Summary: Queen Guinevere didn't stand a chance against Anne in Henry's heart and she hadn't realized how much she cared until it was too late. In the end, she did inadvertently bring about the fall of Camelot but it came at the hands of another. Major character death. Merlin/Tudors crossover
AN: This is a post 5x13 Merlin/The Tudors crossover. This is kind of weird but it popped into my head and wouldn't let go, so here it is. It's based a little off of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boelyn's stories plus a bit off the fate of Camelot in the Arthurian legends.
Queen Guinevere Tudor sat in the garden of the Tudor castle. She had moved here to Greenwich a decade ago when she married Henry. His ancestors had implemented the assistance of sorcerers to build the castle which was even grander than the one she lived in in Old Camelot with Arthur. When she married Henry their two territories, Camelot and Greenwich, were joined as one. She hadn't wanted to marry Henry or anyone for that matter but she hadn't done it for love, she did it for duty. She told herself she'd never love again after Arthur, but she had no children with him and a kingdom needed an heir to survive. Henry resided in a kingdom right next to Camelot and they'd been disputing over territory. Henry proposed a marriage as the solution and she agreed to it after a while.
She felt she had no choice. Arthur died, Gwaine died and Merlin never returned. She waited and waited a whole year but he never came. Then Gaius died and he still didn't come, so she moved on. She had to leave Percival and Leon at the former kingdom as a part of her agreement with Henry that she'd leave with him to Greenwich and name it the new capital and he had agreed to make his territory a part of Camelot. They modified the Pendragon and Tudor sigil and now the sigil of New Camelot featured both a dragon and a flower. In her grief over Arthur and loneliness over losing everything, she had ended up succumbing to Henry's lust. She had capitulated to the passion he had for her repeatedly but it was superficial, she knew it was. He wanted her for her beauty. Still, between them they had conceived three children together. They had their daughters Eliana and Merlena and their son Arthur. Gwen had dominion over the naming of all three of them and she hadn't hesitated to name them after three of the most important men to her. Henry hadn't objected or said anything about it and she appreciated that.
They had struck up a friendship over the years. He liked her quick wit and wisdom. She liked his passion and heart though he often let his pride, ego and libido direct him more times than he let his head win over them. Thay was how she got into her current predicament. She would be on her way to the execution block soon all due to the word of one woman: Anne Boelyn.
Henry wasn't exactly a faithful husband. He had more than one bastard child with maids and ladies and harlots and such. Gwen didn't comment on it, she didn't care. At first she felt insulted because she was his wife and she thought he'd have more respect for her than that, but it didn't hurt like it would've had it been Arthur dishonoring their vows. She stopped caring, she didn't love him afterall so he could do whatever he wanted. She became numb to it. That was why she hadn't paid much attention to Anne Boelyn. The woman enticed Henry but then a lot of women enticed him so she simply didn't spend copious amounts of time thinking of Anne Boelyn, if she spent any time thinking of her at all. She had other things of more importance to attend to rather than letting her husband's many daillances occupy too much of her time and she thought Anne would soon be thrown away by him once he got bored of her anyway. But Anne had more ambition than the others, she wanted to be queen. Of all the things Gwen was sure Henry was prepared to do, execute her wasn't one of them. He wanted to be rid of her, of that she was sure, but she refused to give up her throne to Anne. Arthur passed his sigil to her and even though when she married Henry he assumed much of the power and the sigil Arthur gave her was now decommissioned, she was still queen and she wouldn't give her throne to some girl who promised Henry a son he already had.
Anne was clever and had the support of Henry's religious advisors. The cat-eyed woman let a whisper trickle here and a murmur there and soon Guinevere was accused of adultery. They used her past, bringing up her mishap with Lancelot during her first engagement to Arthur, against her as further proof that she probably did break her vows. Anne's word was apparently of greater value to Henry than hers and even with no lover coming forward or being discovered, he sentenced her to death for treason. Charles Brandon, her first friend when she arrived to Greenwich, had appealed to Henry to lighten the sentence and simply banish her or cast her away. He begged him not to take her from the children, but Gwen knew it was no use. Henry was too stubborn and prideful and he wanted to be rid of her so Anne could be queen. This was a much more permanent solution to the problem she posed by refusing to step down and divorce Henry.
