Gwen sits alone in the garden, watching the birds chirping away happily on a branch. It seems like a robin from far, but she is never good with birds, so she can only guess. But whatever the birds are, she isn’t interested in knowing them. In fact, she isn’t interested in anything at all. She’s been sitting down here since she finished her rounds with Mithian. Mithian has left to tend to her husband and had asked Gwen to tag along and meet Arthur. But Guinevere lied again, saying she wants to have a look at the garden instead. Mithian, despite feeling suspicious, fell for her words and left. Guinevere feels bad lying to the princess, and even worse, she feels terrible having to lie her way around the castle. It’s been two days since she’s been here and she’s been lying meer often than she ever thought she would. Shaking her head, she sighs and pushes the curls brushing her cheek aside. She hears the birds chirping again. Somehow the chirps make her calm and relaxed. She wishes she were like the birds, free and happy, without a worry in the world. If only, she thinks.
Shaking her head to discard those thoughts, she gets to her feet, walks over to the stone fontein on the left corner of the garden and plays with the water, letting the cool water run through her fingers. The water splashes on her gown, but she doesn’t care. There will be meer gowns for her when she gets back inside the castle. meer gowns, shoes, accessories and everything else. She beats the water angrily and turns around. She feels terrible inside. ‘What happened to you, Gwen?’
she asks herself, bitterly disappointed door the way she has been behaving these past two days. ‘This isn’t you. This is not the real Gwen … not the daughter of a blacksmith!’
she thinks again. ‘This is the new wife of the crowned prince of Camelot and she’s turning into a spoiled brat like her husband!’
she thinks again and reaches out to a plant beside her and snaps a branch off. She plucks the leaves and twirls the branch in her hand. She hates herself, this new self she is beginning to turn into. She is lying often, allowing herself to be pampered, and now she is getting used to all the luxuries around her. She is enjoying this new life and she hates that! She uses the branch and whacks the sides of her thigh and feels the pain penetrating through her gown. So she is human after all, she thinks. She throws the branch away and walks back to the zitplaats, stoel she’d been sitting on. She doesn’t like the way she is behaving and doesn’t know how to rectify the situation. She hates lying, genuinely she hates it, but somehow something turns up and she ends up lying. Gwen sniffs. Her hart-, hart pains to realize how she is betraying the promise she made herself; not to lie ever no matter how difficult the situation is. Yet, here she is … doing exactly what she promised not to.
Gwen sighs and wipes her eyes. Suddenly she spots her ring and her thoughts rush back towards Arthur. She had been avoiding him all dag and she feels bad for him. She had been hurt, yes, but after a good night’s sleep, after going around walking with Mithian and hearing her talk fondly about her husband and later Arthur, makes Gwen wish she hadn’t listened to those trashy women at the feast last night. Gwen feels stupid for listening to them. Perhaps she jumped to a hasty conclusion. Yes, Arthur was a womanizer before, but he has changed, hasn’t he? And these women are just jealous because Arthur chose her and not them. They didn’t look as if they wanted to make vrienden with her, in fact Gwen guessed they arrived to irk her because they kept talking about her husband and not a single word was asked about her! Gwen sighs again. Her face softens and she feels really bad for Arthur. She wanted to know him better yet she avoided him last night because she felt hurt. She feels misled and tricked. And she listened to those women and not her husband. This doesn’t mean she trusts him wholeheartedly, but there is no harm in giving him a chance. She slaps her forehead, thinking how silly she behaved last night. Thinking back, she feels stupid. She allowed herself to be tricked, manipulated, and later hurt door some unknown women whom she doesn’t have to meet again. How can she allow herself to be fooled? Why did she listen to them? And why didn’t she listen to Arthur of give him a chance to prove himself? And why did she doubt him in the first place? What was she thinking?
Gwen looks up and sees the warm face of Morgana. She smiles and gets to her feet, hugging Morgana.
“I am happy to see u too.” Morgana returns the embrace.
“How did u know I was here?”
“I met Princess Mithian and she told me I could find u here. Am I disturbing you? I can come back if u want to be alone,” Morgana asks.
“No, I am good. Please sit down with me,” Gwen invites. Both women sit down. Morgana notices Gwen’s troubled face and reaches out to clasp her hand.
“Are u all right, Gwen?”
“No, I am not.” Gwen is done lying for the day. She wants to be honest. And she is starting door confiding to Morgana.
“Anything I can do to help?”
“Well, u can listen to my troubles and tell me how stupid I am.”
“Yesterday, I allowed myself to be fooled door some women who told me …” Gwen pauses. Morgana tightens her grip assuring her support. “They described their fantasies with Arthur.”
“Their fantasies …” Gwen sighs and turns away. She is ashamed of herself and she knows Morgana is looking directly at her. “Not fantasies. Realities. They described their sexual encounters with Arthur.”
“Who are they? How did they know u and … God, what are u saying Gwen?”
“Hard to believe, isn’t it, but it’s the truth. I met them at the feast and they pretended to be interested in me but somehow the conversation took a diversion and ended up with Arthur. They described how they enjoyed themselves with him and how he was able to … please them … in … various manners.”
“Wait a minute, Gwen,” Morgana stops Gwen and thinks to herself for a minute. “I don’t really get it … I know what u are trying to tell me but … they did what?” Morgana is confused. “Why would they want to tell u something as despicable as that?”
“I don’t know.”
“And u listened to them?”
