"at the seams"
Genre: Romance, Humor
Time Frame: Season II
Summary: "How hard could it be?" asked the boy who would be king, her needle held in his hands.
Notes: This is the first in a series of uploads this evening, all of which were done for a Shuffle Challenge on another site. So, random fandoms, flash writing, and old school Arthur and Gwen feelings for the win. ;)
Disclaimer: Nothing is mind, but for the words.
"at the seams"
The picture Arthur presented in that moment was, in a word, ridiculous.
He was sitting on the floor of the Lady Morgana's chambers (sprawledwas a more accurate description, but Gwen was determined to keep a hold on herself, even within the confines of her mind), with his long legs stretched out seemingly forever (and she thought to scold him for the work he'd create for Merlin later, really she did); his blonde hair tousled, and his expression playful. He had her laundry basket propped up on his knees, the dozens of rich colours inside clashing with the dark tones he favored that day, as he proved himself to be more jester than prince once again.
Gwen, who had been trying to go about her duties, was sitting next to him, attempting to get her mending done. There was a feast that night to honor some troll or the other (Gwen did lose track at times) that Arthur had slain, and Morgana had been very insistent that she was to wear her scarlet gown that eve.
Her needle came sharp and quick as she narrowed her eyes at the ridiculous man next to her. She wanted to tell him to get up and leave her be. But he would just smile that smile that swallowed his eyes and say that he would tell any onlooker that he was looking for his father's ward, and really, it was not all that rare that he tormented the help – just look at poor Merlin, and -
"What are you doing?" she finally let her tone hold a sharp edge, forgetting that he was her lord and superior in that moment.
"I am trying to decide which one better fits my complexion," he returned, holding up a dark violet gown, and a rather pale pink one; one to each cheek, as if to model the colours.
Gwen rolled her eyes heavenward. "The pink," still she returned, her eyes narrowed, and Arthur sighed as he placed the dress down.
"Well, you are no fun," he complained, a pout upon his lips.
"Some of us have work to do," she said, pointedly.
Arthur's eyes brightened, an opportunity sought and seized. Gwen felt something inside of her tighten at the look, and wondered if this was how the troll felt before it was felled.
"Here, let me help you then," said he, and took the dress from her hands. Amused by his earnestness, she let him have the needle and thread, strangely intrigued. It was hard to be cross at him when he was so set on being endearing, and she did so wish that he would let her be. Let her be until Uther's reign had ended, and then he could make good on the promises in his eyes -
She cut that line of thought as if she were a knight herself, striking at a foe. She seized her thoughts, made them stones in the river of her mind.
"Have you ever held a needle a day in your life?" she finally asked.
He shrugged. "A sword," he answered. "Which is just a very large version of a needle. And instead of sewing fabric, you're . . . well, you know."
"Finely put," she drawled.
Arthur made a face, but did not answer her. He was busy trying to keep a straight stitch, and failing. His thread was lopsided, and the stitches were wide and graceless. The needle was too small in his sword callused grip, fairly swallowed as he tried to keep it steady.
"Not as easy as it looks?" Gwen prompted, a smile pulling upon her lips. It was past hers to control.
Arthur snorted, the sound boyish and endearing. He'd have to learn to put that one away when dealing with the court, she thought in her mind. But still, for her . . .
Again, another thought to chain. To keep sewn together. It was silly, the very idea; no matter how many memories of morning light and vows and once was and futures coming, and . . .
Her next breath came sharp.
Gently, she took the dress from him. She'd sew the dress up right, and the rich scarlet colour would accent the paleness of Morgana's skin, and the dark cast of her hair. It would flow with a lady's grace when she danced with Arthur, and the whole of the court would incline their heads and say, what a lovely pair they make. Gwen would stand in the shadows, waiting to attend her lady, and hold her head up high, even though there would be no one to see.
As it should be.
"I'll make it right," she said, running her finger over the graceless stitches. Still they had their own bit of charm to them, and Arthur's earnest smile across from her tugged at her in such a way. Did he not know what that smile did to her . . .
"You always do," said he, and she shook her head. When she started to mend the gown, she did not tell him to leave again, and he did not go. He simply stayed next to her, close enough so that their shoulders almost touched, and watched her work.
When, that evening, Arthur danced the third dance as he always did with the Lady Morgana, Gwen stepped back and listened to the whispers – such a beautiful pair. Such a strong match for Camelot great and eternal. Uther's two great loves. The Prince and the Ward.
And Gwen only saw that when Arthur's hand rested on Morgana's waist, his fingers found the tight little stitches that she had earlier set. And there his touch remained.