Gwen clutched the rosary in her hand, kneeling in one of the castle's gardens. She had been praying, not for her life to be saved but for her children to grow happily and be safe without her. She heard footsteps approaching from behind her.
"Guinevere." She heard Charles say sadly.
"Lord Brandon." She replied, not turning around to face him.
"I tried to talk to him again but he would not change his mind." Charles told her with clear remorse and an apology in his voice.
"I did not expect him to. I could grovel and beg him to change his mind, but Henry is too stubborn to admit that he is wrong or that he has made a mistake. It would be too much of a slight against his pride, against his ego." Gwen replied calmly with no hint of malice or anger, she was resigned to her fate. She hadn't cried at the sentencing or even alone in her guarded chambers. She was guarded there in the gardens as well by soldiers who were loyal to her over Henry. They had all in some subtle way propositioned her to run away. They had said that they would be fine with turning away from their duty for an hour to allow her to flee, but what would she run to? She had nothing left save her children and running wouldn't change the fact that she wouldn't ever see them again. She would much rather be with Arthur and watch over her children from the afterlife than live a life in hiding while not being able to be with any of her family.
"Henry has received word from Old Camelot that if the execution is followed through with, Sir Leon and Sir Percival intend to declare war against him for not giving you a fair trial."
"I've already sent a letter to them telling them that I do not wish for them to do such a thing. I don't want Camelot to fall because of me, but I fear they will not listen to me." Gwen replied with worry in her voice.
"I do not blame them if that is so." He replied. She didn't answer that.
"I wish… I wish things could be different. I… I- I will miss you." Charles stuttered out with great emotion in his voice. Gwen turned to see his eyes had tears in them which he was holding back while he stood rigidly.
"Charles…" Gwen trailed off before standing up and walking to him. She hugged him around his waist tightly and she felt him return the embrace.
"I will miss you too, my friend. I want you to know that besides my children, you were the only one who made my days here worth it. The only one who could make me smile and who could lift my spirits. It was quite the challenge and I thank you for rising to it time and time again." Gwen told him sincerely.
"You didn't make it easy." He replied teasingly. She giggled a bit at that.
"See? There you go again." She replied, pulling out of his arms. He kissed her forehead before stepping back from her.
"I did manage to fulfill one of your wishes." She looked to him curiously as he turned and called to a maid. Gwen gasped as a maid came around the corner with Eliana, Merlena and Arthur.
"Oh, Charles." Gwen said with emotion filling her voice. For the first time in weeks, tears welled up in her eyes.
"Mother!" Eliana and Merlena exclaimed, running to her. Gwen crouched down to catch the nine and five year old in her embrace. As soon as they wrapped their small, tawny hands around Gwen, tears fells over her cheeks and she held onto them as tight as she could without hurting them. She looked up in gratitude at Charles and saw him holding little Arthur on his waist as the three year old stood on top of the stone bench. She moved to little Arthur and hugged him to her.
"My sweet boy." She lamented sadly. He absentmindedly returned the embrace. Gwen lifted her head to the sky as a mournful sob broke free from her. It wasn't grief over her circumstance and it wasn't Henry's decision breaking her. She loved her children fiercely and the thought of being parted from them ignited such an inexhaustible pain within her.
"Why are you crying, Mama?" Merlena asked with concern as she moved forward to hug Gwen's legs. She didn't understand what was going to happen, she was only five. Gwen hadn't had the chance to teach her what death was yet. She hadn't had the chance to teach her a lot of things but Eliana understood what was going to happen. She knew her father was having her mother killed and that Lady Anne was going to be her new mother and she hated them, she hated them both. The hate in her innocent heart caused tears to burst free from her and Gwen pulled her to her legs alongside Merlena.
