This is my first ever Merlin fic... despite being a fanfiction writer for many years and loving the fandom to pieces! Enjoy! xx
It was a bold decision, going to Gwen's house, but he did not want her to think him a coward, because he was not. He lay the flower down on the table and looked around the room. So many memories lay in here alone.
Like when his guards found the poultice under her father's pillow and she had been accused of witchcraft. He had known her to be innocent but if he hadn't acted on it, it would have looked poor in the eyes of his father.
Or when he was younger and he had come to see Tom about fixing his armour. He hadn't been meant to be fighting, but he had gone against his father's will and done so anyway. He didn't want to go to the royal blacksmith because he would undoubtedly tell Uther. He could trust Tom to not do such a thing. He had seen Gwen then. She had called him an imbecile and carried on to the castle to tend to Morgana.
Or the most recent time he had been here. When she had told him he had sounded like a pig. That he was rude, arrogant and basically implying he was in need of a good hinding. He had respected her for that, despite her rashness and her ability to make him feel the fool, he needed people to treat him like a person, not a prince. Wasn't that what that whole idea was about? Proving he didn't need special treatment?
And now he wished he wasn't the Crowned Prince of Camelot. He wished to be merely Arthur. At least then his life would be less complex. He could love Gwen, court her, marry her and it would not matter. Nobody would care about his actions if he were not the Prince. He hadn't thought about this when he had kissed her. The kiss that lasted a lifetime and had meant to much to both of them. He had won that tournament for her, and equally he had lost. He let 'William of Daira' take his place, take his glory, all for her.
Then it had all gone horribly wrong. He remembered that he was the Crowned Prince, that he could not escape the wrath of his father as long as the King still lived. Arthur held onto a hope that when he was King maybe, just maybe, she would still be waiting for him.
Telling Merlin, or rather having it teased out of him by Merlin had lifted the weight from his shoulders. He didn't have to hide it anymore, at least not all the time. He didn't have to be quite so stealthy if Gwen was talking to Merlin. But where was the use? She was Lancelot's now. He could not compete with a man who could wed her tomorrow. Hell even today.
Yet today, despite his misfortunes, he had found some hope.
Hope in the style of a stolen kiss that nearly came far too late. Though thanks to Merlin's impeccable timing she had found him in time. Not that Arthur would ever acknowledge that Merlin ever did anything right, but deep down he knew. He also knew that Merlin had bought Gwen flowers, left Gwen the note. Merlin had done that for him and although he had avertedly caused distress and discomfort for her under the enchantment, at the end of the day true love prevailed.
He had made a quick trip to the flower garden on the west of the castle, looking through the rows or rose bushes in search of the perfect one. White would never do, Morgana had told him once that White roses resembled purity and innocence, something this situation was clearly lacking. The orange roses stood for blazing energy and desire, rather fitting, but at the same time not the message he wanted to put across. Lavender meant enchantment, and although he was enchanted by Gwen, it really wasn't the best of meanings to go for right now. Not with the whole Vivian thing breathing over their necks. The next row of roses were yellow; friendship. That just wouldn't do either. Then there were pink ones, a symbol of elegance and grace, an expression of admiration, but he didn't just admire Gwen. The last bush he came to was what he wanted.
Red symbolised love. Morgana had told him that if he ever wanted to tell somebody that loved them to use a single red rose. And there after a bouquet of roses if the person really didn't understand. But he knew Gwen knew. Merlin had told her, that he was sure of. If he hadn't then the spell would never have been broken and he would be dead.
Still, that was why he was loitering in Gwen's one roomed home. He had written a note to place with the rose, a simple 'To My Lady' written on it. That was what she was to him, and what he hoped she would one day be. His lady. His Queen.
But she had told him no. Despite his best efforts, wearing one of his nicest shirts, albeit the rrest of him a little ruffled but he had just nearly died in a spectacularly lame fashion. She could let him off a little for that. Maybe.
The thing was, she was right. He knew that. His father could live a month, a year, a decade. They did not know and he could not expect Gwen to wait around forever. He was telling her the truth when he had told her that he had "never loved another," but when she told him that she would, he knew the same stood for her too.
He went by the name of Lancelot and if the man ever returned, not only would Arthur hang and quarter him, but he would lose. He would lose her. The only person he had ever cared about. He wanted to say 'Poppycock' to what his father wanted. He didn't care. He wanted Gwen, he loved her, and if he couldn't have her, he didn't know what he would do.
But she told him, like he had told her previously that she could not be his Queen. As much as he knew this, they both knew this; he didn't want to accept it. If only he had killed his father those weeks ago, then he would be King and he could do as he pleased.
No. He shouldn't wish such a thing. He loved his father, as much as they might disagree on pretty much everything he would not wish him dead. His father had sacrificed things for him, he knew what was best.
Most of the time.
Walking away from Gwen's now Arthur has to stop himself from kicking a stray bucket in his frustration. His people are watching him; he can feel their eyes burning into his back. He has just been seen coming from the old blacksmith's house, he has no reason to be there, but he doesn't care. He is Crowned Prince, he can do whatever he so likes.
When he returns to the castle he finishes dressing himself. He can not face Merlin and does not see him again until they are in the courtyard. The peasant doesn't hide his smile. He knows. He must do. That cheeky glint in his eye, the ear to ear grin, he can't not.
They wave off the Lady Vivian and her father and Arthur wants to go die in a hole. He was acting like that? The embarrassment was almost too much to bare. No doubt Merlin would fill him in on all the embarrassing things he said and did whilst he was under the enchantment.
When they are out of the King's earshot his manservant speaks.
"Might conflict with your 'one true love'," and Arthur knows exactly what he is talking about. It's not a secret between the pair.
"You heard me. I have proof," now was it just Arthur, or Merlin sound smug? Like he liked knowing something Arthur did not.
"You kissed her," he stated, Arthur could pretend otherwise by why else would Gwen know about the enchantment if Merlin hadn't have told her? Maybe she had figured it out on her own, but the way Merlin was acting it just wasn't plausible, "In the tent," he finished like it was the naughtiest thing he had ever heard and it made him giggly and giddy thinking about it. Merlin: ever the romantic.
"What happened in the tent."
"Mmhmmm," even in a hum his tone was teasing.
"Speak of it again and I'll kill you," Arthur said, a threat like any other he made to Merlin. He had made the same threat about him ever talking about his feelings for Gwen to him again, yet when Merlin had done so he had not gone through with it. Merlin was no longer just a servant, but he was his friend.