It was approaching morning in Camelot, but to anyone that was watching it would have been difficult to tell. The sky was darkest blue but green over the horizon, showing where the sun had not quite set and stained the sky with its rays; a typical midsummer night.
Despite the discrepancy of day and night the people of the castle had fallen into their beds willingly and with great slumber. It had already been an eventful year for the folk of Camelot; a rise in trade with other kingdoms, a couple of victories in battle and overall peace throughout the kingdom... not to mention The Wedding.
The midsummer festivities of feasting and bonfires at dusk had been enjoyable and, in typical Midsummer style, long. It had tired everyone out; they had stumbled back to their homes in the castle and in town, clutching to each other from weariness and drunkenness. There should not have been one person left awake in the castle by the fourth hour.
Yet Gwen was finding it hard to sleep. Since retiring to bed she had spent the last few hours lying in several different positions, trying settle on a spot that would be comfortable. She tried lying on her right side, left side, stomach and back. She tried lying straight, one arm under her head, one arm under the pillow... she even tried sprawling out but her husband was blocking her arms and legs due to the fact he took up half the bed.
Gwen turned on her side to look at him.
Arthur was pleasantly dozing beside her, apparently unshaken by her fidgeting and shifting beside him. The moment his head hit the pillow he had been out like a candle standing in a breeze. Gwen was envious that he had drifted off to sleep so easily while she, who had been to all the same festivities and done all the same things, was restless.
At least he wasn't snoring, yet.
The worst thing was that Gwen actually felt more tired than he had the whole evening; she had lost her appetite and made her goblet of wine last all evening. Even when they went out to the gardens to watch the bonfire she had still been clutching the cup while clinging on to Arthur's arm lest she fall from exhaustion.
Gwen had half a mind to accidently on purpose dig her elbow into Arthur's arm so that he might wake up and share her misery. If she had been any other woman she probably would have done so too. Instead she carefully lifted his arm to lay her head on his chest. It was one of the few positions she hadn't tried yet, and one that usually worked.
It was a very pleasant feeling; the hum of his heartbeat and the murmur of his breathing. The natural warmth of his body made her feel tired and she thought she would finally manage to get some sleep.
Then the unpleasantness hit her again; she felt nauseous and hot.
Gwen automatically pulled herself up again and swung her legs over to sit at the side of the bed as she wiped her cheeks with the back of her hand. There was no fever although she felt flushed. She dabbed her toes against the wooden floor to distract her from the nausea and clutched her knees through her light nightdress, waiting for it to pass.
She wondered what she was ill with. After the bonfire had gone out and everyone went to bed Arthur had told Gwen to see Gaius in the morning. "We don't want you coming down with something," he had said. "The people of Camelot adore you so much it'll cause panic if you look the slightest pale."
Even the king, despite being a very annoyed and only moderately sympathetic father-in-law, had commented on her health. "Not hungry?" he had said as she picked daintily at her plate and "Nursing that cup, are you?" he had remarked at her half full goblet.
Uther rarely said anything directly to Gwen, but rather queried various things and rolled his eyes at her modest and simple answers. He felt that by allowing this unnatural pairing after hoi poli flocked behind her like chicks to a mother hen he had used up all the 'understanding' he should give to Gwen for a life time. He often sat watching the way Arthur and Gwen interacted. They were different from other couples among the 'nobility' that never kissed or showed affection. Uther would mentally criticise Gwen's manner while trying to convince himself he was not getting attached to her.
Merlin had also picked up on Gwen's health. "You're looking a little pale," he said. "I'll ask Gaius to pay you a visit tomorrow."
Suddenly Gwen felt the tip of Arthur's finger brush up her spine and make her shiver. She spun around to face him; he was still lying dormant, only half awake.
"That was quite a performance you gave just now," he mumbled.
Gwen blinked, "Sorry, what was?"
"That horizontal dancing you've been doing for the last hour or so," he yawned back. "I was just saying what a grand performance it has been."
Gwen groaned; Arthur was usually awake for the bits of life Gwen didn't want him to see. Although she had considered waking him up before she knew that this was all further proof that Gwen's state of health was not regular.
"I can't sleep..."
"Well I wasn't snoring so you can't blame me."
"I woke you up?" she asked.