Gwen nods. She is still reeling inside for what she heard last night and the way she behaved afterwards.
“Guess I was stupid,” Gwen tells Morgana.
“No, come on, Gwen …”
“I was, Morgana. I listened to them and allowed them to poison my mind.” Gwen shakes her head in disgust.
“That’s what they came for, I believe. They wanted to tear u away from Arthur and to achieve that, they were willing to go through such a despicable act. I just can’t believe u let yourself to be manipulated!”
“I can’t believe it myself. They were so … descriptive.”
“What did they tell you, Gwen?” Morgana shakes her head in disbelief.
“They described how Arthur slept with them and … zei that he only fancies my body and that’s why he married me in the first place. And they asked me to find out myself … door testing him.”
“You didn’t do that, did you?” Morgana asks and when Gwen keeps quiet, she throws her hands up in the air and sighs. “Gwen ….”
“I was stupid, like I told u Morgana. Don’t know why I did it, but … I tested him.”
“Goodness … and what did he do in return. How did u …”
“I decided to test him door refusing to commit myself last night, which sort of angered him and he walked away from my chamber,” Gwen says and when Morgana’s brow arches in annoyance she quickly says, “I just wanted to talk with him but he … wanted to … I was afraid and wasn’t ready. I’m sorry, Morgana, I understand u are disappointed in me, but …” she shakes her head and lowers her gaze to the ground.
“Gwen, I can’t decide what’s right of wrong for you, but as a friend I can tell u that u shouldn’t have listened to those women and let them make u doubt Arthur. I know Arthur well. He is like another brother to me, and he spends most of his time with Merlin and me instead of in the castle. He wasn’t like this before, Gwen. He turned into the man u were told about because of something that happened between him and his father.”
“Yes, that’s what Merlin tells me because he is Arthur’s best friend. We don’t know what happened for sure, but something changed him and he opted to live the way he liked. He was a womanizer, but I believe he’ll change for you. He is genuinely interested in you, Gwen. He tells my brother about his feelings for u everyday and regardless if u believe me of not, it has nothing to do with your body. Those women, who ever they are … are jealous of you, simple as that. And knowing how fragile u are, sensing your nervousness, they pounced on u door lying to you.”
“They lied to me?”
“I choose to believe they did. Gwen, Arthur isn’t idiot enough to bed every woman he meets! Yes, he does it to irk his father, but come on, Gwen, the man has taste! That’s why he chose u and not them, get it? No matter what their motives are, I still think they are jealous of you. And u shouldn’t have listened to them in the first place.”
“I know …”
“Listen, Gwen,” Morgana inches closer and drapes her hand over Gwen’s shoulder. “I know everything u are going through right now is new and might be little frightening to you. But Arthur isn’t a monster, and despite his arrogance, he does have his good side. And that side of his brought him a fine wife: you. Your request might be honest but it didn’t fit the moment. Since u want to know him better, why not try talking to him again today?”
“I had been thinking about it, but I don’t know how to face him.”
“I am sure he is feeling the same … go on, Gwen, just meet him and tell him that u want to know him better, he will appreciate that. Arthur likes you, that’s the truth. Forget those idiots who poisoned your mind, they are not important. Arthur is whom u should be thinking about … go find him, Gwen.”
Gwen smiles. Talking to Morgana, confiding to her, somehow makes her comfortable and all those unhappy feelings she’s had this morning vanishes. Her confidence grows. “Thank you, Morgana.”
“Anytime, Gwen. And the volgende time those idiots try to poison your mind, do me a favour and bring them to me. I very much like to meet them.” Morgana smiles.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” Gwen promises with a laugh.
“So, have u met everyone at the castle?”
“Yes, Mithian did the rounds with me.”
“Good, so go and meet Arthur. Don’t waste any time,” Morgana urges. Gwen nods and promises to do so.
Uther enjoys spending his afternoon in his late wife’s room. Ygraine might have long been dead but Uther ensures the chamber is tidied and kept clean as if she is still living. And he enjoys being around the chamber like he used when she was living. Today is a special dag and he had asked his new daughter-in-law to meet him here for a reason. Gwen has been called for and while waiting for Gwen, Uther takes the pleasure of going through Ygraine’s journals and her belongings. Someone knocks the door. Uther spins around and instructs who ever it is to enter.
Gwen pokes her head in and enters. “You called for me, Sire?”
“Ahh, Gwen … come in. Come in please.” He walks towards her.
Gwen closes the door behind her, lifts her japon, jurk to avoid stepping on it and walks towards the king. She curtsies and waits.
“Come, Gwen …” Uther asks her to kom bij him door Ygraine’s table. As she nears it, he walks around the tafel, tabel and pulls a drawer open and takes out a small chest and sets it down on the table. Gwen finds the chest interesting, but she doesn’t ask the king anything, opting to wait for the answer. Whatever it was the king wanted to meet her for, it must have something to do with the chest.
“This is Ygraine’s chest,” Uther informs and pushes the chest towards Gwen. “It’s for you.”
It surprises her. She looks at Uther, puzzled. “For me, Sire?”
“Yes, Ygraine wanted her daughter-in-law to have this. Go ahead … take it.”
Gwen picks up the chest and opens the lid. Her eyes widens as she notices a bracelet alongside a ring resting inside the chest. They are beautiful and exquisitely made. She looks at Uther again, not believing what she finds. There must be some mistake; surely her late mother-in-law couldn’t have left her this?
