Summary: At the wrath of a very disgruntled princess, Gwen is wiped from Arthur's memory. It's up to Gwen to get the memories back, but with her and Arthur's future together always in question, it's proving more difficult than she first thought.
A/N: This story is roughly inspired by the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" but as I said, roughly. It will be multi-chaptered and it ships Arthur/Gwen. Oh! and I don't own Merlin, the characters (other than the odd OCs plopped in to help the plot along) or the BBC, so that's a disclaimer and a half. Nevertheless, on with the story!
CHAPTER ONE: The Lull before the Storm.
The stone corridor was one of the lovely, balcony-like ones, graced with large glassless windows that overlooked the courtyard and the diligent morning sun to glaze strong bars of light across the floor. Two maids burst onto the scene, hair flying and dresses flapping whilst their laughter uprooted some birds nesting nearby. The first, a light blonde with long wavy hair, skidded to halt by one of the large openings and her friend; dusky with a mass of sooty curls collided into her side.
"Lydia!" She gasped, catching herself just before she tumbled out of the window next to the other girl. "Why'd stop?"
Her friend didn't respond, her breath evening as she took up a regal pose and looked serenely out of the opening, propped by its deep frame. "Pity…" she trailed, playing with a shiny blonde curl and accurately defining the meaning of vacant stare.
Gwen peered curiously out onto the courtyard. It looked the same as ever, a sun-trap with foreign dust and golden stone. The heat was deceptive though, the courtyard always bustled with bitter English wind. Lydia pierced her thoughts.
"We missed seeing the knights' train." She gives a woe-be-gone sigh and Gwen laughs.
"Is that why we were running?"
"Yes!" Lydia quickly snapped around, her voice incredulous as she studied her friend. "It completed my morning knowing that our army is well prepared."
Gwen scoffed, "You mean drooling over their sweat-slicked forms?"
Lydia grinned wolfishly "You have to admit they are pretty fine. 'Specially the prince, he's just…" her eyes widened and she elaborated a silent 'wow' with her hands up in surrender.
Gwen merely murmured in response, an irresistible image floating to her mind. He'd be the death of her, she thinks.
"Shame he's a prat, though." Lydia's voice surfaced her and drifted off as the blonde turned back towards the window. "I don't envy his future wife."
Guinevere opened her mouth to respond, but the sound of footsteps silenced the maids. Prince Arthur rounded the corner, stripping off flakes of armour as he approached the girls. Merlin clambered after him, picking up the discarded metal.
Gwen flushed to her roots and Lydia leapt away from the sill as if it were scalding hot. Both dropped into a curtsey, eyes averted from his threadbare shirt.
"Lydia. Guinevere." He greeted formally, stopping to bow his head to each of them. Gwen could hear Lydia's breath catching and heaving, eyes still trained on the floor. She couldn't even fathom her own body's reaction.
"Would one of you kindly assist my useless lump of a manservant to the armoury? I fear leaving him to do it himself would leave a tell-tale trail all the way to the storage." The Prince loftily commanded, ignoring Merlin's 'oi' which was half lost in a clatter of armour. "I rest my case." He added, not even looking behind him to see what exactly Merlin had dropped this time.
Lydia immediately rushed over to help, just managing a tiny "Yes sire" her eyes averted all the time. Merlin smiled knowingly at Arthur, who narrowed his eyes until the servant picked up the rest of the armour.
Arthur and Guinevere watched them turn the end corner, leaving them alone. The Prince and the Servant's bodies were parallel and too far apart for their preferences.
"Do you think I'm a prat?" He stated suddenly, actually sounding wounded.
Gwen had been convinced she had reached her optimum blush, yet that just tinged even deeper. "You were eavesdropping, sire?" she talked into the floor, wondering if it would appease her by swallowing her whole.
He pouted, his darkened blonde hair dripping sweat down his face. "I know everyone else does."
She sighed resignedly. "You're getting better all the time."
He scowled at her, "oh and that doesn't confirm my fears."
