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Fic: Fruit for Thought, Gwen/Arthur, 14A

Title: Fruit for Thought
Rating: 14A
Characters/Pairing: Gwen/Arthur
Warning: None
Summary: The four times strawberries brought Arthur and Guinevere closer.

Author's Notes: written for the Gwen Battle Winter 2009" prompt: Strawberries & Cream hosted by thefuturequeen. Afraid I took rather more license with the "strawberries" part of the prompt but cream does show up near the end! Title assistance to tater_mae & subheadings provided by the musical stylings of Bitter:Sweet.



i. the lazy days of summer

"If not Merlin, is there someone else you find interest in then?" Arthur asked, slightly amused smile still on his lips.

Gwen felt like the world went silent at his question; she had no idea how they'd reached this point. One moment he had been picking strawberries, next they were trying to catch up with Morgana and Merlin ahead of them and he was asking questions about her lovelife. She looked over her shoulder towards the castle, trying to hide her suddenly pink cheeks.

"There is!" Arthur said beside her, a strange thread of glee running through his voice. Gwen felt her cheeks go hotter and tried to still her heart, trying to ignore that these moments of easy teasing were arising more and more often between them.

Gwen turned back to him and shook her head. "No, there isn't," she attempted to sound convincing, but she'd never been the best liar.

"Yes there is!" Gwen raised a brow at his tones which were far more excited than the situation warranted. "Come, Gwen. Tell me who it is."

"I can't, because there isn't anyone."

"Guinevere. The blush on your cheeks almost matches the red of this strawberry." He brandished a fruit at her.

"That's just sunburn."

Arthur laughed at that excuse. "Why won't you tell me?"

Gwen raised her chin and looked away from him again. "Why do you care?"

"Because you are an important member of the castle staff, Guinevere," he responded impressively. "We can't have you running off with someone who doesn't deserve you." Gwen rolled her eyes at him, swallowing thickly against her pounding heart.

"I think I'd like a strawberry now," she said primly, trying to sound as though they hadn't just been discussing her lovelife. Gwen was now thankful he had insisted they pause to pick the late blooming strawberries; they supplied the perfect excuse to end this topic of conversation. "If I could, my lord," she added hastily when she remembered who she was walking with.

Arthur looked for a moment like he was going to say no, but instead just smiled - a bit smug - and passed her one. "I think they're the best I've ever had," he said, watching her bite into it. "And I was wrong earlier."

Gwen looked at him, eyebrow raised, while she chewed. The strawberry was actually quite good, and though she wouldn't have said it was the best she'd ever had, she wished now that she had picked some herself.

"I should not have made a comparison. The dusty pink on your cheeks is far lovelier than the red of the strawberry," he said softly. He held her startled gaze for a moment before looking back towards Morgana and Merlin, who had now stopped to wait for them to catch up. "Finally noticed you two were alone, did you?" he called in mock indignation.

"Yes, it did take a while to realize that the afternoon seemed more pleasant," Merlin retorted. Then he looked at Gwen with his warm smile. "Excepting your presence, of course, Gwen."

Gwen swallowed thickly after popping the remainder of the fruit into her mouth and tipped Merlin a small smile.



ii. what's the fun in playing it safe?

"I've got something for you," Gwen said as she entered the study Arthur was in. He looked up at her, appearing somewhat frazzled.

"How did you find me here? Only a couple of people knew... Of course. Merlin." Arthur sighed and leaned back in his chair, watching as she came towards him. He frowned apologetically. "I'm sorry Guinevere, I don't have much time..."

"Don't worry," she said with a smile. "I've got to get back to Morgana in any case." She stopped beside him and hesitated briefly before ruffling her fingers through his hair. "I know you're busy."

He closed his eyes at her caress and then leaned over the treaty again as her fingers slid from his head. "What is it you said you had for me?"

She removed the napkin that covered the basket she carried. "Do you remember last summer when we walked the fields just outside the castle walls? We came across strawberries."

