Dawn of Golden
Disclaimer: I disclaim. Merlin belongs to BBC/Shine.
Genre: Cannon 4.03 scene extender
Spoilers: has spoilers for ep 4.03 and before
Characters: Guinevere, Arthur, Merlin
Author's Note: This is a one parter. Please be warned if you haven't seen the episode yet. Parts of this were written for/inspired by a friend's commentary on the ep.
It is the balcony between the two highest towers she finds him. He sits silently with his boots hung over the lower edge, his back supported by the wall. A few tears trail his cheeks. For a moment she remembers her place and his. That should make this simple. Leave him alone. He is king now and no matter what temporary position she might hold in the palace she is still a servant not bred in nobility's ways. If she departs now he won't even know she was here.
But she loves him and so his tears clench her heart and his fallen face burns away her thought about departure. Leaving the inner palace, she walks across the stone, coming to where he sits.
For a long time she's called him that. It feels strange now that they have kissed, but he is her king after all, not just her prince, but the supreme ruler of Camelot.
Brushing away his tears rapidly at the intrusion, the familiar voice makes Arthur look up. Her face is lined with emotion and yet her voice emits full protocol. Arthur starts to jump to his feet. "Guinevere…"
She stops him, putting her hand on her king's shoulder. "No, don't get up. You don't need to…Sire."
Arthur's eyes roll as he grasps her hand. "Fine. I won't. If you would stop calling me Sire. Guinevere…I may be King now, but I'm still a man."
She allows her hand to be pulled, feeling it bring her to sit beside him. "I know." She whispers softly, brushing away the last tear he missed with her fingertip. She clasps his cheek gently with her hands, seeing the pain that couldn't come out at his coronation, now exposed.
Arthur lets out a long contained sigh, finding the pillow of Guinevere's shoulder, using it as his cushion.
Gwen's hand comes up over his back, presses against the brown jacket he wears over his white tunic. She rubs as comfortingly she can.
Arthur closes his eyes, breathing heavily at the peace she is attempting to instill him with.
After a few moments of this she feels his head lift. His eyes have more wetness around the blue orbs. "Arthur…" She murmurs softly, touching his cheek again.
He nods, looking beyond the dark curls of her hair. Arthur takes in the nighttime setting, the surrounding hills and lower lands of houses, farms and market areas that envelope the palace. Camelot. Now entirely his Camelot. "My father used to bring me up here. When I was very young."
Gwen's hand moves against his knee. The blue cloth of her dress brushes over the edge of his brown trousers. Her dark eyes fix tenderly, giving on her king's face.
She's his attentive listener. Arthur continues. "I sometimes had nightmares. They were about my mother, but I don't really remember much more than shouting and my father waking me. Often he'd take me up here. He said he liked how you could see all of Camelot."
Gwen smiles softly, but says nothing. He is right though. The view is stunning, displaying all the beauty of the kingdom.
"We'd just sit together, like you and I are now. And sometimes we'd talk. My father didn't really…show a lot of emotion. But he'd sometimes clasp my shoulder, give me a supportive look. And he'd…"
His voice is starting to break. Gwen runs her hand over his back.
Arthur closes his eyes tightly. His breath comes out, hard, fast. "They're all looking to me to be king now. All those people who live on the hillsides, down in the valleys, and within the gates. Every noble in this palace expects it of me, but Guinevere I don't know. I don't know if I can be the kind of king he was."
The words of instinct are fast in her mind, but she tempers them.
King Uther was one of her least favorite people for painful reasons. But she never hesitated to care for him after his breakdown. She did it all for Arthur.
Although Uther's death does not grievously sadden her heart, it is shattering his. And that pains her. "You will be your own kind of king, Arthur. You cannot be your father and should not try to be. You are different from him."
Arthur counters a bit forcefully. "I am what I am because of him Guinevere. My father is the one who taught me all I know about being king. I want to make him proud. I don't want to make changes that ruin what my father accomplished."
Gwen squeezes his hand. "He was your father. Of course you learned much from him. But beyond, you must not be afraid to be your own person Arthur. I took care of your father…for you. I am sorry. I cannot lie. I was not fond of him. But I love you for all you are. And as you hurt now, I hurt with you. I understand this happened sooner than you wanted. But I have no doubt you will be an honorable grand king."