"I want you to promise me you will not hate your father."
"I cannot." Eliana replied stubbornly. Gwen grasped her chin softly and made eye contact with the girl. The grief in her blue-green eyes broke Gwen's heart but she did not want her daughter to grow to be bitter and full of hate like Morgana.
"Promise me you'll at least try."
"I promise... I do not want you to go." The princess said tearfully. Gwen held her tighter.
"I know. I do not want to leave you but there's nothing that can be done." Eliana cried even more and so did Gwen as reality sunk in. Merlena didn't understand why they were crying but she knew something bad was about to happen and so she cried too. Little Arthur was oblivious to it all, he was just glad to be with his mother again. Gwen looked up to Charles tearfully.
"When I had them I was terrified. All three times. I feared that I wouldn't be able to love them because they weren't Arthur's. I thought that something would be wrong with me, that I wouldn't know how to be a mother because mine died when I was so young but that wasn't what happened. As soon as I saw them the world just… the hole that Arthur's death created became manageable. I didn't feel like throwing myself off a cliff every day. I didn't want to die anymore. They're all I had to live for and now… I sometimes feared he'd take them from me but now he is taking me from them. Does he really hate me so much that he will make our children suffer? Is Anne really so important to him? What on earth is he thinking?" Gwen questioned, the first signs of anger shining through.
"Often in our lives when Henry's made a controversial decision I always tried to find the reasons behind it. I never believed he would do anything without a good motive, but I will go to my grave wondering how he could ever make a decision such as this." Charles answered with anger in his voice as well. Gwen shook her head trying to regain her impassivity but finding that she could not. She was fine until she saw her children. Now she was angry at Henry for letting Anne manipulate him and for being so prideful that he couldn't admit that he knew in his heart that she hadn't committed adultery.
Nevermind that there wasn't any point in our marriage where he wasn't committing adultery but because I am a woman the idea of me taking a lover is grounds for me to be executed. She thought bitterly.
This is why Henry let her see the children, so she would break this way. So she would become weak and lesser than herself and go to him and grovel only so he could deny her again. She wouldn't do it. It wouldn't make a difference. Gwen held her children tighter.
"I don't want them to grow up thinking their mother was an adulteress."
"I will make sure they know the truth about who you are. They will never forget their mother's true nature."
"Thank you Charles." She told him gratefully.
She wished Merlin was here, she wished she could say all the things she never got to say to him because he never came back. She'd tell him that she forgave him, that she was so grateful to him. She'd tell him thank you and she'd tell him she loved him. She knew she wouldn't get that wish fulfilled though so she cherished these final moments with her children and Charles because they were the only ones she had now. They were the ones she was leaving behind now. She had said her farewell to Leon and Percival in the letter she sent when she asked them not to engage in battle. This was it.
MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN
Gwen was led to the noose by solemn faced guards. There was no lover being executed with her. He was suspected to have 'escaped during the trial'.
As if he ever existed.
The crowd that gathered for the execution was silent. It was different from most other executions. The crowds usually jeered and heckled and threw rotten fruit but they didn't do it to her. They bowed respectfully and in deference as she passed by. They mumbled their apologies, support and love to her. She was not wearing the finery of a queen. She was in a simple blue dress with a white bonnet tied beneath her chin, her curly hair tied up beneath it. She had Arthur's seal on a chain around her neck, the wedding and engagement rings he got her were on her left hand, the ones she got from Henry were on her right.
