Title: He Understands More Than You Think
Disclaimer: Merlin, unfortunately, doesn't belong to me… maybe one day!
Dedication: cantseethesky for choosing the prompt 'deception'
Summary: When Uther stumbles across his son's feelings for the maid, he does not react how Arthur would have expected.
Notes: This comes to you un-beta'd so if there are spelling mistakes or whatnot they are all my own, and if you want to point things out to me, go ahead XD I know Uther is portrayed as a nice man here. But I think that is really what lies beneath. Plus, the prompt wanted a non-grr Uther.
Despite many people's beliefs, Uther Pendragon isn't stupid.
He suspects something of his son when he returns from his trip hunting down the 'lion-eagle-bear' creature. He watches as his son replies to him, having looked away on asking his question Arthur doesn't realise that he sees. He sees that he isn't looking at him, and quickly follows his gaze to his right; Morgana's maid. And he sees how the maid is smiling back at him.
He ignores it. But then more and more events happen that drive Uther to believe that maybe he wasn't imagining things.
When Morgana's room is alight, he questions her maid, she swears she is not in the wrong here, and Arthur speaks out. Tells his father that he believes her. Again he sees that look pass.
Then there is the whole ordeal with Morgana and her maid being ransacked on route to her father's grave. Despite his orders his son leaves anyway, all to return Morgana her maid. He should be angry with his son, but when he sees him, all he can do is ask if the girl is okay.
But something has changed in Arthur, and he can see it.
He sees nothing then for a long while. Then he sees it is her that pleas with him to give Gaius fair trial. So save an innocent man because they have proof that it wasn't him. His son barely listens to him any more, much more the King than he ever was at that age, but he listens to her. And he sees that look in his eye again.
But once again he doesn't see his son interact with the maid, Morgana has become a more private person and where Morgana isn't, her maid isn't either. So it surprised him when Morgana was at the tourney without her maid, a woman she considered her friend and they were not together. Yet she appeared in the final round watching Arthur win. And he, and many others, hadn't missed the looks that passed between the pair then.
Uther had given up trying to keep tabs on his son when he became a rampant teenager who had more wits than the guards put together and easily managed to out run any of them if need be. He sometimes wished that he still tried to keep an eye on him. Maybe then he would have noticed him walking the young maid home on the winter nights. Noticed how he disappeared to place flowers in her home.
He often wondered if Morgana knew about what was happening between his son and her maid, but she had made no movement to say anything, so he would not ask.
One not-so-sunny afternoon, Uther was his way from his chambers to the great hall when he heard a girl giggling.
"Shussshh," he heard, but carried on walking, he knew the hand maidens and the stable boys often had little love affairs, he didn't want to interrupt.
"Come now Guinevere, where is the fun in that?" he would know the voice anywhere. He turned on his heel and walked towards the noise, an alcove he had just walked past, a random pillar, and a trail of a dress.
"Arthur?" He called out. Nobody appeared, "Son, I know you are there."
"Father," he smiled coming out of hiding, nobody followed him. Uther didn't say anything, just looked at his son then looked pointedly over his shoulder and back to him. He raised his eyebrows, waiting for an answer, "Ah."
"I can explain," he shifted his weight to his other foot and squared up to his father.
"Well," he started, coming to an abrupt stop.
Arthur cleared his throat, "I'm in love."
"You have been in love twice before, as I recall Arthur. What makes you think this time is any different?"
"Because I am thinking straight. I know this woman. I have known her for many years, and I respect her, and I am in no rush to marry her, like I was before, father."
"I see," he paused again, "Do I get to meet this lady?"
"Please do not think any lower of me."
"You are my son; I will respect your feelings, if they are as true as you say," Arthur looked at his father with a confused scepticism. He slowly reached his hand out and led a smaller figure from behind the pillar. The young maid was looking at her feet, her long curls hanging over shoulders; she curtseyed out of her usual respect but still didn't look at the King.
"My lord," she managed, clutching his son's hand with all her vigour.
"I know you will tell me that she is 'just a maid', Father, but she is so much more than that. She has become my support, the force that dives me to be a good man-"
"I know I can be a good king with her at my side. I do not care if you agree, father, or if you accuse her of witchcraft. I love her. I will stand by her, for all it takes."
"Yes, father," he gulped, knowing his had over stepped his mark.
"The lady shall eat with us tonight," Arthur blinked in bewilderment, "Then I shall pass my judgement," Uther walked away from his son. Had it been any other woman he would have had her banished and his son locked in his room until he realised what he was doing. But he had seen the way his son had looked at this girl, this woman; he had seen the drive that she gave him, the man that her presence made him. He knew she had a shady past, accused of sorcery, found innocent, then her father, consorting with Touran, but he had been assured on countless occasions by his ward that the girl was a hard worker and a truly genuine person.
