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Arthur had decided to escort Morgana to visit her cousins on the eastern borders, if truth be known he had not just insisted to come to keep them safe, but he wanted to spend a few hours in Guinevere's presence, they hadn't spent much time together since the whole Vivian incident, he cringed at the thought.
Merlin had been instructed to help Guinevere on her horse, he hated before that he could not help her, that the boundaries between their worlds would not allow such courtesies.
"You don't need to help me Merlin" Gwen had insisted.
"Oh yes I do" he said eyeing Arthur at this Gwen smiled. "Plus I want to My lady" he said gently placing her cloak on the horse, he then kissed her hand and did a bow, causing them both to laugh. When Merlin looked at Arthur he didn't seem impressed.
Merlin rolled his eyes and helped Arthur on his horse "I said help her, not kiss her" he whispered.
"Worried about the competition?" he whispered back.
Arthur hit him on the head "No Idiot, now let's go" Merlin had to laughed, he really got wound up about Guinevere; he hated anyone even looking at her let alone touching her, this was going to be fun.
Two Guards lead the group, Morgana and Arthur rode along side each other and Gwen and Merlin went behind them.
Gwen and Merlin laughed most of the way, talking about days gone past and silly things they had done. Arthur kept looking back, he wanted to ride next to Guinevere to make her laugh.
"They are only laughing Arthur, or is that not aloud" Morgana's words broke him out of his thoughts.
"Of course they are" Arthur shot her a look.
"You know you used to be fun" Morgana teased.
"I am fun!" he said in a high voice.
"No you are too serious" she knew Arthur had a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, but she missed the Arthur she grew up with, the boy that would place a frog in Uther's bed at night, or pin notes on her back causing everyone to laugh.
He turned around to Merlin "Merlin, am I fun?" he was asking Merlin but looked at Gwen.
Merlin looked at Gwen who tried not to smile "Fun is not a word I would use to describe you" at this Morgana laughed.
"See I told you, Arthur you are too serious"
"I am fun, you just don't bring out my fun side" he said annoyed.
At this Merlin and Morgana laughed.
"You can't bring out what is not there" Merlin retorted, he knew Arthur was fun at times, but he would never admit it.
"Merlin...that is not nice, of course the Prince is fun" Gwen jibed at him, everyone ganging up on Arthur was not fair, she had defiantly seen his fun side!
"Thank you Guinevere" Arthur looked around proud and Gwen blushed.
"Gwen would not say anything to upset anyone....she is hardly a judge in this matter" Morgana said.
Arthur rolled his eyes, he could not get into how Gwen probably knew him better than Morgana now.
"Guinevere is honest, she would not speak up if she did not believe you were both wrong"
Morgana just rolled her eyes "Yes Gwen is too honest at times, let's just agree to disagree, Merlin and I will think you are too serious and Gwen and you can have a delusional opinion that you are fun" at this they all laughed.
Just when he was about the retort back Arthur heard a rustling in the trees. "EVERYONE DOWN" they all jumped off their horses as about 30 men came through the trees brandishing swords.
Within seconds Arthur and everyone were fighting.
"Morgana, Gwen get out of here" he said, Gwen grabbed Morgana knocking another man down with her sword, they battled through the crowd and tried to run up a hill, three men followed. Morgana hit another man and Gwen battled the second, the third hit Morgana on the head and she fell, everything else happened in slow motion Gwen ran a sword through the chest of the man she was battling and kicked the other man out of the way of Morgana and ran him through, Morgana had rolled down a ditch and Gwen ran to her, she was still breathing. She could not carry her unconscious, she would not be strong enough.
She peeked over the hill as she heard the battle stop, her heart was beating like a thousand drums, 'please don't let them be dead'.
She looked down and found Arthur, Merlin and another guard on his knees.
"The LADY MORGANA, I suggest you come down here before, I come up and get you!" a large man shouted. Gwen felt sick, she felt a sense of déjà vu..... she looked at the passed out Morgana.
Her mind ran through the scenario quickly, she must portray Morgana again and hide her, in the battle, she doubted the men would notice her change in clothes. She quickly undid her dress and lifted Morgana doing the same, she swapped them over not having time to do either up and placed Morgana's cloak on her and dragged her behind a bush placing her thin cloak over her.
"MORGANA" he said climbing the hill, Gwen made it back just in time, placing a small carved knife her father had given her in the back of her dress. She knew it was dangerous but hoped it would help.
She wrapped her cloak tighter as the bandit came in front of her.
He looked her up and down "I see you are just as beautiful as they say" he stroked her face and she moved it away from him. Gwen was relieved that he had not known what Morgana looked like.
"Don't touch me" Gwen replied as regal as she could, she needed them to get away so Morgana could wake up and tell Uther what had happed.
He looked around her "Where is your maid?" he saw the three dead bodies around them.
"Dead" she said a tear forming in her eyes out of fear rather than loss.
The man laughed and she got a glimpse of his yellow teeth, she felt sick.
"He will be pleased, The Prince and the Lady Morgana, what a handsome reward" he said dragging Gwen down the hill.
"Look who we have your Royal Highness" Arthur looked at Guinevere dressed in Morgana's clothes.
"Morgana, what about Gwen?" Arthurs words were strained and Gwen noticed a gash on his head.
"Dead" the man said laughing again.
Arthur looked distressed but when he saw Gwen's eyes he knew that could not be the case. She had once again allowed Morgana to escape and taken her place.
"Lets get off the road, I want to make it to Leonid" Leonid has offered a handsome price for the Prince and even more if he managed to capture the Lady Morgana. They had a two day ride ahead before they would be there.
"Take the Prince and Lady Morgana, kill the others"
"NO!" Guinevere shouted the look in her eyes temporarily unhinged him.
"You can save one...the other dies make your choice" he enjoyed playing a game with peoples life's.
"Please let both live" she begged.
Arthur had not said anything, he knew that the persuasion of a women would have more weight.
"One or both die" Gwen looked down at Merlin and the unknown guard and her heart broke, she had no choice, she had to save Merlin he was her dearest friend.
He let go of her arm to allow her to choose. Gwen thought of all the ways to save the other man her simple knife would be no good against all these men.
"I am so sorry" she said to the guard and he just lowered his head.