She came to a realization while awaiting her death: a part of her heart did belong to Henry, she did love him. The love was a pale shadow compared to her love for Arthur and her children, but it was stronger than the love she had once held for Lancelot. There were times where they were happy together, Henry and her. There were moments where she forgot that their union was arranged and about his adulterous activities, moments where the ache in her heart was dulled, moments where she looked at him and felt a swell in her chest. She felt it after Merlena was born and they knew each other better as opposed to after Eliana's birth, where they were still virtually strangers. He stayed holed up in her room for two weeks, just them and their daughters being a family and she saw his heart then. The heart he rarely listened to but she saw it and it was beautiful. Those moments got few and far between over the course of their decade long marriage but that love remained in her heart. She had had to search deep for it but it was there, so she wore his rings and Arthur's as a sign of her love for both men and the vows she pledged to both of them. She also had a simple ruby bracelet adorning her wrist which Eliana, Merlena and Arthur presented her with the previous day when Charles brought them to see her one more time. She felt closer to them all whilst wearing the momentos, safer somehow even though that seemed awfully redundant as she was being executed that day.
She was led gently up the steps by the guards. The regular executioner refused to carry out the sentence despite the threat of punishment and no other executioner in Camelot, both Old and New, wanted to be the one who killed Queen Guinevere so they had to get someone from Lot's kingdom.
She looked over the silent crowd. They looked at her sadly. Some people were crying, some looked angry and upset as if they were ready to storm the elevated scaffold and whisk her away. Some men had swords on their belts. They were obviously looking for a fight. She could practically feel the tension rising, it was like a powder keg getting ready to explode. She knew she had to say something.
"May I speak before the verdict is carried out?" She asked the man who held the lever for the hatch in the floor she would fall through in his hand. He nodded for her to go ahead. Gwen took a deep breath before addressing the crowd.
"People of Camelot, I bid you be calm." She said in a strong, serene voice.
"You don't deserve this!"
"It isn't fair!"
"I don't believe the charge for a second!"
"Demand a retrial!"
"Yeah!" People within the crowd shouted out. Gwen held up a hand and they fell silent.
"I have resigned myself to my fate. King Henry believes that I am guilty of the crimes of adultery and treason and that I must thus be executed. There is nothing that can be done to sway his mind, but I speak now to remind you of another king. One who died much too soon, my first husband King Arthur." This seemed to grab their attention.
"I know that this event may cause unrest and unease among you all but I implore that you keep your heads about you for my sake, my children's sakes and Arthur's. He wanted a Camelot that was fair and just, where everyone was treated as equal. I sought to achieve that by lifting the ban on magic and marrying Henry so that our two kingdoms could live in peace and harmony. I ask that that period of rest continue after my death and I know that that is dependent upon all of you. Each and every one of you have a permanent place within my heart and it was looking out for your welfare that helped me to fight to remain living after my dear husband's death. I couldn't rest peacefully knowing that I was leaving you all to upheaval, yet I know that your actions are your own. I can only ask that you all help my children in their growing up to value the morals you all know I hold dear to myself. I ask that you pray for the prosperity of this country and for the king for I fear he knows not what he does. Lastly, I wish that you do not resort to violence in the wake of my death. I hope that is not too much to ask."
Gwen stepped back and positioned herself over the hatch. The man overseeing the execution put the noose around her neck, gently pulling her necklace from behind it so the ring fell over the rope.
"Forgive me please, your majesty." The man whispered repentantly.
"There is nothing to forgive." She replied just as quietly. She looked up once more. She noticed Charles in the audience. He had tears in his eyes but he stood stoically, stubbornly refusing to turn away.
Foolish, brave man. I will miss him.
The man went to the lever and Gwen did not feel fear, not even a little and that surprised her. Her eyes lifted to the far window of the castle. Henry was there, watching. Usually he'd be on the balcony overseeing the execution but he had one of his clergymen announce the charge, the verdict and the sentence. She stared into his eyes now. She thought she saw apology in them but then again maybe she had dreamt that bit up. She felt the executioner adjust her position over the hatch yet her eyes didn't leave Henry's.
She could feel it now, that love come rising to the surface. She felt her eyes reflecting it. She wanted him to know before she went to be with Arthur that she had loved him, but they were both too foolish to do anything about it and now here they were. She smiled sadly at that thought. Henry seemed frozen under her gaze, his eyes wide and almost panicked. Charles followed her gaze and he saw Henry standing by the window watching. In an impulsive bid to stop this unjust insanity, he shouted up to his childhood friend.
