Part 6: link
“Merlin,” Gaius fixes him in his squinty stare, eyebrow cocked.
“Gaius,” Merlin جوابات casually.
“That was a sneaky trick, changing the bracelet’s appearance like that,” he scolds.
“What? I thought it was a nice touch,” he says, standing. It is nearing lunch and he needs to bring Arthur and Gwen their meal, which they’ve requested to have in the royal chambers. They’d been sequestered in there since Elyan left with the bracelet.
“Well, what if they’d seen you?” Gaius asks, raising his voice slightly.
“They weren’t looking at me at all, Gaius. آپ know I wouldn’t have done it if there was a chance of discovery. I’m not completely stupid.”
He sighs. “I know you’re not, Merlin.” He places a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “I guess I just wished you’d told me. I just about dropped my teeth when I saw what you’d done to it!” The old man softens, allowing himself a chuckle finally.
“It was a last-minute decision, sorry,” Merlin says just before he whisks himself out of the room.
Merlin knocks on the door again.
“Come,” Arthur’s voice bids him enter. He opens the door, lifts the tray and enters the room.
Arthur and Gwen are sitting close together, facing each other, over on the bed, talking quietly, holding hands. Merlin clears his throat.
“Lunch, your majesties.”
“Thank you, Merlin,” Gwen calls to him, and stands. Arthur follows.
They both look exceptionally tired, especially Arthur. He looks a bit pale, overwrought. He is still struggling with his guilt,
“You all right, Arthur?” he ventures.
“No, Merlin, I’m not. Obviously,” he snaps at his friend. Gwen puts her hand on his shoulder, stilling him.
“Sorry, Merlin. I’m just…”
“I know, Arthur, we all feel terrible,” he says, giving Guinevere a small smile, which she returns.
“Thank you, Merlin,” she tells him. She takes Arthur’s hand and leads him to the table.
“Not hungry,” he pouts.
“You need to eat,” she tells him, pushing him into his chair before she sits. Merlin delivers their plates; Gwen’s first, then Arthur’s.
“That will be all, Merlin, thank you,” Arthur says quietly. Merlin smiles and turns towards the exit.
“Merlin,” Arthur seems to have changed his mind.
“Guinevere and I are to remain undisturbed for the rest of the day. Nothing short of Morgana approaching the gates of the kingdom interests me right now. Understood?”
“Um, yes, but…”
“What if there are slightly less important but still important matters that need dealing with?”
“Then deal with them.”
Now it is Merlin’s turn. “What?
“If something comes up, آپ and Sir Leon can sort it out, I’m sure,” he says, sighing. Gwen looks at him, slightly surprised.
“Merlin, contrary to what آپ may think, and it does pain me to say this, I do trust you. Now go.”
“Thank you, Sire. Oh, um, dinner?”
“You may bring dinner. Just knock and leave it outside the door,” he says, waving his hand dismissively. “Oh, and draft up a letter to Queen Annis asking if we might impose upon her hospitality to stage a meeting between myself and Odin. Please.”
“Going to try and make peace with him?” Merlin asks.
Arthur glances at Gwen and nods.
“I’ll take care of it, Sire.”
“Thank you, Merlin.”
Merlin leaves, and Guinevere stands, going to lock the door behind him. Arthur nods approvingly at her and pokes at his lunch.
“Arthur,” she starts, “you know, آپ really should—”
“Promote Merlin to Court Counsel and let him stop being my servant, I know,” he finishes his wife’s sentence for her.
Gwen is surprised. She hadn’t realized that the thought had occurred to him. I was expecting to have to convince him of this,
she thinks. “So آپ have
been paying attention,” she says, smiling.
“Of course. He’s not as terrible a servant as I always say, but we both know that his real skill lies elsewhere,” he says, stabbing a piece of pork as if it has insulted him and holding it aloft.
“Maybe when all this bracelet business settles down آپ can start putting things in motion,” she suggests, looking sideways at him. He is still holding his fork in midair. “But in the meantime آپ can start putting some food in motion towards your mouth.”
He obligingly puts the meat into his mouth, and Guinevere relaxes a little and starts to eat. Arthur actually trusts me,
Merlin thinks, walking down the corridor, marveling at the fact that he suddenly kind of has the دن off. But this is delicate. I mean, he should trust me. He needs to trust me. But my magic… What will happen when he finds out? If he finds out? He’s had so many people betray his trust.
He sighs. At least we can strike Gwen’s name off that فہرست now.
