AN: Beta-ed by the awesome Guardian Izz. She has been such a great help with this entire story and I really don't think I would have been able to finish this without her. She edited this chapter largely as I am a bit awkward with intimate scenes. You should have seen this before she stepped in...
But anyway, I have never finished a full length fic before and I'm rather excited. Thank you all for sticking with me, and I hope you follow me onto "The Wife". The first chapter of that should be posted in three weeks, and will be posted on Fridays as this has been.
As you can see I updated this to "M", and "The Wife" will also have that rating.
Disclaimer: The BBC owns "Merlin".
The bride felt as if the castle walls were shaking around her as her childhood nurse led her through the corridors from the great hall. Her ladies trailed behind her, as did some of the highest ranking women of the court. She could still hear the sounds of the revelers reverberating in her head as the small group began the path to her new bridal chambers. Why wasn't the ground beneath her staying still? She looked down at the hem of her beautiful wedding gown seeing the satin line of the fabric dance around her shaking legs. She could have laughed at her own stupidity; her shaking was causing her to feel as if the very world was jumping up and down. Yet her moment of amusement was quickly banished as they approached the chamber door.
Guinevere held onto the Batilda's arm for support in order to keep herself from falling.
The nurse pushed open the door before ushering her former charge inside. The chambers that she was to share with Arthur had been finished only the week earlier. The king's stone-cutters had been hard at work engraving the two initials into the mantle and various other places about the room. She had run her fingertips over the raised letters the first time she had seen them, thinking of the well worn 'U' and 'I' that still adorned Uther's chambers.
The pair each had their own receiving room, sitting room, and bathing chamber. The sitting rooms were connected by their bed chamber.
There was little conversation to be had as Batilda and some of the other ladies helped her from her elaborate silks into a nightgown.
It was recently finished by the castle's seamstresses, with a decorative lacing sewn at the neckline. Gwen shrugged on a dressing robe before placing herself on a chair near the fire, her hands in her lap. Holding back a sigh of relief at being clothed and not having to disrobe before all these strangers, she kept quiet to observe. She watched as the woman who had come to replace her mother nearly flew about the room, fluffing pillows and doing some last minute tidying.
The noblewomen whispered amongst themselves, a few of the more motherly ones coming over to gently brush her hair and give her words of encouragement.
Bedding ceremonies were common among noble marriages. The bride and groom would be led to their respective chambers to be dressed in their nightclothes before being presented to each other. What followed was normally a blessing by a priest, placing the two into bed, and leaving them to fulfill the marriage act. Or, in some cases, the highest ranking members of the court stuck around for the actual consummation, to make sure that the bride had been untouched at the time of her wedding.
She sincerely hoped that the ceremony would not include the second scenario.
Laughter could be heard from Arthur's sitting room, where no doubt the more drunken guests were teasing the Crown Prince. Noticeable even through the walls was the drunken giggle of his manservant; Merlin never could hold his liquor. Her cheeks, if possible, paled further. The door to the next room over opened yet, instead of seeing the men surrounding Arthur, she only saw the king and bishop leading the knight. He, too, was dressed in a heavy night robe.
The women quieted as the king approached them, the bishop already taking his station before the turned down bed.
"I thank you for your service to the Princess Guinevere," the king said, nodding to a few of the women in the room.
"Yet if you would please leave us, it would be greatly appreciated."
A few held barely hidden looks of surprise while the younger ones seemed a bit relieved. One by one they exited her room, Batilda hanging back a moment to embrace her now former charge.
"Just appearing willing and tw'ill be over soon," she whispered to her, pressing a kiss to her temple before leaving.
Gwen stood from her chair, reluctantly taking a step or two toward the king. He reached over with a fatherly hand, patting her head lightly before nodding to the bishop to begin.
Throughout the man's prayers Gwen chanced glances over at Arthur, to check his reaction. He seemed, surprisingly, emotionless as the bishop continued.
Who had been the one to suggest that the affair be more private than normally? Had it been the king, who knew her behavior by now? Or had it been the prince, who knew how timid she could be involving intimate matters?
Reluctantly she swung her legs into bed, taking up the right side while the blonde man took the left.
She bowed her head in thanks to the holy man who, after a nod from the king, left the three alone.
Uther observed the two that he had seen grow from children, smiling slightly.
"Goodnight," was all he said, taking a moment to squeeze Arthur's shoulder before following the bishop out.
Silence remained between the two for a few moments as they sat in the suddenly awkward bed.
Possibilities swam before her eyes. Perhaps Arthur would be too tired to do anything that night. Or maybe, like her, he would be too awkward to consummate the union. Of course having heard something of his reputation among ladies the prince would doubtfully reject a woman given to him. And if the rumors around court were true then he had nothing to be embarrassed about. She blushed at the very thought of his muscular body bare before her eyes.
"You look … wonderful," his remark came as a whisper. She jumped, having not realized that he had turned to her. There was some sort of recognition in his eye that she didn't understand. Of course she wouldn't; she hadn't known that he had seen her in her nightdress before, months earlier when he had gone to speak to her in the early morning.