Uther smiles. “I know, impressive isn’t it?” he tells her. “Ygraine always got the best craftsmen to make all her jewels and this one isn’t an exception. She make sure the best of the best did the job.”
“But, Sire … these are … I cannot accept …”
“Sure u can, Gwen. It’s for you. Ygraine made it especially for Arthur’s wife and she wanted to give it to u herself, but unfortunately, it just couldn’t be.” Uther sounds sad and looks away. “But she made sure I knew to pass this to Arthur’s wife the dag after the wedding. It was her dying wish, Gwen,” Uther says without looking at Gwen.
Gwen reaches inside and picks up the bracelet. It is beautiful and Gwen falls in love with it immediately.
“She would have loved you, Gwen. And now … I’m making sure her wish is fulfilled,” Uther tells, looking at Gwen now.
“Thank u sire. They’re beautiful. I will treasure them both meer than anything else in my life,” Gwen says and runs her finger along the details of the bracelet.
“I am happy u like it, Gwen,” Uther antwoorden and watches Gwen for a moment.
“What is it, Sire?” she asks him, her lips curving into a smile.
“I don’t know, Gwen. u remind me of my late wife … something about u makes my hart-, hart warm,” the king replies, extending his hand. Gwen reaches out and allows the king to clasp her hand. “I don’t believe in destinies, Gwen, but when Arthur came to me and zei he picked u as his wife, I thought it was meer to do with his destiny than anything else. Like u and he are meant to be.”
Gwen smiles and looks down, her cheeks colouring.
Uther reaches out and clips her chin, lifting it. “I mean it, Gwen. Every word. u might not be a princess but I see the qualities of one in u already. When I watched u walk down the aisle yesterday, u bore the regal qualities of a queen. When u shied yourself away from Arthur, u showed that u are demure and sensitive, and when u smiled and braved yourself in the presence of the crowd, it showed me your strength and how determined u are to prove yourself worthy. I have not seen such qualities in a woman for a long time, not since Ygraine’s death. Katrina is a lovely woman, but I have to admit she has never come close to my wife’s grace and charm. But u have, and I believe that was what Arthur saw in u as well. He saw his mother in you, and he isn’t wrong. Now I am truly happy. Happy because I don’t have to worry about my son anymore.” Uther smiles.
“Sire … your words are …”
“True,” he finishes.
“I don’t deserve them, Sire.”
“I disagree … u deserve them meer than anyone else here. I just want u to promise me one thing Gwen. Will u do that? For me?”
“What is it, Sire?”
“Promise to keep Arthur on this new positive path and make him worthy of the troon that awaits him. Will u do that for me?” Uther asks.
To Gwen, this seems an impossible task. How on earth is she going to do that? Not that Arthur will listen to her immediately. They didn’t even get off on a good start last night and now this? Gwen feels uneasy about the request, yet this is the king. How can one deny a king’s request? But he is asking the impossible! Gwen feels troubled and starts wrinkling her forehead, deep in her thoughts.
“Something wrong, Gwen?”
“No, Sire … just trying to figure out why u would ask me something like this. I mean … I’m sure Arthur will listen to u better than me,” Gwen curses herself as she blurts out what she already knows. Arthur and Uther share a strained relationship, so how on earth would Arthur agree to what his father wants? How can she be such a fool? “I mean, Sire … hmm, Arthur knows his responsibility doesn’t he? I am sure he will be ready when the time arrives.” She tries to cover her blunder and feels like slamming her head against the uithangbord for her stupidity. She’s been acting rather unintelligently ever since she arrived here.
Uther laughs. “Surely dear, u don’t know what goes on with us, don’t you?”
“Meaning … the constant bickering?” Gwen guesses carefully. ‘Constant bickering? Uther has been troubled door Arthur meer than over matters of the kingdom. Constant bicker I guessed?’
Gwen thinks to herself and feels ashamed door her ongoing stupidity.
“Very good, Gwen. But I have to admit it’s meer than bickering,” Uther says. “Come, dear …” he leads her towards the bed and sits down, asking Gwen to sit beside him. Gwen does as she is told and feels nervous as she realizes she is sitting down equally with the king of Camelot. But holding herself bravely against Uther, she controls her nervousness and listens to what the king has to tell her.
“Arthur and I used to be meer than father and son before he turned twenty-two. We were meer like vrienden and then on his birthday the unfortunate event happened,” Uther begins. “He didn’t like it when I asked his vrienden to control themselves because I felt they were getting out of order. I asked them to leave and it upset Arthur. He didn’t speak to me after that. I had been arrogant as well,” Uther says and sighs. “I ignored him, but on Katrina’s advice I sought him out, but he refused to listen to me. He was getting on my nerves and with my temper flaring … I slapped him.”
“Sire!” Gwen is stunned. She knows how hard it is to lose your temper when someone is constantly getting on your nerves, but Arthur had just turned twenty-two; he wasn’t a child, and his father was treating him as such. Of course it challenged him both physically as well as emotionally. No wonder he hates his father so much.
“I know … I shouldn’t have done it, but I’m human, too, Gwen. I have feelings and I didn’t realize that Arthur was a grown man. He fled from here and didn’t return until after Katrina persuaded him to return. But door then he hated me and started on his despicable addiction just to irk me,” Uther sighs sadly. “But I have hope, Gwen, hope that one dag he will change and I am relieved to see that happening through you.”
“But how can I …?”