She placed her hand on Merlin "Please let him go" she said pleading....what happened next happened in seconds, he picked the bound Merlin up and dragged him to the side of the road and ran a blade through the Guard splattering blood all over her....she was sure she should cry but the shock took over her and her voice disappeared, the rest was a blur they were bound and placed on separate horses. Gwen's eyes remained focused on Merlin and she used them to give Merlin a sign to where Morgana was, Merlin just nodded and once out of sight he would find her.
At least Morgana and Merlin were safe.
As darkness approached they stopped riding, "We rest here until morning" the leader said.
They were dragged off the horses and Arthur and Guinevere were tied together, it reminded her of the time she and Lancelot had been placed in the same predicament.
They shoved water down their throats nearly chocking them, but did not give them food.
"Are you alright?" Arthur whispered his hand finding hers, they entwined their fingers together.
"Yes, you?" she whispered rubbing her thumb across his fingers.
"Yes, I wish you were not here" he whispered, he knew she had been brave and saved Morgana. He felt awful for thinking it, but he wished she wasn't here that Morgana was in her place. Guinevere had become more important to him than anyone else.
The men got rowdy and were drinking in celebration of their new hostages.
Two of them came up to Gwen "You are beautiful" one of them said touching her face.
Arthurs fist clenched "DONT touch her" he said.
Gwen just didn't look at them, she new best in drunken situations like this to just not make eye contact.
"What are you going to do...all tied up" he came close to Arthur...... "I mean we could do what we want to her and there is nothing you could do about it" he said stinking of ale and wiping the drawl way from his face.
Arthur saw red and kicked him in the face breaking his nose.
"Stop please" Guinevere said, she didn't want Arthur getting hurt.
The other Guard went to punch Arthur but his hand was grabbed by Veren who they know knew was in charge of the group.
"Don't damage them" he said pushing the man on the floor.
"He brok nos" the other man said holding his nose.
"I told you not to touch them, we need them in once piece" he growled at them.
"We just wanted some fun" he said looking at Gwen.
"That is not for you to take....Leonid will probably have his way with her" Veren said and laughed, they all followed in laughter.
A shiver ran down Gwen's spine and Arthur felt like he could kill them all, he knew better than to say anymore at least she was safe for now.
The camp settled down and they were left with two men watching them.
Gwen wished she could free her hands and grab that knife down her back, but her hands were so tightly bound that they hurt.
Arthur leaned back to her, he laced his fingers back through hers......Gwen shuffled back and leaned her head on his shoulder, so she could be near his ear, he placed his head as near as he could to hers.
"Please don't risk yourself for me" she whispered her breath tickling his ear causing him to shiver.
"I always will" he sighed, he couldn't help it, keeping her safe meant more to him than anything else.
She looked to see if the men were looking but they were talking and she strained her head to get it closer and placed a gentle kiss near his ear.
He sighed "We will get out of here Guinevere, I promise you that"
"If you have the opportunity to escape take it, don't come back for me" she didn't want him to do that.
"I can't" he replied stroking her hand.
"You must, I need to know that please" she pleaded.
He did not reply "Please Arthur" she said again, she needed to hear him say it.
"Ok" he lied, he would die saving her.
"Thank you" she lifted her head again, checking to see who was listening. When they were originally attacked there were about 30 men, and now there under half left Gwen guessed. Arthur had taken down most of them himself, she thought of the four men she had killed, her thoughts then turned to the poor nameless guard that she had allowed to die and she felt like crying, but she could not, they needed to get out of here.
She checked one last time, happy that no one was listening and leaned back on Arthurs should getting close to his ear.
Arthur seemed to sense her thoughts "What happened earlier, the choice you made was the right choice....I would have done the same"
Gwen knew how important Merlin was to Arthur "Thank you" she squeezed his hand. She could hear the gaurds were still talking and whispered to Arthur.
"I have a small blade on me"
Arthur leaned into her "Where is it?"
"Back of my dress"
Arthur smiled and rubbed her hand, he would not be able to reach it from there, so would have to wait for an opportunity.
They remained in silence for the rest of the night, not really sleeping....Arthur would rub her hand ever now and again to see if she was alright and Gwen would reply back with the same gesture.
In the morning they were given a small piece of bread to eat, which they gladly did and once the camp had been packed up they were both placed back on their horses. The rest of the day was tiring. Gwen tried really hard to keep her eyes open, she hadn't slept all night. They rode for hours and hours only stopping briefly for some water, the night drew in and they eventually stopped. In a similar routine to before, they started to tie Arthur and Gwen together.
"I need to...relieve myself" Gwen said to the man dragging her, he stopped and called over to Valen.
"What" he said coming up to her.
"I need to...relieve myself" she repeated to Valen.
He laughed "I am sorry my lady, we have not been good hosts" at this he did a fake bow.
Gwen stood tall "I don't expect Pig's to know how to treat a lady" at this Valen laughed.
"This way my lady" he laughed and dragged her along.
He walked with her to a group of trees.
"Will this suit her royalness?" he smiled exposing his yellow teeth and she felt sick... she lifted her tied hands.
"It will do I suppose" he smiled and looked at her raised tied hands, he grabbed a knife but before he cut he grabbed her by her neck.
"You run....I will find you and kill you SLOWLY....understand?" a shiver ran down her spine and her body was shaking.
"I understand" at this he cut her hand ties.
She walked behind a tree and then she checked to see if he was watching, of course he was, but he would not be able to see her fully.
"Have you got NO manners, face away" Gwen had to try.
"No I don't" He replied crossing his arms, but he did turn slightly.
She took the opportunity and took out the knife placing it carefully up the sleeve of her dress, she hoped that it would not fall out .
She finished off her business and straightened herself out tying up the dress and wrapping the cloak around close to her body. She walked up to him and placed her hands up in a certain way so he could not feel the blade... he wrapped the cord back around her wrists and dragged her back to camp.
Arthur looked very concerned, he shoved her back down and tied them back together.
"Are you alright?" Arthur asked immediately.
"Very" she replied hoping that he understood her meaning.
They remained silent until most of the men had fallen asleep and the two men guarding them were deep in conversation, they had been placed near the border of the camp which would defiantly help to escape.
Gwen positioned her hand and shook her arm slightly feeling the knife slip further down, Arthur felt the blade and being careful not to cut himself rubbed it against Gwen's rope. She felt her hands become free, then keeping her hands behind her back she grabbed the knife with one hand, feeling the rope with the other, she quickly managed to release his rope.
