Part 18: link
“Ssshhh, Merlin! Guinevere is probably sleeping,” Arthur whispers loudly as he stumbles through the door, Merlin at his elbow.
“Yes, Sire,” Merlin says dutifully, not commenting on the fact that Arthur is the one making all the noise and that he has been quiet as a mouse.
Merlin closes the door silently and helps Arthur undress. He’s not that far gone, but gone enough,
Merlin observes, noting the king is still able to bend and remove his boots without tipping over.
Arthur catches sight of Gwen sleeping, and he stops and stands, gazing down at her. “Aw, look at her, Merlin. So peaceful.”
“Yes, Sire,” Merlin answers, not looking. Not really proper for me to look upon the sleeping form of the queen, even if she is one of my best friends.
“She’s so beautiful,” he drawls on, grinning like a silly child. He turns to look at Merlin again. “I really l’amour her, toi know that, Merlin?”
“Yes, Sire, I do.” I knew it before toi did, Clotpole.
“Goodnight, Arthur.” Merlin nods and leaves Arthur to stumble to the lit on his own.
Arthur flops down on the lit and the mattress heaves under his weight. Gwen stirs slightly, and Arthur whispers, “Sorry.”
She doesn’t wake, just snuggles back in, cuddling the blankets clutched in her hands under her chin. I can’t wake her. She’s sleeping too well. And I’m a little drunker than she’d probably like me to be.
Arthur nestles in under the covers and spoons up behind her, pulling her back against him, holding her.
Gwen sighs in her sleep and shifts slightly, settling in against him. He scowls at the nightdress blocking him from being able to feel her skin beneath his hands, but closes his eyes nevertheless. Perhaps we’ll have some time in the morning.
Merlin walks the corridors of Caerleon Castle, heading for the servants’ quarters, where he is to bunk for the night.
“Merlin,” a voice calls from the shadows. Merlin stops. I know that voice.
“Gwaine,” he replies.
Gwaine steps into view, his face uncharacteristically serious. “Walk with me, Merlin,” he says, strolling past.
“Okay,” Merlin says, cœur, coeur thumping just a little. He’s been giving me odd looks ever since I dropped that arbre branch on Bertrand…
The two men walk out into the courtyard, where they can speak without risk of being overheard.
“What’s on your mind, Gwaine?” Merlin finally asks.
“I saw what toi did, Merlin,” Gwaine says simply. I’m not giving anything away.
“I saw toi make that branch fall on Bertrand’s head during the ambush.” Gwaine turns and looks squarely at Merlin. “You used magic, Merlin. I saw it.”
“Are toi going to arrest me?” Merlin challenges.
“Because I know toi did it to save Gwen.” He pauses. “Plus, then I
would have to tell Arthur,” he raises his eyebrow.
“Right.” Merlin sits on a nearby bench, his head in his hands.
“I… I don’t understand, Merlin. How? Why?”
“I was born with it, Gwaine. It is part of me, part of who I am. It’s a blessing and a curse, and I cannot turn it off. All I can do is control myself. Control how and when I use it.”
“You shouldn’t use it at all. It’s illegal.”
Merlin looks up at him.
“I know, I know, it’s not as simple as that,” Gwaine allows, sitting beside him.
“Does anyone else know? Does Gwen know?”
“No, Gwen doesn’t know. But Gaius knows. My mother knows, of course. Lancelot knew.”
Merlin nods. “Long story. He had been around many years ago, shortly after I arrived here. He’d known since then.”
They sit quietly.
“You should tell him. Tell Arthur.”
“That’s what I was trying to do with that branch. I, um, actually wanted him
to see, not you.”
Merlin nods. “Arthur wants me to be his personal advisor. He asked me last night. Well, he didn’t really ask…
Gwaine chuckles. “And toi told him no, I take it.”
“Because of this secret of yours.”
He nods again. “Gwen asked me to think on it some plus and give my answer when we return. I don’t know what to do. I don’t feel I can accept the post and keep my secret. But I want him to know that magic is not all evil. We’re not all Morganas ou Morgauses.” He turns and looks at Gwaine. “I swear to you, Gwaine, I have never used my magic for evil. Never.”
