Part 10: link
Merlin delivers their avondeten, diner as promised, setting the tray outside their door among the last remaining tokens for Gwen. He has finished the draft of the letter to Queen Annis, and he places it on the tray as well for Arthur to review. Then he knocks and leaves.
As soon as Merlin is out of sight, Bertrand slinks up, ears on alert. He can hear talking, very distant, inside the chambers. He reaches for the parchment and unrolls it, eyes scanning the words quickly. Opportunity has presented itself, gift wrapped.
He hears footsteps approaching, and he quickly rolls the parchment back up and drops it back on the tray before scurrying away on silent feet to meld back to his master.
Gwen opens the door to retrieve their dinner. She sets the tray on the tafel, tabel and goes back, brings in the last bouquets and closes and locks the door once again.
“Bring it over here,” Arthur calls. He’s put some trousers on and is sitting on some skins in front of a dwindling fire.
As Gwen carries the tray to him, he goes to the wood box so that he can rekindle the fire. The sun has just sunk below the horizon and the air is cooling.
“I’ll do that,” Guinevere says as she sets the tray down. “I’m better at it anyway.”
Arthur pouts and hands her the branch in his hand.
“Too big,” she says, tossing it back in the box. He scowls and plops down on a cushion.
“I never thought I’d hear u complain about the size of my branch, Guinevere,” he says, distributing food onto their plates from the platter. Roast chicken has been prepared for everyone, since Lord Roderick had requested it.
Gwen bursts forth laughing at Arthur’s commentaar as she neatly places kindling onto the embers, stacking them lengthwise like a tent over the smoldering pieces.
“You are a naughty man, my king,” she says over her shoulder.
“And u understood my meaning, my queen, so what does that say about you?”
“It says I have spent far too much time in your company.” She kneels and blows gently, and after a few seconds, the kindling catches. She waits another minuut of two until she is certain that it will stay lit, and then adds some larger pieces to the fire.
She sits on a cushion beside Arthur, and he places her plate in front of her.
“Arthur, this is far too much food for me,” she complains. His plate looks much meer reasonable.
“That’s because it’s not for you,” he says. He lifts a piece of chicken from the plate in front of him with his fingers and offers it to her. Oh, so it’s
that kind of picnic,
Gwen thinks, smiling as she takes the meat delicately between her teeth. She reaches down and picks up some chicken and holds it up for him. He leans vooruit, voorwaarts and takes it from her, making sure his lips touch her fingers when he does.
They continue to feed each other before the roaring fire, speaking very little. Gwen offers him a couple long green beans from between her own lips. Arthur pours them both some wine. She receives another piece of chicken and holds his hand in hers, gently licking his fingers, her small tongue warm and wet on his sensitive fingertips. Gwen dips a piece of the brood into the honey and offers it to him. He takes it from her, leaving her fingers slightly sticky, so he gently sucks the honey off each finger in turn.
He gives her the last of her chicken, and she feeds him meer vegetables. Now that Gwen is done eating, Arthur lounges back. She raises an eyebrow at him, amused at his arrogance, and tosses a homp, stoere binken of chicken at him, which he catches in his mouth with a laugh.
She scoots closer to him and feeds him the rest of his avondeten, diner while he amuses himself door slowly opening her dressing gown.
“You think you’re being subtle, then?” she casually asks, dropping another boon into his open mouth.
“I know what you’re doing, Arthur. Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you’ve untied the riem to my dressing gown.”
“Oh, goodness, however did that happen?” he asks innocently. She holds the final piece of chicken to his lips, and when he reaches for it, she pulls it away, a challenge on her face.
He tries again and she again evades him.
“That’s it!” he grabs her suddenly and pulls her over him, kissing her soundly as he reaches for her hand.
He plunders her mouth with his tongue, then breaks away to snatch the chicken from her fingers.
“Oh! You…” she warns, laughing now. He slips his hands around her waist, inside the robe. It had opened fully when he pulled her atop him, and her breasts were now pressed against his chest.
Arthur is reminded of the dag she tackled him in the courtyard, and an impish smirk crosses his face.
“What are u thinking about, as if I need to ask?”
“Actually, Wife, I was thinking about how u saved me from that flying gargoyle. I believe we ended up in a position very similar to this,” he says, eyes dropping to her chest.
“Except I was dressed,” she says.
“Which was a pity.”
“So u weren’t kidding when u zei it was ‘your pleasure,’ then, were you?” she smiles.
He shakes his head. “Not really, no. I rather enjoyed having u landing on me, regardless of the circumstances.” He pulls her head down to him and kisses her again and his hands come up to ease the gewaad, kleed from her shoulders.