She passed the knife back to Arthur and they watched the two guards and waited, one stood up and went to go behind a tree to relieve himself.
When the Guard that was sitting looked away, Arthur was by him in seconds with his hand over his mouth, he twisted his neck and then he lowered his body to the floor. Gwen picked up the man's water and his bag.
Arthur approached the other Guard from behind and he silently ended his life. He didn't know how long their escape would remain unnoticed so he grabbed his sword and Gwen's hand and they ran straight into the surrounding forest, with only the moon light to guide their way.
The forest seemed to go on forever, they didn't look back they just kept going, until Gwen felt a pain in her leg and dropped to the floor. Arthur came to her side "Are you alright?" she nodded although pain shot through her body and she felt sick, she didn't know what had happened, but would not slow their escape.
Arthur helped her up and they continued running until they needed to stop for breath. Gwen slumped against a tree and Arthur kept his eye out for any sign of followers, Gwen picked out the water canister she had taken from the Guard and offered it to Arthur, he sipped it and handed it back his eyes never leaving the background, a faint light flickered in the distance.
"We need to leave now" he whispered helping her to stand as she stood on her ankle she collapsed back down.
"Leave me" she could not take the pain anymore and did not want to risk her slowing him down.
"No...I will carry you" He tried to lift her up but her hands kept him away.
"No you will escape....please" she was exhausted she felt like she could pass out.
"No...either you come with me or we die here together" she didn't need to be able to see his face to know the determined look that was in his eyes.
She moved her hand and he picked her up and ran with her, he was grateful that Guinevere was so light, but knew him holding her would mean they would be found in no time.
In the distance mountains loomed and he could hear water flowing, he looked left and right and behind them, the sound of men drew closer......he closed his eyes using his instincts to guide him and ran off to the left, he needed to find a place to hide them...the forest became dense the gap between the trees narrowing. With the light and the noise approaching.. he looked everywhere and finally he found a place to hide, a tree that would have fallen years ago was now overgrown. He walked behind it placing Guinevere down on the ground "lay down" he whispered, she did as she was told. He then walked back to where he came from covering his tracks and making fresh ones away from Guinevere, he didn't have much time....he then grabbed branches and leafs anything he could to hide them and walked back to Guinevere covering each step as he went, she rolled over closer to the tree and Arthur covered them both, their bodies so close they would seem like one. It was a slim chance, but he had to try.
"THE TRACKS SPLIT!" a man shouted.
Arthur could hear footsteps approaching, Valen kicked the tree they were hidden behind and Gwen closed her eyes convinced this would be it.
"SPLIT UP YOU THAT WAY, YOU THIS!....FIND THEM!!" he recognized Valens voice.
"You won't get away that easily" he spat on the ground.
Valen then lead the men ahead and away from them.
Arthur let out a sigh of relief into Guinevere's hair, that had been a little too close. He waited until he was completely sure that no one was waiting for them and shifted their temporary cover off.
He helped her up and embraced her quickly before he wordlessly picked her back up. Gwen hated that she was a burden on him.
He continued to the left towards the sound of flowing water, stopping occasionally placing Guinevere down and covering his tracks.
He knew it would not take them long to discover they were heading in the wrong direction and with all the men at Valens disposal Arthur had no chance of fighting. He didn't care what happened to him, but he cared more than anything what happened to her.
The once darkened sky had started to lighten; he needed to find shelter before sunrise. He placed Guinevere down again behind a tree.
"I need to find somewhere to hide" he whispered she nodded and he handed her the sword and stroked her face and then walked off in search of shelter.
Gwen did not have the energy to speak, she felt weak, her leg throbbed....she wished that Arthur would escape and leave her, she knew if they were found it would be her fault...but he would not leave her she knew that much. She wondered if the same situation had happened years ago before he noticed her, whether this situation would be different.
She heard a branch snap under a foot and held the sword closer, Arthur would not have been so careless, with the sword trembling in her hand, she heard another branch break, she slowly eased herself up the tree, pain making it impossible for her to concentrate and prepared to strike.
She raised the sword up in her hands and moved so she was facing right, the direction of the approaching noise, her heart beat fast and she prayed that Arthur was far away from here and that he would escape.
She held her breath and hid from view...if this was going to be it, she was going to go out fighting. The pain seemed to dim as the blood rushed through her veins, preparing to face her enemy.
Closer and closer the sound came, she raised the sword and just as she was about to attack a pair of hands grabbed her mouth from behind and pulled her back. She knew it was Arthur.....he moved her behind a cluster of trees and Gwen gave him the sword taking the knife in her hand.
Arthur showed the number 3 on his hand, she presumed that was the number of men approaching them, she nodded to show she understood.
The men drew closer towards where they hid, Arthur waited till a branch broke he guessed about 5 yards away and then he leaped out from behind the tree driving his sword through the first man and then taking down the others, Gwen watched seeing if she could help but three men were no match for Arthur, he picked up their swords and sacks and walked back to Gwen.
Arthur went to pick her up but she refused, the rest had helped the pain ease enough to walk, she was not going to burden him any longer.
Arthur pulled her by her hand, the sound of water getting louder. Gwen noticed that the forest started to break away and the source of the water became apparent, the rising sun revealed a flowing river and in the distance the sound of men shouting could be heard, they had found them.
"We have to jump" Gwen looked down into the river it was at steep drop and with the river flowing they would be dragged along...she was not the best swimmer.
"We won't make it!" Gwen said looking at Arthur.
"We have no choice!" Mountains loomed to their left the enemy approaching from behind, it was this or die fighting.
She knew he was right, she leaned up and kissed him gently on the lips, no words needed to be spoken.
Arthur took his chainmail off and threw it into the river along with the bags, he held Guinevere's hand and they both jumped.
Somewhere during their decent their hands had lost contact, Guinevere held her breath as she dropped deep into the cold water, she kicked and swam as hard as she could to reach the top, her head popped out and then she was dragged back down with the current. She struggled back up again and the water pounded her back under, from deep under the water she could see the top, but her body had failed her once again, the rapid water above no longer heard, a silence took over her, the battle lost as her body drifted down, she felt at peace and her eyes began to close, accepting her fate.
