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    Gwen’s heart thumps quickly as she and Uther near Gaius’ chamber. She hasn’t released Uther hand since she grabbed it in the corridor on their way to meet Arthur. She is scared and doesn’t know if she has the strength to see Arthur at all, especially in the condition Gaius explained to them a while ago. But she wants to. She needs to. It’s her husband lying there, possibly dying, and he needs her. She wants to see, but how will she cope? How will she endure? They near the chamber and as Gaius opens the door, Gwen wants to rush in. But she doesn’t, instead she enters slowly, followed by Uther. The moment she is inside, Gwen gasps, covering her mouth with her hand. Uther stands petrified beside her.

    Arthur lies on the bed while Merlin treats his wound. He is shirtless and blood is splotched on the covers underneath him. Merlin is trying hard to stop the bleeding. Arthur is unconscious. Gwen’s eyes well with tears as she stands, her hands still covering her mouth. Gaius leaves the princess and the king and walks briskly towards Merlin, rolling up his sleeves.

    “How is he?” he asks, inspecting Arthur’s eyes.

    “Still the same. There’s no improvement. We need to stop his bleeding,” Merlin replies.

    “Bring me some fresh cloth and the potion on the shelf,” Gaius orders and presses another fresh cloth on the wound.

    “Gwen?” Uther calls, touching her arm.

    Gwen shudders. Slowly she turns towards Uther.

    “Come,” Uther calls softly and leads her towards Arthur.

    Gwen removes her hand from her mouth and follows Uther. The moment she reaches the bed, she kneels down and takes Arthur’s hand in hers. Tear flows down her cheek. “Arthur?” her voice trembles.

    “Gwen, please …” Uther tries to calm her but she shakes her head, refusing to budge from the bed.

    “Arthur … Arthur, please … look at me!” she cries again.

    “Gwen …” Uther bends down and lifts her up. “Please.”

    “Look at him, Father … look at Arthur! Who could have done something despicable like this! Why him?”

    “They were bandits, Gwen,” Merlin answers, helping Gaius with the wound.

    “Bandits?” Uther seems surprised. “Did you see their faces? How many?”

    “Two of them and they were interested in robbing us. Arthur killed one but the other escaped with our satchel,” Merlin explains.

    “I haven’t heard of bandits in Camelot for a long time … the only bandit attacks I hear about lately came from the borders of Meria.” Uther replies.

    “Maybe its about time we increase our watch at the borders,” Gaius advises.

    “Yes…” Uther agrees, looking back at Arthur. His heart breaks watching his son lying unconscious on the bed but he knows he has to be brave for Gwen’s sake. If he breaks down, so will she. So whatever emotions he feels inside, he has to mask them for now. He believes in Gaius and knows he will heal Arthur. His son will be safe. But he still wants to know from Gaius himself. “What happened Gaius? How is he? Can you cure him, Gaius?”

    “I’m trying my best, Sire …”

    “I believe it isn’t enough …” Uther insists. “Is there anything you need, Gaius … medicine, help, anything at all?”

    “I need another hand, Sire … Merlin is injured as well.”

    “Merlin, are you all right?” Uther walks over towards Merlin.

    “I’m fine, Sire. I can help Gaius.”

    “Let me help,” Gwen offers.

    “Are you sure, Gwen?” Uther asks, looking at her curiously.

    “Yes, I want to help. This is my husband and I can’t just sit in my chambers waiting for the news of his recovery. I want to be here when he opens his eyes and I want to be as close to him as possible,” she tells Uther.

    “She has a point, Uther. And I really could use the extra set of hands,” Gaius tells the king.

    “Fine. If you need anything at all … let me know, Gaius. And Merlin, please take a look at yourself as well,” the king replies.

    “I will, Sire,” Merlin replies.

    After Uther leaves, Gwen wipes her tears, rolls up her sleeve and nears Gaius. “Tell me what to do, Gaius.”

