Author's Note: Story starts roughly four weeks since the end of "Black, White and Gray. This is the third episodic story set in my version of season four of Merlin. If you haven't read the two previous episodic stories, please do so.
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin. I do not own its characters.
La Mort de Guinevere – by AudiRox
It has been over two months since Morgana had seen her father. Her real father, the King of Camelot. She didn't care for him much, which was evident; and the more time that passed without seeing Uther, the more she hated him. "I've stayed silent too long," she thinks to herself. She looks down at a big, dark bowl of water and starts to utter foreign words as she adds a few pigments into the liquid. "Ingre arre aed nad thies ghurroh dahhh! I will take revenge on those that have harmed you, my dear sister," she says out loud. "And I will start with… Merlin." She adds the last bit of pigment and the water starts to boil.
Back in Camelot, Merlin is seen cheerfully walking around the market checking out the goods. He stops at a few of the stalls and greets some of the people of Camelot. "Good day," he says with a nod to an older man.
A few feet away, an old woman with a basketful of apples in one hand and a walking stick in the other notices him and begins to descend down the aisle towards Merlin.
"Good morning, young man," she says.
Merlin stops and looks down at the old woman. He gives her his signature grin, which most would consider an idiotic one, "Good morning, there."
"How about an apple, young man?" she turns to reveal the basketful of big juicy apples.
"Those look delicious," Merlin's mouth waters, "but no, I haven't any money at the moment."
The frail old woman is disappointed. "Oh, that's alright. Maybe next time."
As she turns to walk away, her walking stick falls and she struggles to retrieve it. "Here let me!" says Merlin and picks it up. He cleans it a bit with his sleeve and hands it to the woman. "Here you go."
The old woman is thankful. "You're most kind. Here…" she grabs an apple and hands it to Merlin, "I thank you."
Merlin blushes and shakes his head, "I shouldn't."
"It's a token of my gratitude," the woman nods with a smile. "Please, take it."
Merlin nods and accepts the apple. "Thank you."
The old woman turns around and starts to walk down the market as the young warlock watches.
Back in the castle, Gwen walks down the hallway towards Uther's chambers. It has been two months of constant caring for the king. While she was happy to attend to Arthur's father, it was starting to get a bit tiring. "He has improved quite a bit," she thinks to herself as she walks on. Color has returned to his skin after all the mid-morning walks they've taken the past few weeks. But he still wasn't ready to resume his role as king.
She walks around the corner and stops before the doors to Uther's chambers. She takes a deep breath and knocks on the massive doors before she enters.
"Sire?" she says as she closes the door behind her. To her surprise, Uther, all dressed in royal attire, is seated at the table eating his morning meal. "My lord," she says as she moves slowly to the table.
"Surprised to see me?" inquires the king with just a hint of a smile.
"You are all dressed and ready for the day…" Gwen makes note.
"How very observant of you, Gwen." He addresses by her name. She doesn't believe she has ever heard him say it. "Arthur and I have decided that it is time. I'll be resuming my duties as king of Camelot."
Gwen smiles in relief. "Yes, my lord, I'm glad to hear of it." The young woman takes a bow and turns to leave.
Uther looks in her direction, "Of course this means your services are no longer needed."
Gwen suddenly realizes the same. She turns around and nods, "Yes, my lord."
"As you know, your brother's title entitles you to certain monetary benefits," the king continues without looking at her.
Gwen is not one for sitting idly and is not fond of getting paid for doing absolutely nothing. She politely responds, "I will find work, sire."
"Of course she wouldn't accept it. She is too stubborn for such a thing," thinks Uther. He looks up at her. "You would seek out work despite your entitlements through your brother's status?"
Gwen nods, "I would much rather work for my living, sire. Just as he does."
She turns to leave, but Uther calls out, "Wait." Gwen turns around again. "I will see to it that you find work here. You need not seek elsewhere."
Gwen is surprised, but with gratitude she nods and takes her leave.
Uther can't help but be pleasantly surprised by Gwen's character. Of course, he was aware of her ways the past few weeks, but it was nice to see such honesty and nobility. But his own stubborn views still wouldn't allow him to give her more importance. So he goes back to his meal.
