Synopsis: Agravaine hates Gwen and what her crowning could mean for the future of Camelot. Unfortunately, this thought and his perplexing attraction to her battle each other, leading him down a dangerous path. Can Arthur save Guinevere before his uncle does her unthinkable damage?

A/N This is my first fanfic set after S04E08 (Lamia) and slightly AU after that considering the events that might take place in S04E09! Agravaine always creeps me out in episodes and leaves me wondering what his motives are, so I've decided to address it in my short story. Thanks to beadybonbons for reading it through and giving me the thumbs up. Please review, to criticise or otherwise, as all comments are welcome

Disclaimer: As much as I and fellow writers wish we did, I do not own the rights to Merlin. I am eternally grateful to them for them creating these characters though.

Chapter 1

Agravaine de Bois watched Arthur and Gwen's interactions at dinner with a sour lump in his throat. It seemed his suggestions to his nephew about ending his relationship with the servant girl had been abandoned as quickly as they had been acted upon. There they were now, giggling and chatting, completely oblivious to the courtiers' glances in their direction. It sickened him.

When he had first returned to Camelot at word of Uther's sickness, he had been willing to accept the child of his beloved sister taking over the throne. Whilst there was hardly a choice in the matter, at least it would spell the end of Uther's reign. However, being around Arthur just reminded him of the sacrifice his sister had made in order for her son to live. He had tried to love him, but over time Agravaine could not shake the feeling that Ygraine's sacrifice was too great – the newly crowned King Arthur was not worth it. To Agravaine, Arthur was weak and incapable of ruling a kingdom like Camelot. It seemed to him Arthur had taken the worst features of his parents; Uther's stubbornness and Ygraine's penchant for helping those lower than herself. He was shocked to find his nephew diluting the very boundaries that kept a kingdom great and disgracing the honour of his royal blood by inviting servants and peasants into the royal household. Having ignoble men defiantly wearing knight's cloaks was bad enough, but a maid as a possible Queen? In Agravaine's mind this was a step too far and could not become reality.

Learning of his niece Morgana's parentage had previously sent him reeling. The thought of Uther fathering another child with another member of his family angered him to such an extent he was sure he never wanted to see Morgana again. Nevertheless, being in Arthur's presence and deeming him an unacceptable heir forced him to seek out Morgana, who had betrayed and abandoned Camelot. He was surprised to find he liked her a great deal, seeing her as a strong, powerful woman of magic like his sister Vivienne. Of course, the blood of Uther still ran in her veins, but he could bypass that because he knew if she were to take the throne there would be no danger of weak leadership. Agravaine had thought his hatred of Uther, who had defiled his sisters and killed his brother, was unrivalled until he had met Morgana. She hated her father with a passion and Agravaine loved her for it.

Agravaine shook himself out of his reverie and returned his gaze to the smiling couple. A small feast had been prepared to welcome some noblemen from the neighbouring kingdom. It was an occasion he felt should not be tarnished by a King stubbornly parading his cheap lover around for all to see. The untold embarrassment Arthur was bringing on the whole of Camelot was evident to Agravaine, even if his nephew failed to think it mattered. Agravaine scowled as Arthur moved to grab his goblet of wine, stroking Gwen's hand in the process. She did have hands that were unlike the rough and worn hands of other maids, Agravaine conceded. She could even pass for a lady with her delicate features and infallible poise. By many standards she would be considered beautiful…Agravaine scolded himself as his thoughts wandered down that path he was increasingly unable to avoid.

When he had first met her, he thought her Arthur's whore. It was inconceivable that Arthur could have anything but lustful feelings for her - after all he was a young man with urges to settle. Yet over time it seemed that this was not the case, as members of the court whispered that he had not even bedded her. It was not until the moment Guinevere had challenged him in Arthur's absence, that he saw how dangerously influential she was. It troubled and excited him. How could she, the child of a blacksmith, speak with such wisdom and clarity? When he had invited her to his chambers under the guise of seeking her advice, part of him wanted to strangle her where she sat. The other part of him wanted to run his fingers through her thick, curly hair. He disgusted himself. She was a commoner, and no matter how beautiful she appeared, girls like her were an easy lay for noble blood – not marriage material.

