Author's Note: Second part of For the Love of Guinevere. Please read previous chapter or previous episodes prior to read this.
Disclaimer: I do not own Merlin. I do not own its characters.
For the Love of Guinevere (continued) – by AudiRox
The next morning, Lancelot reunites with Merlin and Gaius in the physician's quarters. Merlin sits down to eat a bit of breakfast with Gaius as Lancelot wanders about looking at various vials of medicine. The knight turns around to face Merlin and Gaius and leans against one of the shelves.
"It seems Camelot has recovered very quickly."
Gaius picks up his empty plate as he stands up to put it away, "The people of this kingdom are very resilient."
"And the king," continues Lancelot. "I'm surprised he has regained his strength of mind and body, in such speed."
Gaius shrugs, "Mind? I'm not quite certain he has fully recovered in that respect." Merlin looks up in surprise at his mentor's frankness. "But he was cared for well."
Merlin nods again. "Yes, Gwen nursed him back to health."
"Gwen?" Lancelot inquires curiously.
Merlin notices Lancelot's tone but Gaius interrupts. "I must now go make my rounds in the city. I apologize for taking leave, Sir Lancelot."
Lancelot stands up straight. "No, do not apologize. I'm glad to be back among friends."
Gaius nods and smiles before he takes his satchel and exits the quarters.
As Merlin gets up with his plate, he asks, "Are you sure you don't want anything to eat?"
"No, I have already had my morning meal. Thank you."
Merlin nods and goes about putting his plate away as Lancelot observes his friend.
"So, you say Gwen nursed Uther back to health?"
Merlin nods. "I don't know anyone as patient."
Lancelot smiles, "Uther is very lucky."
"And I'm sure," continues the knight, "that Uther finds her favorable now?"
Merlin is uncomfortable to respond and so he leans against the table and crosses him arms. "I'm not sure."
"What do you mean? Does he not know of Arthur's feelings for her?"
Merlin nods and looks down at the floor, "He does."
Lancelot chuckles, "From what I gather, she is neither banished or sentenced to death. So I assume he approves."
Merlin's silence is concerning to Lancelot.
"What is it, my good friend? What are you keeping from me?"
"From what I gather, Arthur and Gwen are at odds currently."
An intrigued Lancelot tilts his head, "At odds? I see."
Merlin can't help but wonder. "I know I keep asking you, but do you still have feelings for her, Lancelot?"
Lancelot looks down at his hands, "I admit, I sometimes think of her. But I think I have finally started to move on. I have no chance, Merlin. I'd be terribly mistaken if I thought I did as their love for each other is too strong."
Merlin subtly smiles. As much as he cares for and respects his friend, he is glad to hear of his feelings for Gwen are not as strong as they were a few years ago. Merlin himself is holding onto hope that Arthur and Gwen will soon reconcile.
Lancelot smiles a bit, "Besides, I did notice another beauty at the banquet last night."
Merlin smirks, "Princess Elena?"
"No way!" shouts Merlin.
"You never know," smirks the knight and the two friends start to laugh.
Back in Cenred's kingdom, Morgause observes her sister as she works on a potion with determination. A concerned expression appears on Morgause's face as Morgana stirs the contents in the small metal pot.
"Beware sister, potions such as this have a way of backfiring."
Morgana chuckles as she briefly looks behind her, "Do not worry, I have everything under control."
Morgause continues, "You must also be patient as the potion works gradually."
"I have increased the potency so that it will work faster for our benefit."
Later that morning, Uther, Arthur, Merlin, Godwin and Elena are seen in the courtyard. Godwin and Elena have decided it's time to return home after spending some enjoyable days in Camelot.
Elena turns to Arthur a few steps away from the two kings. "Thank you, Arthur, for being a wonderful host."
Arthur nods with a smile, "My pleasure. And thank you..."
Elena tilts her head, "For?"
"For being a good friend."
Elena smiles, "I wish you all the best, Arthur Pendragon." With the corner of her eye, she sees Gwen walking towards them carrying something delicate in her hands. Arthur looks in the same direction as Elena returns her eyes to Arthur and softly continues, "You need to fix whatever it is that's keep you two apart."
Hearing very subtly Princess Elena's words, Merlin smiles to himself.
"Gwen!" Elena turns to the woman. "I thought you'd forgotten of my departure." She looks down at the garment in Gwen's hands, "What is this?"
Gwen lifts it up to Elena as Arthur keenly observes. "A shawl for you. A parting gift from me. It is not much but..."
Elena is mesmerized by the detailed embroidery along the edge. "It is beautiful, Gwen!" She delicately takes it in her hand and gives Gwen a warm hug. "I will treasure it always."
Arthur and Merlin can't help but smile as well. From a small distance, Godwin and Uther observe the two women.
"Friendship," says Godwin as he turns to Uther, "a treasure in itself."
Uther smiles and grabs hold of Godwin's arm for a mighty shake, "Until next time, my friend."
As Elena turns to walk up to her horse, she notices a familiar face from the night before approaching the royal party followed by other knights of Camelot.
Lancelot bows at Elena, "My lady," and continues to walk towards Arthur.