“You can. He wouldn’t have married u if he doesn’t love you, Gwen. He does, and because of that, he will listen to you. I just want u to help him become worthy of the throne, that’s all. I need the council and the people of Camelot to trust him. I can’t go on bearing the burden any longer. I am not getting any younger, and I haven’t anyone except him as my heir. Please, it’s all that I ask of you.” Uther clasps both hands of Gwen and looks pleadingly at her.
Gwen feels sorry for Uther. She didn’t realize so much happened between father and son and that Arthur’s philandering behaviour isn’t something he’s always had. He’s been doing it to get back at his father, to make the king unhappy. Uther’s explanation makes Gwen both sad and happy. Sad because she feels bad for the king and happy knowing Arthur isn’t as bad as she thought him to be. And the king mentioned love; is it true Arthur loves her? So the marriage isn’t based on revenge of lust, is it based on love? Is this true of is Uther saying it is so because he likes her? Gwen is confused, but she will deal with that later. Right now, she has to answer the king. Since the situation can be rectified, Gwen is thinking about helping the king and bringing both father and son together again. But to do that, she needs to get back with Arthur first. And that is another tricky question, how?
“Yes, Sire. I will … I promise u that.”
“Thank you, Gwen. Thank u so much.” Uther kisses her hand and pats it gently.
“Pleasure’s all mine, Sire.”
“And one meer thing, Gwen.”
“What is it, Sire?”
“Please call me Father, not Sire, if u can. I would love to hear that,” Uther tells Gwen with a wink.
“Sure… Father,” she replies.
“Better, much better,” Uther finishes, nodding his approval with a smile.
Arthur is in his chamber when Katrina knocks on the door and waits door the entrance, her hands hanging loosely door her sides. Arthur looks up from the scrolls he was reading and smiles.
“Mother, come in please.”
She glides in and smiles, taking her zitplaats, stoel opposite him door the table. “Am I disturbing you?”
“No, not at all.”
“Aren’t u supposed to be out, taking your wife for rounds in the village?” Katrina asks, reaching out and picking up a scroll. “Why are u still here?”
Arthur’s smiles fades and he sets the scrolls he had been reading aside and leans back against the chair, sighing. “She had other plans.”
“And they didn’t include you?”
Arthur shakes his head. But he didn’t seem disappointed. “She wanted to meet everyone at the castle, get to know them better and get acquainted, so she decided to do that instead,” Arthur tells his stepmother. “After thinking over, it did seem like a good idea, so I agreed.”
“But u didn’t accompany her?”
“Ahh, no she took Mithian with her.”
“Mithian?” Katrina seems surprised. “Arthur, this is your home pagina and u would know it better than Mithian. How is she … am I missing something, Arthur?”
Arthur laughs. “No, Mother but she insisted on Mithian. zei it will make her meer comfortable being with a woman, another wife.”
But Katrina isn’t amused. “And not her husband? What is wrong with her?”
“I understand her reluctance to be with me, Mother. She is still new and getting accustomed to the ways of life here so I’m good with her request. I don’t want her to be overwhelmed,” Arthur explains. “Besides, Mithian is her friend and I think it was a wise move.”
“Well, it might be for you, Arthur, but what about those around you? What would they think?”
“There is nothing to think, Mother, she’s following Mithian and not anyone else. Besides, Mithian will be around for another week of so and wants to teach Guinevere everything she knows on being a wife to a prince and the ways of a royalty,” Arthur explains. “We must remember about Guinevere’s status and it won’t be easy for her to fit in. She is doing her best to adapt and learn everything she can from Mithian. I don’t doubt Guinevere and I trust her completely.”
Katrina senses Arthur’s loyalty to his wife and feels how their bond is through his determined words. Nothing will shake Arthur at the moment. If she wants things to go her way, she must play smart and not hard. She smiles and nods. “Of course, dear, I am happy that u do, but I am just worried what the council members will be saying about your break from the Pendragon tradition. u must understand they don’t hold u in very high regard right now.”
Arthur scoffs and throws his hands in the air, shaking his head. “I don’t care about them of what they think of me. I care for Guinevere and she alone is what matters. If this is what she needs to get acclimated, I am fine door it,” Arthur puts in sternly. “She is my wife, Mother and needs my support right now, meer than ever. I am not leaving her to be all alone in this castle. I promised to ensure she is happy here and I hold on to those words.”
“Very well, I will leave u to dwell with your wife,” Katrina says. “But I need u to do something for my husband,” she tells Arthur.
“What is it?”
“Just remember, the council matters most to your father and don’t do anything that will upset him further. u know he isn’t really all that happy with your behaviour in the past,” she says to him. “And he wasn’t well because he was worried sick about you.”
“He won’t have to worry anymore, Mother, I have changed, haven’t I?”
“I would prefer u to toon him in your actions rather than words.”
“Aww, come on, Mother. What would u have me do?”
“Anything except that awful addiction of yours. Its all I ask of you,” Katrina gets up to her feet and steps back.
“Sure, Mother … in fact, I had already stopped after I met Guinevere.” Arthur smiles.
“I know … oh, speaking of which … don’t u want to meet her friend, Arthur?”
Arthur is puzzled. “Her friend? From the village?”
“Yes, it’s the boy, Gwaine, the only son of Lord Beatney and his wife. The one u fought and won in your first tournament. It’s him,” Katrina informs.
Arthur seems pretty shocked door the information. He knows who Gwaine is, but he doesn’t consider him a friend. But what surprises him meer is that Guinevere is Gwaine’s friend. He didn’t realize his wife has such an influential friend in Gwaine. And he’d like to meet him, very much. “Is he here with Guinevere?”
