An: This idea came to me not too long ago, and I was really too interested in it to leave it alone. This situation gave me the chance to mix in elements of the show along with the original legend and really, who couldn't resist? I would really appreciate any input you can give me on this. Thank you!
Disclaimer: I own nothing. BBC and Syfy own "Merlin".
Guinevere couldn't remember a time when her father didn't have a far off look in his eye whenever her mother was brought up. For the youngest child of Sir Tom and Lady Anice Thomas, this was a frustrating predicament. Being a five year old, there was nothing but excitement and happiness in her life and she expected everyone in the castle to follow suit. But every year on her birthday her father would become sullen and withdrawn, even to his own children. This clearly made no sense to her as her birthday was one of the best days of the year, and she thought that everyone else thought of it in the same way as she did. She had asked Elyan about her father's behavior but he had only ignored her, like he did for everything else involving her. She just chalked up her brother's behavior to his gender, and that all boys had mud for brains. Or at least, that was what Cook's daughter had told her.
She had wracked her mind the entire night to try to find a way to cheer up her father, and had only come across an answer long after her normal bedtime. Flowers! Who didn't love flowers? Fresh cut blossoms always made her feel better after a scraped knee or an argument with her brother. It was that idea that led to Gwen hesitating outside of her father's chamber door, clutching a bunch of wildflowers in one fist.
It had been easy enough to convince Batilda, her nurse, to accompany her on her little expedition, especially as it was her birthday. Batilda was her best friend, apart from Cook's daughter. But even Batilda wasn't privy to her little plan; this was between herself and her father.
She placed herself up onto the tips of her toes to knock her small fist against her father's door. She rearranged the flowers in her other hand before brushing back a stray curl as she heard the heavy scrape of the chair her father must have been sitting in. A second later the door opened, revealing a tired looking Sir Thomas. He stared blearily down at his youngest child before hastily dragging a hand over his eyes to wipe any traces of his fatigue from it.
"Gwen...what is it?" he asked, refocusing in on his child after he had rubbed his eyes. He knelt down onto his knees to be at her eye level.
She wordlessly smiled and thrust the bouquet into his face. "I've picked these for you!" she exclaimed, waving them under his nose for good effect. She was too caught up in her own excitement to see her father lean back slightly to avoid having flowers pelt him in the face. He found a shadow of a smile flit onto his face at the sight of his only daughter. "They're beautiful Guinevere, " he commented, patting her curls as she beamed at him.
"You seemed so sad today Papa... But these will help, won't they? Flowers always make me feel better." Her smile faltered as she continued to wait for her father's reaction. With a heavy sigh he lifted her into his arms, flowers and all, before retreating to his chambers. The young girl clutched tightly to him before nestling her head against his neck, as she often did when he held her.
"I'd like to tell you a story, Gwen. About a brave knight and a beautiful damsel...Would you like that?" He settled himself into his vacated chair by the fire before placing her on his lap. She nodded against his neck, settling in to listen to the story of Sir Thomas and the lovely Lady Anice.
Her young mind would often go back to that moment when she missed her father most. It was her own personal way to cope with her father's extended absences fighting for the King. Camelot, her father had explained, was the most noble kingdom in all of Albion. Whenever she complained about his absence he would remind her that his role as a knight to King Uther was one of the most coveted positions in the kingdom. Uther was the one who had bequeathed her father with his land and title. Uther was the reason that she and her family lived such an indulgent life compared to the farmers in their fields. The king trusted her father to such an extent that he had awarded Thomas the important position as border guard against King Cenred's kingdom. The family's castle rested not too far from the border, close enough that her father could put down any small invasion.
Elyan was just as obsessed with knighthood as her father was. When Gwen turned eight her brother became a page in service to their father. It was the first step toward knighthood and at thirteen, Elyan felt himself more than ready. Gwen, for her part, hated this new set up. Now in addition to not seeing her father often, she was left without her brother. She found herself actually missing him from time to time, which she found odd as she was normally hoping that he would just leave her alone. He never wanted to play with her or go for walks in the gardens...he was useless.
Never had she thought of her father and brother being in actual danger. It simply hadn't crossed her mind. The two of them looked so brave and strong setting out that February morning that she had simply assumed them to return the same way in a few weeks time.
It was a mere week and a half later that she was woken in the early hours of the morning by Batilda. Blearily the young girl wiped at her eyes before attempting to burrow farther into her assortment of blankets. Batilda must have gotten the time mixed up...it was much too early to waken now. Again she was accosted by her nurse's shaking hands.
"My lady! Please, you must dress now!"
The urgent tone in the older woman's voice caused Gwen to sit up sharply. She blinked a few times to adjust her eyesight in the dimly lit room.
"What tis' it Batilda?" she murmured, reaching up with both fists to rub the remnants of sleep from her eyes. The nurse assisted her out of the bed before quickly pulling a gown over her sleeping shift. "There is no time for explanations, my lady," the woman insisted as she laced Gwen into her gown. She haphazardly placed a cloak over her charge's shoulders before tying back the girl's curls with a ribbon.
A feeling of dread entered her heart.
"What happened?" she repeated, growing angry that the woman was not telling her. Obviously it was important by her nurse's actions. She could hear heavy footsteps thundering up and down the hall along with worried voices. She slipped into her shoes as she watched Batilda run around the room, placing various objects into a satchel. Without a word she grabbed the girl's hand and began to hurry into the hallway.
She had seemingly stepped into a different world. The corridor was crowded with servants rushing back and forth, some with tears streaming from their eyes. An anguished cry of a woman resounded across the stone walls causing Gwen to shudder. Batilda tugged her along as the two dodged running servants and agitated looking guards. Guinevere seemed unable to shut out the scared voices and running footsteps as the very world around her seemed to slide into doomsday.
She was raised into the air by a pair of strong hands suddenly, causing her to cry out in alarm. It was only when she recognized the face as one of her father's guards did she calm somewhat. The man knocked aside a half open door to expose the courtyard. Already members of her father's guard were mounted on their horses, a few with their swords out. She was placed into another guard's arms, although this one was already astride his horse. Without a word the group began to exit the courtyard, clattering over the drawbridge before taking off at a gallop toward the western wood. With wide eyes she watched as a troop of her father's men forged their way through the forest path, guided only by the light of the moon and a few torches.
It was only now that she found her voice.
She craned her neck to see who exactly she was sitting in front of, recognizing it to be Gregory. She had known this particular guard since her birth and had heard on more than one occasion that had Gregory been born into the nobility, her father would have taken him on as his own page. "Where are we going? What has happened?" she asked, her voice sounding small in the night air. She found tears beginning to pool in her eyes. Where was Batilda? Elyan?
"Where is my father?"
She heard the guard let out a long breath.
"I'm so sorry milady," was all he answered as he spurred their horse onward.
It was hours later that the small group stopped beside a stream for a few moments of rest. Batilda was there to greet her, having rode farther behind the group. And it was there as her nurse bathed her charge's face that she found out that both her father and brother were dead.
She was no longer safe without them.
She was to be transported to Camelot, to become a ward of the King.