Summary: Gwen is generally happy with her life, but sometimes her husband's relationship with his best friend just gets to her.
A/N: This was written in response to a picture-prompt over at Camelot Canvases on LJ. (Challenge #1 if you're interested in seeing the pic.)
Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin or any of the characters herein.
They were doing it again. Laughing, carrying on in their own little world. Gwen had lost count of the number of times she had come across the two of them sharing secret conversations with each other.
She knew that all she would have to do is walk up to them or call one of their names, and they would both turn to her. She also knew that if she did so, the conversation they were having would be dropped, left open-ended to be renewed after she left them alone once again. Those words were not for her ears. She knew that.
And to a certain extent, she understood it as well. Arthur needed to have someone to talk to about the things he could not talk to her about. She wished that she could be enough for him, but knew that Merlin had such a deep place in the king's life, there was no way to remove him. And to be honest, it wasn't the conversations that hurt. It was the smiles, the laughter.
For all Arthur claimed to love her, he did not smile at her like that: so open, so free. He did not laugh with her. He would talk to her, yes. He would smile gently at her. But when she compared those soft, often indulgent smiles to the one in front of her right now, she felt cheated.
Was she not Arthur's wife? Did she not deserve his utmost regard? Was she not meant to be his solace against the pains of being king? His retreat from the weight of his duties and responsibilities? And yet, 2 years into their marriage, he was still more at ease with Merlin than with her. He still turned to Merlin more readily.
It hurt when Arthur would turn to Merlin for advice first even though they were both present. It hurt when Arthur would look to Merlin for assurance he was doing the right thing when Merlin was on the other side of the room and she was at his side. It hurt when she would be dismissed, sent away while Merlin was allowed, no invited, to stay. It all hurt.
On her darkest days, she would admit to that hurt. That it felt as if she was being cast aside for Arthur's best friend. That she sometimes felt she was losing her husband to Merlin. Sometimes she wondered if he was already lost.
Thankfully, those days were few and far between. More often she marveled at how a king became friends with a servant. How a servant became primary adviser to a king. How through this doorway, her own rise to queen came to be.
Most days she thanked Merlin silently for taking her husband as he had been and transforming him into the wondrous man he was today. For being the one to step forward and help turn the boy no one was sure would ever be ready to rule into the greatest king Albion had ever seen.
She knew that back when she had first met Merlin, she would never have even considered marrying Arthur no matter what he had done or said to her. And she supposed, if she was truly being honest with herself, that those smiles, those laughs had been well-earned by her dark-haired friend. She only hoped that one day, she would be able to call them hers as well.
A/N: You know, I don't normally like Gwen very much as a character. She's a bit shallow for my tastes. In fact, I generally see her as a nuisance that needs to disappear because she's interfering in Merlin and Arthur's relationship. (I really wanted her to get together with Lancelot, but unfortunately he's dead now. *pout*) But, in this, I think I actually managed to make myself feel sorry for her. I mean, if my husband had the relationship Arthur has with Merlin with his best friend, I would be—upset is putting it lightly.
Based on what some of the reviews I have gotten, I feel the need to clarify the A/N. When I am referring to the relationship between Arthur and Merlin, I am not saying it has to be any more than friendship. Personally, I like the give and take of their relationship immensely regardless of whether anyone tries to attach romance to it or not. My problem with Gwen is the sheer awkwardness of her romance with Arthur. It feels incredibly forced and contrived to me whereas the romance between Gwen and Lancelot just flows so well I can't help but ship it.
Perhaps it is a fault of mine, but I have a tendency to look at the material I am presented with to make my judgements rather than look at how it is supposed to be or how it was in another source. This holds true for the dozens of variations of fairy tales and it holds true for the dozens of variations of the Arthurian legends. I personally don't care if a version holds true to a previous source so long as it holds true to itself. And, as such, based on what I have seen in BBC's Merlin, I don't really see the true love we're supposed to see between Arthur and Gwen. So, rather than getting excited about an upcoming romance scene, I shudder at the thought of how painfully awkward and forced it's going to be.
So I appologize for having offended many of you with my take on Arthur/Gwen and appologize even more to those who didn't need the explaination.
Also, just in case anyone cares, I never said Arthur didn't love Gwen or that Gwen didn't love Arthur. This fic was about her observations and perfectly rational jealousy over the relationship between her husband and his best friend. You may not like it, but you can't deny that Arthur and Merlin are unnaturally close.
In any event, I'm happy (as always) to hear what you think.