Arthur looked up at her again, a small smile tugging his lips and Gwen returned it warmly. "The first time I tried to indicate my interest," he said quietly.

She laughed. "Yes, and I was besotted." His fingers reached up to brush her cheek and she turned her face to kiss him shyly on the palm before ducking away from his touch. "I found the strawberries again, and thought to bring the summer to you since you were locked in here." She took a strawberry from the basket and held it out for him to take. Gwen looked out the small window set high into the wall behind Arthur's desk as she continued, "it really is a shame you're locked in here all day, you should try to--

She gasped as Arthur's lips skimmed over her fingers after he'd taken a bite from the strawberry she held out to him. There was a bit of an uncertain invitation in his eyes as he met her gaze. "Just as good as I remember," he said softly, swallowing.

Gwen ducked her head and willed her pounding heart to calm itself as she deposited the basket on his desk. "Are they?" she murmured breathlessly and then realized she still held the remains of the half eaten strawberry. Gwen eyed the fruit, and hesitated before pressing it to his lips, the juice staining them a very slight red. Arthur ate it willingly, careful not to allow his mouth to touch her fingers again.

When he swallowed, Gwen put a hand on his shoulder and felt his surprised twitch as she bent to touch a soft, lingering kiss on his lips.

As she pulled away, she licked her lips clean of the strawberry juice. "Those strawberries are very good," she said to him, and silently congratulated herself on not sounding as shaky as she felt. She smiled at him as he raised a thumb to brush his lower lip and curtsied herself from the room.

Her smile grew at the wistful sigh he released behind her.



iii. i've tasted your bittersweet faith

Arthur took a fruit from the bowl set beside his bed and drew the tip down the profile of Gwen's face. When he reached her lips, he traced their contours before she opened her eyes and leaned up to nibble at the strawberry.

"Oh these are delicious," she mumbled after swallowing. She took another small bite and mmm-ed her approval. "Where were they picked?"

"Where else?" he asked teasingly, popping the remainder of the strawberry into his mouth and chewing in satisfaction. "There's only one place in the entire kingdom that they grow this tastily."

Arthur took another from the basket and bit in, causing some juice to run down his chin. He paused, hand halfway to his face and raised his eyes when Gwen's finger got to the spot first. The pad of her forefinger slid up the wet trail and then to her mouth, where her tongue darted out, licking the spot clean.

Arthur's heart thudded noisily in his chest and warmth rumbled through his body as he watched her; the motion was so obviously unplanned, a natural response that spoke more to their intimacy than their earlier lovemaking. Arthur had had lovers before Guinevere, but never had a woman ever touched him in a way not meant to induce a reaction from him, had never paid attention to him solely because she wanted to and not because she was awaiting reciprocation.

No woman had ever simply loved him. And he had never simply loved a woman in return. Until Guinevere.

Gwen looked at her now clean finger thoughtfully before raising her eyes to his. "Could you pass me another?" she asked, propping herself up to peer over his shoulder at the bowl. Her expression was so innocent and oblivious to his thoughts that he almost took her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers, intent on kissing her fiercely until she knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling. He wanted to show her that he would never let her go. She was his.

Instead, he took a deep breath. Then Arthur silently retrieved another strawberry and fed it to her slowly.



iv. i won't begin to understand how this happened

One of the little girls screeched and ran to Gwen's other side, a little boy chasing her. Gwen watched, suppressing a smile as the boy finally caught the girl, encircling her in his arms and pressing a wet kiss to her neck as the girl screeched in delight and giggled breathlessly when he let her go.

Gwen felt a tug on her dress and turned her head to look. A very small boy, probably around four years old, was staring up at her with big, round eyes. "My lady?" he asked, the slight slur of a child just learning to speak properly still clinging to his words.

She spread the ruffles of her dress beside her as she bent to be at eye level with him. "Yes? You're the son of Deidric, right?"

