And so it came to pass…
Queen Guinevere stands on the city walls and looked out across the rolling hills. In the shadows and the folds of the land she knows so well an army is amassing, tramping through the familiar woodlands, washing in the streams. Somewhere out there is their commander, and sometime soon he will give the word to march on Camelot.
She wants to scream, to cry out at them to look at what it is they would be destroying. Arthur, her Arthur, is the greatest king that Albion has ever known. Beneath his benevolent hand the lands have known wealth and prosperity, they have unified and build up links of trade. Barely has the taint of war been known and the scars of previous generations have faded, hardly remembered.
And now it comes to an end.
She cannot fool herself. The king, down below her with his men, is not going to win this particular battle. His heart is gone from him and the light is dim in his eyes. She knows that this time he does not have it in him to win.
He loves his country and his people and he will fight with all he can give to protect them. But he does not have enough any more. Not since he lost Merlin.
Her thoughts turn to her dearest friend and confidant, the only person with whom she has ever truly had to share her king despite their teasing him that he was wedded to Camelot. She remembers Merlin as she first knew him, confident and diffident in almost equal measures, his wide smile and his laughing eyes. She had thought, once, that she loved him. And maybe he had thought that he loved her too.
And then they’d seen through each others’ pretences and she had thought for a while that she had lost him. How could they compete for the same man’s love?
And Arthur did love them both, in his way. She was his queen, but Merlin was his lover. She’d known, always known, that she was somehow the representative of his people, plucked from obscurity to the highest rank of her gender. He’d respected her, listened to her views and valued her opinions. And he’d loved her: tenderly, carefully, night after night.
But it was Merlin who made him scream.
She knows that she must have been jealous, at first. But the years have faded the memory as they’ve faded the lustrous sheen of her skin and rich darkness of her hair. Now she remembers realising that Merlin was jealous of her and how she could touch Arthur in public, of how the world considered her Arthur’s mate, no matter what happened behind closed doors.
She knows she was jealous, or why else would she have pursued an ill-fated passion with Lancelot? She had been so young and she had thought her worries so important.
Little had she known.
And so it came to pass…
They had had word, some fifteen summers into Arthur’s reign, after the wedding and after the wars when all was looking glorious in Camelot, that there was a threat on the horizon. Merlin had spent days, tight lipped, scrying in a bowl of silvered water and even Arthur had barely dared to disturb him.
And then she’d been called to Arthur’s council, the closest, most trusted band of his knights, and they had been told the truth.
Merlin had foretold the end of Camelot.
A child had been born somewhere in the west, and this child would bring down all they had worked towards. And, cutting deeper than any knife into Gwen’s heart, was the fact that this child was Arthur’s.
She cannot, even now, bring herself to think of her beautiful mistress. The pain and betrayal has not healed. That Morgana’s child could end everything…
And so it came to pass…
She hears shouts in the courtyard below her, and sees the mounted knights riding practice bouts with one another. She doesn’t see Arthur.
She knows that his heart is broken, but she doesn’t think that he sees that a part of hers is too. They have tried so hard, these last few months, to keep up a pretence that all is well.
But Merlin is gone, locked in a spelled sleep beneath a great oak by Nimueh, and without him they cannot continue. Arthur has not been the same man since Merlin was taken and it is this, above all that chills Gwen to the bone.
All too soon it will be time for the last battle. Mordred’s forces are stirring now, they are closing in on the gates.
All to soon those that she love will be relieved of their fears, their hopes, their troubles, their dreams. Those mortal coils will be cleaved from their bodies with the decent of an enemy sword.
It is not death that Gwen fears. She has always known that she is not immortal and that her time on this earth will end.
And yet she had though – Merlin had promised - that Arthur would live forever.
Author's Chapter Notes:
This was written before the season one episode "The Beginning of the End".