Arthur dived down finding Guinevere sinking, he grabbed her by the hand and dragged her to the surface, her face pail, he swam her to the side of the river and onto ground.
"Please Guinevere" her eyes shut, he didn't know what to do, he held her close and rocked her, patting her back, he then heard her cough and choke, he patted her on the back harder until the water that tried to claim her life left her. Arthur pulled her around to look at her face, he had tears streaming down his face "I thought I had lost you" his voice broken, he held her close again.
"Not yet" her voice weak, she shivered as their wet bodies held each other. Arthur looked up as the sound of approaching men drew near, he picked her up and found shelter from view, he cradled her in his arms his eyes never leaving hers.
Vivan looked down at the flowing river, floating on top was the few stolen sacks and Gwen's cloak.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" he shouted.
"They might have survived" a younger man spoke.
"NO ONE WOULD SURRVIVE THAT!" Out of anger Vivan threw the young man off into the flowing river the boy hit his head on a rock below and his body floated to the top.
"SEE" he turned to his men...anger coursing through his body.
Arthur sighed in relief, they had survived and the sound of Vivan and his men leaving made him want to shout out in joy, but instead he placed a quick kiss on Guinevere's blue lips and she smiled.
Guinevere shivered in his arms and he held her closer, he needed to warm her up.
"I will make a fire" she didn't reply, she didn't have the energy, her body shivered.
He placed her down and went in search for fire wood, he didn't want to move her from their current position until she was warm and he had checked her injuries. Now they were no longer being chased he needed to take care of Guinevere and then make the long journey home.
Two of the bags they had stolen from the guards had floated and made their way to the rocks, inside Arthur found one tunic, a pair of trousers, a loaf of bread, an apple and a flask (empty) he filled it up from the river. Arthur looked up at the sky 'rain' he thought just what they needed.
He had found safety in a large cut out in the rocks, no one would be able to see them from the top, he didn't really know how far the rocky shore went and if they could follow the river, he would have to determine their escape route later...but for now they were safe.
Guinevere remained in the same position shivering against a rock, she looked very weak. It didn't take him long to light a roaring fire and Gwen was relieved of some warmth, moving closer to the flames.
She was soaked, she needed to put on dry clothes...he only had one dry tunic and one pair of trousers, he sat next to her. "You need to put dry clothes on" her shaking hand touched the dry clothes.
"What about youuu" her teeth chattering, Arthur was also shivering but tried not to show it.
"I will be fine" he tried to look warm.
She smiled and lifted up the tunic in her shaking hand and then handed him the trousers. "Weee cann share" she stuttered.
"Guinevere no" his eyes wide.
"Pllleasse I need yoouuu well, you will freeze to ddeeath" her shakes getting worse. She looked out to the river and rain came pouring down.
Arthur sighed, he knew her well enough to not continue arguing, she was getting progressively worse and he didn't want to cause her additional worry.
"Thank you" he walked over to the corner and took off his wet clothes and placed the massive trousers on, he was grateful that he had a belt to keep them around his waist. He picked up Guinevere's sword that he had managed to save and walked back towards her, she was still in her wet clothes. He watched from a distance as her shaking hands could not undo her dress.
Instincts took over and he went to help her. "Let me help" her eyes met his and she was sure she should blush but her energy and freezing body did not allow that.
Arthur laid out the tunic he needed to put on her and looked into her eyes, hers met his. He slowly stroked past her dress untying it from the back his eyes remained on hers. He then helped her stand and placed the tunic over his shoulder. His eyes never left hers as he lifted her dress over her head, he then did the same with her undergarment, never looking anywhere but her eyes, as if he didn't need to see what he was doing. Probably a lot of experience Gwen thought. Their eyes only momentarily loosing contact as the garments passed her face, he picked up the tunic and she raised her arms, he slowly lowered it onto her, his fingers brushing the sides of her skin as he pulled it down, causing both of them to shiver.
He wordlessly helped her sit down and pulled off her boots, trying not to look at her slim legs. He then took her bad leg and felt along until he came to the ankle and she winced "Sorry, this might hurt a little" she nodded and he gently felt her ankle, he had seen enough broken bones to know it was just badly sprained.
He grabbed the Guards sack; the bread was wrapped in a fine cloth 'perfect' he thought. He placed the bread on the bag and carefully picked up her foot, before he wrapped her foot up he placed a kiss on top of it, causing Gwen to smile. He gently wrapped the cloth tight around her foot, he needed to tie it, Gwen pulled a pin out from her soaked hair and gave it to him. He placed it on her bandage holding it in place; he checked his work and placed her foot gently on the floor. All around her a puddle of water covered the ground from her clothes, he silently picked her up.
She was sure she should have blushed or her heart should have beat faster feeling his bare chest, but she was so tired. Instead as he carried her to the other side of the fire she placed a gentle kiss on his neck "Thank you" she whispered.
He placed her gently on the ground near the fire "Food" he stood up and picked up the wet clothes and placed them near the fire to dry and then brought the bags over and handed her a piece of bread "Thank you" she said weakly.
He watched her slowly eat the bread, her face now having more colour than before, he gave her a flask of water...she sipped it and past it back to Arthur, they were both too tired for words. Gwen watched the flames dance in front of her face, her eyes felt heavy and she leaned her head on Arthurs shoulder, he placed his bare arm around her and she slowly drifted off to sleep.
Arthur watched the fire, he couldn't believe he had managed to undress her without his eyes betraying him...he sighed in relief, she was safe. He was tired too, but he needed to watch out for danger.
Gwen woke up very warm, her body was pressed against Arthurs, her eyes scanned the scene. Arthur was fast asleep, Gwens head was on his bare chest, her arm around his neck, her bare leg going across the middle of him and his hand high up on her leg, she blushed. She looked ahead the fire was barely lit and outside it was dark, she didn't want to wake Arthur up, so lay her head back on his chest, he moaned a little in his sleep and his hand travelled further up her leg, she bit her lip to stop from making any noise...this was slightly awkward but very nice.
If anyone were to look at them laying there they would think they had staggered across man and wife, not a prince and a servant whose relationship consisted of stolen glances and occasional kisses.
Arthur's snoring stopped; to save any embarrassment Gwen closed her eyes again to pretend to be asleep. She felt his head lift up and heard his heart beat faster, he had obviously noticed the position they had found themselves in. He didn't move his hand though, which surprised her, she would imagine he would have moved it immediately, but instead his thumb gently caressed her skin. She was defiantly alive now his touch sent electricity through her body. If she wasn't pretending to be asleep she imagined that he would have a smile on his face.
