The next morning, Arthur was still in a mood with Merlin. They didn't have many rations left, but they had enough to fulfil their hunger until they reached Camelot again.
With Merlin eyeing him suspiciously, Arthur didn't think it a good idea to pursue what was about to happen yesterday, it would be nearly guaranteed that Merlin would find a way to ruin the moment all over again. Like he had the first time he had nearly kissed her the evening before he had.
They set off, Arthur with some vigour, not wanting to wait in the awkwardness more than necessary. But with Merlin walking by the side of the horses, they couldn't trot on. As much as he wanted to right now, he knew Merlin would just get lost on his own if he left him behind.
They idly chit-chatted as the horses progressed towards Camelot - Arthur staying unnaturally quiet - Merlin taking it upon himself to 'keep their spirits up'. Arthur had switched off about an hour before, and he was pretty sure from her 'Uh huh', 'really?'s that Gwen had too. She was just more skilled at attaining a steady flow of replies to Merlin's inane attempts at entertainment.
She couldn't help but smile when she saw the turrets of the castle through the last trees of the forest. It meant home. Home is where the heart is, and all that. She would finally get to see Morgana after the somewhat terrifying events of the last few days. The thing was; she hadn't been expecting to ever see the place again. She thought she was at death's door, knocking heavily and lying out for the taking.
But here she was, ready to live another day, all because the Prince had come to save her.
She couldn't help but feel a little bit happier knowing that. A little bit safer. And a little bit loved.
It was times like theses, when her back ached and her feet were sore and her hands were in need of massaging, that Gwen wished she had a bath in her little house. But that would require a ridiculous amount of carting water from the well and she didn't feel up to doing that.
As they reached the walls of the city, riding over the draw bridge and through the streets she knew as home, Gwen smiled at those she knew. One lady waved at her, at the same time as giving Arthur a suspicious eye. She approached the horse Gwen was riding, Merlin now chattering away to Arthur; "Be careful, Gwen. Men like him, they ask for too much."
Gwen didn't reply, she just acknowledged her words and smiled warily at the women. She turned her attention to the man riding in front of her; he wasn't like that, was he? She shook the thoughts from her mind, he had been nothing but honourable to her before now. Only time would tell.
The archway into the courtyard had never been a more welcome sight. She basked in the sunlight as it baked the stone of the walls. She could feel the other servant's eyes on her back. Realising she was still in Morgana's attire and still coated in dirt and dry sweat.
How she could be found remotely attractive to anyone right now she would never know.
Arthur dismounted his horse, leaving the fine stallion with Merlin – who was petting its nose – and headed towards her. He offered her his hand and helped her down off of the horse's back. There was nothing uncommon about the action even if she was a servant. He was just being the Prince, being a gentleman because he could.
Silently, he led the way into the castle, heading directly for Morgana's chambers, Gwen in tow.
It didn't take much to find her, even out of her room she was stood outside of them. Arthur took a few paces ahead of Gwen and smiled to himself.
Alerted to his presence, Morgana turned to see him, not in his clothes, a sombre look on his face and, for what she could see, no Gwen.
"There's someone who wants to see you," He said, unable to keep the mirth from his voice, he stepped aside, revealing a battered Gwen behind him, the servant girl running up the stone steps and into her lady's arms.
Unaware of what Morgana was saying to her, Gwen clung to her dearest friend for dear life; being swung around so she was now facing Arthur. He smiled softly at her, a smile which she returned. He gave a shot wave of his fingers and turned to walk away.
She would see him later.
Having intercepted Merlin on his way to giving Arthur his dinner, Gwen rapped on the door to his lordship's chambers and waited for a reply.
"About time, Merlin!" he chastised, which Gwen took as a sign that she was allowed to enter.
"I am not, Merlin, my lord," she watched Arthur stop in his pacing steps, and turn around in a snap to face her.
"My lord," she led his tray of food on the table, the chef had been extra generous that evening, giving him more than usual due to his journey and gallivanting.
"I should be saying that to you," she said, standing again. Arthur didn't move to take a seat to eat, just stood and looked at her.
"You already did," he pointed out.
"I know, but I could never thank you enough," she reasoned, flattening her apron against her skirts, "So thank you."
"Any time," he paused, an awkward silence filling the space between them, Gwen shuffled on the balls of her feet, waiting for him to dismiss her, but the instruction never came, and when she looked up at him she could see that he looked equally as undecided as she felt, "Guinevere, what happened in the forest-"
"Your father would never understand, I know."
"That's not what I was going to say," he admitted, stepping over to her and repeating his movements from the day before, "He wouldn't let anybody come and save you. Even though Morgana was kicking up a fuss, I came for you against his orders."
"He won't be pleased."
"I do not care what my father thinks. I couldn't just leave you there," Gwen smiled, blushing and looking away from him. Arthur ran his thumb over her cheek, tilting her head back up to look at him, "I didn't do this for him, and I'm certainly not doing this for him either," he ducked his head slightly, holding her as close to him as he dared. Last time they'd kissed their bodies hardly been touching; now he feared if he let go, he'd never get her back.
Unlike their first kiss, this was nervous, and short. But its brevity bought about a whole new dimension. As Arthur pulled away from her, Gwen gently chewed on her lip, a nervous habit that only caused Arthur to smile at her. He waited for her to make the next move.
She raised a hand, bringing it to the side of his face, ghosting her fingers over his skin before it found roots in his hair. He took it as a sign that he could kiss her again. This time he applied more pressure, Gwen leaning back slightly, massaging her fingers over his scalp.
A contented sigh left Gwen lips. Arthur taking advantage of her now open mouth and gently ran his tongue over her lips.
This was beyond anything Gwen had ever experienced before now. But she couldn't say she didn't like it, because she would be lying if she did. Just the way Arthur was holding her, the way his mouth moved against hers, the way his tongue moved with hers. Everything was just so perfect.
"I'm never letting you out of my sight again."
Thank you to everybody who has reviewed this story along the way: xxkissesandcuddlesxx, casualp, coffee dazed, brightfire15, theangelgirl1992, babybee61, midnight-hearts-love, ArthurXGwen, SuzzieSidle, sweety1516 and Guardian izz.
Special shout out to coffee dazed because she has stuck with me through multi-fandoms 3