Elena smiles as she is assisted onto her great steed.
The knights align along the side waiting for Lord Godwin and Princess Elena to depart. Arthur turns around to see if Gwen is still a few steps behind him. She is. Locking eyes, they acknowledge each other with a subtle nod. The prince turns back around as Elena and Godwin ride off with their guards following closely behind. Uther decides to return inside.
"Well that was fun," says Merlin with an idiotic grin.
"Indeed," agrees Arthur as he sees Leon approach him with Lancelot.
"Sire, we're ready to discuss Cenred's kingdom whenever you are."
Arthur nods as the knights walk past. He turns around to see if Gwen is still behind him, but she isn't. He sees her walking away at a distance in the direction of her home.
Moments later, Arthur, Merlin, Gwaine, Percival, Elyan, Leon, Lancelot and other knights are in one of the chambers discussing plans of entering Cenred's kingdom in search of Morgana and her half-sister. Merlin observes silently in the back.
"There is no easier way to do this other than go directly into Cenred's kingdom."
"If I may, sire," says Lancelot, "shouldn't the king also be present for these discussions?"
Arthur subtly looks behind at his servant, "Father has asked that I take the lead on this."
Lancelot nods, "Of course."
Leon is visibly disturbed, "My apologies sire, but I cannot wrap my mind around what has become of Lady Morgana."
"She is no longer a friend of Camelot," says Arthur with great strain. "You do not need to apologize, Sir Leon. I treated her like my very own sister, and I too cannot, to this day, believe what has become of her."
Elyan speaks up, "If I may sire, I have no attachments as you or even my sister, Gwen, to Lady Morgana." Arthur quickly looks up at the mention of her name. "I have a personal hatred towards her and Morgause for what they did to my sister."
Arthur nods, "Of course."
Lancelot can't help but inquire, "What did they do?"
Arthur is curious about Lancelot's inquiry as Gwaine explains, "They tried to poison Gwen not long ago."
Merlin is concerned by Arthur's observation of Lancelot.
Arthur decides to contribute, "Yes, Sir Lancelot. We thought the worst, but thankfully," he alters the truth, "Gaius' medicine was stronger than the poison." He subtly looks at Merlin, as only Merlin knew the truth about Gwen's recovery.
"I see, my lord. It seems Morgana is determined to destroy everything and everyone we care about."
An awkward silence takes over. Gwaine is the first, apart from Arthur and Merlin, to notice and so he speaks up with a chuckle. "Yet Camelot thrives. Come, we must think of better days."
Arthur looks away from Lancelot. "Sir Gwaine is right."
"Sire, we have yet to properly celebrate the return of our fellow knight," he gestures at Lancelot and continues, "I propose we visit the local taverns and give them a bit of business."
Everyone looks at the prince.
"Of course, with your permission," says Gwaine.
"You have my permission. Take the rest of the day off and enjoy yourselves." The prince locks eyes with Lancelot, "You deserve it."
Merlin clears his throat a bit for everyone to hear.
Arthur rolls his eyes, "Yes, you may also take the rest of the day off, Merlin."
Merlin grins, "Thank you, sire."
The knights take their leave and as Merlin steps away from Arthur, he notices the prince staying behind and so he turns around, "You're not going to join us?"
Arthur shakes his head, "No."
A concerned expression appears on Merlin's face as he sees Arthur look down at his hands.
"You go and enjoy yourself, Merlin. I should be fine alone for the rest of the day."
"Are you sure?"
Arthur looks up and nods, "It's an order."
Merlin nods as well and exits the room leaving Arthur alone to himself.
That evening, in his very dimly lit chambers, Arthur paces by the window. He sighs and turns to the opening to look outside. He rests his foot on the window sill and takes a deep breath. "I must go to her," he thinks. He suddenly turns around and grabs the hooded cloak on the table on his way out of the chambers.
Moments later, disguised by only a blue hooded cloak, the prince finds himself outside Guinevere's home. His Guinevere. At least he hoped she was still his. Because his heart belonged to none other. He raises his hand to knock on the door, but stops himself. He takes a few steps to his right and looks through the crack in the half-open window. "There she is," he thinks. A sight he treasures in his heart, always. After a long day's work at the school and after tending to her own chores, the woman inside sits down to eat her final meal of the day. Deciding not to interrupt her, he turns to leave.
Meanwhile in the local tavern, the knights are having a jolly time. Some are chatting away with the locals as they share drink. In the middle of the place of business sits Lancelot with his dear friend, Merlin. Across from them are Gwaine and Elyan.
"It is wonderful to be back in Camelot," says Lancelot, who is working on his third goblet of cider.
"It is wonderful to have you back," says Merlin. He drinks the last of his cider and gets up from the table. "But I must now take my leave."
"So soon, Merlin?" asks Gwaine.
"I have lots of work to do."
"I thought Arthur gave you the rest of the day off?" asks a very sober Elyan.
"He did, but I need to check on some things before night's end." He smiles and looks around at the merry knights.
"More cider for us then!" shouts Gwaine as Merlin takes his leave. "Another round for my friends, please!" says Gwaine as he slams a few coins on the table.
