Please note: This is a reposting of this story, since the original posting seems to have disappeared and left only a link, but no story.
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. The characters as they appear are the property of Touchstone Films, and I make no money from this story.
SUMMARY: Guinevere and Lancelot finally confront each other the night before Badon Hill, and debate the meaning of freedom, loyalty, love, and each to the other. Movieverse canon.
PAIRING: Lancelot/Guinevere, with Arthur/Guinevere implied.
There was nowhere NEAR enough Lancelot/Guinevere interaction in "King Arthur," and this story was written to help remedy that situation. I thought the glances shared between Ioan Gruffudd (momentary fainting spell) and Keira Knightley were electric, and the fact that they weren't expanded upon is nothing short of criminal! I hope this story helps all those others out there who were dying for more L/G, like I was. If you enjoy, please leave a review! Thank you!
and all I see -
Love is an ocean,
And you for me…
-Sheila Chandra, "Ever So Lonely"
The curtain fell shut behind her with an almost silent whoosh as Guinevere left Arthur's bedchamber. The Roman commander slept soundly, which had been Guinevere's primary goal, though certainly not the only one. The morning would bring blood and death and smoke; let Arthur rest now, dreamless and relaxed. He would have need of the leisure come daybreak.
"You are his now."
The voice froze her in her tracks. It was not a deep voice, nor menacing, but managed somehow to express disdain with incredible ease.
"I belong to no man," Guinevere countered, turning slowly to face the whip-thin knight leaning against the wall down the corridor.
"Does Arthur know that?"
She crossed her arms. "What are you doing here, Lancelot?"
The Sarmatian pushed away from the wall and moved towards her, his angular face becoming a maze of shadows in the flickering torchlight. "I could easily ask the same of you, lady," he rejoindered, coming to a stop an arms-length from where Guinevere stood. "But I imagine I already know the answer."
Something about the way he said that made Guinevere flush, half with fury, half with… something else entirely. "This is none of your concern, Lancelot," she argued, raising her chin defiantly.
"Except that you are seducing my friend the night before his suicide march," Lancelot snapped, eyes flashing. "He will need to be alert if he even wants a chance at survival."
"And to be alert requires rest, which he was denying himself."
"So you endeavored to rock him to sleep?"
"You would rather I left it to another? Or perhaps you would prefer to do it yourself?" Guinevere's voice was clipped with anger, her cheeks burning. "I say again, this is none of your concern. This is not your fight, as you delight in reminding everyone within hearing distance at every possible opportunity. But this is Arthur's fight. MY fight. Whatever I can do I will do, if it means that come nightfall tomorrow I will still have a country and countrymen to call my own." She raked her eyes up and down his lean body. "You claim to have a great love of country, Lancelot, and you claim loyalty to Arthur, yet I wonder if you understand either. How is it you don't understand something as simple as survival?" It was a low blow, and she regretted it almost as soon as it was said; but she didn't apologize.
Lancelot's gaze, which had been placid until now, turned hard at her last statement. "Lady, you go too far," he growled dangerously, his voice uncurling like a bear waking in spring. "Never question my love of country again, woad, nor my loyalty to Arturius. I have bled BUCKETS for the man you left sleeping in that room." Here he gestured angrily to the curtained doorway behind her, his voice growing louder. "Not for Rome. Not for Sarmatia! For freedom! Country? What country can I claim? Am I Sarmatian still? There are days I question it. Yet could I call myself Roman? More Roman than Briton, that is a certainty. I. HAVE. NO. COUNTRY. I have a promise of a steppe and long grasses and wolves howling in winter, but I have nothing else. Save this." He took a step toward her, crowding her close to the wall, and raised a fist. A roll of parchment was clutched in his hand.
"I have freedom, Lady," he hissed, his breath hot on her face, his eyes a pair of smoldering coals that burned through the night's shadows. "Freedom won at Arthur's side. We have lived and died together, he and I, and now, when we might live as free men, PEACEFUL men, you fill his mind with talk of quests and destiny and FREEDOM. Do you think you can understand freedom? THIS freedom?" He shook the parchment at her, and Guinevere flinched away. "THIS is life, Lady. You offer him death and call it a comfort!" An incredulous laugh leapt from his lips.