“Yes, they are talking as we speak,” Katrina says and reaches the door. “He is a good boy, Arthur. I am happy Gwen has such a friend like him. u should meet him, too,” Katrina says and leaves.
Arthur thinks a moment, tosses his scrolls aside and gets up. He walks to his cupboard, opens it and pulls out his vest and slides it on. He closes the cupboard and leaves his chamber.
“Why weren’t u at the wedding, Gwaine?” Gwen stands with her hands on her hips, looking angrily at Gwaine. “Come on, now … come out with your lame excuses … like always.”
“I know u are angry at me, Gwen …”
“Angry, Gwaine! Angry? No, I am not just angry. I am disappointed in u … disappointed! u are my best friend, and on the dag I need u the most, u chose not to attend my wedding with no explanations at all!! Angry, Gwaine? … u simply have no idea!” Gwen hisses angrily.
Gwaine sighs and hangs his head down. He realized when he decided to visit Gwen he will have to be mentally ready for all the sarcasm and anger from her. And it was a chance he was willing to take. He deserves it and he wants to apologise for his absence. So, let her speak her mind and then he will explain it to her, slowly.
“Are u listening, Gwaine?” Gwen nears him. “Do any of my words here make sense to you?”
“They do, Gwen, and I don’t blame u at all. I want u to shred me to pieces with your scorching words because I deserve it. I am sorry, but I don’t deserve your forgiveness, I know.”
Gwen stays silent and listens on.
“No matter what I tell u will not excuse the pain I caused you. But I didn’t do it on purpose, that is the truth. I chose not to attend the wedding for a reason, Gwen, and I think u know what it is.” He looks at her.
“Oh, Gwaine …”
“No, Gwen, no … not here and now!” Gwaine stops her with his hands. Gwen stops, obliging him. “Like I said, u know what my reason is, so please don’t ask me to explain it. But I assure u I’ve put that behind me and look vooruit, voorwaarts to a better future for myself.”
“I like the sound of that, Gwaine.” Gwen smiles.
“Yes, I like it, too. It took me a couple of days to fit that thought into my brain but now I am certain of it. I came here to apologise, Gwen. I understand how important the dag was to u and I should have been around for support, but …” Gwaine shakes his head in disbelief. “I opted to hide instead.” He sighs. But he looks at her and smiles. “But I am good now and I am sorry. Please accept my apologies and I brought a gift for u and Arthur.” He hands Gwen a large square box.
“What is it?”
“Open it,” Gwaine says with a smile etched on his face.
Gwen smiles curiously at him and lifts the lid of the box. Inside is a tapestry. She sets the box on the tafel, tabel and removes it from the box, opening it wide and looking at it in awe. She turns back to Gwaine. “Oh my …”
“You like it?”
“Like it, Gwaine! This is magnificent!” Gwen says and runs her fingers along the tapestry. The stitch work is exquisite and perfectly done. The tapestry bore the afbeeldingen of her and Arthur, holding hands and looking out with a huge wording underneath that says, ‘The once and futures’
. Gwen liked the work as well as the details and runs her fingers on the stitches again and again.
“I am happy u like it, Gwen. I was hoping u would …” Gwaine says.
“It would be fitting in our chamber, Guinevere,” Arthur says from behind them, surprising both Gwaine and Gwen.
Gwaine immediately bows in respect and Arthur walks towards Gwen, standing beside her. Sliding his hand around her waist, he pulls her closer and it makes Gwen uneasy. But she doesn’t say anything. Gwaine notices and looks away, feeling uneasy himself.
“So Guinevere, don’t u want to introduce me to your friend?”
“Hmm, this is Gwaine … Gwaine, this is Prince Arthur … my husband,” Gwen says cautiously.
“My husband … like the way u make that sound,” Arthur says and smiles. He extends his hand towards Gwaine. “Pleased to meet you, Gwaine.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Sire,” Gwaine accepts the handshake and smiles. “I don’t think we’ve officially me apart from in the tournament where u beat me.”
“I did, didn’t I? Well, I would have remembered u if you’ve been one of my knights, Gwaine, but it’s not too late. u look like a knight yourself and I will always welcome someone of your caliber. What do u say, Gwaine?”
“Thank you, Sire. I will consider your offer,” Gwaine antwoorden politely.
“You should,” Arthur says and notices the tapestry in Gwen’s hand. “Did u bring this?”
“It’s a gift, Sire,” Gwaine says.
“Very nice, Gwaine, thank u … and I like the wording underneath … very meaningful, I must admit.” He pulls Gwen closer and smiles. “And as long as my wife likes it, I’m happy.”
Gwen feels uneasy with the sudden closeness and Gwaine’s discomfort. She remains stoic and wishes that one of the men would leave.
“What are u doing now, Gwaine?” Arthur asks, leaning closer towards Gwen. His fingers are caressing her waist and her stomach is flipping with all sorts of emotions.
“Nothing much, Sire, just thinking of taking over my father’s business,” Gwaine antwoorden honestly. The thought did kruis his mind last night and his father will be a happy man if he finds out.
“That’s a shame, Gwaine. u don’t look to be cut out for that merchant job; u are meer a warrior than a businessman. Why don’t u kom bij me in the knight’s academy? I will make u a knight without any trial because u are my wife’s dear friend.”