“And u say the servant
wrote this letter?” Lord Roderick asks.
“Yes, my lord. It was an official correspondence with Queen Annis of Caerleon. Asking her to host a meeting between King Arthur and King Odin.”
“One month’s time. If Odin agrees to such a meeting, I presume.”
“He may not. He has hated Arthur for years.”
“But they are both allies with Caerleon.”
“Indeed,” the lord muses, walking to the window. “What kind of a king lets his servant write important correspondence such as this? I suppose he’ll have the boy writing his speeches next,” he says, partly to himself. He turns back to Bertrand. “Since when do mere servants know how to read and write, anyway? That’s just not done.
“I know how to read and write, my lord.”
“True, but you’re not really
a servant, are you?”
“Perhaps he isn’t either.” Bertrand raises an eyebrow.
“Hmm. Fetch me the letter and a quill.”
“Yes, my lord.”
Roderick sits, unrolling the parchment, and starts adding to his letter.
“The boy should be arriving soon with your dinner, my lord,” Bertrand warns.
“I will just have to write quickly, then, won’t I?” he says tersely.
A moment later there is a firm but polite knock on the door. Bertrand looks at the lord.
“Retrieve the tray and do not let him in,” Roderick says, not looking up from his parchment.
“Lord Roderick’s dinner,” Merlin says, pushing past Bertrand and his outstretched hands to step into the room. Roderick hurriedly sets his quill in the inkpot and lets the parchment on which he is writing roll up.
“But—” Bertrand protests, hurrying after him. Merlin sets the tray on the tafel, tabel and tries to look like he’s not
looking at the parchment. What was he writing that he so quickly had to conceal?
Still ignoring Bertrand’s clumsy attempts to shoo him from the room, he starts setting the Lord’s place for him.
He fills a goblet with wine from a jug and sets it close to the edge of the table. As he opens a linen napkin for the lord, he accidentally
bumps the goblet, spilling its contents on Lord Roderick’s lap.
Lord Roderick jumps up. “Clumsy oaf!”
“Oh! I am terribly
sorry, my lord, please…” Merlin starts to dab at the man with the napkin, and is shoved for his pains.
“Get away from me, u peasant!
Bertrand! Assist me.” He walks away from the tafel, tabel to the privacy screen in the corner to change his trousers. Bertrand follows, going to his lord’s bag to retrieve a new pair. Merlin busies himself cleaning up the spilled wine.
Once he is certain they are paying him no mind, he looks to the parchment. His eyes briefly flash and it uncurls for him. An easy old trick, simple but quite effective.
His eyes quickly scan the letter, addressed simply to “My Lady.” Roderick’s penmanship is cramped and jagged, but Merlin is able to make out all he needs to know in a short time. Someone has been doing some snooping.
“My lord,” Merlin calls, closing the parchment, “if u will allow me to take your trousers to the laundry, I’ll have them cleaned for you.”
“You are not to come near me of my trousers, boy. Send a maid to retrieve them. A young, pretty one.” Gross.
“Very well, my lord. Enjoy your dinner,” Merlin calls and leaves quickly. What do I do now?
“What’s all that?” Arthur asks, having finally noticed the abundance of flowers in the room. He holds Guinevere close beside him, their naked bodies flushed and slightly sweaty after making love in front of the fireplace.
“Tokens,” Gwen says simply, her hand stroking his chest lightly.
“Yes, u know, gifts. For me.”
“From whom?” His fingers glide randomly along the line of her hip.
“Most of the kingdom, it seems. Apparently Elyan has spread the word and the people are tonen their love and support. I’m rather… overwhelmed, actually.”
He sits up suddenly. “Really? That’s… that’s wonderful! The people love you!” He stands and pulls his trousers back on and gives her his hand to help her up before he holds her dressing japon, jurk for her to slide her arms in.
“Show me,” he says.
“Well, you’ve seen some already: the brood and honey at avondeten, diner were gifted from the blacksmith’s wife and the beekeeper.”
“That was really good bread,” Arthur says.
“You just liked licking the honey off of my fingers,” she teases.
“I wouldn’t mind licking honey off of your—”
“Just a thought…”
Guinevere blushes and shows him the comb. “This is from the furrier’s widow, Gytha. I’m sure her late husband made it.”
“It’s beautiful. He made good use of the bones, didn’t he?”
“I do try not to think about where it came from, Love.” She sets it down.
“The apothecary and his wife sent this,” she holds up the small bottle for him to sniff.
“Not bad,” he says, “though I prefer your normal scent.”
“I don’t normally wear any perfume, Arthur.”