Taking a step back, he threw the parchment at her feet. "There you have it, Lady," he snarled, pointing at the roll. "Step on it. Tread upon it. Use it to wipe your lily white arse if you will. That is what you have reduced Arthur's freedom to: garbage. And mine with it, and the freedom of every knight in our company. What have we fought for all these years, if not the chance to stop fighting when our indenture is finished?" He stared at her with something approaching revulsion, and Guinevere could barely keep her eye contact with him.
"You've killed too many of my brethren for me to believe you understand slavery," he muttered. Shaking his head, he turned and stalked away down the corridor.
"Good night, Lady!" he threw over his shoulder without looking back. "Keep warm. Dead men's bones make excellent kindling."
And he was gone.
It was snowing lightly, and the night was cold. Cold as a witch's tit, as Bors would say. Lancelot stood in the deserted courtyard, numb to the chill, head tilted back, eyes fixed on the stars overhead. As a child, his father had taught him the names of the star pictures painted against the night sky, but he loathed the names. Roman pictures immortalizing Roman heroes. Still, finding the patterns gave the knight comfort, reminding him that the world was far smaller than it seemed, and home was never far away; even if he didn't know where home was.
A soft thud at his feet drew his eyes down to the snowy cobblestones. A familiar scroll lay beside his boot.
"It's parchment." The knight looked up to find Guinevere advancing on him through the snow. She was wrapped in a black cloak that blended with the background, so that she seemed little more than a face floating on the cold north wind.
"Your powers of observation astound me," Lancelot muttered.
Guinevere ignored him and stopped by his elbow. "Pick it up." When he didn't respond, she bent down and rescued the scroll. Holding it up between them, she stared into his eyes. "Parchment, Lancelot. Easily burned, torn, ruined by weather or hard use." She shook her head faintly, eyes registering mild disbelief. "And yet you call this freedom?" He rolled his eyes and tried to look away, but Guinevere reached up with her free hand and grabbed his chin, forcing him to keep the focus between them.
"Freedom that needs a signature is not freedom, Lancelot," she said, her intense gaze flicking from one of his eyes to the other and back again. "It is merely another form of slavery. And yes, I understand slavery. We have killed your brethren while they fought for a cause not their own, yet you have slaughtered us in an effort to EMPTY MY COUNTRY." Lancelot's jaw tightened, but Guinevere continued. "Extermination, Lancelot. That was always the Roman goal. There would be no absorption into the legions for MY brethren; we are the heathen wildmen of the North. Tell me it never occurred to you. TELL ME YOU EVER EVEN CARED." Her face was mere inches from his now, despite their difference in height. "Were we ever anything to you but faceless chattel? Disposable driftwood you could use to build a bridge back to your precious slip of paper?" He could feel her chest rising and falling against his breastplate. The feathery flakes of snow that fell between them melted in the heat of her words and dewed on her lips, her lashes.
"Freedom is not guaranteed with sealing wax, Lancelot," she whispered, pressing the parchment into his chest. "Freedom is with us from birth, but too many of us spend our lives in cages others have built to hold our spirits in check. I am going to FIGHT for my freedom, be it from the Romans or the Saxons. Arthur understands this, and he fights for ALL PEOPLE, not merely himself. But you?" She shook her head, eyes dismissive. "You kill nameless thousands in the name of captors you despise, then lick their hand when they reward you for your service."
Lancelot pushed her away, grimacing with disgust. "DO NOT demean the things I have done!" he snarled. "ALL I have done - every last thing - I have done for ARTHUR, and only him! If I have killed nameless thousands, then I have done so only per his example."
"I thought you said you fought for freedom?"
Her voice was quiet, a sharp contrast to his fury, and it brought him up short. "I trusted Arthur to see us through," he said, breathless with anger.
"To see you through to what? To this?" She raised the parchment again. "This is from Rome, not from Arthur. Arturius has already begun to distance himself from the Empire. Does that make this worthless?" Lancelot watched with a hawkish gaze as she swung the scroll idly back and forth. "It must, since you hate Rome so much. This means nothing then." And she made to toss it into the reservoir that split the courtyard in two.