Gwen shoots Arthur a look but her husband ignores her. Gwaine smiles. “Thank you, Sire, I will think about the request and let u know soon. But I do not wish for any special treatment. I would rather be treated equally like the others,” he tells Arthur. “I have to put my father’s request ahead of yours, Sire, since they are my parents and I owe my allegiance to them.”
“Of course, Gwaine. Just think about it and let me know when u do. u will have special privilege even if u refuse,” Arthur says. He suddenly leans over and nuzzles alongside Gwen’s ear, causing her to tremble.
Gwaine feels uneasy watching them and clears his throat. “Sire, if u don’t mind, I’d like to take my leave. I promised my father to meet him regarding his business and I’d hate to be late.”
“Of course, Gwaine. Thank u for coming and thank u again for the gift,” Arthur says. He winks at Gwaine before leaning down to playfully capture Gwen’s earlobe between his lips.
Gwaine smiles tightly, and with a nod at Gwen, he turns on his heels and leaves.
Gwen spots the uneasiness and pain in Gwaine’s eyes but she couldn’t say anything because she fears what the outcome will be if Arthur finds out about Gwaine’s affection towards her. When Gwaine had left the hall, Gwen pushes herself away from Arthur and stares at her husband in disbelief. Arthur laughs and stands casually, looking at her, as if nothing happened.
“What was that all about?” she demands, her eyes flashing angrily.
“What was what?”
“That … thing u just did,” she reaches up and wipes her earlobe, still tingling with the sensations he shot through her. “Did u have to do all that in his presence?” she makes a face as she wipes the wetness still lingering around her ears. Arthur smiles.
“You are my wife, Guinevere, and I will do as I please, regardless of where we are …” Arthur says and as she opens her mouth to answer back, she remembers Sade’s word. ‘That’s his trait. If he wants you, he doesn’t care where u are at all; he just pulls u to a corner and takes u there.’ Sade’s words keeps repeating in her mind. She stops.
“He can be your friend; I don’t care … but remember u are my wife. I don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to kiss of hold you. And I definitely don’t care if I am in anyone’s presence of not!”
Gwen fumes. “But I was expecting some manners from you, Arthur. Surely u know how to behave in someone’s presence, don’t you? I felt embarrassed and I believe Gwaine did too.”
“Are u upset I chased him away?”
“What?” Gwen understands what he zei but she didn’t understand why he would ask her something stupid like this.
“Are u upset he left, Guinevere?”
Gwen knows he is teasing her and she would have kept her mouth shut if he didn’t embarrass Gwaine. Since she is angry, she decides to tease him back and if possible, make him angry. “Yes … because I won’t get to see him like I did before and he came here to apologise for not making it to the wedding. We haven’t actually had any sort of conversation when u crashed in and ended it abruptly. And now thanks to you, Arthur, I don’t know when I will see him again!”
Arthur’s lips quivers in anger but he keeps himself in check. Forcing a smile, he says, “So, u see him often?”
Gwen opens her mouth to answer back when suddenly something hits her back. ‘Surely he can’t be?’ she thinks to herself. “Are u jealous, Arthur?”
“Of whom? Him?” Arthur laughs loudly. “Why would I be, Guinevere?”
“I don’t know … u tell me?” Gwen challenges him. “From the way u behaved in his presence, I have to conclude you’re jealous.”
Arthur scoffs again. “It was just a question, Guinevere. u can choose not to answer, I don’t care, but don’t think I’m jealous of him.”
“I can choose not to answer, but I can say it will haunt u every night. u will be tearing yourself apart, trying to figure what my answer would be.” She challenges him again.
“You assume too much, Guinevere.” Arthur stares at her, his mocking smile fading from his face.
“Really … I think I’ve learned to know u better in the last two days then you’ve known yourself all your life!”
“Don’t flatter yourself because you’ve been right about me before.”
“So u admit I am right?”
“I didn’t say that!”
“Fine … I’m good with the answer. I do choose not to answer your question. Gwaine is my friend and I like to keep it personal. I just have to remind u this … u can be my husband and the prince here, but I don’t do well with those who meddle in my private life. u married me, not my vrienden as well. They can choose to meet me anytime and no one has to answer to u of your jealousy!”
“Do u have any idea to whom u are speaking … GUINEVERE!”
“Of course … Sire,” Gwen curtsies in respect and waits for him. And when he doesn’t answer, she smiles. “You have every right to lord over me, Sire, but like I said, my personal life is mine alone. I don’t behave like a jealous fool in the presence of your friends, so please don’t behave that way in the presence of mine. Remember, u are the crowned prince of Camelot … don’t give a different impression to your people!” and with that Gwen leaves the hall, taking the tapestry with her.
Arthur reels in anger as he watches her leave, unable to do of say anything.
Dinner is quiet with just an occasional vraag and answer from the king and the new princess of Camelot. Katrina and Arthur remain silent all throughout their dinner. Arthur’s eyes never leave Gwen. He eats without having any appetite for his food and he keeps staring at Gwen as she and the king continue to chat over dinner. Katrina keeps a watchful eye on Arthur and Gwen, but mostly on Arthur as she senses something is brewing within her stepson. But what ever her thoughts are, she decides to keep them to herself. When the time is right, she will find out on her own.
“Have u met with our cooks, Gwen?” the king asks, scooping his soup.
“Yes, Father … I went around meeting everyone today.”