Arthur leans into the hug that grasps his shoulders now. He falls against the hold of the woman he loves. Or maybe it's more into that hold. The warmth of her body pressed upon him is the strongest comfort. "I love you too Guinevere. Soon you'll be my queen."
She moves back, a bit startled by the words.
He smiles bravely. "Don't be so surprised. You know you're the only one who could be it. My uncle, by the way, is impressed by you."
She stills at that, slightly disturbed.
"What is it?"
She shakes her head. There is something that takes her off center with Agravaine, but he is Arthur's uncle. And Arthur has enough to deal with already. This is not the time. "No. I'm just surprised he's said that."
Arthur still stares.
Gwen moves her head, presses her lips intimately against his, cutting off any misgiving feelings he might have. Her hand moves over his heart. Tenderly she whispers, "You should be sleeping Arthur. It is late. The day has been long. And you barely slept last night."
Arthur frowns, catching the hand against his heart and bringing it in more firmly to come against the opening of his tunic. Feeling her hand actually graze his skin warms him intensely. "How would you know that?'
She bites her lip gently. "Did you think it was only Merlin watching for you? I didn't want to disturb you both, but I waited beyond the door. I could not go back to my home knowing you were in such pain. I had to watch until you came out."
The first fraction of a smile comes upon his face, lessening the anguished pout of blood rushed lips. "You stayed?"
"Yes." She feels the touching pressure of his lips against her own. Quietly there, simply grateful.
After, Arthur leans against the stone column, looking up at the late night sky, asking, "Will you stay with me now?"
She frowns slightly.
He gestures around. "I don't want to go back in. That used to happen to me too when I would have the dreams. One night when I felt I couldn't go back in, my father stayed with me up here. He sat with me and I must have fallen asleep because I woke with my head on his lap. He held me there steadily. It was the most love my father ever gave me."
She feels her throat constrict. "Arthur…"
He puts up his hand, stopping her. "I know what is said about him sometimes. He was respected, yes. But sometimes seen as cold, uncaring. He had to be distant sometimes. He was king. You were right. I don't think I will rule exactly as how he did. But I learned many lessons from him Guinevere whether directly or indirectly. And I will miss him greatly.
I already do."
She gently kisses him above his brow, similar to how he kissed his father before he left him to his end of life. She doesn't comment on his defenses of his father. "You wouldn't be more comfortable in your bed?"
Arthur shakes his head rapidly, not bringing up what she didn't comment on. He truly believes his father was a good man. But sadly sometimes he let his hatred of magic enforce decisions that affected others, including Guinevere, badly. While trying to protect those he loved, or the kingdom, or simply his belief in nobility superseding those of less privilege, his father inflicted unfair harm.
"I can't sleep in it. The castle has echoes of his voice. But they're fading already and I can't believe one day they will be entirely gone. I can't imagine going into the council hall without him there. His throne, empty. Now I will have to sit in it. The tread of his boots, ones I could perfectly identify, no longer there."
His look is pleading.
"I can't go back in there Guinevere. Not tonight.
I have to stay here. And normally I would want to be alone, but I'd be grateful if you'd stay too. I know I'm asking a lot. That you are probably tired and would like to go home to your bed-
Her fingers press his lips before he can say more. Looking him squarely in the eye she shakes her head. "You are not asking too much. I want to stay with you. I could not be with you last night. You needed that time alone with your father, but to be with you now…I want that."
He moves his forehead against hers, the thinness of his sanding golden hair brushing the coarseness of her thick dark curls. They scratch against his skin just slightly, a temporary irritation that is also shielding comfort. Then lowering his head a little further, he lifts her chin to clasp her mouth against his. He kisses her slowly with want and need.
The taste of him is a tad bitter and she realizes some of the tears have leaked to his lips. And yet it is so intimate, beyond just a king that she holds him tightly within her fingers grasp, clutching at the shoulder of his tunic and the supple strands of his hair.
He ends the kiss tiredly, feeling her hands on his cheeks with comfort and protection. Arthur leans against her for a second and then sits back against the wall.