The boy sucked his bottom lip and nodded, his toe digging shyly in the floor as he stared at her.

Gwen smiled kindly, tilting her head and reaching out a hand to lightly touch his shoulder. "Is there something you wanted to ask me?"

The boy nodded, still sucking hard at his lip. Gwen had done this trip for six years now; Margaret had told her that the children in the village would look forward to it, their parents coaching them in proper behaviour around their monarch for months beforehand. Merlin had laughed in delight when she'd told him of these rumours saying, "you must be the most beloved Queen Camelot has ever had." And all because she liked to pick her own strawberries.

"Go on, you can ask anything you want, I don't mind." She raised her eyes briefly towards the castle and saw Arthur a few strides from her. She smiled at him; it was a blessed thing that after so long the sight of him still caused warmth to flow through her.

"Well," the boy said slowly, now staring at the ground beneath her feet. "I was jus' wondering if my lady thought I could be a Knight one day."

"Do you know the first law of Camelot?" Arthur said from behind the boy, who gasped and spun so quickly he lost his footing and tumbled backwards into Gwen, who helped him stand again.

He only fell to his knees immediately and bowed his head. Gwen rose to her feet and frowned slightly at Arthur for having scared the boy so; Arthur only flashed her a smirk.

"Y-y-yes, your majesty."

"Recite it, then."

Gwen crossed her arms over her chest and deepened her frown. The children had stopped their playing at his arrival and had begun to crowd around them, tending to Gwen's back, their eyes darting between the two monarchs and the little boy.

"I-I..." the boy took a big breath and swallowed heavily. "Any man may become a Knight of the Round Table with proper training, due digilence and by swearing feel-tea to the King." As he spoke, Gwen felt the children around her hold their breaths collectively, and stare in fear at Arthur.

Arthur looked down at the boy for a few moments before he dropped to one knee, still too tall to be at eye level with the child. "Stand, young man," he said gently. "What is your name?"

"Matthew, son of Deidric," Matthew stuttered out, staring resolutely at Arthur's toe.

"Head Chef of the castle?"

"Yes, Sire."

"Your father makes fine food," Arthur told Matthew, gratitude in his tones that raised Matthew's eyes for only a moment before he resumed his study of the dirt.

Gwen watched Arthur as he made a grand show of evaluating Matthew. She fought back a smile when Arthur's eyes flashed to hers, rolling her eyes instead. She knew what he would do, but she would not show any approval for his earlier behaviour. Arthur saw through her though, as his self-satisfied smile grew wide before turning back into that of a benign leader as he looked to Matthew again.

"I think his son will make a fine Knight once he is old enough to train," Arthur said finally.

Matthew's eyes rose to his, wide with shock and then wet with tears as the words of his King sunk in. Matthew stared at Arthur slackjawed for a moment before showing surprising self awareness for so young a child by bowing deeply and mumbling, "Sire." The little boy looked up at Arthur once more in awe and glanced back at Gwen, who smiled at him in encouragement, before he dashed off towards the city.

The rest of the children soon followed, throwing awed looks back at the King as they made their way.

"That was unnecessary, you know," Gwen told Arthur after the children had all gone, picking up the basket where she'd left it and walking to the bush. "You could have just let me answer, or given him a simple yes."

She sighed as his arms slid around her waist and his chin came to rest on her shoulder. "Now he actually believes me," Arthur said before kissing her neck.

Gwen laughed suddenly, turning in his arms to face him. Arthur raised a brow at her and she lifted a hand, holding his face between her thumb and forefinger as she studied his familiar features. "You are no better than the little boys helping me this afternoon," she whispered, remembering the boy who chased the girl and did almost exactly as Arthur had just done.

"I've always known that, I'm shocked I've kept you fooled this long."

"Not fooled," Gwen corrected, placing a kiss on his nose. "Just accepted."

