Part 40: link
Arthur stands on the front porch of Pendragon manor, the painting held carefully in his hand, resting on his boot. Why did I let them talk me into this?
Taking a deep breath, he presses the doorbell. Run. Run now. Go. Run!
The door opens and Arthur is face to face with Joseph, his father’s butler.
“Joseph,” Arthur nods at him, his face carefully calm.
“Oh. Mister Arthur. Is… is Master expecting you?” His years of faithful service to Uther Pendragon has taught him how to carefully school his facial expressions so that they betray nothing of what he is actually thinking.
“He’s expecting a delivery,” Arthur indicates the painting.
Joseph bends slightly and peers at it. “Excellent brushwork, Mister Arthur,” he comments, knowing immediately and inexplicably that it is Arthur’s work.
The butler steps aside. “Please, come in. I will fetch the Master.”
Arthur walks in, the familiar sights and smells of his boyhood home pagina washing over him. How many times did I fall down those stairs?
he thinks, looking up at the grand staircase in the foyer. Joseph leads him to the sitting room, where Arthur does just that. He sits.
A few minuten later, Uther strides into the sitting room, stopping cold when he sees that Arthur has delivered the painting personally.
“Father,” Arthur says coolly, not standing.
“Arthur,” Uther antwoorden with equal distance.
“Thank u for buying my painting.”
“I see u had it framed. I did not ask for it to be framed.”
Arthur sighs. “Gee, you’re welcome,” he rolls his eyes. Nothing is ever right.
“It is a good frame.”
“It was Guinevere’s idea.”
“Guinevere? Is that her name?”
“And was u delivering this painting yourself also her idea?” he asks. He hasn’t moved from his place in the doorway.
“Hers and Merlin’s.”
Neither speaks for a moment. Then Uther breaks the silence. “She is lovely.”
“Yes, she is.”
“She works for Will Gaius, I understand?”
“Who told you…? Morgana,” Arthur antwoorden his own question.
Uther nods. “She’s been pushing again.”
“She sent u the flyer. For the opening.”
Uther nods again.
“Thank u for coming. Why didn’t…” he starts to ask.
“Why didn’t I talk to you? I… I don’t know. I couldn’t. I only came because I had to see for myself. See if u were indeed any good. See if u do truly still look like…” he gestures toward Arthur, waving his hand up and down, “that.
“Father, if u had bothered to actually pay attention to me while I was growing up, u would already know how good I am,” Arthur says crossly. “You came out of morbid curiosity. u came because now that I’ve had a glimmer of success, suddenly I might be good enough to be your son again. u wanted to see if I was worthy of u yet,” he adds, somewhat sadly. He doesn’t raise his voice, doesn’t stand.
“Perhaps,” he admits slowly.
“You know I’m right.”
Uther sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. “What is it u want from me, Arthur?”
Arthur stands now. “I want u to accept me for who I am, even though who I am is not who u wanted me to be. I want u to respect
me for making my own choices rather than condemning me for it.”
With that, Arthur strides from the room, brushing past his father, leaving the painting leaning against the side of the settee.
“Arthur,” Uther says. Arthur is in the foyer, halfway to the front door. He stops, but does not turn.
“Do u love her? Guinevere?”
“More than anything,” he says, turning slightly so that his father can see his serious expression.
“Take care of her.”
Arthur turns and walks out the door, striding purposefully toward Gwen’s Mini. “Since when are u qualified to dispense fatherly advice?” he mutters to himself, slamming the door.
Uther stands in the window watching his son peel away in the small green car. I thought he had a motorcycle. All the reports I’ve gotten on him state that he is only ever seen driving a temperamental motorcycle. of as a passenger in Merlin’s rather unstable Ford Popular. Must be Guinevere’s car.
Turning back, he walks over and picks up the painting, studying it again. I remember this storm like it happened yesterday. It was massive. I had to carry them to their beds from where they were hiding under the table.
He really does have talent. But he’s right. If he were talentless I probably wouldn’t care. And what of the girl? There is something very special about her. What is it that she sees, that everyone else sees, that I don’t?