With nothing or no one to attend to that day, Gwen decides to go home and enjoy the day by herself. She opens the door to her home and just as she closes it, the sudden view of Merlin at her supper table makes her jump back a bit with a loud gasp.
"Merlin!" says Gwen trying to catch her breath.
Merlin gets on his feet and holds up his hands, "Sorry! Sorry Gwen, I didn't mean to startle you."
Gwen nods and gestures, "I know. Please do sit." She places her shawl on the table and takes a seat in front of her friend. However, she isn't smiling as she usually does at the site of the young man. She has a tentative expression; an expression of concern, even.
"I haven't seen you in a while," says Merlin with a chuckle. "It's almost as if you've been avoiding me."
Gwen looks up at her friend. She shakes her head, but can't seem to come up with a real reason for their distance.
"Are you angry at me, Gwen? Is it something I've done?" Merlin asks genuinely.
Gwen shakes her head again. "I'm not angry at you. It's just that…" she looks down at her hands.
Merlin observes her mannerisms, "What is it?"
Gwen calmly looks up at his face. "I know you are hiding something… from all of us."
Merlin had suspected as much. Nervously he sighs.
Earnestly, Gwen continues, "I've wanted to ask you about it all these weeks…"
"Why haven't you?"
"Because I'm afraid, Merlin."
Merlin's heart breaks a little at the thought of his friend being afraid of his secret. "You fear my secret?"
"I value your friendship, and it is not the secret that I fear but having to keep it from Arthur. I do not want to put myself in such a position. You must understand. Having you admit it will only make me feel as though I'm hiding something from him."
A sense of relief comes over Merlin as he hears her words and he starts to understand her concern. He nods.
The friends sit in silence for a few moments.
Merlin speaks. "I value your friendship as well. More so than you know. We will not speak of this again, and I will be more discreet."
Gwen faintly smiles.
"Here," says Merlin as he pulls out the juicy apple he had acquired earlier that morning. "Let me share my apple with you."
Merlin gets up from his seat and finds a knife near the stove. He cuts the apple in half and gives one to Gwen.
Gwen smiles and takes a bite. "Mmm, delicious."
Merlin can't help but smile at his dear friend. But a thought lingers in his mind as he sits back down. "If you were to find out my secret," Gwen looks up at him as he continues, "would you think of me negatively?"
Gwen shakes her head, "You're very dear to me Merlin. I would only have wondered why you hadn't shared it with me before. And while I understand why you haven't, I think Arthur needs to know."
Merlin shakes his head, "Not while Uther's around."
Merlin looks down at his half of the apple, "I want so badly to be free, and to let everyone know."
Gwen starts to understand the pressure he has been through the past few years. Especially in Camelot.
"I know I must tell Arthur, though I don't know how he would react." He looks up at his friend and contemplates, "Will you help me, Gwen?"
Gwen tilts her head quizzically.
"One day, if I shared with you my secret with the promise that I would immediately let Arthur know as well, will you help me? Will you support me, Gwen?"
Gwen smiles genuinely, "Of course I would."
Merlin thankfully smiles.
Gwen looks down at the piece of apple in her head, "Now this is one really good apple."
Not having yet eaten his own piece of fruit, Merlin gets up from his seat. "I"ve been gone for far too long. I should go before prince-pain-in-the-arse starts looking for me."
Gwen smiles but reprimands him, "Merlin." She quickly gets up from her seat to see her friend out the door, but instantly, she feels as though the mere act of standing up drained her energy. She collapses on the floor in front of Merlin.
"Gwen!" he cries.
EDITED: Please continue onto Chapter 2...
End Notes: Just another episode of ideas/plots I'd like to see in the fourth series of Merlin. I very much appreciate your reviews and well wishes. Thank you for reading and please let me know your thoughts. It's always wonderful to receive a notification that someone had reviewed your story. Thanks again.
Again, I'm not a "writer" but a speculator and/or dreamer of how I'd like storylines to play out. Let me know what you think. Thank you for reading.
Happy holidays and hope you have a wonderful 2011!