TITLE: Solus et Fidelis Alone and Faithful
DISCLAIMER: The characters and situations of the television program "Merlin" are the creations and property of Others, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
FEEDBACK: yes please … writers need food. Suggestions, comments constructive criticism always welcome. As ever thank you to everyone who writes. You all are so generous I can never tell you how much it means.
Geraint was in the middle of the bed alone with her knees bent to her chest and wept with such energy that she had ceased to make any sound. Sweat had started to soak the small of her back and to trickle along the centre of her chest; her stomach ached with the effort of remaining silent. The place where she lay had become damp and uncomfortable with tears and saliva but she possessed no capacity to move.
Everything had come undone.
Her body, her mind, her wounds were all were alive and raw with pain and the more she tried escape her suffering, to stifle her weeping, the less she could contain herself. It was the release of compounding anguish; her life led apart and in secret now exposed, the pain of a near-fatal wound, the loss of her vocation as a soldier and the war over her future fought against a man who had no idea that he owned her heart and treated her as if he would not care if he did. He dominated her because he could and battled because he always won.
She had thought she could remove Uther from her existence and that she had erased him from her mind and soul. She had done everything in her power to forget him and free herself from his hold over her. But she discovered with this new wound that he remained with her – not as a faint ghost or a dissipating fog but a roaring storm of thunder and savage lightening. It was always Uther. It would be ever so.
She could not eradicate him or forget him or run from him and that left her stripped bare and without defence. He could do what he would with her and she would have no choice but to comply. Uther, the King of Camelot – out of habit and expectation of getting what he desired, wanted to make her stay here – to assuage a nagging guilt that – like a speck of dirt – he wished picked off and removed from memory. He did not avoid her humiliation; he sought it out and had it deliberately arranged. It was the same lesson he taught everyone who defied him. He was King; his word was law. He insisted on being obeyed with a fierce exactitude. Transgressors would be punished. In her case, he had even colluded with Arthur – her one and only possible ally against him - to arrange it all.
She had thought nothing would ever hurt more than the moment Uther named her a traitor drew his sword to kill her.
She was wrong.
We have no need to see each other ever again.
She could hear him yet; cold with hate and disdain. His dismissal was complete, final and filled with disgust. He had won. He had won everything. It was his will that she stay and his will would be done. Then – having won, having wrung every last possible victory from her – he simply walked away – as if all the energy he had expended to make her stay was nothing more than an exercise of intellect; one mind against another.
The door to her room opened and Geraint pressed herself further into the bed and held her breath hoping that she would be invisible to whoever had arrived. Footsteps approached, then a gasp and quickened paces.
"What's happened?" Gwen bent over her, then sat on the bed and crept closer. Fingers were combed through her hair, drawing strands from her face.
Geraint could not speak; she could not move. Grief consumed her. This hurt – this unrelenting – inescapable hurt had crippled her. Her tears infuriated her – they were a feminine weakness she had long since mastered in her disguise but now her frustration prompted them to flow more freely.
"Geraint. Tell me. What's happened?" Gwen shook her shoulder momentarily to get her attention but Geraint was beyond consolation. "Whatever it is, I can help."
Reflexively comforting, Gwen began stroking her back and Geraint became dizzy from the memories long ago of a loving mother. The face had long since been forgotten but the feelings of security and affection came back as a deafening echo. She had not felt the loss of it until now as Gwen surrounded her with reassurance and protection. Geraint still could not speak and felt her sobbing shake her entire body. Her muscles strained from the breathless effort to contain herself. Without air, she took a sudden gulp and it wracked her – releasing pain that radiated through her body.
"Geraint. Please. You are going to make yourself sick …"
How could she ever explain it? Any of it? The only person who would understand was Uther. He understood the very scale of what he had done to her – consciously, with full and absolute intentions – like he did everything in his life.
We have no need to see each other ever again.
