Then he must believe there is a chance. Arthur does not act rashly in things he brings before his father."
"I know that. And I trust Arthur. But... Sometimes, when it comes to me, he doesn't always think clearly."
"He can see only the brightest of futures, and grows impatient for it."
"We both do."
"Hm." He draws a deep breath, then offers a sympathetic smile. "In this, Guinevere, you must listen to your heart. If the time is right, you'll know it."
"That's hardly the answer I expected. I asked how you were, Guinevere, not -
"I meant, about revealing ourselves. It's my answer. To the question you asked last week."
"... I had begun to give up hope. You asked for a day -
"I know... I needed more time. But my answer is yes."
"Yes ... We need to prepare, obviously, but I think the time will soon be right. And so... We need to be ready."
It seems an eternity that Arthur merely watches her. Then -
A kiss. "Arthur!" And another. "We promised -" And again. "Merlin that we wouldn't -" A series of fast kisses. "The door isn't even -
Her protests are silenced by a very long, very thorough, very deliberate kiss.
"Gwen? Guinevere... Guin-e-veeerrrre..."
"Sorry! I was leagues away."
"I could see that." His tone is gentle, his fingers lacing securely through hers. "What were you thinking about?"
She doesn't meet his eye.
"Guinevere... You can tell me."
"... Just thinking that... I really wish Morgana was here." A pause. "I'm sorry."
"There's no reason to be -
"And it hasn't got anything to do with you, or how I feel around you, or anything like that. You mustn't think I don't appreciate... Because I do. I do appreciate, both you and Merlin, what you've done for me since... Since she... And this -" She raises their linked hands. "I much more than merely appreciate this."
"But I'm not Morgana."
"No... And I ... I think that she would want to help. She would help us. Don't you think?"
"She would be our ally."
Gwen glances at him, then stares resolutely at the wall across from them. "I'm sorry. I don't normally -
"I miss her, too."
"I believe tomorrow may be the right time."
"The right time for what?"
"For approaching my father."
A fork slips from her fingers. "Tomorrow?"
"... What do you think? Are you ready?"
"I... No. I mean, there's no more we can do, really, though, is there?"
"Nothing except this."
"But if you want more time -
"It will only become worse the longer we wait, won't it?"
"Probably. But nothing will happen immediately. I have to let him know that there's something I want to discuss."
"Yes, of course."
"... Guinevere. I'm not going to speak with my father unless you're ready."
"He won't be easy -
"I know that, too."
"Both of our lives will probably change dramatically -
"Arthur. We've discussed this many times. I know."
"Okay ... So..."
"Yes. All right. Tomorrow."
"Father, when you have a few minutes, I would like to speak with you."
"Court should be quiet tomorrow, you can speak to me then."
"I would rather this matter be dealt with... away from the court."
Uther watches Arthur for a long time. "I see."
"I will await your summons, my lord."
"I will make time in the afternoon."
"Thank you, father."
"It will be in the afternoon."
"All right. I'm..." She takes a deep breath. "I'll be waiting for you."
He presses a kiss to the inside of her wrist, then holds her hand over his heart.
"Merlin? I was wondering if I could stay with you for a while."
"Of course! ... Are you all right? You look as though you've seen an apparition."
"Arthur is with the king."
Merlin's brows drop in confusion. "Oh."
"He's telling Uther about us."
"Oh! ... I would offer you tea, but we've run out. All we have is water and a drop of ale from the -
"I wouldn't mind the ale."
Merlin almost chuckles but for the fact he thinks he could do with some himself.
"Arthur, I have little interest in hearing about your dalliances..."
"This is no dalliance, father... I don't claim to know everything about love, but what I feel when I am with Guinevere... There is no other explanation."
"This will pass, just as your others have. As with Sophia and Vivian. Though I will admit that you are handling this infatuation with far more finesse."
Arthur shakes his head. "This is nothing like the... feelings... I had for Sophia or - Vivian. I did not simply wake up one morning and desire Guinevere. We have spent months -
"... Yes, sire." Arthur holds Uther's frown. "And the decision to come to you was not made in haste or by any means lightly. We both... Wish to end the secrecy, and show what we have for anyone to see."