    “You sure you can do this?”

    “Yes,” Gwen says, surprised at her own determination and the depth of her concern. “We need to save him, Gaius … I want my husband back. I am willing to do whatever you need, just save him, please!”

    “Gwen, I promise I will do everything in my power to save him,” Gaius says.

    “Thanks, Gaius …” Gwen says.

    “Here, press this on his wound. We need to clean his wound and then I will sew it up. Merlin, get me the ointment. Take the potion I gave you, add a spoonful of that tonic and give me the mixture,” Gaius explains.

    Both Gwen and Merlin starts to do what they are being instructed. Arthur still lies unconscious on the bed while Gaius prepares his tools to sew up Arthur.




    Gwen enters Arthur’s chamber, carrying the flowers she picked in the garden. She walks right up to the cupboard beside the bed, arranges them in the vase and turns around, walking right up to the window. She pushes the curtains aside and walks back to the bed. Arthur is still asleep. Gwen nears the bed, sits at the edge of the bed and softly strokes his forehead. It’s been almost a week and Arthur still hasn’t opened his eyes yet. Gaius said there isn’t anything to be afraid of because he has sewn the wound up and given him all the proper medications. All that is left is for Arthur to find the will to wake. He has to fight to survive and not given in. Gwen hasn’t left Arthur’s side since the day he was brought back to his chambers, spending all her time with him, tending to his needs. She wishes to do it on her own, asking the servants to leave. Uther is worried about both his son and Gwen. He is worried that Arthur still hasn’t opened his eyes yet, and at the same time, he is worried about Gwen. Since taking up the responsibility of tending to Arthur, Gwen hasn’t had proper rest or food. She looks as if she will drop off any minute. Uther had spoken to her regarding her health but she waved him off, saying she is fine. But Uther, not feeling satisfied, asked Gaius to prepare potions that will give her strength. And Gaius manages to force her to take the potion through Merlin. Though Gwen didn’t like what she drank, she knows it was for her own goodness so she obliged.
    
She bends down, kisses his forehead a few times, and lifts herself up again. She rakes his hair and sighs.

    “Arthur … please, if you can hear me … wake up!” she tells him. “I need you,” she adds softly and reaches out for his hand. She clasps it in hers and lifts it to her lips. She kisses it and sighs again.
    
“Please, Arthur … please wake up. We need you here, I need you here with me,” she tells him again, leaning against his chest. She places her had against his chest and brings his hand to cup her cheek. A single tear streaks down his cheek.
    
Someone knocks on the door.
    
Gwen lifts herself up and wipes her tears. “Come in.”

The door opens and Katrina walks in.

“Morning, Gwen. How is he? Any progress?” Katrina asks, closing the distance between them.

Gwen slides down from the bed, curtsies to the queen and then shakes her head, sadly. “It’s the same as before, I believe. He hasn’t opened his eyes yet.”

Katrina watches Gwen closely. Something about Gwen disturbs her. She has been watching Gwen closely since Arthur was injured and noticed how Gwen has never left his side and how she cares for him. She suspects Gwen is falling in love with Arthur, though Gwen never shows it to Katrina. But after watching Gwen closely all this week, Katrina suspects very much.

“I hope Gaius works on something else to give Arthur … it worries me when Arthur isn’t showing any signs of recovery,” Gwen says.

“I’m worried too, my dear. When I heard about it, I was crushed … I mean, who could have done this to him? Thankfully Merlin was around. Imagine if he wasn’t … no, I can barely imagine it,” Katrina clutches her head and shakes it, in fright.

“Yes … I cannot even dream of what could have happened,” Gwen agrees. “But thank goodness, he is fine.”

“Yes …” Katrina nears the bed and sighs, watching Arthur. “Uther is devastated …”

“I noticed … has been eating properly?” Gwen asks.

“Not really. He is worried for Arthur and for you.”

