Gwen was extremely nervous about how she handled Merlin's flower; sure, she was confident in her tending skills and she had been fairly confident when offering to help Merlin raise this glorious flower, but she had grown to fear it. It had only been a day but the first night of tending his flower she had a dream - it was a nice dream but a tragic one as well. She dreamt of Arthur, of sitting on the throne by his side, of bearing his child, of kissing him and smiling at each other every day and every hour and -
It hurt her so much to dream of this. It felt so vivid, so real, that she actually believed it was. She had never had such a real dream before and it broke her heart to have a taste of that bliss, that perfection and happiness, only to wake up and realize it wasn't real, none of it.
When her eyes opened she saw the flower glowing, petals curled open - but when her eyes flickered and landed on it the flower ceased its shimmering and flattened out. She was terrified but she couldn't be sure she saw such a bizarre sight only because she was dazed and half-awake - even so, the flower made her nervous and quite depressed so she decided she would keep it in Lady Estella's room. The room was empty because it was a special guest room for the lady, who rarely visited but expected only the best when she did. It was unoccupied but heavily guarded so Gwen felt the flower would be safe there. This way she could check on it while working and avoid it while sleeping. To her, it seemed a perfect plan.
So the next day she gently placed the flower in a small bowl of water, watching in fascination as it floated atop the crystal liquid gracefully, like a dancer. She slowly stepped back and left the room, shutting the doors and locking it with the servant's keys behind her. The rest of the day she kept up this tactic; any moment of spare time she'd peek in on the flower then leave the room. It wasn't that difficult to do since Lady Estella's room was so close to where Gwen spent most of her time during the day, and sure enough the flower was perfectly safe - it had even been set near the window which gave it a good spot of sun to bask in.
Gwen was quite proud of herself and kept smiling throughout the day. When she ran into Merlin near meal time, she wasn't surprised when he gently pat her arm to get her attention and lean close to whisper, "Gwen, how is my flower?"
She sent him a gentle smile. "Oh, it's fine, Merlin. I've been taking great care of it." Her curiosity and honesty got the best of her and her brow furrowed, remembering the strangely vivid dream the night before. "Merlin, I must ask, where did your friend find that flower?"
She observed the anxious, hesitant reaction she received as Merlin seemed to mull over her words. "Well," he admitted with a defeated sigh, "My…friend found it in the woods while on a hunt. It was just…sitting there. You saw how beautiful it is. He couldn't resist taking it. But he gave it to me as a gift for helping him handle some personal things."
"Oh," Gwen said with a sigh of frustration. So, it was found. She supposed magic was everywhere - even in such a simple thing as a flower. It troubled her that she couldn't know if the flower ignited her dream or not. But it certainly did seem like Merlin had nothing to do with it. "Well, that was lucky. It is a magnificent flower."
Merlin smiled with a small nod. "Yeah, it is, isn't it?"
"When do you want it back?" she asked. Merlin hesitated a moment then rubbed the back of his neck, a habit Gwen had noticed. "I know you did not give it to me." Her amused tone made Merlin grin sheepishly as a response.
"I know that. Just until things with Arthur settle down - he's been busy lately with his father's banquet coming up and all."
Gwen nodded in agreement. Lately, everybody had been bustling around preparing for King Uther's banquet to welcome a visiting kingdom - potential allies, apparently. Arthur was supposed to keep the Prince company but he was rumored to be extremely picky and snobby, so Arthur was feeling fairly confused over how to deal with all of this. Not only that but he had to help his father plan the feast and such - it goes without saying he took his frustrations out on Merlin. Even Gwen had witnessed it.
"I understand, don't worry," she assured Merlin, gently touching his arm and smiling again. "Just let me know when you need it back."
Merlin nodded. "Thank you Gwen. This really means a lot to me."
"It's not a problem at all!" she replied brightly. Merlin grinned back then grimaced when he heard a familiar bellow of "MER-LIN!" Gwen couldn't help the tiny giggle that escaped her when merlin pulled a grumpy frown and - dare she say - a pout.
"I have to go serve mister pompous now, but it was nice talking to you," he said. Gwen smiled and waved as Merlin turned and rushed towards Arthur, who looked ready to bite Merlin's head off. Gwen couldn't help grimacing in sympathy as she turned to return to her own work. As much as she adored Arthur she had to admit he was frightening when he was angry.
Gwen hated herself for moments like this - brief moments when she felt scared and nervous, like a little giddy girl gawking at their valiant crush. While it was true she was in love with Prince Arthur and completely devoted to him, she wasn't a swooning sort of girl and didn't plan on starting to become one any time soon. Yet there were moments where she felt herself tip towards becoming that kind of woman, but really, it wasn't her fault. It was Arthur's for being so beautiful and kind and loving and he just makes it impossible not to fall head over heels for him.
She had run into him on her way to check on Merlin's flower before heading home, nearly colliding with him headfirst. She managed to avoid such a horrifying situation by jumping back and dusting her dress off, as if it might help ease the awkwardness of the situation. The hall was empty, leaving just Gwen and Arthur and utter silence.
"Oh, good evening, Gwendolyn," Arthur greeted briskly. Her heart twisted but the smile he sent her made her momentarily stunned into a flustered messed. Thankfully his next words sobered her up; "Heading home?"
She nodded. "Yes, sire, I am."
"I see. Well, good work today," he said. She gazed up at him, wondering why he wasn't sweeping forward to kiss her - she knew that her dreams were fruitless, but he had expressed his affection for her before and kissed her several times in the past. However, lately he had been more distant and cold…like a Prince should be with his servant. Perhaps this was reality, the reality that brought her so much agony - he did not love her like she loved him. Yet he kissed her, he whispered his devotion…was it a lie?
She felt tears threaten to spill and curtsied, hastily rushed past him and down the hall. His brisk, polite voice echoed in her head and made her eyes burn. She rubbed her nose and blinked, her eyes dry despite their burning and the swelling in her throat with the promise of an impending cry. She took a deep breath and entered Lady Estella's room, her dampened and heartbroken mood seeming to lift when she caught sight of the flower.
She paused by its side, resisting the overwhelming urge to run her fingers across the soft, tempting petals. She rubbed her forehead and took a few deep breaths, turning to stare the wavering sun before she turned and left. She just wanted to go home. She didn't even want to think about her fruitless dreams. Why torture herself with an impossible future?
She didn't even notice Arthur head towards Lady Estella's room.