“I believe you, Merlin. But it’s not me toi have to convince.”
“I know. I’ve been carrying this weight for too long. I’m actually relieved that someone else knows, now. And I’m glad it’s you.”
“Thank you, Merlin. I won’t say anything, I promise. But only if toi promise me that you’ll tell Arthur.” Gwaine looks at him hard.
“I’m trying to figure out how to do that. I thought I had figured out how, but that backfired,” he says, pulling a loose thread from his sleeve. It unravels the seam a bit, and he curses softly. “Now I’ll have to mend this.”
“So mend it,” Gwaine says, a challenge in his voice.
Merlin looks at him, perplexed. “What?”
“I want to see. Fix your sleeve. I’m sure it can’t be plus difficult than making a large branch fall from a tree.”
Merlin looks around. They are alone. He looks up to the windows of the castle. Dark. He sighs, looks down at his sleeve, and mutters a couple words. His eyes flash or and the loose thread winds its way back through, joining the ends of the material together again.
“Easy as pie, hey?” Gwaine says. Merlin shrugs.
“Yeah. Something as simple as that, I can do with hardly an effort.”
“Have toi ever… killed anyone? Using magic?”
Merlin pauses. “Yes. But only when I had to, please understand.”
“You a dit toi never used your magic for evil, and I believe you, Merlin. I honestly cannot imagine toi doing anything evil to anyone, ever,” he chuckles.
“Agravaine. I killed him,” Merlin says simply. He is the first person I’ve told.
“Really? Good on you, Merlin!” Gwaine slaps his back, but Merlin finds no joy in his act.
“Is it? A life is still a life, Gwaine, even if it is a despicable one.” Merlin kicks at some rocks under his feet.
“Well, if anyone deserved it, it was Agravaine, that’s all I’m saying.”
They sit silently for another minute.
“What am I going to do, Gwaine? I want to tell Arthur, ou montrer him, I really
do. But I’d be risking my life.”
“Arthur trusts you,” Gwaine says.
“But that’s exactly the problem, don’t toi see?” Merlin yells, arms flailing in frustration. “He trusts
me. Unconditionally. And here I am, lying to him. All the time.
All these years.” He drops his head to his hands again, bunching his hair in his hands.
“Merlin, despite what most people think about me, I’m not just some carefree scoundrel who likes a good fight and a good drink. I know people. I can read them; I know how their minds work. How do toi think I’ve managed to survive so long with this mouth of mine?” he chuckles. “And I know this: Arthur loves toi like a brother. He does. And Gwen does, too. If anyone can convince him that magic isn’t all bad, it’s you.”
Arthur stirs in his sleep, reaching out for Gwen and finding only sheets. He opens his eyes. “Guinevere?” he asks sleepily. It appears to be just before dawn, the light pale and ghostly.
“I’m here, Arthur,” her voice floats over to him.
“Is everything all right?” he asks, leaning up on an elbow, looking for her.
“I had a basic matter that needed attention, my lord,” she says vaguely, appearing from behind a screen at one end of the room. Had to pee,
Arthur thinks, flopping back down onto the oreiller as she climbs back in beside him.
He pulls her into his arms and she rests her head on his shoulder. His fingers find the material of her nightdress, picking at it.
“I know, you’d rather I not have this on,” she mutters into his shoulder.
He chuckles, a low rumble in his chest. His hand trails to her chin, lifting her face to his, and he brushes his lips against hers once, softly.
“I was not really in a fit state when I came to lit last night anyway,” he mutters, s’embrasser her again, his hand creeping around behind her neck.
“I had a feeling,” she whispers back, her hand caressing his chest.
“This morning, however,” he says quietly, s’embrasser her again, “I am feeling quite
fit.” His lips drop to hers again, pressing firmly, persuasively, his tongue sliding vers l'avant, vers l’avant between her lips, which part automatically for him as his hand slides down her side, pulling at her nightdress.