Gwen moaned in her sleep and in a bold move, wrapped herself more tightly around him, her leg going further over him, she was surprised he let his hand drift higher up with her moving her leg rather than remove it.
His heart was jumping out of his chest now, she turned her head away from him so she could smile, and held him tighter, his body reacted and she blushed deeply but didn't move. Arthur started to shift, she knew his bodies reaction had caused him to feel awkward. He gently moved her leg off of him and her arm, carefully moving her so he could get up, he then pulled her tunic to cover her leg.
She missed his warmth when he left... she couldn't wake up now, she would have to lay there for a little while otherwise it would be embarrassing. She rolled over her eyes slightly open, Arthur was not there; she opened her eyes fully and sat up watching the dying fire. She knew she should not have done that, but their moments together were precious and if they allowed their bodies to feel the warmth of each other for a few moments, so what!.
She looked down at her bandaged foot and sighed, it was defiantly not throbbing as much as yesterday although she felt discomfort in her chest as if she was bruised.
She heard a noise and watched as Arthur came back over, his own clothes now back on.
He blushed slightly seeing her "Guinevere" he rubbed the back of his head, obviously feeling a little uncomfortable about before. "How are you feeling?"
She smiled "Much better thank you, did you sleep?" she asked innocently at this his face changed in colour and he smiled.
"A bit, I was supposed to be keeping a look out!" at this Gwen laughed.
"You were exhausted, we both were" Arthur came and sat next to her with an apple in his hand, she watched him cut the apple, he gave her a slice, "Thank you"
They sat in silence, Arthur sharing the apple with her. "Thank you for everything, I am sorry that a slowed you down" Gwen sighed, she knew it would have been a much smoother escape without her.
Arthur shook his head "I won't hear of it, you did not slow me down" He picked up the bread and cut another piece off and gave it to her.
"You are too kind, you had to carry me half the way and I am not exactly light!"
Arthur laughed "Guinevere, I would wager you are the lightest women in Camelot!"
"You have carried lots of women, have you!" she teased.
Arthur laughed even louder "Not all of them...only the pretty ones!" she playfully hit him on the arm.
"OW!!...no need to hit me, just because your... jealous" he pretended to be hurt.
Gwen laughed "I am not jealous!" it was lovely to be laughing again, no matter what lay ahead to see Arthur smile warmed her heart.
"Oh I think you are! You don't like the thought of all those other ladies" he teased, they were facing each other now.
"ALL the other ladies...that is why you took my clothes off so easily earlier!!" her eyebrows raised at this Arthur blushed.
"Guinevere!" he said in shock.
"What I am merely stating a fact! Not many men can undress a lady with so much ease and without looking....most men struggle!"
She watched Arthur's face go from embarrassed to something different, an expression she had not seen before.
"How would you know about men undoing dresses?" his voice high, he was jealous.
"I was not saying my dress, merely giving praise to your abilities" Arthur relaxed a bit. "Now who is jealous" she said quietly.
A strange expression crossed his face "Yes I did not like the thought of that" he admitted, he had instantly imagined killing these men.
Gwen was surprised at his honesty and she laughed "And I at thinking about you and other women!" she sighed "A right pair, can't be together but don't like the thought of another" at her honesty Arthur felt like he had been hit in the chest.
He reached out and placed his hand on her cheek and lowered his face towards hers "May I kiss you?" he needed to kiss her, for her to become his and leave the teasing behind.
"You do not normally ask" she smiled as his breath tickled her lips.
"Neither do you!" thinking back to their kiss in the tent. Gwen kissed him first gently and then their mouths parted both accepting their need for each other, his hands laced through her hair and hers ran through his, eventually they needed to stop for air. He leaned his head against hers and they breathed heavily, he slowly moved away from her looking into the fire.
Gwen sighed always there relationship seemed to be subjected to moments of perfection and then back to reality.
"I should get dressed!" she stood up and Arthur watched her hobble around to get her clothes.
'Damn the rules' he kicked some dust into the fire.
Gwen slipped Morgana's dry dress back on...they would begin travelling back to Camelot soon, they should not allow moments like that together, it would only make it harder to keep the required distance when they were back.
When she returned fully dressed, she folded the tunic up and placed it back in the bag and placed her boots on her feet, Arthur watched her every move.
"What is the plan?" Gwen asked sitting back next to him.
"It is probably safer to travel at night, if you feel ready?" he asked.
"I am ready" she stood up.
They silently gathered their bits together. Arthur ripped the trousers and wrapped them around a stick and lit it, he offered his hand and Gwen gladly took it.
They walked along in silence along the rocky shore, Arthur wordlessly helping her to climb over large rocks, only stopping briefly for water.
It always amazed Gwen how they remained in comfortable silence for so long, she had not known anyone else she could do that with. She normally would feel like she should fill the silences with idle chat, but with Arthur she did not need words.
They climbed up away from the River, they had been walking for hours. In the distance they could see lights of a small village. He needed to find out the name of it in order to regain his sense of direction and lead them back to Camelot.
As the sun started to rise they were at the edge of the small village, he could see only farm animals and a few simple houses, it reminded him of Ealdor. They would not be spotted from their position, he didn't know whether they would be friends of foes, so didn't want to take the risk...he only had the small blade to defend them.
"Wait here, I shall find out where we are" Arthur whispered, he watched as a farmer picked up seed and started to feed his chickens.
Gwen placed her hand on his arm and stood up leaving their hiding position, she heard Arthur whisper her name. She thought she would have a better chance of getting the information with a more gentle approach.
Arthur watched as she approached the farmer, the man at first surprised to see her and then relaxed and fell into conversation he could not hear the words spoken, but heard Guinevere laugh. Arthur kept his hand on the blade ready to spring into action.
She made her way back to Arthur and spoke in a normal voice "He said we are in Travisten and a days walk to the western lake's, he has also invited us to join him for breakfast!" at this Arthur smiled trust Guinevere she could charm anybody.
Arthur stood up and followed her, they were not as far away from Camelot as he had thought, if they were a days walk from Western lakes they could probably be back in Camelot in three days, for some reason this did not make him happy.
