Gwen dabbed her slick neck with her handkerchief.
It was a maddeningly hot day in Camelot, so much so that it was difficult to concentrate. The servants and the nobility all were at a loss as to whether inside was better than outside as the castle was stuffy and the gardens were humid. The older nobility sat by their balcony doors and watched the younger people huddled under trees and canopies trying to keep cool. Decency prevented any of them from wearing lighter clothing; only the pregnant Guinevere could escape ridicule.
She watched her husband training curiously.
The only ones to venture into the torridness were Arthur and the knights. Nothing would get between Arthur and his routine training regime, nothing. He saw the hot weather as a challenge, a way of battling the elements and testing and improving his alertness in such unbearable conditions.
Then again he wasn't so mad as to wear armour.
Gwen wasn't sure whether that disappointed her or not. She always thought her husband looked especially dazzling in his armour. As a blacksmith's daughter she had been brought up to appreciate well-made armour. She couldn't help thinking of how the light would reflect of his body as if he himself were the sun. He, literally, looked hot and unattainable—unattainable to all except her.
Then she considered how enjoyable it would be to shred the whole lot of metal off him, naming each piece as she tore it from him... it was a thrilling thought.
She fanned herself helplessly with the back of her hand.
Arthur looked wonderful in just a shirt and trousers too. Gwen knew that to wear his armour in this heat would probably render him unconscious, and that would never do. The way he was now allowed for more movement and flexibility, she thought.
He swung his sword effortlessly as he fought a collection of more experienced knights while the younger ones looked on. Arthur deprived each one of them of their swords easily, knocked them to the ground and kept them there with no more than two strikes. It was a fascinating sight, more so than usual anyway.
Arthur wiped his brow and took a long swig of the water that Merlin brought to him from where he was watching the side. Ordinarily Gwen would be the one to do that but – given that she was pregnant – everyone thought she should stay 'seated and comfortable'. Though she missed the opportunity for dabbing his neck and forehead; his hair was damp, clinging to his neck and his chest was practically visible through his shirt.
Gwen took a deep breath of hot air. He was driving her mad!
She had always appreciated Arthur training.
Gwen blushed to admit she had always had a thing for men who knew how to handle a sword, and none could handle one as well as Arthur could. He was at his second most glorious when training; his most glorious was when his swordplay went into practise on his enemies. It was the same for jousting and other masculine activities. The thought that Arthur's hands, made callus through the art of the sword, were the same ones that touched and pleasured her every night made her feel... lightheaded.
Arthur resumed practising with the knights, showing them the correct techniques to use. He twisted his sword impressively in his hand, even occasionally swapping it between hands.
Now Gwen was feeling all the more amorous. She didn't know whether it was the heat or that she was just feeling particularly horny today, but all she could think about was running her tongue across his lips and jaw, tasting the sweat on his neck, collarbone, chest...
She patted her neck again with the back of her hand; the mere thought was making her slick in every sense of the word.
A hand gently patted her arm, startling her.
Gwen leapt out of her daze in shock, embarrassed to have been caught fantasising. She turned her head and realised it was one of her ladies-in-waiting, Lady Leon.
She sighed her way through her surprise, "I'm sorry, Nora. I didn't see you there!"
"I apologise for startling you, your highness" Nora said, equally surprised. Behind her played her three children; Little Leon, who was eight, and the twin girls Tesni and Selene who were five. Nora turned behind her and called, "Children play nicely!"
Gwen smiled, but Arthur was still distracting her. Her eye wandered back to him when she heard him make a particularly loud grunt that reminded her of a similar noise he had made last night. Her blush deepened at the memory, especially with Lady Leon sitting right next to her.
The Lady smiled, "How are you feeling?"
Nora rubbed her tummy, indicating Gwen's abdomen.
Gwen smiled and placed her hand on her tummy. The bump had finally become noticeable to her and Arthur at four months although it couldn't quite be seen yet by other people. When Gwen rested her hands on the familiar hump it was very recognisable to Lady Nora, having gone through two pregnancies. The way the baby was growing had come as a surprise to Gwen; it was higher than she had expected and nothing like she imagined.
It was such a pleasant feeling to know life dwelt inside her.
"I'm fine," Gwen replied. "I'm not feeling sick any more, which can only be a good thing although I do feel tired."
"I imagine this heat can't be helping either," Nora gasped.
She looked back Arthur. "No, it doesn't."
"Hot weather is not kind to the emotions of a lady expecting."
Gwen agreed completely. Why did Arthur look so much more attractive than usual?
She knew that her husband was always attractive but she had always been able to keep her lust for him under control. As best she could in any case—there were always exceptions. They enjoyed a very happy, loving and intimate relationship that wasn't exactly lacking in sex even with her pregnancy. That was why it shocked her just how much more intense her needs were getting. Not that Arthur seemed to mind.