"What happened? Did they hurt you? Please. You must tell me." She sounded worried, anxious for details. She knew Gwen wanted to understand so she could untangle the complicated mess and begin helping. The longer the silence, the more Gwen sought out answers to what had transpired. In delayed, one word responses Geraint gave Gwen explanations to her stream of questions. No, she was not suddenly ill. Yes, Uther and Arthur caused this. No, they had not hurt her physically. Yes, she would stay in Camelot. No, there was nothing anyone could do.
"Gwen?" It was Arthur, calling out to her at a distance. Geraint imagined him at the door, asking for an invitation, and not quite inside. "What's going on?"
"You. You did this." Gwen said darkly, having gleaned just enough information to lay blame with non-specific accuracy. "You …" she took a deep breath and said the next with derision. "And your father."
"I came back to … Gwen, you must believe me. I meant no harm … Geraint will remain in Camelot – it's the right place for her. Surely you can understand that … she would not survive..."
Gwen expanded her protective mothering wings and let her instincts take over. She went on the attack. "What did you do?"
"Look at her!" Her voice was a harsh whisper and her tone unforgiving. She was livid and not even the Crown Prince would make her hold her tongue. Geraint let the argument wash over her, feeling adrift and realizing she was losing her hold on consciousness. "What did you do? You did something!"
"Geraint and I … we … reached an agreement … for her to stay …"
He was editing his comments for Gwen. What he had done was use Geraint's own strategy used against her. Arthur had seized upon her weakness and had taken full advantage of her distracted focus on trying to thwart Uther. She was aware at the time that her emotions were making her weak and open to attack but it was a calculated risk with Uther; she just did not think the attack would come from Arthur. She knew as soon as she had seen the card what Arthur had done and how Uther had cleverly played out the scene. She was furious at herself for not recognizing the set up of her own invention in time for her to stop it.
" … and my father … I have never seen him so …" Arthur's voice dropped and the words became muffled, as if he had just wiped his face with his hands. " … Oh, Gwen …" Geraint could hear the hollowness in his voice as he confessed the truth, sounding profoundly remorseful and without remedy. "… my father is furious …"
"Get out." She said flatly.
"Gwen …" Arthur chastised, "Let me finish …"
Geraint did not hear the rest. There was no need. Whatever was said would not change the present. Uther had every weapon at his disposal and she had none. All she had wanted was to leave hear - this place called Camelot - and him. She had wanted to stop loving him. She wanted him gone from her sight. She wanted his voice nothing but a forgotten and distant echo. She wanted his opinion not to matter and his humour not to be her concern. She wanted to eradicate him from all her senses and found the more she tried, the more permanent he had become. He had nearly killed her and that was not enough. Now he wanted to torment her - and so he did. He had campaigned hard to have her stay and she knew she had to refuse – it was her only hope. That one hurt of Uther's had nearly killed her. It was enough that she survived and she had vowed she would not let him have a second chance to harm her. Ever. But Geraint now understood that it was impossible to just stop loving someone and that to love as she did was to surrender the infinite capacity to wound. Whether he knew it or not, Uther would always have that power over her and she had no choice but to submit.
Geraint had tried but in attempting to leave, she had made it worse. As Uther always did when thwarted, he redoubled his efforts. It was enough for him to know his will was being challenged and that - for the glorious, omnipotent King of Camelot – was all. He simply must have his way. This time - he conspired with his own son and together they made a mockery of her. Their collusion was the final humiliation and still - it was not quite enough for Uther. He needed the fullness of his revenge - played out in front of his son - Arthur - whom she had trusted and protected with her life – an ally whose ties Uther needed to shatter to regain his complete dominance over her. When finally Uther had won it all, he took one more moment and crushed her - forcing her to forever remember with whom she had fought. He had dismissed her - permanently and for all time - from his sight. He would have his way in all its facets and she knew she meant nothing to him.
And still, she loved him.
I t broke her heart.