They had a really pleasant breakfast with the farmer Peter and his wife Anne. Arthur had said his name was William, which made Gwen smile, they chatted easily and when it was time to leave, Anne made them food to take with them.
"What a lovely couple" Gwen heard her say as they left, at this Arthur took her hand in his.
They walked along a path that Peter mentioned would be the quickest route to towards the Western lakes. The path was through fields of flowers at this Gwen smiled, she had never seen so many amazing flowers, Arthur noticed her face light up and picked up a purple flower handing it to her.
"Thank you" she placed it in her hair. He loved how Guinevere would adorn her hair with flowers.
"You are welcome" their hands had remained entwined; they fitted so perfectly together as if they were made for each other.
They walked for hours and only stopped briefly for water both lost in their own thoughts. They had not come across anybody else on their journey so far and hoped it remained that way.
Darkness began to fall and Arthur looked for a place for them to rest, they were in open fields and he could not see anywhere that would be as well hidden as yesterday. He looked up to the sky, it seemed clear, so there would be no rain...the fields were pretty overgrown so they would not be seen from afar.
"I think we have no choice but to rest amongst the flowers" he stated at this Gwen smiled and blushed.
He brushed her face "Blushing?" he asked, he wanted to know what he had said to make her face redden.
She bit her lip "Here is perfect" she really did not want to explain the very vivid dream she had of them laying together in a field of flowers!
They sat down together, he could not light a fire tonight and he was grateful that they were at the beginning of summer rather than the depths of winter.
"So are you going to tell me why I made you blush?"
"I don't think so" she concentrated on setting out the food Anne had prepared for them.
Arthur looked surprised "I could order you" he teased.
"Yes, but you will not" she replied and handed him some bread and cheese.
"Come on Guinevere...I did save your life" he knew it was a low shot, but he really wanted to know. He took a bite out of his bread.
Gwen laughed "I can't believe you used that one!"
"I am sorry, come on please" she looked at his face that was now lit only by moonlight and she sighed, how can one man be so handsome.
"It's a little embarrassing, so I would rather not" she said finishing off her food.
Arthur laughed "Come on Guinevere, I promise I won't laugh" he took hold of her hand and placed it on his heart.
She laughed at this "I can see why you are good at getting the truth out of your enemies" at this Arthur pretended to be suprised.
"I am not like this with anyone but you, now please continue" he let go of her hand and lay back hands behind his head, like a child waiting for a bedtime story.
Gwen blushed, she could not tell him that she dreamed of them lying naked together in a field of flowers.
"Well...um it was nothing to interesting, just a dream I had that's all"
Arthur sat up and looked at her "Now come on Guinevere, tell me what passed in this dream"
At this, moon or not she was sure her face glowed red lighting up the area. Arthur smiled and placed his hand on her face.
"Guinevere!!" he said in a shocked tone "I thought you were sweet and pure" at this Guinevere felt like sinking into the ground, but instead she bit back.
"My body is, but my mind has a tendency to stray" she admitted.
Arthur laughed "And you promised not to laugh" she poked him and at this he pulled her down on top of him.
"I am sorry, it is just you are so....surprising" she lifted herself up from him.
"You are mocking me!" she poked him again.
"Stop pocking me...and no I am merely stating that you constantly surprise me and..... you are very lovely" he lifted his body so his face was close to hers.
Gwen blushed at his closeness; she hated how he could make her blush so easily.
He stroked her cheek "If it makes you feel better, my mind and you are constantly up to no good!" at this she raised her eyebrows.
"Really!" she got closer to him, she liked the thought that she had a place in his dreams, no matter what the context.
His lips got closer to hers "Really"
"You know we should not keep doing this!" she whispered.
He didn't listen he just kissed her passionately and she matched it, her hands running up his back and his in her hair, he pulled her on top of him their bodies perfectly fitting together. Arthur rolled her over so he was on top of her and gently took his lips from hers. His face lit in the moonlight and Guinevere's hidden by the dark. "You know you drive me crazy" he whispered.
She sighed and laced her fingers through his hair "And you have a similar effect on me" he smiled and lowered himself back down for a kiss. When they broke apart they both lay together looking at the stars.
"I love you" Arthur spoke quietly.
She held his hand "And I love you" Arthur did not see the single tear the graced Gwen's cheek. Their relationship was meant for dreams only; it did not have a place in the real world.
They eventually fell asleep in each others arms. Arthur woke first and woke Gwen up with a simple kiss.
"Good morning Guinevere" he smiled causing her too.
"Hello" she said sitting up, it was going to be a beautiful day the sun rose high in the hills and she could hear the birds singing.
Once they had eaten the last of their food they set off for the day ahead. They reached the western lakes within a few hours.
"We have to get across" Arthur said looking along the river to see if there was any shallow part. Gwen gulped the thought of getting soaked again did not really appeal to her.
Arthur found a spot where rock's almost covered the path, if they could just step on them they would not even get wet.
He stepped on the first one, then next and then the final and leaped onto dry ground.
"I will help you" he noticed Gwen's nervous look.
She stood on the first rock and the next wobbling slightly and then as she stood on the last she wobbled at bit and one of her legs went straight into the water, Arthur grabbed hold of her and lifted her up out of the water.
She looked down at herself and tipped water out of her boot, "It seems water and I seem to not get on!"
At this they both laughed, they walked for another few hours over fields and into the Forest of Eladen, this forest was dangerous and Arthur instinctively held Guinevere closer.
"We must be careful there are many enemies here" both human and animal he thought but would not tell her that.
The moment they stepped into the forest it was like they had stepped into night, a mist covered the forest and the trees blocked any sunlight that would illuminate their path. Gwen shivered in the air a smell of death tainted the forest.
Arthur held her hand tighter, his vision was impaired by mist, so he used his other senses, sound.....a rustling could be heard to the left, so he walked to the right....he smelt the air...and pulled Gwen to a crouching position.
He saw a group of men heading in their direction and then in the distance he heard a screeching sound. In his horror he watched as a large beast came through the mist and attacked the men shredding their bodies in seconds, Arthur watched Guinevere face grow pail and then grabbed her hand, they would not survive an attack, he wished he had his trusty sword with him. Not that it would protect them against that, they needed to seek shelter to run!