"Please, my lord, do not do this! End this madness! Spare her life for your children's sake!" He shouted.
"Lord Brandon, stop it." Gwen ordered. People turned and noticed the king. They began to plead with him as well.
"Please, Your Grace!"
"Think of the children!"
"Do not take our queen!"
"You must reconsider!"
"You cannot do this!" The voices came from all around. Gwen thought she saw Henry swipe away a tear from his eye but that could've been her imagination or wishful thinking. All of a sudden Anne came to the window. She glared at Gwen before leading Henry away. The people's voices didn't let up and anger was starting to rise which was just what Gwen didn't want to happen.
"Do it." She ordered the executioner.
"My lady, I don't know that I want to do this." The man said. The queen was obviously beloved. King Lot knew that Camelot would be turned into upheaval at the queen's death by her own king's order. It would be ripe for the taking.
"I'm ready, do it!" Gwen exclaimed. Her order caught the crowd's attention.
"Wait!" They shouted but they could do nothing.
The man pulled the lever.
The people cried out.
Gwen dropped through the hatched.
A sickening snap resonated.
Gwen breathed no more.
MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN MERLIN
Inside a cave in the White Mountains days after Queen Guinevere's execution, wailing could be heard. The white dragon sobbed at the loss of the queen who had been a dear friend. She looked out towards the Lake of Avalon where she could see her dragonlord. He had been scrying Camelot and pretty quickly picked up that Guinevere had been executed. He left the cave wordlessly and went to the shore of the Lake and was kneeling by the waters staring into it. Her heart broke when she soon began to hear his cries. It started out low, a gasping sob. Soon more sobs accompanied it; sobs that grew louder and louder until it hit a crescendo and at the climax of this he was no longer just sobbing and crying, he was screaming and shouting in rage, despair, anger, loss, grief, heartbreak, regret, pain and so many negative feelings, it frightened Aithusa.
She watched Merlin stand up, his eyes blazing dangerously and flashing between gold and blue frantically. The current of the water grew tumultuous as storm clouds rolled in overhead. He seemingly could not control the onslaught that was seething beneath the surface. Aithusa could feel the deadly intent in him through their bond. He was looking for blood. They had kept an eye on Guinevere, the two of them. Aithusa went to Greenwich frequently to see the queen who had forgiven Aithusa for her actions leading up to and during Camlann and always received the young dragon warmly. Her children loved Aithusa and she loved them. Merlin always used his powers to look in and watch Gwen but never contacted her. He sent a gift each time a child was born: a rocking horse for Eliana, a stuffed rabbit for Merlena (he was extremely surprised and touched at the fact that Gwen named her after him) and Arthur he carved a wooden dragon for. He loved them even though he never met them.
The first three years following Arthur, Gwaine, Mordred and Morgana's deaths he practically watched Gwen every day but it got painful to see her and make no contact. He feared seeing her. He blamed himself for Arthur's death and so he stayed away. Now he only looked in once a month. He looked too late this time. Aithusa could feel the guilt creeping into him. He blamed himself for Gwen dying, he believed if he had been there it wouldn't have happened that way and she perhaps would've never married Henry. Aithusa regretfully couldn't refute that.
She could now feel a determination bubbling up in him and before she could ask him, he transported himself from the lake side. It wasn't loud and gusty and full of flapping clothes shreds but practically soundless. It was something he came up with on his own.
He teleported himself into the new palace in a nondescript hallway but he knew his way around. He had watched Gwen enough times. There were loud booms and noises coming from outside. The city was obviously under seige. He didn't pay it or the people running through the halls attention. He had two goals he aimed to complete. He made his way to Henry's chambers angrily. Things clattered and shook as he walked past, paintings and portraits fell from the wall as he stomped past them and glass vases smashed to the floor. His anger and pain were making his powers unstable. When he got to Henry's chambers, the doors burst open without Merlin even consciously making it happen. The King of Camelot stood up quickly with a sword in his hand and armor on as Merlin stepped into the room. The objects shuddered as he stepped over the threshold.