This is a beautiful frame. She has excellent taste.
“How did it go?” Gwen asks when Arthur returns home.
“About how I expected,” he says, which tells her nothing.
“Care to elaborate?”
He sighs. Not really.
“I zei my piece. Told him what was on my mind. Felt good to get it off my chest.” He goes on to detail their conversation, even telling her that Uther asked after her.
“It is a step in the right direction,” Gwen says, noting that Arthur doesn’t seem to have forgiven anything.
“Arthur, don’t get angry with me, but yes, a step.
I’m happy that u were able to voice your thoughts to him. To get him to start owning up to his behavior.”
“But u haven’t forgiven him yet.”
“I don’t think I’m ready yet, Guinevere.”
Gwen breathes a sigh of relief. The fact that he’s still discussing this with me calmly is a very good thing.
“I understand,” she says. “Come here,” she calls to him, reaching her hand out to him from her place on the sofa.
He crosses to her and sits, and she pulls him gently against her, wrapping him in her arms.
“I’m trying not to push,” she says. “I love you, Arthur, and if u are hurting, even a little, even if it’s buried deep, I feel that hurt as well. If u and your father are truly not meant to reconcile, so be it. But it won’t be because u didn’t try.”
“It’s annoying, how smart u are,” he says, closing his eyes, treasuring the feel of her arms around him, her fingertips trailing on his scalp.
“It is a curse,” she says, smiling, leaning down to kiss his head. “Don’t give up yet.”
“The volgende verplaats is his,” Arthur declares. We’ll see,
Gwen thinks, squeezing him.
Saturday morning, Arthur and Gwen head to the gallery. The toon is over, some paintings have been delivered, and the rest are being taken down in preparation for delivery.
“So sad,” Gwen says, looking around.
“Yes, but u get paid, so that is not so sad,” Annis’ voice behind her makes her jump.
“Annis, how lovely to see you,” Gwen says, smiling as the older woman steps over to embrace her, kissing both her cheeks.
“Gwen, I’m happy to see you, too,” Annis says.
“Thank u for everything you’re doing for Arthur,” Gwen says.
“It’s nothing,” she waves her off.
“It’s everything. u have no idea how much he appreciates it,” she says.
“He can speak, u know,” Arthur chimes in, stepping over to hug Annis.
“Hello, darling,” Annis greets him. “Have u started the triptych yet?”
“Laying it out, yes,” he says dutifully.
“Good boy,” she pats his shoulder, then strides back to Lance. “Lancelot, my pet, my truck will be arriving presently. Are all my things ready to go?”
“Of course they are, Annis,” Lance chuckles, pointing to a stack of paintings leaning against a uithangbord to one side.
“We need to inpakken, wrap this one up to take home,” Arthur says, wandering over to his favoriete piece.
“Yes, yes, your precious painting will make it safely home pagina with you,” Lance rolls his eyes.
“Come to Papa,” Arthur says, reaching up and taking it down from the wall.
“He is insane,” Gwen says to Annis.
“He is in love,” Annis replies, and Gwen blushes.
“Come, let’s find out how much Lance and Arthur have made,” Annis says, looping her arm through Gwen’s and walking her back to the desk.
“All right, u know I love my art, Lance, but this is the fun part,” she says, her eyes twinkling.
“I don’t understand why this is so fun for you,
Annis. About half of this came from your accounts,” Lance says.
“I know, but I just love seeing the look on a new young artist’s face when he sees his check from his first successful show,” she grins. “And our Drag has such an expressive face that I doubt I will be disappointed.”
“You noticed that, huh?” Gwen asks, amused.
“How can one not notice?” Annis chuckles. “He’s positively adorable.”
Gwen guffaws. “Don’t let him hear u say that!”
“Why ever not?”
“He hates being called anything remotely close to ‘cute.’ Even though he completely is,” Gwen says, smiling over at him, still talking to his painting as he wraps the thick brown paper around it.
“I am certain he allows u that privilege,” Annis says, arching an eyebrow at Gwen.
“Reluctantly,” Gwen smirks. “Arthur, when you’re done making love to your painting, perhaps you’d care to kom bij us?” she calls.