Guinevere raised her eyes to meet his. "I don't think you're a prat, Arthur." But before he could revel in a tidal wave of relief, she added "But you can see why others would think that."
"Hey!" He bleated, but the tension was lost and Guinevere smiled radiantly up at him.
"I'm sure Merlin would back me up here." She leaned forward, clasping her hand coyly behind her. "You're always a prat to him."
"I didn't know you cared so much" He reflected her smile, but it faltered slightly as his eyes left her face. Gwen suddenly felt very indecent, blanching in her cloth dress. She watched his face fearfully.
With a look of utmost concern, he brushed a loose curl behind her ear, letting his fingers run the length of her hair. She closed her eyes to his touch, all doubts forgotten.
There was a round of footsteps and his hand was stolen away as they stepped back from each other, the spell broken.
A handful of guards broke through the corridor, stopping just in front of the Prince and bowing deeply. They ignored Guinevere, addressing Arthur formally.
"Your father requires your presence in the throne room immediately, sire." One motioned, any personality contained in the matter of form.
Arthur nods blearily and they march off. The corridor is empty once more.
Gwen sighs, eyes averted once more. "You should go."
He looks ashamed, but nods reverently. "I'll see you later?" He glances up, eyes swimming with hope Guinevere can't deny.
"If there's time." She smiled briefly, for his sake.
He walked away, his face grim as he denied the very core of him that yearned to stay.
"Arthur! There you are!" Uther beamed, something his long-grieved face managed to translate into a very scary sight indeed. "I thought training ended some time ago, haven't you had the chance to change?" Not waiting for the answer he slapped his son on the back and started up the small flight of stairs to his throne.
"Father, is there a particular reason why you have summoned me?" Arthur scowled, barely hiding his irritation as he watched his father turn the languid hourglass that deprived him of the object of his affections.
"Of course there is." Uther growled, he had finally reached his throne and collapsed into it, relief coursing through his creaky bones. "I am informing you of the upcoming visit from King Carmen and his wife and daughter."
A flash of dread washed over the Prince, but it appeared only his lanky servant noticed it. Merlin had caught wind of the upcoming meeting on his way to drop off Arthur's armour and now stood in the shadows, curiously listening in.
"King Carmen?" Arthur voiced what everyone was questioning.
"Don't tell me you've forgotten already. The plans where made some time ago, Arthur" The king scolded. His son shifted nervously. "King Carmen and his beautiful daughter Rosaline…?" Uther trailed on, watching his son for signs of recognition. "…who happens to be eligible for mar-"
"I hope our royal guests aren't under the impression a betrothal is inevitable." Arthur spat, face flush with new anger.
"I was merely mentioning should you and Rosaline take to each other." Uther covered quickly, glaring at the boy for defying him so openly. When Arthur met his glare straight on, the King shrunk back down in the plush seat and averted his eyes.
"King Carmen's visit is purely for the benefit of our acquaintances. His kingdom is rather secluded and he scarcely leaves his realm, I've only met him a few times myself." Uther regained some composure, letting his voice drawl over the court.
Arthur clearly wasn't convinced, but he let it go. It was already awkward and he didn't want to feed the gossip already circling about his unwillingness to marry.
"They are due to arrive within the end of the week. The castle is to prepare for our guests." The King bore on, surveying the servants to sear the message into them. "That is all."
At the king's dismissal, Arthur turned abruptly and stalked off. Merlin followed after, grinning at Arthur's disgruntled expression. He looked well and truly annoyed.
"Go clean my armour." Arthur didn't bother even looking at his faithful servant; just knowing he had that insufferable grin on was enough.
"Fine, but you're going to miss out on some amazing Princess-be-gone tips!" Merlin laughed from behind the Prince.
"GO!" Arthur roared, flipping round to see the tail end of the lanky boy disappearing round the corner. Great, he scowled to himself; the last thing he needed was visiting royal family with an eligible princess to boot.
I think i'm going to enjoy writing this *Wicked smile*