"Who are you? You don't look like one of Lot's men. What is your business here?" Henry demanded.
"You're right, I'm not one of Lot's men. I'm one of Guinevere's." Henry's eyes widened as Merlin's eyes flashed gold and he was thrown into a bookshelf.
"The great King Henry, we finally meet." Merlin raised Henry into the air, choking him but not too roughly.
"My name is Merlin. Some people call me Emrys, perhaps you've heard of me." He said with a voice of stone.
"You're... Emrys?" He choked out.
"Yes and you're the man who had my best friend killed for something she didn't do, so you could gallivant with whatever woman you choose this week. Now your kingdom crumbles around you and death stares you in the face. It's no one's fault but your own." Merlin used his power to make pain explode within Henry's extremities. He screamed and grunted from it. Merlin didn't care.
"Do with me what you will. I will have deserved it." Henry admitted through pained grunts. Merlin stopped the pain but didn't lower Henry.
"If you're trying to talk your way out of this-"
"I'm not. I regretted my decision the second her neck broke. I... did love her but I thought that, I didn't know she, I didn't think she loved me. I wasn't her dear Arthur and I could never be but before the execution, she looked at me with a look I sometimes saw her give me. I could never figure out what it was but now I know. She loved me, not as much as him, but she did love me. I messed up, my own folly has cost me my wife, has cost my kingdom its queen and most importantly has cost my children their mother. So I beg you now, Lord Emrys, end it. I cannot live with myself any longer." Henry's words upset Merlin. They made him think of Gwen's children and what she would think. She'd be furious, she'd hate him if he killed her husband and her children's father. He let an intense wave of pain hit Henry, pain akin to burning alive before he suddenly stopped.
"You've no idea how truly lucky you are. Were it not for your children, you'd be dead. I suggest you take them and go, flee to the druids. They will not turn you away." Henry looked bewildered that Merlin hadn't killed him but he did as he was told and ran from the room to find his children. Merlin walked out slower than Henry, feeling heavily burdened by his next task. He ignored people from Camelot running past him and batted away anyone who tried to attack him. He walked towards the tombs where Gwen's body still laid. Technically as a traitor her body was to be disposed but she was a queen so they were still debating what to do with her beyond preserve her. He walked into the room and immediately saw Gwen's body. It was much colder in the room and he could smell salt coming from Gwen's body from they undertaker's methods of preservation. He walked over to her body and reached his hand out to her cheek. Her skin was frigid, something that seemed so wrong. Her neck had a visible bruise where her neck snapped but her neck wasn't contorted unnaturally, she almost looked like she was asleep.
Like Arthur and Freya and Lancelot looked.
He perused her face. She didn't look much different from when last saw her in person. Perhaps a line or two on her face but not wrinkles, no gray hair, she looked as beautiful as ever. She wore a red dress with a gold bodice and midsection that had flower embroidered into it and adorning it. Merlin carefully leaned down and picked Gwen's body up, almost reverently, and began to walk out with her. As he walked, he saw Henry with the children and another man going into a secret corridor. They met eyes and his gaze lingered on the children a little longer before his eyes flashed and he and Gwen disappeared.
He appeared by the Lake of Avalon with Gwen in his arms and stared out at the place where Arthur was surely waiting for his wife. He almost didn't want to let her go, perhaps to keep her spirit with him but that was selfish so he conjured up a boat with leaves and Gwen's favorite flowers before laying her inside. He smoothed her dress out and removed invisible lint from her.
"I don't even know what to say." He stuttering out with a sobbing laugh before sniffling.
"Perhaps... there is nothing left to say besides I'm sorry and... I'll miss you." He looked down and shook his head before pushing the boat out of the dock and towards the mist to float towards the island. He didn't light it on fire just like with Arthur. He watched long after the boat disappeared.