"No!" Lancelot exclaimed, reflexively leaping towards her and grabbing for the parchment.
Guinevere danced it away from his grasp. "Oh!" she remarked in faux surprise, as the knight tried to regain his composure. "So it is not so worthless as I assumed? It still means something to you?"
Lancelot gritted his teeth. "Yes."
"Curse you, woman."
"That is not playing nice, Lancelot. I had taken you for more of a gentleman. What does this scroll mean to you?"
Lancelot stared at the paper clutched in her hand, and tried to think of what to say.
"This is not a difficult question, Lancelot."
He glared at her. "Then answer it yourself," he growled.
Guinevere's eyes flashed, and he knew it had been the wrong thing to say. "This scroll is a Roman thing," she barked, holding it between two fingers as though it were a piece of filth. "Let it join the rest of its kinsmen as they LEAVE MY COUNTRY."
And with a deft turn of her arm, she sent the scroll sailing through the air, over the wall and into the night.
The howl ripped from Lancelot's lungs with such agony, it made Guinevere stumble backwards. His eyes were pinned to the top of the battlement, where the scroll had disappeared; but he quickly brought his gaze down to stare at her. She had expected fury.
What she got was devastation.
"Demon," he whispered, voice shaking. "Foul woman. DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!"
Guinevere stared at him in shock, watching as the knight slowly crumbled before her. His knees gave out and he fell to the ground, sobbing.
"FIFTEEN YEARS," he choked out through his tears. "FIFTEEN! I have seen so many men die in that time, it has become my measure of a lifetime! Each day I wake and marvel that I still breathe, that my heart still beats, that somehow, against all odds, I AM ALIVE." His streaming eyes bored into her heart, and she found tears were on her own lashes. "I have seen men die who were a hundred times more worthy of life than I. Kay. Bedewer. Dagonet! I have watched them die, and I have asked myself over and over, WHY DO I NOT JOIN THEM? What makes me worthy of this life? What special purpose do the gods have for me, that they would rob the world of so many good men, yet leave me to rot?"
Lancelot stumbled to his feet and hobbled towards her. "Fifteen years I have fought, and killed, and LIVED, with no discernible purpose." He raised a shaky hand to point at the battlements. "All for that piece of paper. That piece of Rome which you have so thoughtfully thrown to the Saxon wolves. Fifteen years of my life, hundreds of dead brothers, and me with blood staining my hands the color of wine!"
He stood before her on wobbly legs, and Guinevere grabbed his arms reflexively to keep him from falling over. "You can fight for your country, Guinevere," he whispered, using her name for the first time, voice thick with misery. "Your country has never been chained to a master as brutal as Rome. My brother knights have dreamt for years of returning to Sarmatia, but there is no Sarmatia now. There is merely Rome. Everywhere, Rome. Whether I despise the Emperor or kiss his robes with loyalty is irrelevant. Arthur fights for a world that will never be, but at least he has hope. I fight for a home built on the bones of dead horsemen, flagged with Roman cobbles, and flogged by Legion whips. That scroll was never what I wanted, but it was ALL I HAD. Can't you understand?" He clutched her face between shaking hands, eyes imploring. "Can't you SEE?"
Guinevere raised her hands and laid them on his vambraces. "Lancelot…" she whispered, the movement shaking tears from her lashes and sending them coursing down her cheeks in twin rivers. "Please…"
The knight's face creased in frustration and his hands sprung away from her face as though her flesh burned his palms. "You are blind to all but your own ends, Guinevere," he murmured. "Blind."
He made to turn away, but Guinevere grabbed his arm. "Wait," she said firmly, swallowing her tears.
"What have they done to you?" she mused softly, obviously not expecting an answer, moving closer and releasing his arm so she could raise her hand to cup his cheek. Her eyes explored his face as though he were an unknown country, full of terrible wonders. "How have they broken you?"
His back straightened. "I am not broken," he snapped indignantly, but the tears that lingered on his face belied his words, even to himself.
