Uther didn't really notice her at first. It took a little while for him to get his bearings back. He realised he was in his own room. He realised Arthur was back and that something was still wrong with Morgana. There was some comprehension of the fact that he was king, but it was nothing more than in name. Arthur was doing everything, and not long into his new role as Regent, Uther wasn't too bothered. In fact he was a little frightened to challenge his son, in case Arthur left again.
He was still treated with respect. He was the king, and Arthur kept as close an eye on his father as possible. But he had so much else to do, and putting Merlin in Uther's line of sight was probably not a wise decision. So the king's welfare fell to someone else.
When he did notice, Uther was sat on the edge of the bed, looking out of the window at the sun streaming brightly through the windows. He didn't turn at the sound of someone entering the room, pottering around getting things ready. It was only as Gwen moved around the bed and announced.
"Breakfast, My Lord."
That Uther suddenly noticed her. She shook out his dressing gown and held it up. It was automatic that Uther stood up and allowed her to put him into it, straightening the material on his shoulders. One gentle push got him moving towards the table, where she had left his breakfast. As she had done for the last three weeks, Gwen guided the king into the chair she had pulled out and poured him some water, made sure everything was set up and left him to eat his breakfast, while she went over to make the bed. Then she needed to get his clothes ready. While she worked she didn't bother to chat to him. It was her own automatic response.
She had often talked to Morgana, but that was different. This was the king, he didn't pay much attention to the servants around him, and Gwen decided he probably wouldn't want to listen to her chatter. Instead she worked quietly, making the bed with swift efficiency and then she went to the wardrobe and started to pull out the clothes Uther would need. It took her a moment to realise that Uther had turned in the chair and was looking at her and what she was doing with intensity. She gave him a bright, friendly smile and said.
"We need to get you ready once you've finished eating. Arthur will want you in the council this morning."
Arthur usually did. He could do it without Uther, but he preferred not to. He didn't want his father pushed aside, and since Uther was still technically king it was better that he was there. He didn't interfere with anything, but Arthur did have a habit of turning to him for confirmation over certain matters. The only decisions that Arthur kept to himself was anything relating to suspected sorcery. Now and again he consulted with Merlin and Gaius, but never in public.
Uther looked at Gwen, who went back to selecting things from Uther's wardrobe and laying them out, putting one shirt back to replace it with another.
"I'm not going, I don't want to!" Uther suddenly announced. Gwen spun round from the wardrobe, shaking the shirt to try and get some of the creases out. She looked up at Uther and she smiled as she said.
"I don't think Arthur would like that. He's expecting you."
"I don't care!" Uther said rudely, he prodded his breakfast and ate a little more. "Everyone stares at me."
"Of course they do," Gwen said in a reasonable fashion, as she laid the shirt out. "You're the king."
"No, I'm not," Uther said, prodding his food. Gwen straightened up and moved it out of his reach.
"Yes, you are, and Arthur wants you there, he needs you there," Gwen said sternly. "And you are not going to eat that, once you start poking it like that I know you're not, and we are running late. We need to get you dressed and to the council chamber."
"Arthur doesn't need me."
"Don't be ridiculous, of course he does," Gwen said, trying to sound reasonable, but irritation was working its way into her voice. She couldn't yank Uther's chair out from under him but as she started to help him up, Uther stood, allowing her to pull the chair back and she pulled the dressing gown off his shoulders.
Uther watched her sort the clothes a little, looking at her intently again.
"You're Morgana's maid."
"Yes, I am," Gwen said.
"She doesn't need you any more."
"Yes, she does, someone has to clean the room, and dust, and replace the candles, I do that," Gwen said. Uther, despite his objections verbally, allowed Gwen to start dressing him. She had long ago since lost her embarrassment at dealing with Uther. For the first few days he had just sat there stunned, hardly caring what she did.
Now she got him out of his nightclothes and into his shirt and trousers without even thinking about it. It had somehow become her job, Arthur appreciated it even when Uther didn't.
"When do you do that?" Uther snapped. "I've never seen you in there."
"Because I do it while you're in council with Arthur every morning, that's when I tidy up and put fresh candles out, and if I have time I bring in flowers."
"It makes it look like a shrine!"
"Then I won't do that then," Gwen said.
"You can't not tidy up!"
"I mean the flowers," Gwen clarified, trying to concentrate on what she was doing, while she had what was the longest conversation ever with the king, including the times she begged for her life, and for her father's life.
"Morgana always liked it when you picked her flowers," Uther said.
"I know," Gwen said. She put Uther into his shirt and carried on slowly dressing him. It was odd to reflect that she didn't feel frightened talking to him now. The one thing that used to make her feel safe, being in a room with Uther, was having Morgana there. Her mistress often seemed to fight for her, and reassure her. That was all gone now.
"Don't stop, she liked them, don't stop."
"I won't," Gwen said. "I can go and pick some while you are in council with Arthur."
"Are you trying to get me to the council chamber?" Uther asked.
Gwen smiled at him, as she put him into his clothes.
"I don't need to do that. If you are not there in time, Arthur is going to come and find you. Now, shall we just go, so Arthur doesn't have to worry? He needs you."
"No he doesn't." Uther said.
Yes, he does!" Gwen snapped adjusting Uther's clothes a little aggressively. "When he needs an answer, or guidance, he looks to you and you tell him what to do."
"When it comes to the law, Geoffrey can guide him."
"Sir Geoffrey has to look it up in a book, and spends ages doing so. Arthur just needs to look at you and you know the answer. Which is better? Arthur needs you there; he wants you there, stop being so silly!"
"Sorry," Uther said.
"Well, anyone would think you didn't want to help Arthur. He's only doing this until you feel better. He'll stand down then."
"I don't think I can do that."
"Well don't. But help Arthur. He needs you."
"I don't think he does," Uther said to her. But he stopped arguing and Gwen got him straightened up, brushing off his clothes and making sure he looked presentable. The last thing she did was reach up to put the crown on his head.
"There you go, now, you need to go to the council chamber. I'll go with you."
"I know the way."
"I'm sure you do My Lord," Gwen said, looking up at Uther. "But I'll go with you."
She did do, letting the two accompanying guards go in with Uther and she went off to the throne room, cleared up, and went to pick flowers. Then she brought back the flowers, picked up new candles and started to reset the room. She swept the floor, shook out the Pendragon banner that was draped across the crystal, arranged the flowers and then as she started to put the candles into the holders she heard Uther's voice. In anticipation of his arrival she had set out the chair, which he took when he sat there and looked at Morgana.
Uther came in and stopped a few steps in, looking around at what Gwen had done. Without comment he went to the chair and sat down, putting his hand on the crystal. Arthur followed along, with Merlin in tow. Arthur turned to look at Gwen and came over to her.
"Why weren't you there to meet him?"
"He told me he'd meet me here," Gwen said. "How was he today?"
"Better, he corrected me over some of my tax calculations, he's never done that before."
"I hope you didn't stop him."
"No, I had it checked, he was right."
"He was better this morning Arthur. He said he would meet me here," Gwen said.
"Guinevere?" Uther's voice rang out. Gwen dumped her candles on Arthur and went to the king. She gave a little curtsey as she moved into his line of vision.
"I like the flowers, don't not do them."
"Well, then, you'd better go to council every morning then, hadn't you?" she told him firmly before walking away and taking her basket back off Arthur.
"Yes," Uther mused carefully. "Arthur needs me."