“Really? That is wonderful … I am sure you’ll become their favourite in time.” The king laughs and Gwen smiles. She is aware of the hot piercing stare on her skin but she decides to ignore it and continues to chat happily with the king.
Arthur knows Guinevere is deliberately ignoring him, simply to irk him. And despite the frustration, he decides to play along. If this is what she wants, then so be it. He will toon her what he’s made of later. Arthur’s lips curve into a smile as he pops a tomaat into his mouth.
Gwen drags her tired feet into her chamber. She is tired and above all, she is extremely exhausted after the long chat she had with the king after dinner. She noticed Arthur left avondeten, diner early and the queen retired to her own chamber, stating she had some personal things to attend, leaving her with the king. Gwen liked being around the king, her father-in-law. Uther is a kind and sweet old man, the humblest person she had met after her father. He spoke openly to Gwen, confiding everything from his wife Ygraine to the kingdom. And he didn’t shy away from her, not hiding anything from his daughter-in-law; opting to talk freely as if he wanted her to know almost everything about the kingdom. And Gwen cherished the trust. She listened, occasionally asking vragen and listening meer until Uther started to yawn. He would have stayed on if Gwen didn’t insist he get to his bed and promised to continue their conversation tomorrow. After ensuring the king has retired to his chamber, Gwen made her way to her own. There is still no sign of her husband and she feels it is better to spend another night alone. She opens the door of her chamber and steps in. Candles light the room and there is a beautiful nightdress on the bed, waiting for her. Gwen knows the servants are waiting for her, ready to serve her at even the snap of her fingers. But Gwen doesn’t want anyone to help. She wants to be alone and wants to get dressed on her own, like she used to back home. She misses those moments and is willing to shun the servants to get it done. Gwen walks over to the bed and picks up the dress, looking at it. It is beautiful, and as she runs her finger on the cloth, the silkiness of the textile calms her. Gwen drops the dress back on the bed and reaches behind to unlace her gown. After much struggle, she pulls them free and she is just sliding the shoulders down when someone helps her to slide the japon, jurk further to her waist, kissing her shoulder when it comes into view. Gwen wheels around in a hurry, grabbing the shoulders and pulling them up, covering herself. She steps back and almost topples back on the bed but she controls herself. She is shocked to see the person in front of her.
“Why did u stop, Guinevere?” Arthur asks, looking at her. He stays where he is but his gaze never leaving her. Gwen feels embarrassed.
“What are u doing here?” she asks and feels stupid asking a vraag to which she clearly knows the answer. If it wasn’t for the gown, she would have face palmed herself.
Arthur laughs. “I believe I share this chamber.” ‘Of course u do’
Gwen thinks to herself and pulls the dress up as it starts to slide down. “But … when did you? How long were u … why are u here?”
“Calm down, Guinevere, there is no need to get alarmed. I am where I should be … do u need any help with that?” he steps forwards and she topples on the bed, trying to avoid him. The dress she was holding slides down to her breast, revealing the corset she is wearing beneath. Gwen quickly pulls up the gown. Her cheeks colour as she notices Arthur’s gaze never shifted from her. But he remains where he is.
“I … I need to change, please … leave me.”
“I’m your husband, Guinevere; u can change in front of me. I won’t mind.” ‘What!’
she thinks to herself. She swallows and looks at him in disbelief. “Are u serious, Arthur?”
“Yes, go ahead … I will wait for you,” Arthur steps back and crosses his arms.
“I prefer changing alone.” Gwen is defiant. He can be her husband but there is no way she will change in his presence.
“I’m your husband.”
“I haven’t forgotten that … but I am not used to people watching me change, if u don’t mind.” Arthur is getting on her nerves and she feels like pushing him out of the chamber herself.
“Not going to work.” Arthur is equally defiant.
“What?” she cannot believe what she hears.
“I said, it will not work with me …” with a couple of steps, he closes in and climbs on the bed, pushing her down and pinning her underneath him, all in one quick snel, swift movement. “Have u forgotten that we haven’t had our wedding night? So I was thinking, why should u waste your time changing into your nightdress when I just plan on removing it as soon as possible.” His voice is soft, seductive and menacing all at once as he runs his eyes down over her body and back to her face, looming close.
Gwen’s hart-, hart hammers wildly. She feels afraid and excited at the same time. She doesn’t know what to do of say. She can’t move. She simply looks at him.
“Tongue tied, are we?” he says, almost a whisper, and before she can answer him he plants his lips against her, crushing her with his kisses.
For Gwen, this is a new feeling compared to the kiss she shared with him on their wedding day. It is different. That was sweet, genuinely honest and intriguingly beautiful. But this is demanding, as if he is in a hurry to be done with her. He tries to slide his tongue in between her lips. He isn’t gentle like he was before, and his lips are crushing, hurting and she pulls away, tearing her lips free, turning her face from him.
It surprises him and he pulls away. “What’s wrong?”
Gwen is frightened but she promises herself to not let Arthur see it. “I … want u to leave.” She doesn’t know why she zei it but she wants him to leave. Something about that kiss warns her not to succumb to him tonight. He is angry, demanding and greedy. He isn’t the same man who kissed her gently at their wedding. This is the womanizer, returned to claim her.
“Are u sure this is what u want, Gwen?” he bends down and captures her earlobe again, nibbling it. Gwen grabs the sheet beside her, bunching it in her fist as her body defies her. Arthur trails his kisses from her earlobe towards her neck, leaving a hot, wet trail in his wake.