Guinevere shook her head. "You are. A broken man, but with a strong spirit. I see it in your eyes." Fresh tears filled her eyes. "You are right, Lancelot. I am blind to all that appears outside my goals. I should have… thought before I acted. I should have thought before I spoke."
Lancelot looked away. It was too hard to look at her.
"Why did you fight?" she inquired rhetorically, her fingers tracing his jaw. "Galahad fights for a home he barely remembers, and a woman he's yet to meet. Gawain fights for a home he DOES remember, and wants to see again. Bors fights for his children, though I'm sure he'd never admit it." Lancelot smiled faintly at that, and saw her smile in return. "Dagonet? Dagonet fought for his honor, and to defend the weak. He fought for friendship and for loyalty. Tristan… Well, Tristan fights because he likes to. And Arthur has fought always for Rome and the freedom he believed it represented."
Guinevere's fingers were lulling him into a trance as they combed through the hair at his temple. "I know now why you fought, Lancelot," the woman continued, her hand stroking his cheek soothingly. "You fought because you had nothing else. You fought so you could live, yes, but so do we all. You fought because your home is controlled by a duplicitous empire you despise, and you could not fight for it. You fought because your friends kept dying, one by one, and you desperately wanted to save them. You fought because the only man in this world you look up to has told you for fifteen years that you are free; but that same man taught you duty and loyalty, and so you stayed. And you fought. And you kept fighting until it became such a part of you, all you wanted to do was stop." She moved closer, reached around his armored torso to clutch his other arm, and turned him to face her once more.
"You fought because you hoped that someday someone would tell you it was the right thing to do," she murmured, rubbing his arms. "But what you don't understand, Lancelot, is that no one can tell you that except yourself. The years you have spent here in Britannia - have they been wasted? Only you can determine that. But I can tell you that before me, I see a fighter without equal. I see a man with such allegiance, he humbles me. I see a man who could easily have become a monster, but who helped shepherd a village of his enemies to safety, despite the risks and the danger to himself and his compatriots." She smiled through her tears and ran her thumb over his cheekbone. "You are a good man, Lancelot. It is that - your character - which is your dearest possession. Not a piece of paper signed in Rome, addressed to a faceless soldier. So if I have robbed you of anything, it is the misrepresentation of your own worth. But if you must have it…" She shook her arm, and a scroll which had been tucked under her cloak appeared in her hand. She pressed it into his palm.
"If you must have it, I give it to you," she murmured, as he stared in disbelief at the parchment. "Though I think you would be richer without it."
"How…? I watched you…I saw it…" Lancelot stammered in shock.
"Have you never heard of a decoy, Lancelot?" she asked quietly. "It is a time-honored method of learning about the motives and actions of your enemy." She stroked his cheek. "I hope you will not take offense at that term."
Sliding her free hand up his chest, she buried all ten fingers in his hair and pulled his head down gently, so their foreheads touched. "But if paper is not enough, Lancelot," she whispered, "you will always have my respect. I do not give it lightly, and it is a heavy burden to uphold. But it is yours."
It was not much, what she offered. Intangible graces, light as air and far less substantial. Yet she offered them freely, without artifice or expectation; it was the finest gift the knight had ever received.
Lancelot drew in a shuddering breath, gazing at the scroll in his hand, and for a long minute he couldn't move. Then, slowly tucking the scroll into a pouch at his belt, he wound his arms around her waist, pulled her tight against him and buryied his face in her lush black hair. "I accept the challenge," he whispered hoarsely.
Guinevere twined her arms around his back, rubbed his spine comfortingly, and said nothing.
He had never been this close to her before, and as they stood together, locked in their embrace, Lancelot began to remember who it was that held him so tenderly. Since they had first laid eyes on one another, an uneasy truce had existed between the pair, predicated upon a mutual love of Arthur, but also on something else; something far more tenuous, yet just as powerful. The smoky taste of snow lingered around them, mingling with the evergreen scent of her hair, as Lancelot's hands dipped beneath her cloak. His fingers found the sensuous curve of her hips beneath her gauzy linen dress, and he felt her arms tighten around his body as he squeezed gently. "Guinevere…" he murmured, helpless in the moment to think of anything else to say.