"Thank you," she said, unsure of what to say in response to the awed twinkle in his blue eyes.
His sword-hardened hand reached for her as her eyes scanned the room for a reason to withdraw.
"It is terribly warm in here, isn't it?" she questioned, trying to keep her tone from sounding shrill as she threw back the blankets.
His hand caught empty air as she stood up from the bed, crossing the room to where a pitcher of ale had been set out for the two. She poured herself a goblet with trembling hands, wondering how she hadn't managed to spill any.
With a soft sigh he slipped from the bed, coming to join her and pouring himself a portion.
Gwen sipped from the goblet slowly and focused on the fireplace, watching the flames dancing in the hearth rather than those reflected in his eyes. His beautiful eyes were a feature she always admired growing up, but lately the emotions and intensity reflected in the pools of blue caused her to try to avoid them.
"The feast was a success. Your father seemed to have approved."
He didn't attempt to answer.
She took another sip of the wine, followed by another not looking up at him as he came closer.
She heard him sigh softly as he set down his goblet. "Guinevere..."
She closed her eyes for a second and took a deep breath as she reluctantly placed her own goblet next to his, finally lifting up her face to view him. He observed her features with such intensity that she couldn't look away. She couldn't even blink at the shimmer of tenderness in his eyes. Or was the candlelight playing tricks upon her?
His strong hand gently touched her cheek as he lowered his head to kiss her.
Again she felt that rush of something akin to excitement and fear run through her as his lips grazed hers, much as she had felt when he had first kissed her.
His other hand cradled the back of her head, and the feel of his palm buried in her curls was almost comforting. To her own surprise she felt her hands come to rest on his shoulders. It wasn't until she felt the back of her knees hit the edge of the four poster bed that she realized he had been walking her backwards all this time. She withdrew from his lips for a moment, a gasp escaping her as she thought that she would fall back.
For a minute he steadied her and the newlyweds held each other's gaze. In the next moment she felt his hands on her shoulders and then her silk robe slipped down her arms as it fell to the carpeted floor, the fabric pooling at her bare feet. His eyes ventured down as she was left standing in nothing but her ivory nightgown with her slim olive toned figure flashing through.
Her breathing quickened as the man deemed her husband gently lowered her backwards and observed how her dark curls covered the white sheets.
Something akin to panic settled within Gwen's stomach as she shyly watched him shed his own robe to the ground. Her cheeks grew warm as she took in his torso - bare to her for the first time. His skin paler than hers reflected the shadows, as their darkness caressed his muscular torso. She could not look away even if she tried.
"I am not made of glass," he teased softly leaning down to hover over her. He picked up one of her small hands in his before placing it on the planes of his chest, over his beating heart. It took her a moment before she found the will to move it. Her fingertips ghosted over his chest, marveling at the powerful strength she could almost feel within her husband as he brought his lips to hers once more, less gently this time. Vaguely she noted his hands running down her sides, she felt him tugging at her nightgown almost impatiently and then one of his palms was sliding up her leg, the fabric of her gown bunched up to her hips.
At first he moved his golden head and his lips were busy exploring her exposed neck, suckling and kissing her sensitive skin, sending trembles down her spine. She sighed softly, lifting her head to give him better access. Her hands, looking so small against his back, gripped him a bit tighter. Instantly shame washed over her. No man had seen her in such a state and to suddenly have someone see her like this made her feel as if she was doing something wrong. But then, he was her husband now and if anyone was allowed to see what lay beneath her clothing it was him; he was the only one.
He murmured something soothing against her skin but, caught up in her own anxiety, she failed to comprehend it.
His hands moved to untie the laces of her gown yet her own moved to stop him. The pair held each others' gazes for a moment: relinquished lust meeting apprehension. His blue eyes were so dark for a moment she did not recognize the prince she grew up with. He almost reminded her of an animal that she's once seen in dark woods at night. He looked on the verge of something, almost as if possessed until finally his gaze softened and she recognized the sapphire twinkle. Mercifully he left her upper half clothed.
Arthur's lips seemed to reluctantly move back to her neck and shoulders, running his hands up her sides. A growing excitement welled in her stomach. Was this what consummation felt like, like your husband's touch consumed your very being and left you breathless? Guinevere felt ashamed at the anxious feeling now rooted within her. As a lady she was always told how only loose women got to enjoy the touch of men, as these men were usually unfaithful husbands to their wives, who never got to experience how soft their spouses' hands could be. But here she was, his wife and yet his strong hands applied nothing but gentle caresses. And the force used only caused more trembling on her part.
Hovering above her his hand took hold of hers and guided it lower and lower still till it reached the v shaped line at his hipbone. Nervous but not completely oblivious she fumbled with the fastening of his trousers, hearing him chuckle against her skin. Determination filled her, as it often had during their childhood when he teased her, causing her to steel her fingers and successfully untie the laces.
The sensation of his lips on hers was something alike a drug, like wine, growing more potent and mind numbing over time. Confidence grew in her as she felt him begin to slide out of his pants feeling, for the first time, his bare legs against her own. Save for her wrinkled nightgown gathered at her hips they were fully naked.