“But he has to take care of himself as well, please, Mother. You have to ask him to take care of himself as well. He listens to you.”

“I did, Gwen, but he isn’t listening. He is as stubborn as Arthur and I think I might have given up on him. I came here seeking your help. I want you to talk to Uther and make sure he takes care of himself as well … Will you ask him that?”

“Of course I will do it,” Gwen promises. “I can understand why he is ignoring his own health but of course I will talk to him about it. I will meet him tonight.”

“Thank you, Gwen. I know I can rely on you. But I think you shouldn’t neglect your own health as well. I noticed how tired you look, tending to Arthur. Perhaps you should allow the servant to take care of Arthur while you rest.”

“I’m good, Mother. I want to make sure Arthur is well tended for and I won’t know if he has been if I allow the servants to look out for him. I want to make sure he gets all the attention and proper medications and I think I can only be satisfied if I tend him personally.”

“Yes, I would do the same thing to Uther if he was in the same position. I am so glad you are our daughter-in-law. I almost made a mistake but Arthur chose well.” Katrina closes in and takes Gwen’s hand in hers. “I don’t think the other princesses that I sought would have done anything like this for him.”

“He is my husband, and there is nothing I wouldn’t do for him …” Gwen replies, smiling. “I take this more of my responsibility than duty.”

Katrina pulls Gwen close and embraces her.

“Thank you,” Katrina says.

Gwen removes herself from Katrina and smiles. “All I want this moment is for Arthur to wake up and see us both together.”

“Yes … that will be very welcome,” Katrina agrees and turns towards Arthur. “I am really scared for him, Gwen. I don’t want anything to happen to him.”

“He will be all right, Mother. I give you my word, he will be all right,” Gwen tells Katrina in a determined voice.

“Thank you, Gwen,” Katrina smiles.




Katrina slams the door of her chamber and strides angrily towards her bed. She peels off her jewels and throws them on the bed, tearing off her gown. Still in her inner garment, she stops by her cupboard and fishes out a burgundy gown made from cotton and lace. She puts it on and zipping her back carelessly, she sits on the bed and sighs angrily.

“Arghhhh!!” she shouts and picks up the pillow behind her and throws them on the floor. “I hate you!!!”

The door opens and Agravaine walks in.

“Close the door and get in here now!” Katrina shouts at him, shivering in anger.

Agravaine closes the door and walks towards his sister. “What is wrong, Katrina?”

Katrina steps off from the bed and nears her brother. Without warning, she slaps him.

“Katrina?”

“Stop calling me that … address me as your highness or the queen. From now on, you are not my brother!”

“What has gotten into you?” Agravaine asks, rubbing his cheek. The slap has shattered him and he still doesn’t why he received it in the first place.

“You!! Can’t you get one simple instruction done properly? Do I have to do everything myself?” Katrina shouts again.

“What?”

“Stop pretending as if you don’t know, Agravaine? I asked you to get one simple … a very simple thing done and you couldn’t even get that done? Why did I trust you to get it done in the first place? I shouldn’t have given it to you … I should have trusted what Dolma said about you!!”

“Look, is this about Arthur?”

“Yes!!! Finally … that rusted piece in your head is actually functioning!! Yes, it’s about Arthur!! Why is he still alive?”

“How am I supposed to know that?”

“How am … What are you talking about, Agravaine? The instruction was simple: Kill him! And he is alive … why?”

“Because I told the bandits not to kill him. That is why,” Agravaine answers Katrina.

“WHAT???”

“Why do we need to kill him? I thought he was supposed to marry Elena when we are done with Gwen … and now you are asking me to kill him. I don’t agree with your decision and that is why the bandits did as I requested instead of what you requested.”

“I have my own reasons for this order, Agravaine! Why did you have to … arghh!!” Katrina walks back to her bed and sits own, burying her face in her hands. “You spoiled everything, Agravaine!”

“I spared his life for Elena!”