Gwen brings her head against his heart, her fingers gently going within his tunic to warm his skin at his heart. The position is a little awkward. The night has a strong chill. The moon is blurred by thickened clouds. And the balcony simply is no bed. But it doesn't matter. With each other there is an intimate spark that fills their bodies. The closeness takes over every inadequacy.
Many hours later, night quietly turns into dawn. Footsteps waken Gwen. She looks up rapidly as they have yet to alert the king.
"Sorry. I was looking for him and I saw the shadow of you two. I can go now though."
Gwen smiles, not as bashful as she would have been years ago. "Merlin, don't be silly. You were coming to waken him?"
The servant nods his head. He wants to be happy that Arthur truly is king, but the circumstances surrounding it are far from joyous. He can't help but feel guilty for what happened with Uther. Yes, Morgana countered his healing attempt it seems, but he failed with her years ago when he had to make her drink that poison and now…now Arthur hates magic. If Arthur knew him to be the sorcerer, he'd probably hate him too. Yesterday Arthur called Merlin his friend, so sincere about it. But if he knew the truth...
A hand comes up against his hanging one. Merlin stares at it.
Gwen looks up to him worriedly. "Are you all right Merlin? You seem very disturbed by something."
Merlin looks down at the sleeping form of his master…his… "Arthur called me his friend yesterday."
Gwen smiles, speaking easily and honestly. "Well you are his friend, are you not? When you first came I wasn't sure if you'd be like the rest. But the more I got to know you, I thought you'd get past it. And you have. You've seen Arthur's heart."
Merlin smiles. "I remember you telling me once he was the manly muscled type, not yours. That's changed."
Gwen blushes slightly now, stroking the hair of the man she loves idly. "I guess I didn't dare hope then. And besides, he was a little bullyish then. He's gotten better."
Merlin chuckles strongly. Enough to wake up the king.
"Merlin, is that you? Quiet it down, will you. Ah, irritating sound of your laughter, but my this pillow is quite comfort-
The king's eyes open finally. An amused lanky Merlin is grinning above him and so close to his face he can feel her every feature if he wants, is his someday queen. "Guinevere. Merlin?"
Gwen laughs softly. "Remember, we stayed here last night?"
Becoming more aware of his surroundings on another new day, Arthur nods his head. "Yes, well…"
Merlin decides to save face as Arthur is looking a bit confused, bedraggled, and bed-haired, with some of those strands sticking straight awkwardly up. "I'll get breakfast ready since I don't have to make your bed. Thanks Arthur, one less dull-some chore to do."
Arthur's eyebrows raise slightly. "Ahem."
"I'm king now Merlin, remember?"
"Eh, you don't look much like one right now."
Arthur rolls his eyes and Gwen snickers.
"Even a bit like a horse…or er pony."
Arthur gives a scrutinizing look.
Merlin knows he will never guess, but decides his sometimes big mouth, which he is more than entitled to, has said enough. 'I'll just shut up now and go get breakfast started."
Arthur seems half satisfied with that as he continues to wait expectantly.
Merlin gives the most awkward meant to annoy bow. "Oh sorry, King Arthur…Sire…King…sire."
He goes to leave, but before he can get all the way across the bellow of his master comes.
The servant turns around. It is not above him to call the king a clotpole if needed.
Arthur finally grins, recalling fondly how when he came out of the chambers of his father's resting place, Merlin was sitting there against the steps, waiting for him. A very loyal friend indeed.
"Don't ever change Merlin."
The servant smiles. "Knew you liked me."
Then he leaves, both Gwen and Arthur watching the retreat of his thin back until it's no longer there. Gwen reaches forward, smoothing out the unruliness of Arthur's hair. "He is a wonderful friend."
Arthur just shrugs and then points. "Guinevere, look. The sun. Beyond the mountains. It's just coming up."
She leans in against him to watch, feeling the golden blaze against her skin. "A new day to enjoy."
Arthur smiles softly. "Yes."
She says nothing more. Neither does he. Together they watch cautiously, the blaze so strong, until the sun sits high in the sky.
Perhaps whispering to the king and future queen…
It is a new dawn. It is a new day. A golden one. Now go hence forth. Put down your grief. Embrace the new.
And embrace each other.
Thank you for reading. Hope you enjoyed. Feedback is adored.