"It was hard not to when you kept trying to dance with me several times," he said with a low chuckle. He kept his hand at her back as Gwen finally lay down and scooped her up to his chest again. He smiled, "If you really want to go dancing all you have to do is ask."
"It's too early in the morning for your jokes," Gwen muttered into his night shirt. "And I don't feel very well."
"I told you to see Gaius," he said. Gwen said nothing as she felt his hand feel its way up to her forehead to check her temperature. "You don't have a fever or anything, what's actually wrong with you?"
"I just feel... sick," she whispered back. "I can't get comfortable, I feel flushed all the time and I have moments where I feel very queasy."
"And you've lost your appetite."
"Please, don't" she said, coving her mouth at the thought of last night's dinner. "I just couldn't face anything there. In the end all I had was a bit of bread, a piece of cheese and some strawberries..." she then smiled, "together."
"No wonder you feel sick," Arthur said, smirking. "That odd combination makes me feel sick. It's almost as bad as yesterday's breakfast."
Gwen smiled again, "Who'd have thought salted egg and honey made such a nice combination? I won't be having that again; that egg made me feel sick."
Arthur sighed, "I rest my case."
They lay in silence for a few minutes. Arthur thought if he remained silent Gwen might drift off to sleep, then he could hopefully resume the dream he was having that involved the two of them, a bath and strawberries without bread and cheese. However just as he thought she had finally settled down, she was up again.
"It's no use," Gwen said scrambling out of bed.
She strode quickly over to the open window to breathe in the fresh air as it usually stimulated her nausea. Her strange sleep patterns were becoming more and more frequent, leaving her tired in the day and restless at night. The thought of food made her feel sick yet the less she ate the worse she felt...
Arthur stepped beside her and stroked the back of her head. She sighed, "I swear I'll see Gaius first thing in the morning."
"No," he said wrapping his arms around her waist. "There's no way you'll be getting up tomorrow morning at this rate; I get Merlin to bring him here to see you."
"I just hope he doesn't give me one of his infamous sleeping draughts," she said leaning the curve of her back against his chest. "The thought of them have kept me away from him for the last month."
"Well, you're not sleeping" Arthur whispered. "The fact you aren't sleeping is probably what's making you ill."
Gwen nodded, "Maybe."
"What do you think it is?" he asked, sensing she was unconvinced. "It's your body, I'm just hypothesising to try and make you feel better."
Gwen shrugged, "I don't know. I feel sick but at the same time I don't feel like when I usually feel ill. I just feel... strange. I don't know what it is I've caught but I feel as if it's more than a common cold."
Arthur tightened his grip on her, "You don't think it's serious do you?"
Gwen chuckled, "I don't think so! I've been feeling strange for a while now. My symptoms aren't serious enough for it to be major, I don't think."
Arthur said nothing. Everyone had thought he was going through a phase when he married Gwen, the 'peasant princess' as the nobility called her. No one seemed to understand just how deep his love for her went. It wasn't just a case of loving her; it was like his love had burrowed into his nerves and sense of being. Despite being the prince he felt truly privileged to have earned her love and, although it went without saying, he really didn't want her to get hurt, sick or for anything terrible to happen to her. There was only one Guinevere and this was her.
She sighed and rubbed the arm that hugged her waist affectionately. "I'll be fine," Gwen assured him. "I'm just a little stressed. I know it's been six months but I'm still getting used to public life. I'll be fine."
Arthur hated it when she kept saying 'I'll be fine' as he knew it was her way of stopping him from going mad.
He felt her slump slightly against him and decided to see if she could finally get to sleep now. He swept her off her feet and carried her back to bed before climbing in himself. He had not realised just how tired he was.
The sky was starting to lighten and Arthur knew there would be another two or three hours before Merlin came into work. He would ask Gaius to call around first thing in the morning.
At the end of a rather turbulent night Gwen had finally managed to catch a few hours of sleep before Arthur had to get up. She had lain there half asleep listening to him whisper to Merlin at the door, telling him to ask Gaius to come and see Gwen during his rounds. He had also told Gwen's own maid, a rather young and shy girl that her mistress was sleeping and should not be disturbed. He had then left her, and she had spent the next two hours drifting in and out of light sleep before Gaius turned up.