She was her best friend, and if Morgana trusted the girl, he knew he should give her a chance. He could accuse her of witchcraft again but this had been going far too long to have been unnoticed if it were.
Uther sat with his son on one side of him, Guinevere on his other; she barely looked up from the food in front of her or Arthur let alone at the King.
"Do you love my son, Guinevere?"
"I do, my lord."
"And you wish to be queen?"
"I wish for Arthur to be happy, sire. And if that involves me being his wife than I would be more than happy to oblige, sire."
"Do you think you would make a good Queen?"
"I think I would see things from the view of the people, my lord. I do not know if that would make me a good queen, but I think I would be fair. Not that I am saying because you do not have somebody telling you what the people re thinking that you are not fair. I mean, I would help Arthur to. Not that he can not do that himself, I-" she cut herself off, "I'm sorry sire. I am not very good at making my points when I am nervous."
"Tell me, Guinevere."
"Yes, my lord?"
"Does my son treat you well?"
"Very well, my lord."
"Do you think him a good person?"
"I think he is the best kind of person, sire. I believe when his time comes he would be the best King he could be. Thanks to you, sire."
"I think you are wrong, Guinevere."
"I think that, may, be thanks to you."
"How so, sire?"
"I have watched my son for the longest time. People think me ignorant to other people's feelings, but I have seen the looks he sends your way. He has never seen you as a servant; you have been, and will continue to be, a friend. Your influence on him has helped make him the man he is today," Gwen could feel her cheeks heating up. Never in a million years had she thought Uther might approve of her.
"I never thought you in love before, Arthur. But see more than you think I do. I think the people of Camelot would approve of having a Queen they knew they could relate to. I only have one fear."
"What is that, father?"
"That I shall have to find Morgana a new maid," Gwen's brow knitted and she looked at the King for the first time that evening.
"My lord I can still work."
"Nonsense. No woman who intends to be future Queen can be a maid."
"With all de respect, my lord, I do not intend to be anything. Fate has dealt me with this hand and I have been more than happy to serve the Lady Morgana for the last ten years."
"I shall strike you a deal, Guinevere. You may continue to work for my ward, on the condition that the day, shall it arrive, my son proposes marriage, that you stop working," Gwen considered what the King was offering her, "On the other hand, you stop working for her today, and I entrust that the day will come."
"So this decision relies on the trust I have in Arthur?"
"And the trust you have in his feelings, yes."
"I hope you do not take this the wrong way, either of you, but I do wish to serve my lady. I have never known anything else. I do know, think, that Arthur loves me. But I am a maid, sire. You can not change that. And maybe one day he shall meet a princess that he loves more than I, and if that day comes, I do not want to leave to find work."
"I do not want a princess, Guinevere."
"Please understand," she pleaded, "I have never had to not work for something my entire life. I can not just change who I am because somebody tells me to."
"Even under order of the king?"
"Even then, my lord. Just because you command it so does not make the transition easy."
"I see," Uther had finished with his plate and had pushed it away from him. He stood, pulling his cloak around ready to leave, "Guinevere, I give you my blessing. Whether you choose to work until I die, or indeed stop before then, I respect your wishes. I can see that you love my son enough to give him the freedom he may require. You remind me, deeply, of my dear Igraine. I always hoped Arthur would find a woman not unlike his mother," he nodded to the both of them, "I bid you good night."
Uther was sat in the throne room going through some of the important papers he had to send to Mercia when his son entered the hall.
"Father," he bowed his head in respect and continued forwards to greet him.
"How is," he paused for a moment to remember her name, "Guinevere, today?"
"I do not know father, I have no yet seen her."
"Wish her well."
"I shall father. It was her I wished to talk to you about."
"I would like to say, thank you. I did not believe you would understand my feelings for her."
"A part of being King is taking others feelings into consideration above your own beliefs, Arthur."
"I realise this, but we are many worlds apart. But I know, without shadow of a doubt, that my love for Gwen, Guinevere, will never fade. I wish- I wish to ask your permission, to ask for her hand in marriage."
"Is this not something you should ask her father?"
"I would, but Tom died over a year ago."
"I recall. Then why are you asking me?"
"Because I wanted to make sure that you had not changed your mind."
"Marriage should be based on two things, Arthur, love and happiness. It is clear Guinevere gives you both. And Lady Guinevere has a nice ring to it," Arthur smiled at his father, genuinely happy, genuinely in love.
"Thank you, father."
"I meant what I said, Arthur. Guinevere truly is just like your mother. And if she brings you half the happiness your mother brought me, I wish you well," he nodded at his son, granting him access to leave, "Oh and Arthur?"
"Never underestimate people. They might surprise you."
"As Guinevere has many times."
"And I am sure she will many more."