As Merlin exists the tavern, he has a strange sensation that he cannot quite grasp. But he dismisses it and walks out of the small structure.
An old woman comes up to the table with a tray full of cider. Noticing an unusually shiny goblet, Gwaine comments as he reaches out for it, "Isn't that a beauty."
The old woman slaps Gwaine's hand off of the goblet, "This is for the knight that's being celebrated today." She smiles down at Lancelot and hands him the shiny object filled with delicious cider.
With a goblet in each of their hands, the knights cheer as they continue to drink.
Moments later, Merlin arrives in Arthur's dark chambers. Assuming the prince is in bed fast asleep, Merlin tip toes deep into to the room to tidy up before he left for the night.
"What are you doing, Merlin?" says a groggy voice coming from the opposite direction of the bed. Merlin looks to his side and as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he realizes Arthur is sitting at the table in the dark.
"Arthur?" asks Merlin. "What are you doing up? And why are you in the dark?"
"I cannot sleep," says the prince as he gets up from the chair and moves closer to the window. The moonlight beaming through makes Merlin see the worry in Arthur's face.
"Everything," says Arthur. "Why does she not talk to me?"
"Have you tried talking to her?"
Arthur sighs. "I fear I may have lost her forever."
"You haven't!" says Merlin as he takes a step closer. "If you'd only go speak with her, you'd realize how she still feels for you."
Silence as a hopeful expression appears on Arthur's face.
"Go tell her, Arthur. Tell her how nothing is going to keep you from loving her or wanting to marry her. She needs to hear that from you."
A suddenly optimistic Arthur smiles. "Thank you."
Merlin nods, "You're welcome."
"I thought I gave you the day off?"
"But I came to check on you."
"Now get out. Go enjoy whatever is left of the evening."
Merlin obeys and takes leave.
Meanwhile, a heavy knock on her door makes Guinevere nervous. And so she picks up her broom as she goes to open the door. "Who is it?" she asks.
"It's me, Elyan," says her brother.
Gwen puts away the broom and quickly opens the door to find Elyan barely carrying a very drunk Lancelot. "What on earth?" she says as she ushers them inside.
Lancelot smiles up at Gwen, "Ah, never ave I seen such a beautifu' sight!" slurs the knight.
"He has had a few too many ciders," says Elyan as he helps his fellow knight sit on the bench.
"You don't say," says a sarcastic Gwen. "Why did you bring him here, Elyan?"
"Look at him!" says the knight. "I barely carried him all across town. And now I must go make sure Gwaine isn't misbehaving."
"Please put him up for the night, Gwen?"
She looks at Lancelot, who is looking pathetic with such intoxication. "Fine."
"Thank you. You're the best!" With these words, Elyan bolts out of Guinevere's home.
Outside, in the dark, A cloaked prince observes as Elyan leaves his sister's house. He waits in the shadows until Elyan is out of sight before he continues up to Gwen's home. Just as he is about to knock on the door, he hears a male voice which makes him peer through the window. "Lancelot," he thinks.
Half asleep, fully drunk, and unable to keep himself up straight, Lancelot mumbles as Gwen fetches him some water.
"Here you go," she says.
"Thank you," Lancelot manages to say. "You're mos' beautiful erso ar aliive," slurs the knight again.
"Drink up, Sir Lancelot."
"Artur's a fooool iv he lets you go that eeeasy," he continues.
"It is not appropriate for you to say such things. Please drink the water, Lancelot."
Lancelot obeys and drinks a bit of the water.
Arthur can't help but continue to watch their interaction through the crack in the window. His eyes narrow and his expression turns to that of a lost soul.
"I still feel the same for you Guinevere," Lancelot manages to say without slurring his words.
"Guinevere? He called her Guinevere?" Arthur thinks. Not wanting to witness another moment, he quickly leaves the premises.
Gwen is very uncomfortable, but she responds as she picks up a few sheets and starts to lay them on the floor, "You have had too much cider, and you do not know of what you speak. I will fix you a spot on the floor. You must rest."
Lancelot collapses on the floor where the sheets are, and Gwen takes a deep breath.
Very early next morning, a well-rested Merlin whistles as he walks around the corner with a tray of food. Unbeknown to him, Gwen also turns the corner from the opposite direction and they bump into each other as they have done many times before when Gwen used to be a servant and Lady Morgana's personal maid.
"Merlin!" shouts Gwen as she struggles to help him hold onto the tray of food.
Impressively, Merlin manages to balance the food in his hand. "I'm so sorry, Gwen!" says Merlin with a chuckle.
With a sigh of relief, Gwen smiles. "No, I did not see you either."
A curious expression appears on Merlin's face. "I don't usually see you around this early in the castle. Not since..."
Gwen cuts in and speaks softly, "I slept in her old chambers."
"I did not know what else to do," Gwen says looking around, making sure no one else is in their presence. "Lancelot is in my home."
Merlin makes a curious face. "Lancelot?"
"He was drowning in cider last night and Elyan brought him to my home. I didn't know what to do, so I let him sleep on floor."
"And you slept in the castle?"
Merlin chuckles, "I don't see anything to be worried about, Gwen."