Gaius had asked Gwen when he checked her progress the other day if she had any questions or concerns. She felt too embarrassed to turn around and say 'Yes I keep feeling the desire to jump on my husband at the most inappropriate and inconvenient times. Explain.' She didn't even want to tell her midwife; the old boot was had always served the royalty with their childbirths and Gwen suspected she would attribute this lustful behaviour to her being a wanton commoner, or something ridiculous like that.
Besides it was not in Gwen's nature to share intimacies with anyone. So, she decided to cross her legs, drink her water and pretend she wasn't thinking of tearing off her husband's loose fitting shirt.
"Feeling randy yet?" Lady Leon suddenly said without warning.
Gwen nearly choked. "I-I'm sorry?"
Nora raised her hands defensively but still smiled.
"Forgive me," she said politely, "but I remember that you are about four months into your pregnancy, am I right?"
"It's actually about four and a half now but yes I am, why?"
The lady chuckled to the younger woman. "It's just when I was about four months pregnant that was when I started to get particularly libidinous! I hope you don't mind my saying so..."
"No," Gwen said, shifting in her seat to be closer to Nora, glancing once again at Arthur. He had knocked Sir Kay to the ground with a great thud. "You say that you felt especially... well, sensual?"
"I was insatiable at times," the woman admittedly, leaning closer also not wanting anyone to overhear their conversation. "The 'courtly morals' try to discourage such 'unchaste' thoughts and behaviour even between married couples."
Gwen felt irritated. That was what stopped her from leaping on Arthur right now. And what would probably stop her from doing so when he finally finished his training. It was that sort of behaviour that was frowned upon. Gwen didn't really care what people thought but she was worried of losing her temper at a pompous noblewoman one day and making a fool of herself, especially if it remained this hot.
"But," Nora said cheerfully, "Then my aunt came to court to stay. I confessed how I was feeling to her, though I was not inclined to but she guessed, and she told me to just give in to my needs. I remember she said 'I've had ten children, my dear girl. I know what I'm talking about. You'll feel better for it.'"
Gwen felt her cheeks redden again. Thankfully the heat disguised it.
"Really?" the younger woman said.
"Indeed," Nora said. "According to her all women tend to go through the phase of 'needing more than usual' when expecting. After I had recoiled in horror from that discussion with my aunt I decided to follow her advice."
Gwen tilted her head, "And?"
Nora laughed, "My husband didn't know what had hit him! I'd foolishly been pretending that I wasn't feeling the way I was but—goodness it did help. I felt much happier with myself. I was starting to feel so ugly and unattractive during my first pregnancy until I gave in to my cravings, as it were."
"I see," Gwen said distantly, looking back to the training field. "It doesn't do any damage, does it? I mean... doing it more frequently."
"Not at all," Nora replied. "Honestly, when I fell pregnant with the twins I knew better and felt much better for it. The first pregnancy is always hard; you're always worried about the child, whether it'll come out right and, at the same time, you chastise yourself for your over excited feelings... whatever they may be craving."
Gwen nodded and made yet another sly look at Arthur. He happened to turn around at that moment and saw her looking. He waved pleasantly at her and she did so back. For some reason Gwen was feeling very pleased all of a sudden, no longer feeling ashamed of her 'cravings' as Nora called them or even her constant state of arousal at watching him do something he'd done a million times before.
"So you should just give in to it?" Gwen said, as if making doubly sure this was the case.
"Yes," Nora said with a knowing smile. "It's no different from food cravings—no matter how wrong you may find your desire for pickled onions and eggs with honey, you always feel better for having had what you wanted than not having it at all, if you know what I mean."
"I know what you mean," Gwen said, also smiling knowingly. "It is much better to have it."
They both laughed. In the background Nora's children were starting to get very loud, irritated by the heat. She sighed and pulled herself to her feet. The moment she had stepped out into the late morning heat she had recognised the familiar look of repression all over Gwen's face. She hoped after their conversation she felt a bit... better. Either way Lady Leon felt her mission was complete.
"If you'll pardon me, your highness" she said politely. "It's time the children went inside for their lunch and afternoon nap."
"Of course," Gwen replied with a smile. "Is it nearly noon already?"
"It is," Nora said, and looked to the field. "They'll be finishing soon."
So they would, Gwen thought keenly. She tried to avoid looking at Arthur and turned back to address Nora, "It was nice talking, Lady Leon."
Lady Leon curtsied and said, "Any time, your highness."
Nora turned to her maid and the children's nurse to return inside. The little boy sulkily obeyed, clearly keen to watch his father and the other knights finish their practising but Nora insisted they all go inside now. The little family waved to Leon, who briefly stopped to wave back, and went on their way. Gwen watched as the lady took the hands of each of her little girls and led them inside with Little Leon and the servants trailing behind her.
She decided to give it another minute before she too would go inside, her mind now set on only one thing.
The moment she stood her ladies-in-waiting all jumped to their feet. This annoyed Gwen but she managed to smile and tell them that she wished to be alone and that should return to their own quarters for lunch. They obeyed and watched dolefully as she went on her way as if her desire to be alone was some sort of personal rejection.
But Gwen could hardly keep them with her!
