Arthur had many scars on his body.
They all came from conflicts with men, animals and mythological creatures. There were small dents in his skin where the teeth of the questing beast had broken his flesh; a dark patch on his skin marked where the assassin had pieced his armour, and three long white lines stretched across his shoulders from his back to his chest to mark where the dragon's claw had torn through him.
A scar he had gained protecting Guinevere.
It was a badge of love, though he didn't go in for that poetic sentimentality. He often found that words rarely summed up his feelings as well as he wanted. Even in little 'romantic' notes he left for her he could only manage a few sentences at the most. Gwen always smiled when she read them.
He had suffered more pain for love than any scar he had attained through combat. The scolding in his chest when he thought Gwen did not love him hurt more the blow his chest had taken from the assassin's lance. Then when he discovered she did love him, but still rejected him – that had hurt too.
Even at the best of times his love hurt but it was a good hurt. Like that moment when she tended to that dragon wound. He had taken her hand and held it against his heart. It longed for her so much that it painfully hammered in his chest and against his hand. Despite the chaos around them they had smiled with affection and pure unadulterated love.
So when Arthur had moments like this; kissing her, touching her and feeling her skin brush against his in a semi-naked state, he indulged the good-hurt.
He loved the feeling of Gwen's lips leaving warm trails over his face, neck and chest. He closed his eyes lazily as her tongue licked its way across all his battle scars. His eyes shot open again as she suckled the skin of his neck hard. Her teeth gently grazed the supple skin.
Gwen felt a chuckle rumble from his throat. It echoed right through her.
"A love bite, Guinevere?" he questioned with amusement.
A smile twitched the side of her face. She sucked the skin hard before finally realising it. That had hurt too, but Arthur had liked it nonetheless.
She lifted her head and looked down to admire her work. A dark-red bruise marked the spot, surrounded by freckled little teeth marks. She smiled proudly. It was brazen of her to leave a calling-card on Arthur's skin. It was a sign to show that someone had been with him, that someone had had him.
"I'm just" she said coyly, a little embarrassed to be explaining her reasons for it (even though Arthur hadn't asked for an explanation), "well, just..."
"Marking your territory?" he finished.
Gwen blushed. "Yes."
He smiled warmly, and rubbed circles into the hot skin of her hips.
Arthur felt Gwen was entitled to brand him, to leave a mark and make him hers. He was already hers completely. They couldn't display their exclusivity to the world through marriage as they dearly wanted to and vowed they would one day. So for now Arthur was perfectly content to be marked with amorous love bites.
They were barefaced and risky but they got the message across. Ladies of the court (and women in general) knew the prince would not be interested in them when they saw the frequent but subtle bite marks on his neck. They showed that he was 'occupied'. No one knew who she was but they knew she existed, whoever she was.
It was just as much a symbol of exclusivity as a promise ring. The difference was no one had the cheek to ask where a love bite came from.
Furthermore it worked both ways: no one bothered a handmaiden with a love bites especially one as reputable as Gwen. To people it wasn't a sign that her standards were slipping but that the right man had finally got her.
Arthur rolled Gwen onto her back and leaned over her.
She laughed. "What are you up to?"
"You've left your mark," he replied huskily as he lowered his mouth to collarbone. "Now I will leave mine."