"Never mind, I'm being silly."
"What is it?"
"He was so drunk that he was showering me with compliments. I was very uncomfortable."
"I'm sure it was all that cider talking."
Merlin smiles and places a hand on her shoulder, "I'm sure he won't remember a thing of what happened when he wakes this morning."
Gwen smiles thankfully for having such a dear friend.
Moments later, Merlin arrives in Arthur's chambers with the tray of food. He looks around and finds Arthur sitting in a chair and looking out the window.
"Oh no," says Merlin, "what is it now?"
Arthur turns to his servant, "Must you speak to me that way? You do realize you're my servant, don't you?"
Merlin chuckles, "I'm sorry, sire. What's wrong?"
"What makes you think anything is wrong?" asks the prince and returns to staring out the window.
"I don't know, you have that pose, you know? The way you sit in that chair and look out the window. It's a sure sign of something being wrong."
Arthur shakes his head not wanting to talk about it. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Fine, I won't talk about it anymore. But..." stops Merlin as he sets the foot on the table.
"Did you speak with her?"
Clearly hurt and not able to articulate his feelings, he gets up from the chair. "I'm not hungry." With these words, Arthur exists his chambers leaving Merlin to wonder what had happened.
In the school on the lower tower of the castle, Gwen is tidying up the space as a few children and a couple of adults attend to their lessons. A surprise visit from Lancelot disrupts the class briefly. With a bright grin, he reveals the few wild flowers he had picked on his way to see her.
"Lancelot?" says Gwen in surprise. She asks her students to carry on and walks towards the exit. "What are you doing here?" she asks the knight as she looks at the flowers.
"A token of my gratitude for taking me in last night. You have a kind heart, Guinevere."
Though she remembers him call her by her full name in the past, it is now somehow very uncomfortable for her to hear it being uttered by his mouth. "Thank you, but I cannot accept your token."
Lancelot looks at them. "But why not? Are they not beautiful?"
Gwen notices something different about the knight. He seems quite adamant to make an impression. "They are very beautiful, but I do not think it's appropriate for me to accept such a token."
Lancelot's features soften and he smiles down at the woman. "How can you be so cruel, Guinevere? Do you not see my affection for you?"
Surprised, Gwen takes a step back. "Please do not do this."
Lancelot chuckles, "Do you forget how you once cared for me?"
This makes Gwen very uncomfortable that her heart begins to beat rapidly, "That was such a long time ago, Lancelot. And how dare you bring that up again in such a manner."
"If it is Arthur that you're worried about, do not worry. I have a plan. We can run away together."
"This is highly inappropriate!"
"Do not worry Guinevere, I will do whatever it takes for us to be together." With these words, Lancelot turns around and exits the hallway leaving Gwen shocked and confused.
Later that day, in the council room, Arthur and Uther consult with Geoffrey of Monmouth about the state of the kingdom. Along the side, a couple of trusted knights, including Leon are standing and observing the noblemen.
"We're definitely doing well, sire." Geoffrey addresses the king while Arthur stands off to the side. "The people of Camelot are thriving more than I've ever seen in the past twenty-some years."
Uther subtly smiles and nods. "Thank you, Geoffrey."
Geoffrey nods and takes his leave. The knights follow him, leaving father and son alone.
"It's all a credit to you, Arthur."
"What?" asks Arthur.
"It is because of your hard work, Arthur. You have shown great strength in the past year." Uther gets up from his seat and walks over to him. "I'm proud of you, my son."
Arthur is touched, but isn't sure how to accept his father's compliment. "I wish..." he continues, "I wish I was stronger, father."
"Your greatest strength is that you will fight for what you believe in and what is just."
Arthur wishes it was true of all things in his life.
Just then, abruptly, Sir Lancelot swings open the doors to the council room and with determination walks directly to Arthur. Leon hurries behind him.
"Lancelot!" he shouts as he grabs the knight by the arm.
Lancelot releases himself from Leon's grasp as two guards enter the room.
"What's the meaning of this?" shouts the king who is caught off guard.
Arthur isn't sure what to make of it either. "What's going on?"
The guards wrestle Lancelot to the ground.
"Sire," Leon explains, "Sir Lancelot just assaulted a guard outside."
Both Arthur and Uther are confused.
"What has gotten into you?" demands the king.
"Release her!" shouts Lancelot as he struggles to release himself from the guards.
"Release whom?" asks Uther as Arthur tries to make sense of the knight's comment.
The guards pull him up so that he is able to speak.
Hearing of the ruckus, Merlin rushes into the council room and stands by the entrance. "Oh no." he softly whispers to himself.
Lancelot looks directly at Arthur. "I'm here to challenge Arthur Pendragon."
"Challenge?" Uther is beyond confused. "What on earth is going on?"
Till now Arthur has stayed silent knowing very well what has made Lancelot react in this way. In fact, he wonders how he, himself, has been able to stay so calm. Love is a strange and powerful thing. And currently, it seems to have driven Sir Lancelot up the wall.
"What is your challenge, Lancelot?" asks Arthur calmly.
Uther turns to his son, "Arthur, you cannot encourage such a thing."