That was another luxury that Gwen was still getting used to; the physician would come to her instead of her going to him. Whenever she was ill in the old days she would have to drag herself out of bed no matter how bad she was and head to Gaius's chambers for the medicine. As a result she rarely took a sick day because the whole process meant coming into work anyway.
Now Gaius came to her literally by royal command. Gwen was a crowned princess now and she outranked every woman in the court. The only woman higher up would have been the queen, but there was no queen. That would one day be her title. It rarely crossed her mind and the implications had not yet fully dawned on her. She knew what she was getting when she married Arthur but she couldn't see herself as a queen any time soon. Inside she felt no different from any other wife, whether he was the prince or not. The power was overwhelming but Gwen didn't think about that either despite the fact it enabled her to have the many comforts.
As well as having her maid she also gained an entourage of twittering lower ranking nobility, her ladies-in-waiting many of whom had been 'friends' of Morgana once. Now she was gone – long gone – suddenly the chirping hens became Gwen's 'friends'.
Morgana had told her shortly before she left that ladies-in-waiting were like that: "They flock to the most powerful woman in court and then backstab her."
As a result Gwen remained cautious around her band of followers, just as Arthur seemed to with his as he knew all too well that they flocked to him merely because he was the prince (and because he liked to pick the ones who annoyed him for sword practise.)
Gwen sat upright in bed as Gaius examined her. "And you say you've felt this way for how long?"
"I've been having trouble sleeping for the past week or so," Gwen explained. "But I've been feeling odd for a while before then. I'd say just over a month."
Gaius shook his head. "Then why has it taken you this long to see me about it? I'd have thought a trained healer would know better."
Gwen blushed and shrugged. "I didn't think much of it."
"It could have been something serious."
"But it's not?"
"I'm not certain what it is yet," Gaius said.
Truth told he had a few ideas, and one in particular was screaming at him, but he didn't want to startle Gwen before he was certain.
"Tell me again what your symptoms are, so I have them right; tiredness, loss of appetite..."
"There isn't much I can eat," she confessed. "There are only a handful of things I want to eat and I eat them in strange combinations."
Gaius nodded, "Such as?"
"Well," Gwen said, laughing as she remembered Arthur's disgust. "The other day I ate my egg with honey and bread but the egg made me feel sick so I won't be doing that again. Then last night I ate strawberries with bread and cheese... and the strawberries weren't even jam. It's quite funny really."
Gaius nodded again, getting a clearer picture. "And do your eating habits correspond with your bouts of sickness?"
Gwen thought, "No, not really. I actually feel better after I've eaten the things that I want. I only feel sick if I eat things I don't want or nothing at all."
"Is the sickness frequent?"
Gwen stopped for a moment; she knew where Gaius was going with these queries but was in denial. It had crossed her mind more than once but she had rubbed it off as ridiculous. Gaius suspected she had this attitude too and decided to move away from symptoms and on to other factors.
"Now," he said, hating to ask the next question on account of Gwen famed modesty. "I have an idea what it could be but I need to be certain before I prescribe the correct medication; if I'm wrong it could just make your sickness worse."
Gaius nodded; he was suddenly very weary of the shy maid lurking in the background. As Gwen was not used to her medical conditions being announced to the public, he leant closer to keep it secret. "Gwen, have you..." he began before his voice lowered to anyone in ear shot other than Gwen.
He moved back and Gwen stared at him before she smiled and gave a self-conscious shrug. "To be honest," she said quietly, "I don't really keep track the way I did before I got married. I've had too much on my mind to think about it."
The maid in the background looked up, clueless to what she was talking about.
"Can you remember the last time?" he asked.
"I really don't know but it feels like a while..."
Gaius nodded once again.
"In that case," he began, before he turned to look at the young maid and waved her away. The maid obeyed placidly and went into the next room, closing the door. He then turned back to Gwen. "I think I can diagnose and prescribe a suitable 'remedy'."
An hour later Merlin came to see her.
Gwen was sitting at the table, dressed in her most modest attire and giving into her cravings of bread, strawberries, cheese and honey. Gaius had told her that giving into her cravings and eating moderately throughout the day instead of in the morning, afternoon and evening would improve her queasiness.
"I brought this from Gaius," he said.
He smiled at the young maid before he handed the bottle of yellow fluid to Gwen. She took the bottle and was immediately put off by the colour. She took the top off and smelt it; it nearly made her throw up there and then.