“Huh?” Arthur’s head snaps up, Gwen’s voice drawing him back to reality. “Oh. Right.” He leans the painting on the wall, ponders it a moment, then reaches for a marker. He writes the word “mine” across the paper before turning back to kom bij them.
“Arthur, really,” Gwen says, tilting her head at him.
“Well, they all look the same now. I had to do something to identify it,” he defends his actions.
“Yes, but ‘mine?’ Are u four years old?”
“You’d better hope not,” he mutters close in her ear and kisses her neck.
“All right, u two, I still have afbeeldingen of Gwaine and Morgana’s makeout session scarring my brain, don’t add to my misery,” Lance complains, unceremoniously thrusting a check at Arthur.
Annis is not disappointed. Arthur gapes. He positively gapes. Blue-grey eyes huge, jaw on the floor.
“So, then, I need to give u your ten percent from this, right?” he asks, apparently unable to believe the amount is all for him.
“No, mate, that’s all yours. My cut is already subtracted, look,” Lance leans over and points to some numbers on the top, boven half of the check. “That
is the full total, there. My percentage, tax and all that legal shit, and the rest is yours,” he moves his finger down the rows as he talks.
“Holy fuck,” Arthur whispers. “Oh, sorry,” he looks up and apologizes to Annis.
She just smiles, quite satisfied in her new investment, her new protégé. “And that’s not even the best part,” she says, looking at Lance.
“What? There’s a best part? Bester than this?” he waves the check in the air, passing it to Gwen, who gasps.
“You have two
commissions, Drag,” Lance says.
Who from?” Arthur sputters, digging into his pocket for a citroen drop, needing his candy immediately.
“Damn, I’m out…” he mutters, and Gwen digs into her purse, handing him one from a little plastic baggie she has inside.
“I love you,” he says, taking the candy.
“Well, the first came from none other than William Gaius,” Lance says, looking at Gwen.
“Really? Bloody hell!” Gwen exclaims, shocked.
“And the seconde is from Sunshine Childcare Center,” he finishes, still looking at Gwen.
“The people who bought the painting of little Arthur and Merlin?” Gwen says. “Arthur, u remember, I told u about that. When u were sick. The creepy guy and the nice woman?”
“Yes, but a childcare center?” Arthur asks.
“Do u dislike children?” Lance asks, glancing at Gwen.
“No, I love them, I’m just surprised. What could they possibly want?”
“Art, darling,” Annis says, chuckling.
Lance and Gwen laugh, but Arthur just sighs. “You know
what I mean.”
“You’ll have to go and find out. Here,” he hands Arthur a card. “Call them Monday. Ask for Sharon.” He points to a name written on the back. “And Mr. Gaius is expecting a call from u as well.”
“Alison was nice,” Gwen says to Arthur as they enter their flat, just home pagina from the pub. Ox had finally gotten up the courage to ask the young lady out, and he brought her to the pub after their date.
“Yes, Ox seems quite smitten,” Arthur says, cursing as he nearly trips over Iggy as he bounds towards Gwen, meowing and rubbing against her legs.
“Hello, Baby,” she coos at the cat, reaching down to stroke his ears. “Come, Mummy bought u some new treats,” she adds, heading for the keuken-, keuken while Arthur stares after them. Mummy?
“What?” Gwen says, seeing his face as she emerges from the kitchen, a few morsels in her hand, Iggy at her feet, looking expectantly up at her.
“Did u just refer to yourself as ‘Mummy’ to my cat?”
“Yes,” she says casually, sitting and patting her lap. Iggy hops up and Gwen feeds him a treat, which he takes delicately from her fingers. “And I believe he is officially our
“More like your
cat,” he mutters, removing his boots. “What are those?”
“Freeze-dried chicken livers.”
“They’re not for you,
” she laughs.
Arthur strides through the flat yanking his t-shirt off and yawning as he goes. Gwen hears him groaning and stretching, clearly tired from a very busy day. The toilet flushes. A drawer opens and closes. A moment later he strolls back out in his athletic shorts, comfy as u please.