Her hands grew more and more confident and threaded themselves through his hair.
The full length of his bare body pressed against hers and she felt his knee part her legs. Arthur looked down straight into her eyes. Not looking down she felt him now settle between her thighs, her nightgown pushed up a bit higher. His lips returned to hers, fully knowing that such a feeling was enough to distract her. Suddenly she could fully feel him against her, the hardness that Batilda faintly described was now pressed against her inner thigh.
His hands, surprisingly gentle, drifted over her fully covered breasts. The feeling itself was abnormal, as no male had done it before.
She felt herself stiffen, which alerted Arthur to her concern. "Shh, princess..." he soothed.
Her bravado drained out of her. Instantly she thought back to her talk with Morgana. The pain Morgana described. What's worse she could not imagine how he would fit and she dared not imagine, knowing that such detailed thoughts were sinful for a woman of her station. She would probably have to stay in bed the following day, unable to walk.
Arthur pulled back enough to observe her, holding her face in his hands as they locked gazes. She trusted Arthur but feared her husband and now they were one and the same man.
"I...I'm sorry for the pain," he apologized, pushing back her curls in a soothing matter. She wordlessly nodded, closing her eyes tightly. His lips dipped down to hers in an attempt to distract her. Yet the odd feeling of being entered wasn't something that could be easily disguised, even by his passionate kisses.
He settled one of his hands on her hip and with his lips still pressed against her own with one swift motion he broke through her hymen and took her virginity.
"Mhm!" She stiffened at the sensation, biting back a cry at the ensuing pain. His hands smoothed her sides, her shoulders in an attempt to bring comfort to her. The stinging pain did not block out the feeling of him rooted inside of her, especially when he resumed his movements.
His head now settled near her neck, sucking and kissing her olive toned skin. Guinevere could hear his hard breathing settling an even pace, almost as if he was running. His hands gripped her hips and waist holding her in place as he then buried his head in her hair spilled across the pillows.
Despite their ardent kissing she couldn't help but think how embarrassing this actually was. She could feel their sweat mixing between their bodies and all she wanted was to desperately clean herself. Questions filled her mind. Vaguely she began to wonder when it would be over. Hadn't he satisfied his pleasures yet?
Slowly the feeling of pain lessened despite his continuous movements above her. She tried to think of anything but what was happening but when one of his hands came to once again fumble with her breast her grip on his back tightened and she pulled herself even closer to him. Her chest pressed against his own; their hearts beating together.
By impulse Guinevere hooked one of her legs around hip and in response he took a hold of her thigh and held onto it as he quickened his movements, now almost frantic. It felt as if he was trying to reach for something but she did not understand what that was. The movement seemed much more comfortable this way, even better. Then he was hovering above her again but what she saw frightened her. His eyes were darker than before and he was breathing harshly. His repetitive movements became harder with each stroke, and she shut her eyes and rolled her head backwards.
The stinging returned but the pain was different, it felt as if something was building up inside of her. Was it pleasure?But as quickly as that moment of enjoyment appeared, it was extinguished as with two final strokes she felt him reach his stiffen and spill his seed within her womb. Her eyes flew open at the sensation of it and for a second Guinevere felt as if they were one whole…
She felt used, flushed and exhausted as he rested on top of her, his hands still on her hips. Gwen stiffened at the feeling of him extracting himself. Arthur touched his forehead to hers, both of them covered in a slight sheen of perspiration. He lay next to her and his hands came to touch hers playing with her fingers.
"Are you alright?" he asked quietly, the room suddenly silent except for the crackling of the fire.
She quietly assessed her body, nodding after a moment. "I think so." No longer afraid but still apprehensive she did not dare to look him in the eye. Guinevere went to move her hips, wincing at the movement.
Well, maybe not.
He smiled gently, carefully pulling her closer to him once he had reclined against the bed. Arthur stroked her hair to comfort her as Gwen rested her head against his chest.
Their intimacy was undeniable. She expected it to be a stiff quick coupling but this night was nothing like she had anticipated. Would it still be possible to go back to being friends after this?
Well, at least the consummation was completed and it would probably not happen again for some time. There were so many noblewomen that sought his attentions daily. If anything they would be more skillful bed partners compared to her clumsy approach. Yet those fleeting moments of enjoyment- it had to have been pleasure- confused her. Would she feel that every time? Was that what he felt? Abashedly she wondered if it would last longer next time for her.
Guinevere was well aware of the prince's past indiscretions. She knew that the devotion her parents had shared was rare and did not expect Arthur to be faithful; in fact she expected the opposite. She only hoped that he would keep a compassionate regard for her and that they remained companions throughout their marriage. Yet she could not help but feel melancholic at the thought of this fate. A marriage based on friendship was better than the contempt, which Morgana shared with her spouse, but still it was not the same as a marriage filled with love.
As she drifted of Guinevere failed to see the faint wistful smile on her husband's face as he wrapped his arms tightly around her fragile body.