Even then Agravaine had his standards. In all his years, he had never once been tempted by a woman of common blood. The thought of somebody wanting to be satisfied by someone who was so beneath them was mind-boggling – and yet... Agravaine considered her for a long moment, studying her intently until she set her big, brown eyes in his direction.

Gwen eyed Agravaine warily as he smiled courteously and raised his glass in her direction. She knew she was not the first choice of partner for his nephew, but being around him unsettled her greatly. Often she would catch Agravaine staring at her with expressions difficult to decipher or fathom. Since she had questioned his judgement when the Dorocha threatened Camelot, Agravaine had been paying more attention to her than when he had arrived. Catching Arthur watching her closely she smiled widely back at him, not wanting to worry him. He nodded at her, satisfied that she was having a good time and continued his conversation with the nobleman to his left. She smiled at Agravaine and lifted her glass towards him in response. She would keep her reservations about him to herself for the time being. There was no need to put more pressure on the newly appointed King.

Arthur Pendragon undressed leisurely behind the screen as Merlin prepared the King's bath before he was to sleep.

"What did you think of tonight Merlin?" Arthur asked casually, tossing his shirt over the screen.

"What do you mean?" Merlin asked, concentrating on the task at hand.

"The courtiers, the nobles…they seemed at ease with Gwen did they not? And she with them?"

Merlin grinned as he continued to pour the steaming water into the bath.

"I suppose so," Merlin replied simply. Arthur peeked around the screen in surprise, failing to notice Merlin adjusting his expression to a more indifferent one.

"You suppose so?" Arthur repeated incredulously. "They loved her! They were practically hanging on her every word."

Merlin decided to stop teasing his King - sometimes Arthur made it far too easy for him.

"You're right, they did seem taken with her and rightly so." Merlin tested the bath water, burning his finger in the process. "Now what did you really want to talk about?"

Arthur watched his manservant fight to control his breathing through the pain and suppressed the retort he had stored in his memory for such an occasion. He really did need Merlin's opinion tonight.

"I think it's time I proposed to her, Merlin," Arthur confided as he continued to undress behind the screen. "I've been lucky so far in that we've found our way back to each other. And I can't imagine myself marrying anyone but her."

"Gwen would make you a wonderful Queen," Merlin beamed. Watching the couple's ups and downs had been traumatic at best and he was relieved to see his two best friends finally build up enough courage to take the next step. Arthur beamed back at him around the screen, satisfied that Merlin had been earnest in his response. Merlin continued to stand there grinning at him, to the point Arthur thought the burn may have done him more damage than he had first thought.

"Is the bath ready yet?" Arthur glared at him, snapping Merlin out of his trance. "Or am I going to find Guinevere here bailing you out again? Seriously, how can you get putting a bath together wrong?"

"Yes it is," Merlin answered as he left the room hurriedly, though Arthur thought he heard Merlin mutter something suspiciously close to 'donkey' on his way out.

Agravaine was once again plagued by dreams he felt nothing but shamed by. Guinevere was nothing but a servant girl, why did she affect him this way? He knew he did not want her as Queen; he would rather die than see a maid sit on the throne his sister once possessed. But he wanted some part of her…what was wrong with him?

A thought suddenly hit him. Perhaps if he fulfilled his carnal desires once and for all, the possibility would fail to exist. Having the girl would put a stop to the dreams and then he could concentrate solely on getting the King and his wench off the throne for his beloved niece. It was a plan he found abhorrent – it was against his very being, but it was for the greater good after all. With his mind clear, Morgana would be able to attain the throne with his help. That was all he really desired.

A/N Thanks for reading, it's a rather short chapter but I will be uploading a few more chapters within the week as I really wanted to get this all up before the next episode (which seems unlikely as this took me longer than I thought it would). Anyway please comment etc.!