Merlin chuckled and took the bottle from her lest she drop it. "I know it's honking, isn't it?"
Gwen regained her composure but she still felt uneasy. She turned her maid and smiled, "I don't suppose you could bring me some lemon water."
The maid smiled and pleasantly said, "Of course I can!"
She left the room happily, knowing she was the envy of all handmaidens that she served Guinevere, the 'queen of servitude.'
Merlin watched with a smile too. "I wish I was your servant."
"I sometimes forget I don't actually have to get these things myself," Gwen confessed. "I still make the bed in the morning and find myself picking up after Arthur when you're not here..."
"Or even if I am here," Merlin joked. "My point is no one is nicer to the servants than you are; most would have quickly forgotten about their routes, but you haven't."
Gwen was glad to hear that she hadn't changed too much. The thing she feared the most about her new position was changing her attitude. She would never forget that she was a commoner and rather than letting the nobility use it to scorn her she would keep it close and use it to be good to those less fortunate than herself.
Arthur still had to remind Gwen that she didn't have to certain things herself and that she could get other people to do it for her. The instinct that told her to fold and fix Arthur's clothes and pour out his wine wasn't just the servant in her but also the wife. It was the same instinct that Arthur had to protect and ensure her welfare.
Uther on the other hand found her habit of doing things for herself annoying and the rest of the court said it was proof of how common she was. The people of Camelot and her supporters on the other hand adored her modesty and said all it did was show the nobility up for being detached, lazy and elitist.
"How am I supposed to take this?" Gwen asked.
"That's enough for four days," Merlin explained, regurgitating everything Gaius had told him. "You drink a quarter of it every night before you go to bed and it should help you sleep. He'll give you some more if you still have trouble sleeping after that."
Gwen smiled, "Thank you, Merlin."
He offered her a faint smile in return. "It's no trouble; I hope you feel better soon."
Gwen had sat for the last hour considering what Gaius had told her. The implications hadn't quite dawned on her yet. She was still in a state where she felt pleased, scared, happy and amazed all at the same time.
"It's mainly stress," he finally told him. Despite her delicate nature she still believed that statement to be true. "I'm getting better all the time."
"Well," Merlin said. "I think you're nobler than all of the court put together."
Gwen smiled again and looked down at the bottle. The notion of taking sleeping drafts reminded her of Morgana again. Gwen hated raising the subject of Morgana around anyone at the moment. Arthur had nothing to say much while Uther got into a bad temper, and often took it out on Gwen. A few days ago she had dared to speak back when he had picked at the fact she wasn't eating much and he gave her a gorgon glare.
Merlin was different. He shrank away whenever anyone mentioned Morgana. Gwen had never known the full details of their friendship as they kept it very private, so much so that only handful of people knew they even breathed in the same direction.
The sad thing was that Gwen, Arthur and Merlin had always been that bit-more tighter. It was like the three of them were destined to be on the same path, and path that did not include Morgana. When she was taken, Arthur and Gwen had been sad. When they discovered she was happy, they were glad. And when she betrayed them, they wondered if they could ever forgive her. Things changed.
It was amazing how far they had all come in a few years especially now. They were 'grown-ups' now.
When Arthur came in he immediately relieved Merlin of his duties for the day so he could speak to Gwen.
"Are you feeling any better?" he asked as soon as Merlin was gone.
"A bit better," Gwen replied with a smile.
She had been sitting there the whole afternoon wondering how to break the news to him. It wasn't terrible news like telling him she was coming down with the plague but it would still come as a surprise. Then again on reflection they had been married for half a year and shared the same bed every night. It was bound to have happened sooner or later.
The maid came back with the lemon water and fumbled a curtsey when she saw Arthur. She then scurried quickly over to Gwen to hand her the cup.
"Thank you," Gwen said politely.
"I love how you always say 'thank you'," Arthur said sitting down beside her. He waved the maid to leave them and she hurried away again. "I've been trying to thread 'thank yous' into my conversation with servants more."
"You should considering you make Merlin do all the horrid jobs no one else wants," Gwen said. She then smiled and tilted her head, "Then again you always said thank you to me when I did things for you."
"That was because I fancied you," Arthur said with a grin. Gwen rolled her eyes and took a sip of her lemon water. He folded his arms, "Why lemon water? You hate lemons."
