To Become a Queen (and a King)
by Camilla Sandman
Summary: Gwen was not born to be a Queen. Arthur was born to be a King. [Arthur/Gwen, Uther, Merlin, Morgana]
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
Author's Notes: Inspired by some comment to a recent story of mine, discussing what would happen if Uther found out about Arthur and Gwen. This is one take on that. References to the beginning of season three.
Arthur and Gwen, they said. The prince and the maid servant.
In the end, perhaps it was inevitable that someone would notice. That someone would talk.
Arthur and Guinevere, they said. Have you heard?
In the hallway, giving each other long looks. In the courtyard, exchanging swift smiles. In Arthur's room, leaning into an embrace. In the shadows, stealing kisses. In broad daylight, brushing hands when passing.
Arthur and Gwen, they said. And Uther heard.
The insistent knocking on her door tears Gwen from a rather exhausted sleep, and it takes her a few moments to clear her head enough to stir.
It's probably Merlin, she reasons. It often is, and some need to save Camelot once more usually follows. She's grown used to it, maybe even found herself liking the adventures that follow.
It is not Merlin. It is Uther. Uther, eyes dark as she hurriedly courtsies before him, and she can only think of one reason why he would ever come to her humble abode.
"My lord," she says quietly, raising her eyes to look at him again. She immediately knows he is here for exactly the reason she deduced.
Her and Arthur.
"You are a servant," he says coldly. "Arthur is a prince. He will one day be king and you will still be a servant."
"Sire," she hears herself say, as if she cannot quite make herself agree.
"You are not born to be a Queen," he goes on. "Arthur will not marry you. He may have a passing fancy for you, but he will marry someone worthy of him."
"Sire, your son..." She exhales, then feels a stubborn thought plow through her mind and straight to her mouth. "Your son is entirely capable of judging worth himself."
She bites her lip the moment she is finished, wondering if this is how Arthur feels when he draws his sword and knows the battle is on.
"You are relieved from Morgana's service," Uther says after a moment. And then the door slams after him and she is alone again, feeling her cheek burn as if struck.
This will not be the end of it, she knows.
It is Merlin who comes in the morning, looking worried and taking her hand as he sits next to her. She knows she looks like she hasn't slept much, which is a rather accurate picture.
"Uther and Arthur are having a shouting match in the castle," he tells her. "It's about you."
"Uther was here," she replies. "He told me I was utterly unworthy of his son."
"He is wrong," Merlin says intently, squeezing her hand.
She smiles joylessly. "He is the King. He is right by default."
"He has been wrong many times."
She looks up at that, noting the bitterness in Merlin's voice. She has always known he does not care much for Uther, but this sounds like more than dislike.
"Arthur will right things," Merlin goes on, smiling at her. "You will see, Gwen. He is already changing. He will become the greatest King Camelot has known and you will become his Queen. Our Queen."
"He was born to be a prince," she says. "I was not even born noble."
"Maybe that is exactly the King and Queen Camelot needs," Merlin says, and his eyes seem amost golden as he stares beyond her.
She wonders just what he sees.
Morgana stands in the doorway like a shadow and it takes Gwen a minute to even notice her being there.
"The King has informed me you are no longer in my service," Morgana says, leaning against the doorframe with a distant look in her eyes.
"He informed me of the same," Gwen says.
A year ago, Morgana might have hugged her and assured her it would never happen, and Gwen would have believed it. But a year is a long time, and now Morgana merely looks at her and feels so very far away.
"It is not his choice to make, and I have told him so," Morgana says after a moment.
"Thank you, my lady."
"You and Arthur," she goes on, and Gwen can only nod. "Queen Guinevere of fair Camelot. Uther would never consider that. He sees only what you are, what he has branded you as."
"A servant," Gwen says, and wonders when Morgana rebranded her as the same. Perhaps what they had was not quite friendship, but it was near enough. Now it is lost, and Gwen doesn't know why.
One day, she will have to ask, but that will change something also.
"I hate him," Morgana says calmly, and Gwen wonders if it's for her or for something else.
It is near noon when Arthur finally comes, looking weary and slightly angry.
"Sire," she says, but Arthur shakes his head, folding his arms as he leans against the wall.
"Too late for that, Guinevere," he says simply.
"You should not be here," she says. "It will convince your father that..."
"My father has already ample proof," he cuts in. "He has spent several hours telling me you are not an appropriate choice and I have spent several hours telling him you are."
"I was not born to be a Queen," she tells him. Faintly, she thinks of Morgana and how easier that match would have been. Yet easier doesn't seem to be Arthur's fate, or hers.
"You were not," Arthur agrees calmly. "But you can still become one. All you have to do is marry the prince."
Uther does not see it like that, she knows. That Arthur is able to is one of the reasons she thinks like Merlin, that one day the prince of Camelot will be a great king.
"Not if your father banishes me," she points out, remembering how many Uther has banished for far lesser crimes than loving his son.
"He will not. He knows I would go with you."
She exhales, feeling a surge at emotion at his words and trying not to show it on her face. Arthur must still see something, for he leans forward.
"Guinevere. There is only one thing you can say to make me leave," he says quietly. "Tell me you do not love me."
She watches his face, tense and composed, and knows she should lie. Should, if she is sensible and a good subject to King Uther and know her place.
"I cannot tell you that," she says, and he moves so fast she can only draw a hurried breath before he is kissing her, his hands framing her face. His thumb is stroking her cheekbones as his lips brush against hers again and again, and she digs her fingers into his shoulder. She doesn't want to let go.
"Gwen," he says breathlessly, and she leans her face against his chest.
"What happens now?" she asks, and he strokes the back of her neck.
"My father will not approve of you and I will not give you up," he says. "He will pretend not to see you and push any noble lady he knows at me, convinced I will change my mind. I will see no one but you and keep my mind."
"You make it sound like a war," she says, tilting her head up to watch his face.
"It is," he says calmly, kissing her forehead. "How are you in combat, Gwen?"
His eyes are so very bright as he looks at her, and she knows he is right. It is far too late, has been too late for a long time already. Inevitable, really, ever since she started to see something in him and him in her, and now it's too late to play blind.
"Fearless, sire," she promises him.
In the evening, Gwen watches herself in the mirror, touching her forehead gently. Arthur is already seeing a crown on her, Merlin along with him (and perhaps even before Arthur ever did). Morgana is looking away, and Uther will always just see a servant and no Queen at all.
The reflection shows her just Guinevere.
Maybe that's enough. Arthur was born to be King, but he can still choose what King he will become. Maybe be the sort of king that would have a servant become Queen, the sort of King that would love just Guinevere.
The sort of King she would love.
When she finally does sleep, she dreams of Merlin's future; it's a bright, bright kingdom of the future.
The King and Queen of it are still becoming.