“I see that,” Gwen says hoarsely as his lips leave hers to nibble her ear, her hand moving down below his waist, finding him hard and wanting. She grasps him and he inhales sharply.
“All right, you,” he says, his voice a warning tease. He sits up, pulling her with him, and yanks the nightdress off over her head as she giggles.
He lies back down, pushing her back gently beneath him so he can surround her with himself. I l’amour the feel of her beneath me,
he thinks, descending onto her, sucking at her neck as she gasps, her fingers feather-light on his back.
Arthur kisses lower, down to her breasts. He takes one in his hand, squeezing it gently, running his thumb across the nipple.
Gwen gasps a little louder, and he smiles, not realizing that it wasn’t exactly a gasp of pleasure. “Arthur,” she breathes, “gently, Love.” Gently?
“As toi command, my queen,” he mutters against her breast, his tongue running lazily across her nipple, making her gasp again.
She closes her eyes and finds herself wondering if Arthur will notice that her breasts are slightly fuller than normal. Then his fingers stroke her inner thigh, coaxing her legs apart, and all thoughts leave her head as he touches her, drawing forth a moan.
Arthur lavishes her with kisses, between her breasts, down to her stomach, where he scatters light kisses across the soft but taut skin there, before climbing back up again to her other breast.
Gwen bends her knee, raising her thigh to brush against his manhood. Arthur groans in the back of his throat and she reaches down to take him in her hand again, softly, taunting him with the gentle contact.
“Guinevere, don’t tease,” he growls seductively into her neck as he makes his way back to her waiting lips.
“Very well,” she answers, tightening her fingers suddenly.
“Oh!” he grunts, body jerking just slightly. His head falls against her shoulder for a seconde before he readjusts his position, crawling between her parted thighs. He drops his hips and lets her guide him into her. He enters slowly, following her earlier instruction of “gently.”
She moans quietly as he slides in, unconsciously curling a leg around him as he moves. Arthur finds her lips with his, nibbling softly at them before claiming them as his, tongue delving in again, mirroring the motions of his languid thrusts, taking his time, drawing out the sensations for them both.
Gwen’s hands find their way into his hair, feeling the silken threads slide between her slender fingers as she rakes her hands through them. Arthur moves once again to Kiss her neck, her collarbone, her throat, and she sighs again.
He reaches his hand down to grip her thigh, sliding up its silken length to her hip as he buries himself deep within her.
“Guinevere…” he breathes into her neck, the word a whispered prayer.
She skims her hands down his shoulders and chest before wrapping her arms around him, pulling him as close as she can while still allowing him to move.
Arthur watches her, her skin taking on a rosy flush as she grows warm with the desire building within her. She squirms slightly, her head tossing to the side. He takes advantage of this, biting her exposed neck lightly before flicking his tongue against the skin there.
“Mmm… oh… oh…” Gwen starts to moan, and Arthur decides it’s time to pick up the pace.
He increases his tempo, but nothing else, sliding easily as he finds her breast again with his lips, his tongue, and she cries out softly, clinging to him as she arches her back and digs her nails into his muscled back.
Grinning, Arthur kisses her parted lips once as he continues to his own climax, not far off. Gwen eases her grip on his back, rubbing her hands against the spots where her nails dug in, soothing them, even though she knows he doesn’t mind the slight abuse. She gazes up at his face, watching his mouth, his closed eyes, his determined passion visible there. He is a beautiful man,
she thinks, and reaches up to stroke his cheek with her fingertips.
Arthur opens his eyes at her touch and looks down at her. Their eyes lock on each other as he comes, the sensation forcing his eyes closed again as he rushes into her, turning his face into her hand, delivering a long groan into Guinevere’s palm.
He drops carefully over her and immediately rolls to the side, pulling her with him.
“Good morning, Wife,” he says, s’embrasser the haut, retour au début of her head.
“Good morning, Husband,” she answers, s’embrasser his chest and closing her eyes. I could go back to sleep,
she realizes, and allows herself to drift and doze in Arthur’s arms.
She doesn’t know how much time has passed ou if she fell back to sleep ou not, but Arthur’s voice registers, drawing her back to reality again.