Lancelot speaks, "I challenge you, a fight to the death for the love of Guinevere."
Uther shakes his head, "This is ridiculous!"
"No, no, no, no. This is NOT happening." whispers Merlin to himself.
"Guards! Arrest this traitor!" shouts Uther.
"No!" responds Arthur.
"You cannot be serious, Arthur!"
Arthur takes a deep breath, looks into Lancelot's eyes and nods. "I accept your challenge."
"Arthur!" shouts the king.
"At noon tomorrow, we shall see who is worthy of her love," says Lancelot.
Uther commands the the guards one more time. "Arrest him at once!"
More guards enter the council room to assist with the task. As Lancelot is forced out of the space, Leon and Merlin look at each other puzzled at the sudden incident. Arthur moves to the table and contemplates his decision.
Uther looks at the two men near the entrance, "Leave us."
Leon and Merlin close the doors behind them.
"Arthur, you cannot accept his ridiculous challenge."
"I already have, father."
"Why? Camelot's survival is your sole responsibility. This can come to no good! Why on earth would you do such a thing?"
Arthur takes a moment and looks at his king, "Like you said, father. I must continue fighting for what I believe in."
With these words, Arthur turns on his heal and leaves the room.
Near the window, we see a familiar butterfly fluttering about.
Meanwhile, Morgana has been looking in on the incident through a bowl of water. "Perfect!" she laughs.
Morgause, from her chair in the back, "As you had hope."
"Of course," smirks Morgana. "Arthur has surely accepted his death, whether it is by heartbreak or by the end of a sword."
"The potion you slipped into Lancelot's drink will surely give him the strength to take on the task of beating Arthur," Morgause says with caution.
Later that day, Merlin paces in the physician's quarters as he contemplates on what he must do. "I have never seen Lancelot act this way. It is very peculiar!"
"Peculiar indeed," says Gaius as he sits in his chair.
"I spoke with him about Gwen just yesterday and he had no interest in pursuing anything."
"Then what on earth could've made him challenge Arthur?"
"Do you think..." asks Merlin.
"We can never rule out magic. If you remember, Merlin, King Alined's jester managed to pursuade Arthur he was in love with Vivian."
"Do you think it's a similar enchantment?"
"I must talk to Lancelot."
"No, it is Arthur that you must speak with, Merlin. Or someone who can convince him to stop this madness."
Merlin nods in agreement.
"But of course we have no proof that magic is involved and so you cannot tell Arthur."
"Arthur, you cannot go through with this," says his servant.
"I've already accepted the challenge, Merlin." The prince attends to some parchments in his chambers.
"Don't you think it very odd for Lancelot to behave this way?"
"We are both aware of his feelings for Gwen. And if he wants to fight me for it, then be it."
Merlin sighs. "Don't you think Gwen should have a say in this?"
"If Gwen feels the same way about Lancelot, then I shall, as difficult as it may be, let them run away together," the prince continues, "But he didn't ask me to let them run away together. He challenged me to fight him."
Arthur holds up his hand. "Nothing you say is going to convince me otherwise, Merlin."
Merlin sighs and leaves the chambers.
In the lower town, Elyan enters his sister's home and finds her by the stove cooking dinner.
Gwen smiles, "This is quite the surprise."
"Indeed," says her brother as he takes a seat by the table. "So..."
"So?" asks Gwen as she stirs the content of food near the stove.
"I will give you three guesses as to why I'm here right now."
"You missed your poor sister and wanted to visit?"
"I don't like guessing, Elyan. Come out with it."
"I'm here to enlighten you as to what's going on in town."
Gwen stops stirring and turns to her brother.
"Prince Arthur is to fight Lancelot tomorrow at noon... to the death."
Gwen gasps. "What?"
"Oh yes, and I hear it has something to do with you?" smirks Elyan.
"What?" asks Gwen again, unable to process any of what her brother had just uttered.
"It was all very sudden. Lancelot stormed in and challenged the prince."
Gwen places a hand on her chest to calm her nerves. "You're not joking, are you?"
Just then, Merlin storms in.
"Gwen!" he shouts as he looks around the door.
The young wizard observes the two people inside. "So it seems you've heard?"
"Yes, I have." she takes a seat opposite her brother, "I have just learned from my brother that two idiots are to fight each other."
Merlin sits by her. "You have to talk to them. You have to convince Arthur to stop."
Gwen is visibly shaking by the whole thing that she isn't thinking clearly. "No, I will not encourage their ridiculous behavior. If they want to kill each other over this, then be it! I obviously don't have a say in the whole matter, Merlin." She gets up from her seat, grabs her shawl and walks to the door. "I'm going for a walk."
Elyan and Merlin look at each other.
The next morning, the guards are ordered by Arthur to let Lancelot have his meals and practice for the big fight. Inside what looks like one of the tents just outside of the arena, Lancelot prepares himself by polishing his armor.
Just outside, Merlin arrives with a tray of food. He sees that the tent is heavily guarded with Camelot's best guards, making him realize the depth of the situation.
"Food for Lancelot," says Merlin, "under Prince Arthur's orders."
The guard nods and opens the tent.