“I could find a prince for Elena!!!You need not worry about that!” Katrina snaps.

“I don’t want prince, I want Arthur …” Agravaine snaps back. “I asked the bandits to make it look like it was an almost murder but spare his life. And they honored their word.”

“I … am speechless.” Katrina shakes her head. “If he’d been dead, I could have thrown Gwen out and claimed the throne myself … now I have to wait and possibly come up with another plan.”

“Forget about killing Arthur … I will not do it, as long as I live,” Agravaine snaps and crosses his arms across his chest. “My daughter marries Arthur and no one else!”

“You … Arghhh!!!” Katrina hisses and pounds the bed. “It had been an excellent plan, idiot!!”

“Call me whatever you want but my decision stays. I will not harm Arthur,” the knight replies adamantly.

Katrina glares at him and sighs. “Fine. Now that Arthur is alive, thanks to you, I have to come up with something else. And do think, I am not the only one with brain here.”

“What do you want? Death? I have no problem with that …” Agravaine says.

“Yes, I can see that …” Katrina hisses.

“Anyone except Arthur. Do you want Gwen dead?”

“No, it will be too risky. I need her alive but I also need her out of Arthur’s life as soon as possible.” Katrina gets up to her feet.

“Why? I thought you needed her?”

“I do, but I am beginning to suspect my plans will backfire,” she tells him.

Agravaine doesn’t understand. “How?”

“I believe they are falling in love with each other. If that happens, our plan will be foiled and Elena will not be his wife. And I will not get to claim the throne. And that is why I changed the plan. I wanted Arthur dead.”

“Fine, now we need to find another plan to get her out of his life.”

“And that is what I asked you to do … to help me sort this out. If you want your daughter to marry Arthur, then you better start thinking yourself!” Katrina scolds her brother and walks to the table. She pours herself a goblet of water and drains it.

“Wait …now that Arthur is hurt, why not we put the blame on her?” Agravaine says.

Katrina sets the goblet and turns to him. “How?”

“Look, I understand the villagers look well on her because she is one of them but now that the prince is hurt, why not we get some who envies her to start turning the matter around. We can say she brings bad luck because Arthur is hurt.”

Katrina thinks a while. The idea is good. And the plan will work. But it still needs substance. “We cannot blame it upon her immediately, Agravaine … we need more drama added into it.”

“And what do you have in mind?”

Katrina thinks a while and smiles. “I think I have just the thing but you need to convince the king and the council about Gwen … “

“Sure.” Agravaine smiles.




A week later …

Gwen pushes aside the curtains and sighs, looking out of the window. It had been raining over night so the yard is still wet. The knights cancelled the training because the ground is wet and muddy. Sir Leon instead took the knights hunting in the forest. Gwen bites her lips and turns slightly around. Arthur is still asleep on his bed. Gwen wonders if Arthur would have taken the same decision as Sir Leon if the ground was muddy. Probably not. Knowing Arthur, Gwen knows he would have asked them to train in the muddy ground. She turns back to the view and after a while, steps back, turns around and walks towards the bed. She picks up the basin she set on the table and nears the bed. Setting it upon the cabinet beside the bed, she rinses the cloth in it and uses it to wipe Arthur’s forehead.

“Did you know it rained really heavily yesterday?” she tells Arthur as she wipes his face. “No one was allowed to go out because there were heavy thunderstorms as well.” She dips the cloth back into the basin and unbuttons Arthur’s shirt. She pushes it open and fishes out the cloth, rinses it and uses it to wash Arthur’s body.

“And did you know the villagers been visiting you every day? They brought fruit and flowers from their land for you,” Gwen explains. “I asked the servants to place the flowers in here so that their fresh smell will fill this place up. And the fruit is on the table … see, over there.” She points to the table. And she smiles to herself. She turns back towards Arthur.