The young woman released a shivering breath against his neck. "When first I saw you, I thought you were a god," she whispered, twisting her hands in his cloak. "It was your eyes. Never have I seen eyes like yours. They are dark as thunderheads."
"So dark as that?"
"And what convinced you at last that I was human?"
Guinevere slowly pulled back, her eyes finding his and holding his gaze. "Nothing," she murmured, raising a hand to cup his cheek. "You saved me from death's sickle. You will always be a god in my eyes."
Lancelot unconsciously leaned into her touch. "It was Arthur who lifted you from that prison," he reminded her quietly.
A gentle smile touched her lips. "It was Arthur who saved me, yes," she acknowledged. "But it was not Arthur for whom I lived."
It was growing harder for Lancelot to breathe, but he ignored the discomfort, transfixed by her eyes and the sensual curve of her lips as she spoke.
The young woman leaned forward and carefully pulled him down, once again pressing their foreheads together. "So you see, Lancelot," she whispered, "I have given you my respect, but you have also earned possession of my very life. Every beat of my heart is yours. Every breath that passes my lips is yours. Every drop of water I drink, or crumb of bread that I eat, is yours by proxy." Her fingers caressed his face, and Lancelot could feel them tremble against his mouth.
He kissed her fingertips; a fleeting brush of his lips, soft as goose down. Guinevere gasped softly. "You said you belonged to no man," he murmured, reaching up to take her hand and draw it down between them, pressing it against his heart.
Guinevere's eyes followed the motion. "And by that I stand," she acknowledged. Her eyes rose to meet his again. "But did I not just say you are a god in my sight?"
"I am not a god, Guinevere. I am only a man."
"You are my pole star," she explained, squeezing his hand. "When I looked up through the grating in Marius' dungeon, I saw four skies: two were blue and beautiful, and two were dark and stormy." Her free hand passed over his eyes, so that his lashes grazed her palm. "The blue skies held me close and gave me comfort, and I loved them. But the stormy skies sparked thunderbolts in my belly."
Guinevere nuzzled his nose, and when she spoke, her lips brushed his. "I could have died happy under my savior's blue skies. But I didn't want to die. I wanted to live. I wanted to stand in the wind and feel the fury of the storm." She pressed closer. He could breathe her breath even before she exhaled.
"I wanted to see YOU again," she whispered. "So I healed, and I watched you, and each meeting made me yearn for the next one." She tilted her head to the side and dropped a kiss on his jaw. Lancelot closed his eyes, feeling the warmth of her lips spread throughout his body, enveloping him in a soothing lassitude.
The young woman pulled away slowly. Cold air rushed into the newly formed space between their bodies like an unwelcome house guest, and Lancelot's eyes opened again at the intrusion. Guinevere was watching him thoughtfully. "My respect, my life, and my utter devotion," she said calmly. "Do you still claim to have nothing, Lancelot?"
Her hair stirred in the breeze, and the knight reached up to still it with his palm. "A man could live a dozen lifetimes and never be blessed with such gifts," he whispered. "But there is one thing I lack."
"Tell me what it is, so that I may give it to you."
Lancelot's thoughts were normally a turbulent whirlpool of decisions and priorities, kept at heel by his iron-clad personal code of honor. Not so now. In this moment, staring at this woman, only one thought crystallized in his keen mind.
"One night with a woman I love," he murmured. "That would make me rich beyond men and gods and Rome itself."
The snow swirled around the pair as Guinevere gazed at him, her face unreadable. The wind had begun to blow harder, and a fierce gust tossed her hair and tugged at her cloak, revealing the seafoam green dress beneath, and deeper, the ivory white of her flesh. "Do you love me, Lancelot?" she asked quietly.
"I do, Lady." There was no hesitation in his voice, and he felt none in his heart.
A smile tugged at her lips again. "My name is Guinevere," she corrected him. "Always you call me Lady, yet my true name sounds far sweeter on your lips."
Lancelot felt his own face begin to crease in a smile. "Then I will call you only Guinevere from now until eternity strikes me down," he amended, tipping his head to her in affirmation.
"Eternity will hold you to the bargain, Lancelot."