Arthur smiled before capturing her lips, kissing her with such fervor that Gwen found herself leaning backwards and she threaded her fingers in his hair for balance.

They pulled apart, both panting slightly, Arthur's fingers kneeding her lower back as her fingers stroked down the thick hair at his nape. Her blooded raced hotly through her veins and she took a deep breath before saying quietly, "do you know, I think I've got enough strawberries."

"Thank everything," Arthur said fervently before breaking away from her suddenly. "Tradition demands I pick a few myself, though." And his nimble fingers were to the bush, picking quickly and without care, tossing the strawberries into the basket that Gwen brought over to him.

After a few moments, he took her hand in his and they made a quick way back to the castle. "Did I mention," he said suddenly as he opened the main door for her to pass through. "That Deidric told me he has a small supply of cream for us today?"

Gwen looked over her shoulder at him, smile spreading her lips quickly. Arthur's face turned impish, and he lead the way to the kitchens.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
nusseis
Jan. 27th, 2009 11:20 pm (UTC)
I think the first one might be my favourite. I'm a little too obsessed with Arthur teasing Gwen.
kepp0xy
Jan. 28th, 2009 11:27 pm (UTC)
there's absolutely nothing wrong with being obsessed with that! thanks for reading ♥
(Deleted comment)
kepp0xy
Jan. 28th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I think what I love most about Arthur and Gwen is that in this re-telling, their romance will be a fairly healthy and beautiful one. They'll look after each other and help each other grow.

Your A/G fics own me.

you don't know how squeeful this makes me. Thanks so much ♥
la_esmeralda_
Jan. 28th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC)
Aww. I love the way their relationship develops with time - especially the casual/intense intimacy of the third part...
kepp0xy
Jan. 28th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
thank you! I think what makes Arthur and Gwen's romance beautiful is that it takes time to develop; it definitely won't be a spontaneous, rash thing.

I think the third part may be my favourite, so thanks again :]
la_esmeralda_
Jan. 29th, 2009 02:03 am (UTC)
That's what I love about their relationship - the fact that it's a slow, gradual thing, and that they get to know another first. It gives it a much more solid base for the future...

Btw, hope you don't mind if I friend you! I've been loving your Arthur/Gwen fics!
kepp0xy
Jan. 29th, 2009 07:43 am (UTC)
Yes! The slow burn means that we'll simultaneously fall in love with the thought of them as they fall in love with each other. And, in the case of this Arthur/Gwen, we'll believe they're worthy of each other as well.

Not at all, that's a high compliment! I will friend you right back :]
tigger_01
Jan. 29th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
They were all gorgeous - especially when they all came together like that. I love the fact that with Guinevere, Arthur can show a... sensitive side, a compassionate and loving and kind side (okay, okay, i'll stop), that he seems to think is too risky to show anyone else. :)
kepp0xy
Jan. 29th, 2009 07:42 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yeah, she acts as a safe harbour for him of sorts; he can be honest with her because she'll be honest with him. And because she's all sweetness and warmth when it comes down to it, and no one's like that with Arthur. I could go on and on about the two of them, but I'll spare you XP!
blacksquirrel
Jan. 31st, 2009 05:59 am (UTC)
yum! Very Nicely done :)
kepp0xy
Jan. 31st, 2009 10:04 am (UTC)
thank you! and i love your icon ;D!
albion1919
Feb. 16th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
Aww bless, that was lovely! Like others have said I love that their relationship does take time to grow and you know it means the world to both (especially as it can’t have been easy to actually reach that point)

I also want strawberries now :P
kepp0xy
Feb. 16th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
Agreed. I think that's what makes Gwen/Arthur so appealing to me: they will both treat it as so precious because they had to work so hard to get it.

haha! an unintended but hopefully pleasant side effect ;D!
fireblazie
Oct. 10th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, I love how you showed us four glances from four different points in their relationship. You can see that by the end of it, they've really gone through so much to get there.

I'll never look at a strawberry the same way again XD
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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