He turns to go to the kitchens to find a little lunch for himself. Hopefully it’ll be a quiet day,
he thinks, not sure if he’s ready to deal with any ‘somethings’ that might come up.
Elyan stares at the دائرے, حلقہ of silver in his hand as he trudges through the streets of the lower town. His feet are heavy and he feels about two inches high. Everything Gwen کہا about me was completely true. And now we find out that it wasn’t even her fault.
He unconsciously raises his hand to his left cheek, still remembering the sting of her slap. She always was a strong little thing.
He knocks on the blacksmith’s door. “Edgar,” he calls.
A few moments later the door is opened سے طرف کی a tall, burly man covered in soot and sweat. “Elyan, good to see you, my friend,” he says, clasping his hand warmly. “Whoops, I should say ‘Sir Elyan,’ shouldn’t I?” he smiles.
“Nah, it’s all right. I’m here to ask a favor anyway, so آپ may call me what آپ like. May I come in?”
“Yes, of course, what can I help آپ with?”
“I need to borrow your forge for a minute, actually.”
“Really? Whatever for? Surely I can take care of whatever it is آپ need…”
“No,” he interrupts. “This is something I need to do myself,” he says, opening his hand to reveal the bracelet.
Edgar furrows his brow, confused. “What do آپ need to do with that?”
“I have to destroy it.”
“But that’s… that’s silver.
“Yes, I know. It was enchanted سے طرف کی the Lady Morgana, and is responsible for my sister’s betrayal of the King.”
“No!” Edgar is shocked. The news of Guinevere’s betrayal had spread through the lower town like wildfire. Some felt it was a terrible shame, happy that the king had chosen one of the people as his queen. Some felt vindicated, certain that Gwen had somehow tricked the king into thinking he loved her.
Elyan was conflicted about revealing the truth behind the bracelet, but he also knew that he could also spread the word about his sister’s innocence this way. The blacksmith’s wife was a notorious gossip.
“Yes, the queen is actually completely innocent of any past wrongdoing,” Elyan says, loud enough for Edgar’s wife to hear on the other side of the door leading to their living quarters. He knows she is listening.
“Truly? That is wonderful news, Elyan!” Edgar exclaims, having been one of her supporters, her being a blacksmith’s daughter and all. “So she asked آپ to destroy it.”
Elyan nods. “I just need to borrow your آگ کے, آگ and a crucible and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“Fair enough,” the blacksmith says. “Shame, though, having to destroy perfectly good silver like that,” he adds, shaking his head.
“Guinevere’s good name is worth the price, don’t آپ think?”
“Yes. Yes, it is indeed.”
Elyan places the bracelet over the fire, watching it glow hot and red before it finally caves into itself, pooling at the bottom of the crucible. He pulls it from the آگ کے, آگ and pours it out into a pit of sand, where it cools in an irregular shape, an ugly flat blob. He stares at it, pulling it out and shaking it off with some tongs before plunging it into the water, which hisses and spits when the hot metal touches it.
He drops it onto the anvil. Now what do I do with it?
He stares at it. It is irregular and bumpy, blackened in some places. He knows it could be recast into something beautiful, and he considers taking it to a silversmith to arrange that something be made for Guinevere from it. She wouldn’t accept it, knowing where it came from.
He flips it over with his fingers. It is now cool enough to touch. A reminder.
He reaches for a مککا, عجیب الخلقت tool hanging nearby and puts one end in the آگ کے, آگ to heat it.
“Arthur, آپ need to stop torturing yourself,” Gwen tells him. She’s done eating, only having eaten half her plate, as usual. Arthur has eaten even less of his meal, and has fallen to moving his food around on his plate like a fussy child.
“I know. I know. I know. It’s just that… when I think about what آپ must have put up with out there, all alone… and knowing that I caused it… I
was the one who sent آپ away…” He throws his fork down on the table.
“Love, آپ did what آپ had to do. آپ did مزید than that. آپ could have had me executed.”
“Don’t remind me!” he interrupts, squeezing his eyes shut.
Gwen stands and walks the two steps to Arthur. She caresses his temple with her fingertips and he opens his eyes.
She walks around behind him and pulls his chair out from the میز, جدول a bit. Then she climbs into his lap.
“I’m going to say this one مزید time, Arthur Pendragon, and I want it to stick: آپ didn’t
have me executed. آپ acted justly based on the facts آپ had at that time. مزید than justly. آپ cannot dwell on what might have happened,” she says, looking him square in the eyes. “We cannot change the past. What’s done is done, and it’s over with now. I harbor no ill will towards آپ for it, only Morgana.” She bends down and kisses him then, softly and quickly. “Well, and Elyan, too,” she adds with a smirk.