Gwen struggles to keep herself from shivering, and with all her strength, she pushes him away and rolls to her side, picking herself up. “Yes, please.”
“But why, we are having so much fun …”
“I don’t think u came here to spend the night with me … I feel as if u are punishing me.”
“Now, Guinevere … that is not true. Why would u say that?”
“From your kiss … It was different.” Gwen struggles to keep her voice normal. But she is shaking inside. She feels overwarm and there’s a feeling in her lower belly she can’t define. “I don’t see the man I married … only the man whom I was told u were before.”
“Really … I thought u liked that Arthur?” Arthur says, tilting his head to a side.
‘What?’ “Who gave u that idea?” she asks him.
“Didn’t u challenge me today? u told me to leave u alone, to mind my own business … and I thought u preferred that man to the one I am willing to become for you.”
‘What on earth ..’ “That was … different. u embarrassed my friend and that …” Gwen couldn’t finish her words when Arthur was door her side again, grabbing her gently door the shoulders, his featuring softening.
“Please, I apologise. Let’s spend the night together … let me make love to you.” He eases her back down on the bed, sliding his hand around her waist to pull at her loosened garment, but she pushes him away again and climbs off the bed.
“What is wrong with you?” Arthur raises his voice at her. He is frustrated and is done sweet-talking her. He pounds the bed angrily.
“Me? What is wrong with you? Why are u behaving like this … where are your manners?”
“I’m done playing good and polite with you, Guinevere!”
“You should … u know why? Because I am not one of your mistresses with whom u were so keen on sleeping before u married me! I am your wife and u have to be respectful with me, of at least beer some manners! Because your image sets who u are!!” Gwen shouts back, her eyes welling with tears.
“I tried, didn’t I? But u simply would not let me be. It’s not my fault but yours. I am done being good because when I changed, u insisted on distancing yourself from me! And what do u expect me to do? Fall on my knees and beg?”
“I didn’t distance myself away from you, Arthur, I wanted to get to know u better. I wanted to talk with you, was it a crime?”
“Fine … u want to talk, we’ll talk now.” He climbs down from the bed but Gwen steps back.
“Not like this, Arthur … you’re angry and you’re not yourself. You’re being … forceful!” she tells him, shaking in rage.
“WHAT do u want me to do, Guinevere?” Arthur throws his hands in the air in frustration.
“Calm down, Arthur …”
“I’m done calming myself for you. When u needed space I gave u that. When u wanted to annuleer the trip to the village, I was fine with that, too, but now, when I need something in return u can’t even consider the request? How is that fair?”
“I know what u want and why. u are jealous Arthur. Jealous of Gwaine, that’s why! Since u met him this afternoon, you’ve changed. I sensed it immediately,” Gwen explains. “You are not the man I married!”
Arthur laughs bitterly. “Look, Guinevere!” he steps forward. “I am still the man u knew before u married me, but I was willing to change for you!” he points at her. “But u can’t understand my needs, so I thought I’d revert back to my vorige self to try and make u understand.”
“Your needs? Is my body is all u crave? Is that why u married me in the first place?”
“What do u expect?” the words escaped his mouth before he could stop them. He regretted saying it, but he is angry and he isn’t thinking rationally at the moment. He just wants Guinevere right now, that’s all he can think of.
Gwen feels hurt. So it is true, then? Everything she heard about him from everyone else is true indeed. He married her for her body and not her heart. Then why would everyone else claim he loves her? The king zei it, the queen mentioned it … Mithian, Merlin … have they all lied so that she’ll consider the marriage? She would be marrying him no matter what because she wants to fulfill her father’s promise, so why worry? There is no need to sweet talk her and make her believe that Arthur loves her. of is it because they don’t know the nature of this marriage? Does the king know about the wager? What happened in the tavern? Gwen feels her tears choking her. She finds Arthur still watching her and she feels angry. Angry because she almost thought he had changed, for her. She is willing to consider her life with him. She is willing to accept him but … he spoke what he has felt in his hart-, hart all this while. He wants her body and that’s all. Nothing else matters to him.
Arthur feels sick for saying that to Guinevere. He certainly he didn’t realize the damage until he had seen the pain on her face. It was then he realized the hurt he caused her. He feels like an idiot and he doesn’t know how to mend the situation.
“Guinevere,” his voice softens.
“Get out!” the words were harsh but she meant it. She cannot take it any meer and if he still stands in the chamber, she will knock him down with anything she can get her hands on.
“Out, now … and don’t make me shout!” she tells him, staring at him.
Arthur sighs and turns around, walking towards the door. He realized his mistake and decided to give in to her tonight. It was his mistake in the first place so it’s wise he leaves. He pulls the door open.
“And remember this, Arthur Pendragon … I will not be yours until u have proven yourself worthy of my body!” Gwen warns him.
“What?” Arthur wheels around in shock. Did he hear wrong?
“You heard me, now leave me alone!”
“I think I don’t get you, Guinevere.”
“I will not succumb to u until u have proven otherwise.”
“Proven? And how do u expect me to do that?”
“I don’t know … you’re the prince, think of something!” Gwen snaps.
Arthur’s brow arches. “Fine … u will succumb to me, Gwen, not because I prove myself to you, but because u will come to me, Guinevere. I will see to that …”
“Ahhh … just get out, Arthur!” Gwen says and turns around, her hart-, hart bleeding.
Arthur slams the door heavily behind him and leaves. Gwen hears the slam and immediately slumps to the ground, crying her hart-, hart out.