He slowly stepped back with Guinevere behind him, he could hear the beast sniffing around as if trying to capture their scent, and then he saw it ahead sniffing down on the ground and it lifted its head up to see them and it started running towards them.
"RUN" Arthur ordered, Gwen and him ran through the trees, the sound of screeching coming up behind them, they darted in and out of the trees trying to confuse the beast, Gwen sliced her face on a passing branch......they reached a dead end, a cluster of trees that stopped them going past, Arthur looked around and up anything to help them....the sound drew closer and Gwen's heart beat faster.
A dense fog seemed to draw in and cover them from view, Arthur grabbed her hand again...the beast had stopped in his tracks, he edged to the right, the smell of death thick in the air, he trod on something hard in the ground. When he looked down a dead man lay on the ground, mauled by some animal. Arthur felt around for his weapon and found his sword, he stepped over the man and Gwen did the same, Arthur gave her the small blade. He edged further along, another body, he could hear the beast sniffing around...in this fog his eyes would be impaired and an idea came to him.
He gestured for Gwen to lay down, she did so immediately, he dragged one body silently over and covered her living flesh with the dead. He did the same, the beast got closer his breath staining the air, he lowered down to where Gwen was and sniffed the dead man. She heard him move away, her breath remained held..... it went over to where Arthur lay and sniffed the corpse, Arthur felt his drawl go down his neck, he closed his eyes and prayed they had fooled the beast. The beast smelt the dead flesh, but something kept him there he sniffed closer, the smell of fresh blood. He moved the corpse around with his nose, Arthur held the sword tight in his hand.
He heard a loud screech and the corpse that covered him was lifted off and now in the mouth of the beast, he shook the body and threw it to the ground, Arthur stood and drove his sword through the beasts chest, the beast screamed and knocked Arthur over causing him to hit the tree and temporarily lose consciousness. Guinevere immediately stood, if they were going to die it was going to be fighting.
She picked up Arthurs sword from the ground, not daring to look at him. The beast snarled and tried to swipe Guinevere she rolled out of the way just in time and saw her opportunity she ran the sword straight into the beasts neck. The beast fought against the pain knocking Guinevere over, she crawled back as the beast approach, she held her small blade in her hand.
His mouth so close to her body that the breath blew her hair back, he lifted his head and growled baring all of his long fangs, In what Gwen thought would be her final act she rammed the small blade straight into the beasts eye. His lifted his head back and screamed. Arthur pulled her out of the way, she stood up, the beast bleeding everywhere and screaming in pain. Arthur stepped back Guinevere in hand and stood on a metal blade. He picked it up and attacked the approaching beast again, this time causing the beast to drop to the floor, Arthur and Gwen stood back as the beast took his final breath.
Arthur held her close grateful that they were alive. They could not linger here long, he took out the swords and cleaned Guinevere's on the animals fur handing it back to her. They set off back into the forest, he needed to find shelter to check on the injuries they had sustained from the last attack.
Arthur looked around deeper into the forest they went, the fog lifting slightly to help with their view, to the left he noticed a cluster of trees and on the ground human foot prints, he leant down and felt the soil, someone had been here a few days prior.
He hoped that they had found a place to shelter and this would lead them too it. He followed the foot prints and found his way to a gap behind the cluster of trees. They slid between the gap, it was as if the trees had formed a shelter, they were covered all sides apart from the small gap where they came. Inside there was the remains of an old campfire. The night was drawing in and they could rest here for the night.
"I will be back shortly" he handed her one of the large swords and placed a kiss on her cheek. He needed to get some food, luckily they still had a small amount of water that had been saved from the attack.
"You better be" she whispered causing him to smile. Gwen was grateful to sit down her ankle throbbed, she closed her eyes and thought of lying in her bed, with the fire lit. She felt a shiver run down her spine back to reality, in a cold forest.
Every moment that Arthur was gone felt like a life time for Guinevere, she prayed for his safe return. As the night started to take over she worried about him, she didn't know whether to go out looking for him or wait. Just when she decided to go after him, she heard a sound, she raised her sword instinctively and prepared for attack.
"I hope you are not going to kill me, I brought you dinner" Arthur dragged a wild hog along with him and Gwen approached him placing a kiss on his lips.
"You worried me" she wished she could see his blue eyes sparkling but the dimming light would not allow that.
"Sorry" he kissed her once more and then set about starting a fire, she sat and watched him light the fire and chop chunks of meat off the hog. He gently carved branches into sharp skewers and placed the meat on them.
He didn't say anything about her watching him, he liked how she studied his every move.
She sat next to him and he handed her a skewer with meat on, she placed it in the flames and watched it cook.
Arthur kept a constant eye on the entrance, he knew a beast would have trouble entering but a man would not.
They ate in silence and then Gwen inspected Arthur's wounds a gash to his head, small so would not cause problems and claw mark to his chest, that would heal in a few days.
"Do I pass your examination?" he teased at this she smiled.
"Just about, although I want to clean those wounds" she placed her finger near the one on her chest.
He looked at the gash on her cheek "You need to rest, I will keep an eye out"
"We take it in turns, or we both stay awake!" she warned and Arthur laughed.
"I do not think so, I would not want you harmed" he replied honestly.
"If I can defend myself from that thing, I can certainly do my share of watching" at her comment Arthur shook his head, if he was honest a rest sounded good to him.
"Ok, I shall wake you in a few hours" he kissed her on the cheek and went to guard the entrance.
When they changed shifts Gwen handed him the blade her father had made for her.
"I want you to have it" she spoke quietly.
"I cannot take it"
"Please my father made it for me and I would feel happy knowing that it keeps you safe" she placed the blade in his hand.
"Thank you" he knew how much that anything from her father meant to her and the fact that she gave it to him meant so much. He stood and kissed her on the lips.
After the day that had just had the night was thankfully uneventful. When the sun started to rise, Guinevere woke Arthur up, he stood up in a shot, hand on sword expecting to fight an enemy.
She held her hands up and smiled. "Sorry, habit" he said, his hair all over the place. She couldn't help it, she walked up to him grabbed him by the tunic and kissed him hard, he responded instantly, when she pulled back she teased him.
"Sorry, habit" she bit her lip causing him to laugh.
"You really are very intoxicating" this caused Gwen to smile.
"You mean I smell?"
"No I mean, you consume me" he said tilting her down and placing a kiss on her lips.