“They all love you, Arthur … they all want you to be well again. To wake up and be their prince once more,” she tells him and drops the cloth back on the basin. She sighs. Caressing her hand across his chest, she looks at Arthur.

“Wake up, Arthur … you have slept enough. Please wake up, for me,” she pleads softly with him.

But Arthur is still asleep.

“You have slept enough … please. Wake up, Arthur.”

But he still remains unconscious.

A single tear escapes Gwen’s eye. She thumbs it off and watches him sadly.

She strokes his chest and leans down, bringing her hand upward to stroke his chin. “You have to wake up, Arthur. We all need you here. Things really aren’t the same without you. Your father seems lost without you by his side. The queen is worried for you. The council is worried as well because they know you are the future king and Camelot cannot lose their king. Merlin needs a friend and he is praying for you every day. Your uncle Tristan is hunting for the bandits every day, seeking revenge. Everyone needs you and worries for you Arthur … you have to live. You have to wake up. Please …” she reaches down, and captures his lips with hers, kissing him.

She closes her eyes and feels the warmth of his lips on hers. Her heart aches and soars at the same time. She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t understand why. But since Arthur had been wounded, she hasn’t been able to sleep or eat well. She is always uneasy, opting to rest by his side than in her chambers. She will watch him, look at his face for hours and despite him sleeping, his face makes her happy. Simply by watching him, she feels eased. And she doesn’t really understand why she feels this way. She isn’t supposed to care for him. She wanted out of this marriage and she couldn’t wait for the queen to help her out. But in recent weeks, she’s realized that doesn’t want the marriage to end. She wants to be Arthur’s wife. She wants to be with him. She is beginning to develop feelings for him, some sort of caring that she is unable to explain. And she is uneasy because she doesn’t know if he has the same feelings for her or not? What if she does and he does not? What if she wants the marriage and he wants out? Will she be able to live with that? Will her heart be able to take that?

Gwen removes her lips and notices her tears have wet his cheek. She wipes it away and sighs. He looks peaceful and she needs some time alone. A walk in the garden will do wonders for her soul. She gets and turns away. But the moment she walks, someone tugs her hand. She turns back around in a quick motion and finds Arthur’s hand is holding hers, firmly.

Gwen gasps.

Arthur opens his eyes, slowly.

Gwen’s heart thumps in excitement.

“Guinevere?” Arthur’s voice breaks but he is looking at her. His hand is firm around hers.

“Arthur?”

“Guine …vere …”

“Oh my God!” Gwen rushes towards the bed and sits at the edge, clasping Arthur’s hand, holding it between both of hers, pressing it to her cheek, her tears flowing down like a river.

“Where … am I?”

“In your chamber. You were wounded. Don’t you remember?”

Arthur sighs and grimaces in pain. “Arghh …”

Gwen looks at him sadly. “I’ll get Gaius,” she starts but he holds her still.

“No … stay with me,” he says.

She sits back and kisses his hand.

“Don’t leave me, Guinevere … I’m afraid.”

“I won’t, Arthur … I will not leave your side. I promise,” she tells him.

Arthur swallows and sighs. “How long have I been out like this?”

“Two weeks.”

“That is a lot of days,” he smiles weakly at her. “You must have been bored without me.”

“Yes, I didn’t have anyone to bicker with,” she jokes with a smile. He smiles back.

“How is Father?”

“He is worried about you, Arthur. But I am sure he will be happy to see you awake.”

“And Merlin?”

“He is fine. He has his own share of injuries but he is healing well. But he is worried about you as well. He visits you all the time. He should hear about your recovery, Arthur, he will be thrilled.”

“And you?” he asks.

“Of course I am happy that you’ve recovered.”

“And that’s it? You are happy?” he asks.

Gwen blushes. Arthur reaches up and cups her chin.

“Just happy, Guinevere?”

“Hmmm …”

“Because I just heard you say that you need me … is that true? Was it just my imagination?”