"Lancelot!" says Merlin as he sets the tray on a table.
Seemingly unaffected by the situation, Lancelot smiles, "My friend, how good of you to visit."
"I came with food," he gestures at the tray.
"You don't have to do this."
"Do what?" asks Lancelot as he goes back to his sword.
"You don't have to fight Arthur."
"Of course, I do. It's to win the love of Guinevere."
Merlin takes a moment and asks cautiously, "Lancelot, what if Gwen doesn't feel the same way about you?"
To this Lancelot quickly looks up at Merlin and frowns. "What do you mean? Of course she feels the same way about me. She said so when I rescued her many moons ago."
"That was a very long time ago."
Lancelot isn't pleased with Merlin. With a challenging posture he stands up and steps closer to his friend. "No one is going to keep me from her. Not Arthur..." he continues looking directly at Merlin, "not even you."
"This is not the Lancelot I know," thinks Merlin as a concerned expression appears on his face. Lancelot walks around the young warlock and heads to the table, leaving Merlin to witness a lovely butterfly fluttering around the tent. Merlin has an odd sensation as he watches.
Lancelot breaks a piece of bread and starts to chew on it. "This time tomorrow, Guinevere and I will be off on our own. We will start a new life together up north."
Merlin realizes that Lancelot is definitely not himself. He turns around and decides to give him a dose of reality. "You and I both know that if you harm Prince Arthur, Uther will never let you go free."
Lancelot turns to the young man.
"And you also know that Arthur's feelings for Gwen are true and he'll do anything for her. Also..." he stops.
"Also, what?" asks a frowning Lancelot.
"Also," continues Merlin as he keeps a keen eye on the butterfly. "Also, I believe Gwen's heart is already taken." He looks directly at Lancelot, "by Arthur."
Out of character, Lancelot forces himself onto Merlin and pushes him to the table, "No! Do NOT say such things in my presence!"
The knight lets the young man go, but Merlin is very shocked and surprised at his friend's behavior.
"I will prove you wrong." says Lancelot as he goes back to his food.
Merlin looks down and sees that Lancelot's abrupt behavior had injured the butterfly and is now laying on the table. He looks up at the knight and decides that no matter what he says, Lancelot will not snap out of it. And so he discreetly takes the injured butterfly in his hand and takes his leave. He walks out of the tent, a couple of feet away from the guards and opens his palm and witnesses the last breath of the little creature.
Back in Cenred's kingdom, Morgana is furious when the image on her bowl of water disappears. The final image of Merlin's face makes it worse and so she throws her hands in the air, "Argh! Merlin!" She takes a deep breath.
Closer to noon, a young boy holds up his hand to get Gwen's attention. "It is almost noon."
Gwen turns to her student. "Yes, it almost is, Benny. Thank you for reminding us."
"But the prince of Camelot is to fight Sir Lancelot. Can we be excused?"
"Yes, ma'am. Please can we be excused?" asks another little boy.
Gwen sighs. "Fine. I supposed you will think of nothing else."
The boys grin and hurry to the exit. "Aren't you coming?" asks Benny.
"No, you go ahead. I have lots to do here." Gwen says.
"This is ridiculous," says Uther to Geoffrey, who is standing beside the king. "If Arthur is hurt in anyway, I want Lancelot executed."
Geoffrey of Monmouth leans in, "But sire, the rules of the fight have been already agreed upon."
"I do not care!" shouts Uther as he waits for his son to arrive in the middle of the arena. "I will not encourage such behavior. This kingdom is at stake with such actions."
Arthur and Lancelot arrive in the middle of the arena.
Arthur looks directly at his once loyal knight. "This does not need to happen, Lancelot."
"But it does."
"As you wish."
Meanwhile, Merlin paces in Gaius' quarters as the physician examines the butterfly.
"Curious little creature," says the old man.
"It looks like magic," says Merlin.
Gaius looks at the dead butterfly with a magnifying glass. "There's a symbol on its wing."
Merlin rushes to the table. "What's it of?"
"It looks like a symbol of two snakes."
Gaius puts the magnifying glass down and looks up at Merlin. "In the old religion, it is also a symbol of sisters. Two sisters."
Merlin pushes himself off the table and takes a deep breath, "Morgana and Morgause."
"Only logical reason for Lancelot's behavior."
"They've enchanted him."
Gaius nods. "From what you've already told me, it seems whatever is enchanting him is also enhancing his feelings and making him stronger. Arthur will have no chance against him. You have to stop this fight, Merlin."
Merlin sighs and exits the quarters.
As he arrives in the arena, he sees that the fight has already begun. It seems the spectators aren't sure of whom to cheer as Arthur takes blow after blow from Lancelot. Merlin looks up at Uther who is furious and concerned for his son. Merlin then walks over to Gwaine who is watching by the sidelines.
"This is not good," says the knight to Merlin. "Not good at all."
"Tell me about it," says the young warlock.
"I've never seen Lancelot fight this way," says Gwaine, "he seems ruthless."
"This is not the Lancelot we know, Merlin."
Lancelot, in great form, swipes his sword from one side to the other. He pushes forward as Arthur tries very earnestly to block his strikes.