“All done there?” he asks. Gwen holds her hands up, empty. “Good. Push off, Ig,” Arthur says, but he scratches the cat under his chin first before gently nudging him away.
“My hands smell like liver, hang on,” Gwen says, standing. Arthur plunks down on the sofa.
She returns, hands washed, and Arthur pulls her down on top, boven of him, kissing her, burrowing his hands into her hair.
“Leon’s new bartender seems a good chap,” she says, cuddling down against his chest.
“Poof,” Arthur declares.
“Honestly, Arthur, what is it with you?” Gwen lifts her head and asks him, incredulous.
“No, honest, he is. Told Leon straight away.”
“Oh.” She puts her head on his chest. “Doesn’t change my opinion.”
“Yeah, he’s a good guy. Maybe we should set him up with Lance.”
She lifts her head again. “Lance is not gay!”
“Until I have conclusive evidence to the contrary, I am standing door my opinion,” he says, worming his hand underneath the back of her shirt.
She sighs, weary of this topic, tracing his dragon with her finger. “How much longer are u going to work at Excalibur?” she asks, changing the subject.
“Don’t know. I haven’t spent a full dag there since before the opening. I’m sure Gwaine’s already looking for a replacement.” His hand is caressing her back beneath her overhemd, shirt now, his fingers warm and gentle.
“You do have two commissions and an assignment from Annis,” she says, grinning against his chest. She turns her face and kisses it.
“I know,” he says, “I can hardly believe it. I am very curious about the childcare center one.”
“Could be fun, who knows?”
Arthur reaches up and unhooks her bra with one hand.
“Why are we laying out here?” Gwen asks, laughing.
“Good question,” Arthur says, and starts to sit up.
“Hey!” Gwen giggles, sliding off before she falls off.
He takes her hand and pulls her back to the bedroom, flopping onto the bed to wait for her while she changes as does whatever mysterious female things she needs to do before bed. I should verplaats a telly in here,
Arthur thinks. The one at my flat – my studio – is bigger than hers. We could put that one in the living room and verplaats hers in here.
“What are u plotting over there?” Gwen asks when she returns, wearing a green nightie.
“I want to verplaats your TV back here. Bring mine over for the living room.”
“Do you, now?”
“Yeah. ’Cause then we could lie in bed together and watch telly. u know, when we’re not… otherwise occupied.”
She shrugs. “Sure. Whatever u want.”
“Oh. I was expecting meer of a discussion,” he says, surprised.
“I like cuddling with u on the sofa, but it is
a bit narrow,” she smiles, sliding beneath the covers.
Arthur had been sitting above, so he quickly joins her beneath the blankets, pulling her over to him.
“Hello,” he says quietly.
“Arthur,” she says, wanting to ask the vraag that has been in the back of her brain for a few days now.
“What’s on your mind, Love?”
“Would u mind if… if I paid your father a visit?”
“Why on earth would u want to do that?” he asks, confused.
“I’m not sure,” she says, furrowing her own brows now. “But maybe, since I’m relatively new to this whole drama, I can bring a fresh perspective to him.”
“I don’t know…” he says, rolling onto his back, away from her, but he still reaches for her hand, twining their fingers together beneath the covers.
“I just want to try,” she says.
“What if he yells at you? He’s not a nice man, Guinevere.”
“He was nice to me at the opening.”
“Because he didn’t know who u were.”
“I think he did, actually.”
“What makes u think that?”
“Well, I’m sure he saw me sitting on the arm of your chair with your arm wrapped around me, Arthur.”
She leans over and kisses his cheek. “If I try and fail, I will have at least tried.”
He looks at her and kisses her lips. “You’re going to do it even if I say no, aren’t you?”
Gwen leans in and returns his kiss, sliding her tongue between his lips, teasing him briefly. “Probably,” she says.
“You are not playing fair,” he mutters against her lips, nibbling, his hand wandering now to her thigh, sliding up beneath the hem of her nightie.
“Also probably,” she answers, scooting closer to him as she feels his fingers nab the waistband of her knickers.
Part 42: link