“Why didn’t toi tell me?”
“Tell toi what?” she mumbles against his chest, eyes still closed.
“Love, I may be somewhat ignorant about the, um inner workings
of a woman, but I do know how to count,” he says quietly, his hand straying to rest on her stomach.
Gwen’s eyes fly open. “Arthur—” she starts to explain.
“I’m not angry, Love,” he says kindly, feeling her body tense in his arms. She softens again.
“I did not realize it myself, honestly,” she says.
“So… so I’m right? toi are?”
“Apparently so,” she says, looking up to see him gazing intently down at her. Are those tears in his eyes? They are, bless his heart.
He kisses her suddenly, intensely, his arms tight around her.
“So how exactly did toi figure it out?” she asks once he releases her lips. She is quite curious how he worked it out when she did not even see it herself.
“Well…” he says, grinning sheepishly. His hand moves to cover one of her breasts. “These
seem to have been getting, um, larger, lately.”
Gwen laughs at the blush that creeps across his cheeks.
“And then toi gasped and I thought it was because toi were enjoying yourself.”
“But then toi asked me to be gentle, which toi never do.”
Gwen’s brows furrow. He was thinking all this in the midst of…?
As if he has read her thoughts, he chuckles and says, “Trust me, I didn’t put these pieces together until after.
“I was wondering,” she laughs as well.
“Then somehow I thought of our conversation that day,” he says. He doesn’t need to explain which
day. “And I did some counting, based on what little information I had. I figured since toi refer to it as your ‘monthly,’ well…” he trails off.
“Yes,” she says simply, acknowledging that he figured correctly.
“So then I counted. And counted again. And a third time. Then I remembered your hunger. And the, um, needing to heed the call of nature rather plus than usual.”
“It appears toi do indeed know me better than I know myself, Arthur,” she laughs.
“How did toi not know?”
“I Lost track of the weeks in the flurry of activity while planning this trip. I just learned of my condition last night, in fact. Annis told me.”
you?” Arthur is amused par this.
“Pretty much, yes. The woman has six children, Arthur, and she is very smart and very observant.”
“We actually had a lovely talk last night after we left you,” she says, curling into his side again, still sleepy.
“You can tell me about it later,” he says, s’embrasser the haut, retour au début of her head again.
Arthur holds her, hands idly caressing her skin, a large smile plastered across his face, pleased at how quickly they were able to conceive a child; a possible heir. We really shouldn’t be that surprised, though, considering how often we’ve been coupling lately,
he thinks, his smile changing to a delicious grin.
Then he remembers yesterday and the smile drops from his face and he sits bolt upright in the bed.
“Oh!” Gwen exclaims, dropping over to her own pillow.
“Guinevere! Yesterday… the ambush! Are… are toi sure…?” he looks down at her and asks, his voice panicked.
She smiles at his concern. “I’m fairly certain I am fine, Arthur. We both are, I mean.”
“How do toi know?”
“Well, I’ve seen no signs of any… trouble. There hasn’t been any blood, and other than being tired and hungry all the time, I feel fine.”
He scowls, not convinced. “But Bernard…”
“Bertrand,” she corrects.
“Whatever. He… he accosted
“He grabbed me, taking me par surprise, and held a sword to my throat.”
“As I said.”
“Arthur,” she sits up, holding the blankets around her, “he didn’t strike me ou injure me in any way. Which is plus than I can say for my treatment of him.” She smirks, and he manages a weak smile.
She reaches her arms out and pulls him down, so they are lying together again. She sighs. “However, if toi insist, Annis has offered to let me be seen par her court physician. Would this ease your mind?”
“Now,” she says, snuggling against him again. “It is very early. May I go back to sleep, ou are toi planning on having any plus outbursts?”
“Good morning,” Merlin says to Norah, who has just approached. Merlin is sitting on the floor outside Arthur and Guinevere’s room.
“Why are toi sitting on the floor?” Norah asks. “Sorry, good morning,” she adds, blushing, flustered.