"Have you seen Gwen?" asks Merlin as he looks around.
Gwaine shakes his head, "No, I haven't."
The crowd is shocked at Lancelot's performance. Never have they seen someone fight with such determination.
Arthur realizes that he has had enough of defending himself and quickly switches his position so that he can have his own go at Lancelot. This makes Lancelot almost trip and gives Arthur an advantage that he quickly embraces and starts to strike at his opponent. They hear as time runs out for the first round. Arthur, assuming that Lancelot is also in agreement, stops striking at the knight and decides to take his leave until the second round. Unaware that Lancelot has his own agenda, he turns his back and is quickly attacked by the enchanted opponent. The sword pierces the side of Arthur's torso. Everyone, including the king, jump to their feet and gasp.
"No!" shouts Uther as the knights run to his aid and guards restrain the knight. Merlin also runs to the prince.
"Lancelot has broken the rules of the fight and will be punished!" shouts the king.
"No!" shouts Arthur. Seemingly able to stand on his feet, Arthur looks up at his father, "I will fight till the end."
Gaius is called upon. Realizing that only one person can talk some sense into Arthur, Merlin leaves his master with the knights of Camelot.
Back in the school. Gwen is sitting on a bench looking down at her hands. She seems to nervously rub them together when Merlin rushes in.
"Gwen!" shouts Merlin.
Gwen looks up and sees a worried young man. "What is it?" says the woman as she stands up.
"You have to go to Arthur."
"Is he alright?" asks the woman.
"He is badly injured, but Gaius thinks he will be fine."
Gwen softly gasps. "Why would Lancelot do this?" she cries.
"He has been enchanted by Morgana."
"Again? Why? Why does she want to harm us?"
"I have a feeling it's because she has seen the future," says Merlin with certainty.
"The future?" asks a confused Gwen.
"You have to stop running from your destiny, Gwen."
"What do you mean?"
"I know you love Arthur. Everyone knows it. Why can't you just accept it?"
She looks down at her shaking hands again, "I don't want to hold him back."
Merlin places a hand on her shoulder, "The only thing holding Arthur back is not having you beside him right now."
Gwen looks up at her dear friend. Realizing that he speaks the truth, she nods.
Back in Arthur's tent, Gwen arrives to an injured Arthur, being cared for by Leon, Gwaine and Gaius. With his armor removed, he is heavily bandaged around his lower torso with traces of blood on the back.
"Arthur!" shouts Gwen as she runs to him.
"Guinevere?" says Arthur in surprise.
The old physician, Leon and Gwaine leave the tent.
Gwen kneels down in front of the prince and very lightly touches his side. "You're terribly hurt."
Back in Lancelot's tent, surge of hatred towards Arthur and love towards Gwen makes Lancelot knock out one of the guards and sneak out of the tent.
Outside, Merlin keenly watches in on Arthur and Gwen through the crack on the tent.
Tears start to flow down Gwen's face as she continues to take in Arthur's injured body.
"Why do you cry?" asks the prince.
Gwen shakes her head, "Do you not know?"
Gwen gets on her feet and sits down beside the prince on the bench. She places her hand on the side of his face and traces his jawline. "How much I love you."
Arthur is surprised. He had almost given up hope that she cared for him. "I thought, that seeing Lancelot may have brought back past feelings."
Gwen shakes her head, "What happened with Lancelot all those years ago was a result of thinking I was going to die alone. You told me there was no future for us. I had given up hope."
"I thought..." says Arthur.
"I love you more than any man, Arthur Pendragon."
"Guinevere," says Arthur.
"Thoughts of you alone cloud my mind. I haven't been able to sleep or eat the past few days."
A smile appears on Arthur face. "I love you, Guinevere. I will always love you."
Gwen smiles through her tears and leans forward to give her prince a kiss.
As they part slightly, the prince softly asks, "When it is time, will you be my queen?"
"Of course, I will," says Gwen joyously and leans forward again to kiss her future king.
A smile appears on Merlin's face, but the sound of metal hitting the ground makes him quickly turn around and see Lancelot. His face flushed, as if he had just seen a ghost, Lancelot takes a few steps back.
"Lancelot?" says Merlin, wondering what was going on.
"What have I done?"
Merlin realizes that he wasn't the only one to witness Arthur and Gwen just moments ago. "What do you mean?"
Lancelot looks around. "I was coming here... to kill him."
Merlin realizes that witnessing Arthur and Gwen may have just released Lancelot from the enchantment. "You weren't going to kill him."
Lancelot nods, "I was. I was going to kill the prince of Camelot."
Merlin shakes his head and steps closer, "You were enchanted."
Lancelot shakes his head rapidly, "Everything is messed up. I cannot believe I tried to fight the prince."
"You were enchanted by Morgana. Everyone will understand... especially Arthur and Gwen. All that matters is that you're back."
Just then, realizing that Lancelot had released himself from the tent, guards arrive at the scene and restrain the knight.
"I promise you, it'll be alright." says Merlin.
Showing no defiance, Lancelot lets himself be dragged off by the guards.
A day later, back in Cenred's kingdom, Morgana arrives in Morgause's chambers.