"... With Morgana's former maidservant?"
"I had no idea she was so motivated by power."
"You may feel that this is love, but it's clear to me that this... Guinevere fancies herself on the throne. Don't feel ashamed, Arthur. Brighter and bolder men than you have been brought down for the lust of a woman."
"Guinevere would never -
"No? And yet she willingly agreed for you to come and speak with me?"
"I instigated this. Guinevere took days to finally agree. And - I truly believe that Guinevere would be a better queen than any woman I've ever met."
"Do not make that claim so rashly, Arthur."
"It isn't rash! Her views on leadership and her affection for the people align with and better my own -
"Enough. The answer is no."
"But father -
"No, Arthur. Your infatuation will pass eventually and you'll be glad of this."
"Perhaps he's right."
"This is not infatuation!"
Her smile is fond at his outrage. "That isn't what I meant. Perhaps we ought to simply wait. To be wed, I mean."
"It's just that your father knows now, so we no longer have to be secret, and we can carry on as we have been - only, in public - until... Until the kingdom is yours."
He winces. "Gwen, it isn't enough that my father knows -
"I have little care for his blessing, Arthur." She swallows and watches him from beneath her lashes. "It's just... I am loyal to you. I see hope for Camelot under you. Uther is only..." She licks her lips and looks away.
"I... understand that. But without his blessing, the problems we will face in the court -
"I know better than you the problems we would face in the court, Arthur Pendragon. I spent years waiting on Morgana at luncheons or afternoon teas, when she had been forced to no longer neglect the other ladies of nobility. Their gossip and speculation... How they would slight Morgana in nasty, subtle ways directly to her face. Do not presume that because I was a servant -
"This isn't about you being a servant."
"Isn't it? You would wait for your father to approve of me? That day will never come, Arthur."
"I don't require his approval! But his aid, Guinevere - the help he can give us is beyond compare within Camelot."
"You underestimate your people."
"I have not underestimated the people of Camelot since we began this."
The quiet is only stirred by their angry breathing.
"We decided to go to your father because you said you didn't want me to be a secret. And... I don't want to be a secret any more. I'm tired of keeping you a secret. I would speak of you proudly without fear of discovery... Some days, I feel so heavy, Arthur."
"... Guinevere -
"I think, perhaps, it would be good for us to spend a few days apart."
"To think things over? For both our sakes."
"I don't want to do -
"Good night, my lord."
"Arthur... is in the worst mood I have ever seen him in."
"It's little surprise seeing as how late you were to his chambers this morning, Merlin."
A huff. "It was your ferret cage which just had to be cleaned -
"Do not blame this on me. I told you of the cage at least a week ago."
"... All right. But I bet it isn't only Arthur."
"It isn't. I saw Gwen in the lower town this morning."
"In so far as Guinevere can get overtly furious, yes."
"I'll help you with that."
The basket of bread vanishes from her hold.
"That isn't necessary."
His hand wraps around hers, fingers lacing purposefully.
"What are you doing?"
"I came to a realisation last night."
"You've been right most of the time in the past... I suspect you're very likely correct in this as well."
"I can hardly blame you, Gwen."
"... For what, my lady?"
"Arthur, of course. He is an exceedingly handsome man, and they say the finest prince in Albion. It's unfortunate for the rest of us that you have caught his eye... And a little baffling, if I may be so bold. But I suppose that's the way of things, isn't it?"
Lady Margaret's sigh is longsuffering and Gwen only just prevents herself from stabbing her needle into the lady's thigh.
"And you've played everything so neatly, the two of you. Avoided an absolute scandal by having you work as the royal seamstress, and ensuring that you behave in only the utmost decent ways around one another when in the company of any possible witnesses... Very cunning, all your plans."
"We planned very little of this, my lady."
"Oh, come, Gwen. You can tell me."
"There's nothing to tell, I'm afraid. We behave exactly as we are."
"I long for the days when you were a mere maidservant, Gwen. I could have ordered you to tell all then."
"... Indeed, my lady. Tell me, Geoffrey's cakes must be delicious. I can see the results of them just here."