"It will not find me lacking." Guinevere laughed quietly, and Lancelot grinned.
The young woman reached out and grabbed his hand, squeezing gently. "Come," she whispered, and turned towards the fortress entrance.
Lancelot let himself be led. "Where do we go, Guinevere?"
"To bed, Lancelot."
"Each separate or together?"
She stopped and turned to face him, and there was no laughter in her eyes. "Tomorrow may be my last day in this world, Lancelot," she whispered, her gaze sorrowful and full of regret. "I have already missed too much life, walled up with the dead and waiting to join them. If this is to be my last night, I want to live it to the fullest."
Lancelot stared at her for several seconds, then pulled her towards him. "Hear this now," he said, gazing down into her eyes and twining his arms around her waist. "You said I own your life. Is that correct?"
She nodded, dark eyes miserable.
"Then it's settled. I will not let you die."
"Shhhh…" He covered her lips with one finger, and she quieted. "The gifts you have given me were given selflessly, but they do not come without a price. As with any precious possession, they must be protected. I will guard them with my very life, if needs be, but I will not let them be lost." He stroked her hair back from her forehead. "I will always keep you from harm, Guinevere." He smiled suddenly as a thought occurred to him. "Perhaps that has been my purpose all along, through this great, sorry life. Perhaps all I have done, all I have survived, has been to prepare me to be your protector."
"Don't be ridiculous. I don't need a protector. I shall be protecting you."
It felt good to be playfully sniping with her again. The weight of their earlier conversation was an unusual one for Lancelot, and he appreciated the change in mood. By all accounts, tomorrow would bring about either a revolution or an apocalypse. He didn't want to face either with a heavy heart.
"Mmm?" He shook himself from his reverie and saw Guinevere smile at him.
"I love you."
He smiled as well. "Of course you do."
She arched an eyebrow. "What makes you say that?" she asked dryly.
Lancelot shrugged. "Well, really… I mean, it's ME, isn't it? What other choice did you have?"
"Ooh!" she exclaimed in delighted outrage, and began pummeling him with her small, surprisingly strong fists. "Obnoxious ox!"
Lancelot laughed and gathered up her fists before she could make a bad swing and give him a black eye. Sweeping her into his arms, he began to carry her into the fortress. "Do you really think I'm going to sleep with you now?" she demanded, struggling in his grasp.
Lancelot nodded, ignoring her squirming. "Yes."
He didn't answer. Instead, he stopped walking, set her feet down, pressed her against the wall, and kissed her. It was unlike any kiss he'd ever given a woman before. It was hard, because he knew he could be hard with her. It was gentle, because he didn't want to bruise her. It was hungry, because he'd wanted her for so long. It was desperate, because he'd already wasted so much time. It was passionate, because Guinevere deserved nothing less than everything he could pour into her. It was…
When they broke apart a long minute later, both were gasping for air. Guinevere was the first to speak. "Can you run?" she panted.
His brow furrowed. "What?" he puffed.
Guinevere grinned, leaned in, kissed him quick and sweet, then turned on her heel and took off down the corridor, the serpentine tattoos on her ankles flashing in and out of the torchlight as she ran.
"Guinevere!" Lancelot yelled after her, laughing.
"How can you possibly protect me, GUARDIAN, if you can't even catch me!" she called back, coming up short and turning to face him, walking backwards as she spoke. "Come on, knight. Move your feet. You'll have to be faster than that!"
Lancelot grinned. "When I catch you, you will regret trying to escape," he told her, beginning a slow, steady march down the hall in her direction.
Guinevere's eyes danced. "When you catch me, you shall regret allowing me to get away."
"Were you a deer I would already have marked you with my arrow, and there would be no more running for you."
"I would believe that, if I hadn't been witness to your aim."
Lancelot arched an eyebrow. "You question my skills, Guinevere?"
Guinevere grinned wickedly. "At archery, Lancelot. Though it makes me wonder at your facility in… other activities."
They were mere paces apart now as Lancelot came to a stop. "Will you let me catch you so easily, Guinevere?" he asked, ignoring her jab, and gestured to the space between them. "One lunge and you're mine."