"This is doctor's orders," Gwen said, beginning to rank up the courage to tell him the news. "Gaius said that drinking lemon water will help ease my sickness. It's actually nice."
Arthur leant forward. "What did he say was wrong?"
Gwen swallowed her water with a hard gulp and put the cup down. She decided the best thing to do was gradually work her way towards the news. It would be better for her and hopefully better for him.
"Well," she began, starting the story from scratch. "When I first told Gaius my symptoms, he was concerned..."
He felt a pang in his chest. "He was?"
"So he examined me," she went on nervously. "And... while I have a condition he said I did not have a disease or illness."
Arthur sighed with relief and smiled. "So, what is it?"
"Well, that's just it," she said, biting her bottom lip nervously. She reached over to take one of his hands, which reawakened Arthur's feelings of concern. Gwen placed her hands on her abdomen and smiled, which it calmed his nerves somewhat. "There's something I have to tell you."
He eyes widened and his eyebrows rose, waiting for her to tell him. "Guinevere, I'm on tenterhooks here. Put me out of my misery."
She bit her bottom lip with anticipation. "I'm going to have baby."
Arthur stared at her for a moment, wondering if he'd heard her correctly. "You're going to—say that again."
"A baby," she said, now slightly nervous by his shocked reaction. She added, as if she hadn't made herself clear enough, "I am pregnant with your child."
"I should hope so too," he joked, before realising this wasn't the best time to be making a joke. Gwen looked a little on edge. He shut his eyes tight wishing he could think of something better to say, but this was a big thing. He cleared his throat, leant forward and opened his eyes, "How long?"
"Gaius said judging by my symptoms it could be as long as two and a half months now," Gwen said quietly. "It is much longer than I thought. To think I've been pregnant all this time and I didn't even realise."
"Yes," Arthur nodded.
He was trying to find the right, reassuring words he knew she wanted to hear. It was especially difficult being that they were so young and fresh into their marriage. They had loved and developed their relationship for many years before their marriage – and he was glad this pregnancy was happening now, not two or three years ago – but he realised, no matter what they said or did, they were going to be parents.
"He also said," Gwen went on, "that we should wait another month before we tell your father or anyone who might tell him, because there is still the risk..."
"Of course," Arthur said, taking her hands. "I won't tell anyone until you're ready."
Gwen swallowed worriedly and squeezed his hands tightly in hers. "Arthur, are you alright with this?"
"Yes," he said quickly.
Arthur realised that he could not continue in this dumbfounded way. He gently leant down to kiss her forehead and released his hands to embrace her. Gwen seemed to collapse into him in relief, as if for a moment she had truly believed that he would... well, she didn't know what she had been worried about. He had every right to be surprised or even a little frightened. God knew she was!
"It's a big thing," Gwen whispered into his shoulder. "We're going to be parents."
"I know," he replied softly.
He gently turned her around so that her face was to his chest and wrapped his arms around her, meeting at her waist. Before them was a full length mirror. Gwen had never thought about it before but when they stood together like this they seemed to slot together perfectly even in an image presented to the rest of the world. She had felt it when they kissed, hugged or made love but seeing her reflection and his reflection at that moment she knew that a child, their child would be both of them existing in a single person. It would be an extension of their love.
"You don't think we're too young, do you?" Gwen suddenly said.
Arthur rested his chin at her temple. "We are young, but not too young."
"There have been much younger mothers," she agreed, recalling how Gaius had told her (when he announced her pregnancy to her) that Sir Henry's wife was also pregnant; she was fifteen. "Maybe I'm too old to have a child for the first time..."
Arthur chuckled. "First we're too young and now we're too old?"
"I don't know," Gwen admittedly, also allowing a chuckle to escape her lips. "I just don't know what to think. My head is spinning at the thought that... in seven months there will be another person in our lives for at least the next twenty-one years."
Arthur wrapped his arms tighter around Gwen (although not too tight for innocently fearing he might damage what was inside her) and smiled.
"We'll be fine," he told her, "All three of us."
Over the following months the entire court was in uproar over the news. Some of them were disappointed while most of them suddenly decided they liked Guinevere and fell behind her like a flock of sheep. They sung her praises and congratulated her endlessly while keeping one eye on her abdomen.