"You wanted to see me, sister?"
Morgause looks up from her seat. "Yes."
King Lot's trusted servant, Emer, emerges from the shadows.
"What's going on?" asks Morgana as she looks at Emer and back at her sister.
"I have decided to take up King Lot's offer, sister."
"I will be leaving for his kingdom soon."
"But..." says Morgana unpleased with the news.
"You're welcome to join me."
"You can't go," she panics. "Is it because I failed?"
Morgause sighs, "No sister, I'm leaving because I'm seeking a cure for my current state," she looks down at her legs.
Morgana looks at a stoic Emer and back at her sister uncertain of what this means for her future.
Back in Camelot, Lancelot arrives in the throne room before the king of Camelot, and his son, Arthur, to explain his actions.
"I'm here sire, to ask for your forgiveness." says Lancelot as he bows before the king.
"We know that you were enchanted," says the king without looking directly at the knight. "It is our understanding that you had no control over your actions."
Merlin stands by Gaius near the window as Arthur stands beside his father. A few feet away, Gwen is seen observing.
"Yes, you're not to be blamed," says Arthur.
"But I cannot help but be embarrassed," says Lancelot looking pale.
"Father and I have discussed it and we have decided to overlook what happened the past couple of days."
Lancelot nods, "It is very kind of you, but..." his voice trails.
Gwen, Arthur and Merlin watch with concern.
"I have wronged so many," says Lancelot as he subtly looks at Gwen and Merlin.
"But you're forgiven," exclaims Arthur.
Lancelot shakes his head, "But I do no forgive myself, my lord."
"What are you trying to say, Lancelot?" asks the king.
Merlin is afraid of what the knight is about to utter.
"I have decided to leave Camelot."
"Leave Camelot?" asks Arthur as he steps a bit closer.
Lancelot nods, "Yes, sire. I do not believe I belong here right now. Especially after what has happened."
Uther says dryly, "You realize this means you'll be giving up your knighthood?"
Lancelot nods again, "Yes, my lord."
Gwen, Merlin, Gaius, Leon and his fellow knights are all shocked to hear this.
"But..." says the prince.
"Please, sire. Let me leave," says Lancelot.
Merlin realizes that Lancelot's embarrassment is so much that he is unable to look at people directly. Especially Arthur, Gwen, and Merlin himself.
"Of course, we can't force you to stay," says the king.
Believing this to be the king's approval, Lancelot nods. "Thank you, my lord."
Unhappy with the outcome, both Merlin and Arthur sigh in unison.
Moments later, Lancelot is seen in the courtyard bidding farewell to his friends, Merlin and Percival.
Percival pulls his friend and gives him a manly hug, "I hope you return, my friend."
Lancelot subtly smiles as they release each other. "Take good care of this kingdom."
Percival nods and steps aside for Merlin to have his turn.
Up on the roof of the castle, Arthur watches the scene down below. Gwen joins him.
"There you are," she says as she walks up to him.
Arthur smiles, takes her hand and looks back down at the lower tower.
"Camelot's losing a very good knight."
Arthur nods in agreement. "He refuses to stay."
"I don't blame him actually," says Gwen as Arthur puts his arm around her shoulder. "But maybe he'll return one day."
"If he does," nods Arthur, "I promise he'll have his knighthood back."
Gwen smiles up at Arthur as he gives her a kiss on her temple.
Back in the courtyard, Merlin releases Lancelot from a warm and friendly hug.
"I wish you'd change your mind."
Lancelot shakes his head, "I've always wanted to be a knight, but I can't stay after what has happened."
"Everyone forgives you, Lancelot." says the young warlock.
"I know, but I need to spend some time alone and figure things out."
Merlin nods. "I understand."
Lancelot looks up and sees Arthur and Gwen looking down at him and Merlin. He nods at them courteously and speaks softly to Merlin, "Take good care of them, will you? They're destined to be the best rulers Camelot has ever known."
A subtle smile appears on Merlin's face as he realizes that the man standing before him is the only person besides Gaius that truly knows Merlin's role in Camelot.
Lancelot looks back at Merlin and pats him on the shoulder, "Take care, my friend."
With a bit of sadness, Merlin nods and watches as Lancelot mounts his horse and starts to gallup away.
From behind him, Gaius arrives and stands next to Merlin. "It's such a pity to lose someone like Lancelot."
"All thanks to Morgana," says Merlin with a disgusted expression.
"I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of her yet," says Gaius as he turns to the young warlock.
Scene fades on a concerned Merlin.
End Notes: I cannot apologize enough for taking so long to update. What's my excuse this time? Well, the PC laptop that was giving trouble the last time decided to crash on me. And to make matters worse, I hadn't backed up the second segment of this episode. Good news: I only had half of the chapter written. Bad News: I had half of the chapter written. I admit, it was very discouraging to lose all that dialogue. I'm still a bit bummed, but managed to re-write the story and hope you find it enjoyable. I don't deserve reviews after having made you wait for so long, but if you were to leave one... I'd be thrilled.
Next episode will consist of all the main characters. Mainly centering on Merlin and his secret.
Thank you so much for your reviews and support. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.