She gently taps lady Margaret's hip on her way to her thread basket.
"It is shameful, Arthur!"
"I see no shame in openly treating Guinevere as I feel fit to."
"There are tales of the two of you behaving in ways better suited to the lowest cast of our serving staff!"
"Those tales are false. Guinevere is nothing but noble -
"She is not!"
"- in her behaviour, and I swore to preserve her honour."
"Arthur, I warn you. If you persist in this behaviour, I will -
"What, father? There are lines even you will not cross, and Guinevere has never done any harm."
There are times when Uther sees exactly the king his son will be, how different Arthur will be to him.
Arthur leaves the throne room without another word. Uther is left speechless.
"I expect you orchestrated this. You and Arthur."
"You are mistaken, sire."
Her hands don't shake as she changes the king's bandage. Even as another tremble rumbles through the throne room floor, and the screams filtering in from the town set her hair on end.
"The way Arthur thrust you in here -
"I believe he sought to protect me."
He doesn't speak again until the wound is tended to, and she is tidying her supplies.
"How did the affection arise between my son and you?"
"I can't tell you, sire. I don't exactly... know."
"Do you think yourself worthy of him? Of a crown and a throne?"
She stills, then moves slowly - deliberately - ensuring her back remains towards her sovereign.
"That choice is not mine."
"But if it were."
"I cannot speak to worth, but... I would serve Camelot's people with the whole of my being... And ... I would continue to love Arthur as I do now. That is... Unfailingly, with my whole heart."
He scoffs, and she finally turns, her back straight and chin raised.
"Only a servant and a child would speak as naively as you do."
"Leaders should serve the populace who trusts them, not reign absolute and purposefully blind in their power."
"You do not know what it takes to rule!"
"I know exactly what it takes to serve, and I know exactly what it is to be ruled."
He stares hard at her. Her fingers twitch as they hang at her sides.
He may go first to his father as decorum demands.
But he leaves with her.
"Those look... nice."
"You wouldn't know a beautiful flower if you walked through a field of them!"
"That may be true, but it isn't cause to laugh at me."
"Apologies, my lord, I didn't mean to offend. It's just...
"Well. Merlin said you bought these for me."
"Drop your eyebrow and your smirk, Guinevere. I would pick them myself if I had the time. I would drag Merlin on a quest across Albion to find you the best ones if I could."
"What if the mission brought you to a beast's cavern?"
"All the better. A good fight would ease the boredom of flower picking."
He basks in her laughter and enjoys the weight of her hips in his hands as he presses a chaste and fleeting kiss to the curve of her jaw.
"I require your assistance in this negotiation, Arthur! What will it take for me to have your help willingly?"
Too late, Uther realises he has offered too much. Arthur recognises opportunity when he is presented with it.
"I don't agree with your demands, father. Mercia has little enough supplies as it is without our asking more of them. Particularly when they beg of us something as necessary to their people's survival as grain."
"With Olaf's signature, the treaty will be complete -
"And, as you said, Olaf will not sign unless he hears that both Pendragons agree with the accord. ... I do not agree. But I will lend you my support if you grant me Guinevere's hand in marriage."
"You would have me grant this over an emergency trade agreement?"
"No, I would have your blessing given freely and enthusiastically. But I have learned that I won't receive such beneficence from you ... One day I will marry Guinevere, but if I can hasten that eventuality through these means, then I will."
"We're finished here, Arthur."
"We aren't. But I will await your summons, sire."
"I didn't expect to see you today."
"No, I didn't think I would have time. But I have something important to ask you."
"Oh? What is it?"
"How busy do you expect to be over the next six months?"
"I don't know, exactly. There's a small delegation arriving mid-March that I expect will have all the ladies demanding new dresses, but other than that... Why do you ask?"
"There is to be a wedding sometime in the summer."
"Oh." She sighs disparagingly. "I've never sewn a wedding dress before. I expect it will be nearly impossible without a small army to help."
"I don't think that will be a problem."
"No? Whose wedding is it?"
A/N2: As always, comments are love and concrit is appreciated <3