“Unless specifically instructed, I don’t attend King Arthur until that door is unlocked,” he says, hooking his thumb at the door.
“Oh.” She does not need to ask why. They are still newlyweds.
Merlin pats the stone floor suivant to him. “Have a seat.”
“Nonsense, pull up some floor.”
“No, I… I should see to—”
She is interrupted par a click.
I knock,” Merlin says, standing. He knocks and the door is opened immediately par Guinevere, standing in her nightdress and dressing gown.
“Good morning, Merlin; Norah,” Gwen steps aside so they may enter.
“My lady,” Norah says quietly. The king’s manservant sees the Queen so casually dressed?
She sees out of the corner of her eye that Arthur is dressed in a pair of soft trousers and a simple white shirt, and breathes a sigh of relief.
“Norah, are toi all right?” Gwen asks.
“Forgive me, my lady, I am… not accustomed to shared quarters.”
Gwen smiles. “It’s all right. I imagine toi are shocked that Merlin sees me dressed as such?”
Norah nods. “Sorry, my lady.”
Gwen puts her hand on the maid’s shoulder. “First, stop apologizing, toi are doing nothing wrong. Second, it is
unusual, yes. But Merlin and I have known one another for a very long time, and I think of him like a brother.”
Norah’s eyes open wide at this, shocked.
“Were toi unaware that I spent most of my life as a maidservant, just as toi are?”
“I was aware, my lady, yes. It is all very confusing to me.”
“Try living it some time,” Gwen chuckles, drawing a smile from Norah. “It is a very long story. But do not fret about Merlin, ou about Arthur, for that matter.” She smiles, glancing over at her two favori men participating in their usual bickering on the other side of the room. “We are an unusual group, but nothing scandalous is going on, I promise you.”
“I never thought—”
“I didn’t think toi did, Norah. Simply trying to put your mind at ease,” she says lightly, walking to the privacy screen. Norah scurries to the wardrobe to retrieve the lavender dress.
“You’re very chipper this morning, Arthur,” Merlin says, surprised. “I’d’ve thought you’d be feeling like the dog’s breakfast today.”
“Merlin,” Arthur says, leaning over conspiratorially. He waves his hand at Merlin, beckoning him closer. “You’ll never guess.”
Merlin leans in. “What is it?”
“Guinevere’s…” his eyes drift across the room where Gwen is changing behind the privacy screen.
“What about Gwen?”
“She’s… we’re…” Arthur says, hardly able to speak the words. He’s been grinning like an idiot all morning.
Realization hits Merlin as Arthur struggles to form a complete sentence. His eyes pop wide open and he plunks down in the chair suivant to Arthur. “Really? Really?
Arthur nods, still grinning. “But don’t say anything. We don’t want to make any announcements till she’s had a chance to see Gaius. And the royal midwife.” He stops, angling his head. “Do we have a royal midwife?”
“I’m certain we can find one, my lord,” Merlin laughs. “Congratulations, Arthur, this is wonderful news,” he adds, clapping Arthur on the shoulder companionably. “At least now I know why you’ve had that silly smile plastered across your face all morning.”
“I have not,” Arthur says, pursing his lips, trying to wrench his face back to normal. “Ouch, smiling hurts,” he whines.
“That’s because toi don’t do it enough. The muscles aren’t used to such a workout,” Merlin teases him as he pulls garments from the wardrobe for Arthur.
“My lady, I will be gentle with the lacing,” Norah says quietly.
Gwen looks over her shoulder at the maid. “Don’t tell me toi figured it out, too,” she moans.
“I had a suspicion. My mistress did inform me this morning, however, just so that I might take… appropriate care of you, my lady.”
“You don’t need to whisper, Norah. He knows.”
“He does? But Queen Annis told me…”
“I know. I hadn’t planned on telling him, but he figured it out for himself this morning,” Gwen says.
How on earth did he do that?”
Gwen bites her lip and blushes. “Um… I don’t think toi really want me to answer that question, Norah.”
” Now it is Norah’s turn to blush again, and she doesn’t ask any plus questions as she finishes lacing Gwen’s dress.
Part 20: link