Guinevere clucked her tongue. "Now now, Lancelot. Have you learned nothing of battle strategy in all your years in Britannia?" She took a demure step towards him. "Sometimes the enemy surrenders."
"Only when there is no hope of success."
"Or when they've decided that the people they're fighting are better counted as allies than enemies." Another step, and now she could smell his rugged scent.
"Or when they've laid a trap to catch their adversary unawares." He grinned. "Which is it to be, Guinevere?"
A third step and she was a hairsbreadth from his breastplate, gazing up into his chestnut eyes. "I have given you everything I can give, Lancelot," she murmured. "Now you must give me one thing in return."
"Must I?" His arms looped around her waist. "What is that?"
Smiling, Guinevere lifted herself onto her toes and gazed into his eyes. "Your trust," she murmured, and kissed him.
Unlike their earlier kiss, which had been frantic and impassioned, this kiss was gentle and exploratory. She let her tongue linger on his lips before dipping into the warm cave of his mouth. His moan echoed pleasantly against her teeth and his hands massaged her lower back as she wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer and deepening the kiss.
The air in her lungs was aching and begging for release when they finally separated, and the pair of them spent several minutes gasping in each other's arms. It was Lancelot who finally broke the silence.
"This is all too good to be real," he murmured breathlessly, burying his hands in her hair and pressing his face into her neck. "It cannot possibly last."
Guinevere wanted to argue, to tell him that no, this would last; that they could touch each other and hold each other and be with each other like this for all time; but she knew he was right. Eventually she would have to choose between the knight in her arms and the Roman commander she'd been with mere hours beforehand, and when that time came, she would have to choose Arthur. Arthur, who was half-Briton by birth. Arthur, who was a proven leader and a man who inspired loyalty and awe in all who knew him. Arthur, who could unite her fractured people and give them strength and solidarity. Arthur, who had rescued her from a filthy pit and captured half her heart in the bargain. The foreknowledge broke Guinevere's heart, but the ache didn't make it any the less true. So she clung to Lancelot and breathed in the heady scent of his leather and his sweat and him, and tried to drown her pain in his presence. A sick piece of her mind prayed that she would not survive the battle tomorrow, so she would never be forced to make that terrible choice.
"What happens tomorrow doesn't affect tonight," she whispered, cleaving to Lancelot like a ship's mast in a gale at sea. "Tomorrow I fight for my home, and you leave to find yours. We will be Guinevere and Lancelot, uneasy allies and nothing more. But TONIGHT we are Guinevere and Lancelot, unlucky lovers, and I will not let you go until the sun steals you from my bed." Raising her head, Guinevere stared up into his eyes, her own eyes bright with unshed tears. "Time is rushing by like a winter wind, Lancelot. Can't you hear it?"
Lancelot leaned in and grazed his lips over her cheek. "I hear nothing but my heart, Guinevere, and your voice. Time waits for no man, but it will hold its tongue for a god."
He swept her into his arms and Guinevere let her head nestle comfortably on his shoulder as he carried her through the empty corridors. No one else was stirring in the fortress; those who were not on watch were sleeping, and those who were not sleeping were too drunk to know the difference. They met no interference on their journey to her chamber, and she was thankful she would not have to explain her actions to an unwelcome witness.
"I love you, Lancelot," she whispered dreamily as they came to a stop at her curtained doorway. "My knight. My warrior-prince. I love you. And if I live a thousand lifetimes, that will never change."
Lancelot shifted her in his arms so that he could look into her eyes. "I love you, my Guinevere," he murmured, "and I need only one night to prove it."
Without another word, he carried her through the heavy curtain that shielded her room from prying eyes, and they did not speak again.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thank you for reading this, those of you who made it all the way through! I'm debating writing a sequel, which takes up AFTER the events of the movie, but I'd have to see what you all thought of this one and whether you think it merits a sequel before I even ATTEMPT such a thing. This one took me far too long to write, considering the relative brevity of the end result, and I'd love to know if anyone out there liked it enough for me to write a follow-up. Call it laziness. LOL! So if you liked it, please leave a review and let me know. Thank you!