There were ambassadors who paraded in with congratulations from the other royal families all over Albion. Arthur and Gwen were forced to sit through all these receptions by Uther who seemed to enjoy the marching armies of diplomats sweeping into the court, reminding him their kings were his allies. It seemed when a royal line was due continue other kings wanted to assure you that they were not planning on taking your kingdom for themselves. Being a king was like being a general; unless you secure the line other people will want to take it.
Gwen felt like an ornament on display. She dreaded to think what the reaction would be when the child finally came in February. If it was a boy then all of this would last for a while longer. If it was a girl it would at least die down as everyone shook their heads and said "better luck next time."
The first child was always the worst.
"I'm not even sure what I'd prefer," Gwen remarked to one of her ladies-in-waiting, Sir Leon's wife Leonora. "If I have a boy then everyone will love me and my son will belong to the state. If I have a girl then everyone will look down on me again but at least I can have my daughter to myself."
"The king would certainly like to have another heir," Nora chuckled.
"He'd like to have a couple more heirs," Gwen corrected with a smile.
"What does the prince have to say, if you don't mind my asking?"
Gwen ignored the 'if you don't mind' part and just answered. "He says he doesn't mind, which really means he'll want whatever it takes to keep his father off his back."
One thing that Uther disliked was Gwen continuing to walk in town among the people. It seemed as the weeks passed he became more and more sincere in his concern for her welfare. Gwen still took it with a pinch of salt, knowing he was more concerned about his grandchild than anything else. Gaius told the king that being up and about could only do Gwen good.
So she won that battle against her father-in-law and her walks in town continued, and it made her more popular than ever. The people loved to see her and watch her pregnancy progress. Merlin had joked that it made them feel more involved.
"It's just fascination, given that you are one of 'us'," he had told her one time when he accompanied both her and Arthur on a walk, "and he..."
"Who is 'he'?" Arthur interrupted.
"And Arthur is one of 'them'," Merlin corrected, gesturing to her belly, "then what does that make him?"
Arthur shook his head at the stupidity of Merlin's statement but Gwen just smiled and replied; "All of us?"
"Exactly," Merlin chuckled.
As winter set in and Christmas approached the anticipation reached its height. Life seemed to be more tiring than it had been at any point of the year. It wasn't just a case of two months to go before a new heir was born but the Christmas celebrations and New Year celebrations tied in with the excitement. It would also be Arthur and Guinevere's anniversary.
Gwen lay on her bed in silence, hands atop her swollen belly. It was shifting around an awful lot that evening. "You're very active tonight, aren't you?" she remarked with a smile.
"Sorry?" Arthur asked as he removed his boots.
Gwen glanced up, "I was talking to the baby; it's moving a lot this evening."
A few months ago when the baby first started moving everyone wanted to feel. She had woken Arthur in the middle of the night when it first started. She had never felt more excited and Arthur had been fascinated. It was the first time it occurred to them that the quickening child was truly there, alive and kicking. They didn't go back to sleep that night and just lay with their hands on the bump.
"What does it feel like?" Arthur asked after another kick.
"It feels," Gwen began and tried to find the right way of explaining it. "It feels like... a fish swimming in water."
Throughout that first week everyone asked if they could feel; her maid, her ladies-in-waiting, the other nobility and even people in the street.
Uther had tentatively asked one day if he could feel it and was shocked when Gwen just grabbed his hand and placed it to her abdomen.
And Merlin had had a feel under his master's watchful eye. The entire thing had fascinated him.
"See it's doing it again," Gwen said moving his hand so he could feel. "There."
Merlin chuckled, "He's growing inside you alright."
"Or she," Gwen corrected. Just then followed a very large kick and Merlin flinched in surprise. Gwen chuckled, "That was a big one."
"That's unnerving," Merlin replied, unable to hold back a grin. "It's not even out yet and it's already abusing me... just like its dad." At which point Arthur had slapped the back of Merlin's head, as if to hit home the point.
Arthur lay down next to her and she shifted to lay her head against his shoulder. He placed his hands over hers, feeling the movement for himself. "So it is," he said with a hint of amusement. "Not exactly docile, is it?"
"Merlin was right," Gwen said. "It does take after you."
Arthur murmured something under his breath that she couldn't make out before sighing and kissing the top of her head. These were all indicators that something was troubling him. Gwen gave him another few seconds to brood over it before she asked him.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he replied.