"Oh...that's alright then" they were both really dirty covered in mud and blood.
"But you could do with a bath" he teased bringing her back up to standing point.
"I don't have a bath, remember!" he thought back to the time he asked her to fetch him some water at the lack of a bath and cringed. He was such a different person then.
"You can use mine" he teased pretending to sniff her hair.
She smiled and raised an eyebrow "And where will you be?"
Guinevere blushed, teasing didn't really work very well for her, when her face gave her away.
Arthur laughed "You really surprise me every time!" he rubbed the back of his head. Guinevere the tease, who would have thought!
"I surprise you! I am not the one offering my bath" Gwen teased and gathered their bits up, she knew she was teasing him, but she like to see how he reacted and she loved keeping him guessing as to what she might say next.
Arthur laughed "I am not the one suggesting I join you!" he replied causing both of them to blush this time.
"I didn't suggest that, I merely asked where you would be" she joked back...they didn't know what dangers lie ahead so wanted to enjoy this light hearted conversation.
"Oh...well in that case I would be elsewhere, thinking about being there with you" he kissed her on the cheek.
He took her hand and they left the conversation behind as they walked silently through the forest, he needed for them to reach the other side by nightfall.
They walked for hours, not coming across anyone; they would occasionally hear rustling and change direction. They only stopped once to eat some cold meat, saved from the night before and sip at the remains of the water.
At nightfall they made it to the edge of the forest, Arthur scanned around making sure they would be safe, he took her hand and led her across the fields, he found shelter on higher ground this time and in the distance he could see the lights of Camelot.
They didn't talk much that evening both lost in their own thoughts.
Arthur's mood was heavy when Gwen woke him in the morning.
They wordlessly packed up their bits knowing that today they would reach Camelot and be back to normality. The walls that had been temporarily removed between them would have to be put back in place.
As they walked no longer hand in hand Arthur stopped causing Gwen to stop aswell. Arthur bit his lip and turned, in a few more steps they would reach the borders of Camelot.
He took Guinevere's hand and her eyes rose to his. Arthurs were swimming with such a mixture of emotions it broke her heart.
"Let's not go back, let's leave here never to return" Arthurs words surprised Guinevere.
"Arthur?" her heart breaking at his words.
"They will think us dead with no ransom note and if they caught Vivan he would confirm it" he held her hand to his heart.
"How can we?" she didn't know what else to say.
"Guinevere please hear me out, we could get married and leave here, have a life together....I could find work I could become someone else, I could be William!" at this they both smiled.
"Arthur please, what about Camelot, what about your father?" at her words he dropped her hand and paced around.
"What about them, they will carry on" he approached her again. "You cannot ask me to go back there, to love you from a distance to dream about making you mine...it is killing me!" his eyes were moist, tears just about holding back.
Guinevere launched into his arms and he held her, Gwen pulled back and placed her hand on his cheek "I feel the same, I dream about running away with you, about our wedding night...but can we be selfish, can we leave the future of Camelot in the hands of goodness knows who. It is not just our happiness at stake; it is the happiness of many. You are the Prince of Camelot and you will become the best King this land has ever seen"
Arthur sighed "I don't want that, I want you" his voice broke.
"You have me, all that I am I give to you Arthur..but if we leave them to an unknown fate, what will that make us?" she stroked his face, tears falling down hers.
He knew she was right, his father was not always a fair man and Arthur was constantly trying to defend his people from the sidelines, if they left, the fate of Camelot would be sealed. His father would not last forever and his rash choices could make that happen long before time and then where would Camelot be left, he was the only heir.
"It would make us happy, I know it is not perfect and that we should go back...but I cannot go back to the way things were between us. If I thought I could tell my father and get his blessing I would have done it months ago. He is not a fair man, he would never understand" Arthur head dipped.
Gwen lifted his chin up "That is why we must return, to secure the future for us and for people like us who want to wed out of love not just status" he held her tight. Gwen wished she could just say yes and run away with him, lead a normal life with Arthur, but she could not be that selfish.
"I cannot go back to the way it was" he whispered into her hair.
"Can we not find a compromise?" he lifted himself away so he could look into her eyes.
"How?" he asked not sure what she was getting at.
She hated the fact she was going to say this "It may not be acceptable for us to wed in your fathers eyes, but you are allowed some company!" he knew what she meant, his father often had servants keep him company at night.
"NO...that will not happen" it is not that he did not love the thought of spending every night with her, he just didn't like the fact that she would be something less than she was in the eyes of others.
"I know it's not ideal, but at least we could be together"
"Not like that Guinevere, you are worth so much more than that, you will be my wife, no matter what it takes" he stroked her cheek.
Gwen sighed "Can we not find more time together? I am sure Merlin could help"
"I guess we have no choice, if you will not run away with me"
"I would go anyway with you, if it was the right thing to do" she placed a kiss on his cheek.
"Right for us not for them" he looked into the distance at Camelot.
They held each other closely.
"I will go back if we promise to see each other most day" he looked at her again and before she had chance to point out anything "I know it will be hard, but we need to make a promise to try...otherwise I will not return I will take you away with me now and be dammed with the consequences!"
"Then we promise" he leaned down and kissed her gently. "Perhaps Sir William could stay for a few days soon" at this Arthur laughed.
"I think Sir William must return very soon" they walked together their hands no longer able to touch and walked towards Camelot.
The Guards patrolling the borders found them and way too soon they were back in Camelot. At the announcement of their arrival Uther, Morgana and Merlin met them at the entrance of the castle. Morgana hugged Gwen and over her shoulder she watched Uther greet his son.
"I thought I lost you" In an unusual move Uther held him.
As Gwen walked past them and into the castle she turned to see Arthur looking at her, his eyes burning with sadness.
Arthur was sitting with his father at dinner.
"Father I am planning to go hunting tomorrow for a few days" at this a concerned look crossed Uther's face.
"Can you not go hunting another time, I have only just got your back" he had only had him back safe for less than a month.
"Father, I must continue you as normal, the men need training and to not do so would be shown as an act of weakness"
"Of course...you must go"
Arthur smiled as he drunk down his ale.
Guinevere was cooking dinner at her house, when from behind her a large pair of hands grabbed her around the waist, she did not need to turn to know who it was.
"Sir William" she said as Arthur kissed her neck.
"Guinevere" he said turning her around and he kissed her.