“You mean u smell like that naturally?” his eyebrows fly up in surprise. “That’s just unfair.”
She laughs. “Unfair to whom?”
“Other women everywhere, I guess. And flowers. And perfumes,” he says, pointing at the bottle before sticking his face into the side of her neck, burying it in her hair and inhaling deeply.
She giggles again and pushes him playfully away.
“Flowers, flowers, flowers… what’s this?” he picks up the dagger. It is small, the handle much to small for his broad hand but he can tell right away that it would fit Guinevere’s hand quite nicely. There is an amethyst set in the handle and the blade is stout but sharp. It is in a sheath with a slot to pass a riem through so she can carry it easily on her person.
He holds it up and looks at her with a raised eyebrow.
She laughs, “It’s from Sir Leon, Arthur.” She picks up the note and hands it to him. My Lady,
he reads, Please accept this humble token from your Captain of the Guards. It would ease his hart-, hart to know that u have something with which to protect yourself should a need arise. Ever your servant, Sir Leon.
“That’s Leon, all right,” Arthur says.
“I think it’s very sweet,” she says, walking slowly around the room. “Percival,” she indicates the lavender hanging in the window. She indicates the mug on the table.
“Gwaine?” Arthur guesses. She nods, smiling.
“What gave it away?”
“That’s his favoriete mug. I can tell door the dents.”
“Well, I knew it was his door the sad little flowers,” she laughs. “He tried to put one in my hair once, u know.”
His eyebrows raise.
“It was the first time he was here in Camelot, Arthur. He didn’t even know who I was at the time. I was just a pretty face in the street.”
“Your eyes are turning green, my lord. He tried and got nowhere, I assure you,” she says, laying her hand aside his cheek.
“Oh, is that so? That’s not exactly how I
remember it,” he says, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I saw u in the straat with him when he was leaving, laughing and touching his chest.” He’s really trying hard not to smile,
she notes. “Were u spying on me?”
“Certainly not! I just… happened to be standing on the parapet, casually observing the town below, chatting with Merlin.”
“Just ‘happened to be,’ hmm?”
“Since when do u chat
“It… happens occasionally…”
“Am I going to have to ask Merlin what really
happened?” Now she crosses her arms in front of her chest.
His eyes grow wide. Merlin will definitely tell her I was jealous.
“Honest! I was just standing there. Okay, once I saw how friendly
u two were, I was a little less than thrilled…”
jealous!” she laughs, uncrossing her arms.
He puts his arms around her and tries a different tactic. “Even then, u were mine. In my mind, in my heart, u belonged only to me.”
“You’re a possessive brute, u are,” she smiles up at him.
“Yes,” he says simply, leaning his head down to kiss her. “Anything else interesting of is it only flowers left?”
She pulls away, nodding, and lifts three embroidered handkerchiefs from the table.
“The cooper’s wife.” Next, “Marta, the cobbler’s daughter.” Finally, “Franklin,” she says, with a puzzled look.
“The barber?” Arthur says. “The strangely never-married
barber?” he adds, raising his eyebrows.
“Oh!” she exclaims, “Surely not…”
“Yep.” He nods.
” she whispers, leaning in close.
“Guinevere! Surely u are not interested in gossip?” he teases.
“Only as much as anyone else,” she shrugs.
“Well, I do not know, sorry to disappoint. And I don’t really desire to know, thank u very much.”
“Oof, u are no fun at all,” she says, setting it down.
He laughs at her as she walks a couple steps away.
“The candlemaker, obviously,” Arthur supplies.
“As for the rest of the flowers, I don’t even know where to begin.”
“They’re almost all purple,” he observes, smiling.
“Apparently they know it is a color I favor.”
“So,” he takes her hands in his. “We must make sure to thank the people for their outpouring of love and support for their queen during this trying time.”
“Indeed,” she smiles at him, and he lifts her knuckles to his lips.
“We can’t have them thinking u ungrateful,” he says, pulling her closer, kissing her neck.
“That would not do at all,” she says, her hands on his shoulders.
He opens his eyes for a seconde and sees the parchment on the table. Kissing her one meer time, he asks, “What’s that?”
“Oh, it was with our dinner. I think it’s the letter for Queen Annis. Merlin must have left it.”
Arthur reluctantly leaves her embrace and picks it up. He unrolls it and reads it, nodding. “Well done, Merlin,” he mutters, and strides to his bureau with it. Sitting, he signs his name, rolls it back up, and seals it. He walks back over, picking up the avondeten, diner tray on his way past and sets the parchment on it.
He puts the tray and letter back outside the door for Merlin to retrieve.
“Now. Where were we, my beloved queen?”
Part 12: link