"You seem a bit down."
"It's nothing," he said, and shook his head. "It's just... something on my mind."
"Tell me," she said softly. "Please, I hate having you beneath me while you're brooding."
Arthur swallowed; talking about feelings and fears were never a strong point with him. He had been in a relationship with Gwen for a while now but he still stumbled over words of affection like a lovesick teenager.
"I'm just worried about you," he confessed, laying his cheek against the top of her head. "The child will be coming soon and I'm worried something might... happen."
Gwen looked up at him.
"You mean in childbirth?" she asked, and he nodded. "Well, don't worry about it. I'm the one who's going to have the baby; let me worry about it."
"I just don't know what I'd do if..." he whispered, and shut his eyes tight. "Can you really blame me for worrying?"
Gwen turned around and lay her head down again against his shoulder. She took a deep breath and shook her head, "I don't blame you. I understand why you're worried, but you shouldn't let what happened to your mother worry you. Gaius says that everything looks fine and hopefully it'll be an easy birth."
Arthur nodded, "Yes, hopefully."
Gwen couldn't help chuckling. Arthur stared at her not knowing what to say. It was completely the wrong time to chuckle but she couldn't help herself. She held the hands he had wrapped around her tightly and explained her strange behaviour. "I'm sorry," she said, still smiling. "It seems silly to worry about what might happen. I could die in childbirth but then you could fall off your horse and break your neck... both are possible but hopefully neither will happen."
Arthur smirked at the way she phrased her argument held her firmly. "As always you're right," he said. "I just hate being in a situation where I'm completely powerless."
"I know you do," Gwen said. She freed once of her hands and brought it up to touch his cheek, "You should talk more."
"I talk to you."
"And I'm glad you do but sometimes it helps to talk to a friend," she added. "Like Merlin. I think you rely on his advice more than you like to admit."
Arthur shifted slightly and slapped on his 'superiority'. "Merlin is my servant."
"Rubbish," Gwen snorted. "If you only saw servants as servants you wouldn't have looked at me twice."
"That was... different," Arthur said defensively. "Fine in an official capacity Merlin is just my servant. In a casual capacity he is sort of my friend. He keeps giving off mixed signals in regards to the whole 'friends' thing..." Gwen laughed at that. "He always has! In any case I don't rely on his advice—I never listen to him."
"That's because you're stubborn."
"That is hereditary in my family," Arthur said with a sense of comical warning.
"True," Gwen conceded, "but thankfully it seems to get less extreme with each generation. I just hope it doesn't inherit the family's temper traits."
Arthur laughed, "Speaking of which, father says that the new cradle that he commissioned in October is ready; it will presented to us in the New Year. Personally, I think it's just an excuse not to give us a real anniversary gift."
"It's a little unnerving that he's being nice to me at the moment," Gwen joked. "I look forward to seeing it, though."
"At least he's giving us something useful," Arthur said, nodding in agreement. "Last year someone—I've forgotten who—gave us that bloody table that's now gathering dust in the store room."
Gwen smiled as she recalled, "Oh yes! The round one—maybe we'll find a use for it one day."
"It'll have to be when I'm king," he replied, taking her hand and placing a swift kiss on it. "The only room in the castle it would fit in is the great hall."
He placed her hand back on her enlarged abdomen and noticed that the movement within it had finally settled down. The son, or daughter, had finally decided to go to sleep. "By the way," Arthur said, changing the subject, "is there anything you want to do for our anniversary in particular?"
Gwen glanced up at him and sighed euphorically, "If I'm honest... nothing at all. I don't want any fuss or ceremonies or pampered nobility sucking up to me. It would be nice to have a moment to ourselves just for one day—no—just one evening even, and not to have to be on display like a trophy."
"But that would mean missing the New Year's Day celebrations," Arthur pointed out.
He smiled, "That would undoubtedly annoy the courtiers who are fawning all over you at the moment to try and win favour with you."
Gwen smiled knowingly and stroked her hand along his arm, "Exactly."
A/N: I know this is a bit fluffy an pointless but I was sick of this sitting on my laptop, doing nothing. This has been completed at sitting on my laptop doing nothing since before Series 2 aired. I have edited it to slot in with the show so far, I think. At least now I can add this to my index page on LJ at finally being put up.