Arthur watched as Gwen hurried inside, wondering why she was so keen suddenly to get out of the sun. Being of a worrying nature at the moment due to her condition he wondered if he should stop now and follow her in to make sure she was alright. But then she smiled and waved at him again, which settled his fears somewhat. Truth was Gwen had been very aware of him watching her and she didn't want him following her... not quite yet anyway.
When Gwen reached the royal chambers she immediately looked at herself in the mirror. She was flushed from heat and anticipation. She held a cool metal of a goblet containing water to her neck to try and cool herself down. Everyone kept saying that the natural glow of pregnancy highlighted her beauty, and she hoped that was true because no matter how much she dabbed her neck with her kerchief she still felt clammy not matter how hot it was.
She tried to hook strands of loose hair behind her ear and felt the back of her damp hair as she sat down. Even though it hadn't been much of a walk from the training field to her chambers Gwen was glad to get off her feet.
She placed her hand on the bump slowly growing inside her again. It was still quite tiny but she could feel it. It was sometimes hard to imagine it an actual child made up half of her and half of Arthur. She said 'It', since she didn't know what it was, although Merlin kept saying (probably without realising it) 'She'. She didn't fully understand the workings of magic or what Merlin could actually do with it, whether it as always intentional or partially instinctive, but it did make her wonder...
The chamber doors opened.
Gwen immediately got to her feet when she heard Arthur debating with Merlin over something. She couldn't tell what it was about (and she didn't really care) but it ended very quickly as Arthur was very quick to dismiss Merlin, who pouted and strode off carrying with him a load of papers than had been sitting on the table in the main room.
Once the door closed Arthur turned and saw his wife standing in the bedroom through partition between it and the living area. He walked into the bedroom and greeted her cheerily, "There you are! I noticed you rushing off; I hope nothing's wrong."
"Nothing's wrong," she assured him with a smile, and glanced him up and down. His shirt was damp and his cheeks were flushed from his exertions. "How are you? Not too tired, I hope."
"Not really," he said plainly. "You know a morning's training always leaves invigorated."
Arthur turned and noticed himself in the mirror. He thought he looked a mess and needed to get changed before he could carry on his regular afternoon duties of audiences with the people and nobility, bring their problems to him.
Before he could recite this train of thought to Guinevere she had advanced on him and pulled him into to a passionate and determined kiss. Arthur completely forgot what he was going to say and instinctively wrapped his arms around her to draw her closer. Gwen's own response to this was to coax her tongue past his lips to caress the walls of his mouth. After ten seconds or so of this Gwen's forwardness started to surprise Arthur and he broke the kiss for need of air. But Gwen was not deterred from her work, moving her kisses to his jaw and down his neck, as she had in her fantasy earlier...
Gwen's lips stilled on his neck and she gently began to suck, leaving a mark, as her hands snaked under his shirt, gently running her fingers up his spine and causing him to shiver despite the grasping heat.
A rumble of laughter broke from Arthur's throat.
"Slow down," he chuckled but he did not move to stop her hands wandering up his back, "where has this come from? You'd think I was an egg glazed in honey the way you're going."
"Is that meant to be a joke?" she said, briefly stopping.
"Your cravings are unusual, Guinevere."
"I can't help it," Gwen murmured into his neck, bringing out one of her hands to stroke his cheek. "You taste nice..."
"Well, they do say pregnancy gives you strange tastes" Arthur joked.
Gwen purred his name in such a way that he was silenced immediately.
Arthur cupped her chin to look at her face. Her eyes were hooded with an all-familiar expression. He recognised what it meant immediately; she wanted him. Granted, it wasn't the most decent thing to do in the eyes of the court, but the court wasn't watching and Arthur wasn't going to deny the mother of his child anything. He wouldn't deny himself, either.
He recaptured her lips and kissed her hungrily, tenderly. It was driving Gwen mad; she pulled him closer with one hand sprayed on his back. It induced a moan from both of them. Her other hand then slowly ran down his neck, shoulders, chest, stomach...
A strangled groan escaped Arthur's throat. Gwen smiled with an air of triumph and, with little effort, pushed him backward onto the bed before moving to straddle his legs. As her fingers moved to undo his trousers a huff of laughter escaped his lips again.
"Do you think this craving of yours will become a habit?" he asked amusedly.
He was silenced once again but for a small groan as she took hold of him and stroked him gently. "Very possible," Gwen told him with a smile. She leant down and kissed him sweetly on the lips while moving into position. "Think you can cope with this and your training until the baby comes?"
"You mean despite the hot weather?"
The end of his sentence almost came out as an incoherent grunt as she gently slid onto him. It sent them both gasping in unison. Arthur reached under the light material of her dress to stroke her thigh.
"I think I'll manage just fine," he said affirmatively.
A/N: This was the first of my three contributions for the 14 Days of Arthur/Gwen on LJ. As you have noticed Nora has wormed her way into yet another of my fics. She has become a nice little plot device for me it seems. This is was a bit of a landmark for me because this was the closest I've got to writing actual smut (I published this before Epiphany.) Anyway, thanks for reading!