Lady Samantha was a stunning woman. She had sleek blonde hair and a personality that any man would find attractive. She was outspoken but she knew when to hold her tongue. She knew what she wanted and she would work for it. She didn't take things for granted and gave as good as she got. Gwen saw a lot of herself in the noble, which only made it harder.
Harder still, of all the noble women that Uther had brought in to tempt Arthur in the past, she was the one Gwen could most see him falling in love with.
She would be the perfect Queen. Unlike the others, she didn't come to the castle with the intention of leaving with an engagement ring and a wedding to plan; instead she came to the castle with the intention of leaving with a new acquaintance and possibly a friend.
What made it worse, at least to Gwen, was that she had good manners and didn't treat her like a lowly servant. She treated her as Morgana had. She treated her as a friend.
Gwen sat at Arthur's table staring into the burning fire beside her. Arthur was talking to her about his day, the drills he'd run, the meetings with his father and his visit to the lower town to check on the rebuilding works.
"Hmm?" she looked up to see Arthur staring at her with a worried look on his face, "Sorry," she apologised looking down into her hands and playing with the end of her sleeves.
"Are you okay? You're very distant this evening."
"I was just thinking."
"You. Your life. Your future."
"Does it involve you?" He asked with a smile on his face as he ate his dinner.
"No, Arthur," his smile dropped, disappearing from his face completely, "It can't," his hand stopped abruptly on the way to his mouth.
"Why not?" he demanded and pushed his tray away from his and looking at her intently.
"Because," she took a deep breath and looked towards the ceiling. She blinked heavily a few times. She couldn't look at him, "everything that surrounds you says so."
"And what about what I say is so?" he protested, pushing his chair back to stand.
"It doesn't matter," he jaw dropped slightly as he stood up. He turned away and stepped away from the table.
"It's my life," he turned back around, hand flying out in protest, "I think I have a right to make my own decisions."
"When you're king," Gwen stayed seated, avoiding eye contact with him, "It might be years, decades even. Your father is in good health. I would wait for you, you know that, but I cannot wait for something that might not ever happen," she looked up to him to see him swallow air and clench his jaw. "Your father presents you with so many women every week, every day I cannot expect you not to fall for one of them. It would be unfair," he looked to the floor slowly shaking his head, "And if you ever did, if I waited, it would break my heart."
"I won't find somebody else," Arthur replied his voice raw, he didn't look at her, he looked forwards in the burning fire.
"But you might, and I can't be there when you do."
"Guinevere, what are you saying?"
"I have to go," she muttered looking down into her hands, "I can't do this anymore. With Morgana gone I have no work here. I do the extra jobs that nobody wants but could do. I need to find something."
"You have something," he looked over at her; she couldn't face looking at him when she could hear his voice breaking. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"No, Arthur, I have part of someone. A part I might not have one day," she sniffed, blinking away the tears that welled in her eyes, she looked up to him to see him looking the same, "and then where does that leave me? It's all I have and it can't be the only thing I live for," slowly she stood up, her head bowed, "I'm sorry."
"Please. I can't do this. I shouldn't be doing this," she indicated the room around her. Filling her nights with Arthur had started off an arrangement they both enjoyed. They talked, they laughed and occasionally would share a kiss, "If anybody ever knew, anybody more than Merlin and Gaius, then what would they think of me?" She could see he muscles in his jaw and cheeks clench, she could tell he was grounding his teeth to stop himself from saying the wrong thing, "I'm all of a servant, Arthur, all they'll think is I'm here to warm your bed at night."
"True? We know that," she stated, looking him directly in the eye, "but they don't."
"Then I'll them otherwise."
"And you'll be laughed out of court. You have to move on, because I can't stand still," she turned and left. Arthur stared after her but didn't move. He swallowed nothing again and turned to look back into the fire.
Gwen closed the door behind her. She leant back against it holding it closed. She took three long, deep breaths. She wiped the tear tracks from her cheeks and heaved a sigh. The didn't want to leave him there but there was nothing else she could do. She couldn't be his Queen and he had to know that.
He'd be better off marrying Lady Samantha. She would do good for the people of Camelot and for Arthur.
"Whatever is wrong, Gwen?" Lady Samantha enquired the next morning as the maid served her breakfast. Gwen had tried her hardest not to appear so downhearted, but her displeasure had eaten away at her all night. She'd been unable to sleep and now she was trying her hardest to stay alert.
"Nothing, my lady," Gwen attempted a smile but it never reached her eyes and the lady before her noticed.
"There is something. Usually you are so upbeat; never fail to put a smile on my face. This morning you're making me feel depressed," Samantha said trying to make Gwen smile.
"I'm sorry my lady, I have a lot on my mind."
"I'm sorry?" The lady chuckled, her smile reached her eyes and she looked encouragingly at Gwen.
"I saw him training early this morning," she explained, "looking equally depressive and up at my window. I know for a fact he has no interest in me, so who else?" she said looking over to Gwen who's gaze had fallen to the floor, the blush that was creeping over Gwen's face confirming what Samantha as theorised.
"You are wrong, my lady," Gwen said, but she could feel her cheeks burning up, "I believe Arthur is very much interested in you," though Lady Samantha could see straight through her words.
"Well I think you are very much mistaken, Guinevere," Gwen ran her tongue across the back of her teeth, "I will not pry, but he does not belong with me. I believe you are misguided in thinking so."
"I'm a servant," Gwen's resolve broke. The Lady had done nothing but build Gwen's trust over the last week she had been working with her. The whole ordeal was grating on her and she needed somebody to vent to that wouldn't go and inform Arthur, "Nothing can change-"
"The fates can change. The wind can change direction."
"Every cloud has a silver lining."
"Exactly, Gwen. A little faith will take you a long way," the lady reached out and took Gwen's hand to reassure her, "Think about what I have said, Gwen, and have a little hope."
She had no excuse. She had no laundry, no tray of food and no armour. She wasn't covering for Merlin and she wasn't delivering anything for Gaius.
She had no reason to be there.
Her hands felt clammy, she wiped them on her apron and raised her hand to knock on his door.
"Enter," with one final shaky breath she opened his door, "Guinevere?"
He was stood by his window, Gwen assumed before he was looking in her direction that he had been staring out over Camelot. She'd found him doing so on a number of occasions in the past.
She opened her mouth to speak but no words came. Instead of trying to form them she push the door so it shut, hearing it slam a little harder than she'd expected and the catch click into place as she walked across the room hastily. Not pausing when she reached him and like the day he'd gone to battle the dragon she pushed her arms around him only to find his wrapping around her waist. One hand pressed on her mid back holding her closer to him. With no armour or chain mail between them she could feel the warmth of his body beneath his shirt.
"I never should have-"
She pulled her head from his shoulder and looked up at him, she studied his eyes for a second before she pushed onto her toes and pressed her lips to his. His hand on her back brought her flush to his body. His other hand moved to thread through her hair.
"I'm going to say this once," Arthur said his voice barely above a whisper, "I'm not giving up on you. I'm not giving up on what we can have. I don't care if you're a servant. I don't care if you think you're dispensable because you are anything but that to me. I love you, nobody and nothing will ever change that."
"Maybe not that last bit."
"Good," she nestled her chin on his shoulder, a much more comfortable movement without his armour, "because I love you too," his embrace tightened around her breathing in her scent. He kissed her hair.
"That is good to hear, because for a moment there I was worried."
It has been brought to my attention that the theme and ideal of this fic is similar to that of a fic written by anjali_organna called 'And Think Of Camelot' it was not the intent when writing as I was fulfilling the prompt I was given, but I would still like to highlight this fact regardless of how unintentional it was.