“If nothing else we learned that we truly are meant to be together,” she tells him, resting her forehead against his.
“I learned that I am nothing but a shell of a man without you,” he whispers, finally able to speak about the empty hole in his soul during the weeks of her exile. “I couldn’t eat, could barely sleep. Ask Merlin how many nights I slept with my head on the میز, جدول because I couldn’t برداشت, ریچھ to lay in that bed, knowing آپ should have been there. I… must have been horrible to Merlin, actually. I was probably horrible to everyone.” His voice is a pained whisper. He tucks his head into her neck, holding her tight.
“I was lost,” she softly replies. “Emotionally lost, Arthur. آپ don’t know what it’s like to hate yourself that way. I didn’t think I could go on without you, but I had to. I had no choice but to go on, but I was so empty. I might as well have been de—”
“Don’t آپ dare say it, Guinevere,” Arthur’s voice comes up from her neck, its warning tone interrupting her last word.
She sighs, kissing the سب, سب سے اوپر of his head. “I think that my nightmares will end now,” she admits.
He lifts his head and looks at her. “Is that what they were about?”
“I think so. I think my guilt was still lingering, torturing me in my dreams. I can’t be sure, because I really don’t remember much. Images, flashes.”
“Oh, Love,” he says sympathetically, stroking her cheek. He kisses her again, lingering مزید this time. “I just need آپ so much, Guinevere,” he tells her. “I need your wisdom, your kindness. Your strength. I cannot
be king without آپ as my queen.”
“All that I have is yours, my king, my love,” she says into his ear, and he squeezes her so tight it takes her breath away. She gasps, and he loosens his grip a little.
“It’s all right, Arthur, squeeze me all آپ want, I’m here for آپ and آپ alone.”
“That is correct.”
“I do need to get up, though, the arm of the chair is digging into my back.”
He helps her up, and contemplates the remains of his lunch. “Still not hungry,” he says, pushing the plate away. Gwen picks up the plates and puts them back on the tray Merlin brought in and carries it to the door. She opens the door and sets the tray outside before closing it and locking it once again.
“Guinevere,” Arthur says, standing and crossing to her.
She holds her arms out to him, and he pulls her into his embrace, surrounding her small body with his, one arm around her waist, the other holding her head gently. Gwen’s hands cling to his back, holding him around his ribs, her head on his chest. They stand holding each other for what seems like an hour, basking in each other’s presence, soaking one another in.
Arthur loosens his grip on her just slightly, and she lifts her face to his, receiving his kiss, sweet and warm, tasting slightly of the meat and wine they had just had. Gradually the kiss deepens, and Arthur’s tongue snakes آگے to tease her lips apart so that he can enter, delving into her waiting mouth to mate with her tongue.
Her hands come up to his shoulders, and he backs her up against the door, pressing her against the wooden surface, his hands at her waist now, gripping the material of her گاؤن, gown in his fists.
“Arthur…” she gasps, breaking away for air, breathing heavily. He stares down at her, his black eyes penetrating her soul as they stare; his love, his need laid bare for her to see.
She leans in and kisses his neck at the base, where it meets his chest, tucking her chin in the vee at the کالر of his white shirt. He groans low, and while Gwen doesn’t hear it, she feels it as a vibration under her lips at his throat.
“I need you, Guinevere,” Arthur breathes into her ear. “I need to love you, to worship you, to… exorcise these awful things out of my head,” he mutters, punctuating his speech with small wet kisses on her neck.
“I know, Arthur,” she gasps, her hand in his hair.
“Merlin, thank God, there آپ are,” a young page comes rushing into the kitchen, where Merlin has found a quiet corner and a chicken leg to call his own.
“What?” he asks, his mouth full.
“Lord Roderick of Clarence is approaching the castle,” he breathes.
“He wasn’t expected until اگلے week,” Merlin says, taking one last bite of his chicken before tossing the bone in the fire, earning him a dirty look from the cook. “All right, no rest for the weary, I guess. Come on.”
“Shouldn’t آپ fetch the king?” the page asks.
“The king doesn’t wish to be disturbed today,” Merlin says tersely as he strides towards the courtyard. “But find Sir Leon for me, please. The knights should be coming in from the training fields for lunch about now.”
“On my way,” the boy says and runs off.
Part 8: link