“Arthur, you need to rest …”

“Answer me, Guinevere. I heard you, every night when you whispered in my ears, every morning when you filled me in with what’s going on around, when you spoke about me, when you talked how it matters to you that I recover … I heard everything and I know it can’t have been my imagination, that would be too cruel. I heard you Guinevere, I heard every word.” He tells her. “I need to know now that I didn’t imagine those words in my mind. Tell me you said those things.” He looks up at her, his eyes unusually earnest

“Yes.”

“Yes what?” he presses, caressing her cheek. Gwen clasps his hand over it.

“Yes, I need you,” she tells him.

Arthur smiles.

“I need you, Arthur, I won’t lie to you. I was devastated when you came back unconscious. I was broken when Gaius told me he did all the best and the rest is upon you. I was simply … crushed. And I didn’t want to give up on you, not yet. I know it wasn’t just on you to recover; it lies on all of us as well. That’s why I told myself that I will make sure you will open your eyes. And thankfully you did.”

“And it’s all because of you, Guinevere. You gave me hope and gave me the will to fight,” Arthur tells her.

“No, Arthur …”

“No, stop being modest, Guinevere. I am alive today partly because of you … and don’t you ever forget that,” he says, cutting her short.

Guinevere smiles.

“I wanted to tell you this when I recovered, up but I think it needs to be said right now. Guinevere … I love you. And I mean this right from my heart …”

Gwen opens her mouth but he places his finger on her lips, sealing her quiet.

“I know I haven’t honest with you. But you deserve the truth, Guinevere. I married you because you embarrassed me. I wanted revenge, so I married you to keep you with me all the time. But after marrying you, I felt a change of heart and I didn’t know if it was because of you or some other unknown factor. But what’s certain was I didn’t want revenge anymore … I wanted you. But I understood you hated me for who I was and I really don’t blame you, Arghhh …” he grimaces in pain.

Gwen pushes his finger from her lips and tends to him. “Stop talking, Arthur …”

“No, I have to tell you this now,” Arthur says stubbornly. “I wanted you in my bed, Guinevere, and I know you didn’t want that … I didn’t understand why you resisted me then, but as you took me to the village and taught me humility, I understood everything doesn’t need to be about sex. The heart matters as well and I learned that from you. And I began to fall in love with you, deeply. Honestly, I didn’t think of just having you in my bed anymore. Instead I wanted you to love me like I do you …”

“I know, Arthur … I know …”

“I love you, Guinevere.”

“And I love you, Arthur,” she admits, her earlier confusion now finding its answer, like the sun bursting forth from behind the clouds.

“Really?”

“Yes,” Gwen smiles. “I do … in fact, I think I started falling in love when you got jealous of Gwaine.”

“Really?” Arthur seems surprised.

Gwen nods and rakes her fingers gently through his hair.

“Ahh …” Arthur sighs happily and smiles back. “I am happy that I am wounded.”

“Why? Don’t say that!” Gwen scolds.

“No I didn’t mean it in a bad way, but … if I hadn’t been injured, I wouldn’t have known your feelings for me.”

“Oh.” Gwen giggles.

“How I missed your smile, Guinevere.”

“Now, rest … you have talked much … I will go and get Gaius.”

“No, stay with me a while more. They can wait …”

“But Arthur …”

“I want you to kiss me like you did just before,” Arthur presses.

“What? How?”

“Guinevere … I know you kissed me. I really want another … and that’s an order.”

“Really?” she smiles mischievously. “From whom?”

“From your husband and the future king of Camelot,” he says with a smile and pulls her down.

“Really … well, then I must oblige I, suppose.” And with that she leans down and presses her lips softly to his, her stomach flipping and fluttering all the while. His hand on her arm tightens as he returns the kiss, squeezing gently, his thumb stroking the sensitive skin on the inside of her elbow.

Arthur is glad he’s awake and alive, but at the moment, he thinks he could actually die a happy man right now. Guinevere loves him.