Arthur was sitting in the throne room, his chin resting on his hand, folded into a fist when the knights walked in. He looked up and stared at them all, one by one. His expression hardened when he saw Elyan. It was Leon who spoke first.
“Sire, we would like to have an audience with you.”
“About what?” the voice was cold.
“About Lancelot and Gwen,” Leon replied, as the others lined up beside him. Arthur glared at each of them one by one, finally resting on Elyan. The knight wasn’t intimidated and returned the cold hard stare.
“I thought I made the punishments quite clear for all to understand? What is it that needed discussing?”
“It’s not fair for them both to be judged based on what you saw sire, they need a trial,” Leon said again.
“TRIAL, LEON?” Arthur shouted, removing his fist and pounding it on the arms of his throne. He rose to his feet and climbed down the dais. “TRIAL?” he asked again, reaching his knights.
“Yes sire… a trial,” Gwaine chimed in. Arthur shot him a look.
“I saw what I needed to see and it was enough for me to pass my judgments. They don’t deserve trial… especially Guinevere!” Arthur said in bitterly.
“She does sire, and I demand that she get one!” Elyan stepped forward.
“Know your place, knight!” Arthur shouted again.
“I’m here to speak for my sister as her brother, not as your knight,
King Arthur!” Elyan’s reply was sharp.
“Elyan, please,” Percival tried to hold him back but Elyan pushed his hand away and stood, infuriated by the king’s behaviour towards his sister.
“Is this the way you address a king, SIR ELYAN?” Arthur mocked, his lips twisted in anger.
“I would have addressed you better sire if you had given my sister a proper trial, one that befits a prisoner, regardless what’s her offences are. I would have stood by your judgement if you had listened to Gwen’s cries and acted upon it fairly and as a king should. I would’ve agreed upon any punishment you pass on her should she found guilty if you had been wise on your treatment of her rather than casting her aside like dirt!!”
“Enough!!” Arthur raised his hand but Leon caught it first. Gwaine pulled Elyan back and restrained him while Leon held Arthur tightly. Arthur’s face was furious while Elyan’s was bitter. He was even bitter when Leon tried to hold him back.
“Let me go, Leon!!”
“Sire, you need to calm down. Please!!” Leon pleaded. But Arthur was not in any mood to be calmed down. He struggled with Leon and almost drew his sword but Percival rushed to Leon’s aid and caught Arthur’s other hand. Both dragged him back to his throne.
“Sire, please… all we want is for you to conduct a trial.” Percival said as he almost lifted Arthur to his seat. He wouldn’t have any problem doing so but he still has his respect for the king and besides, this isn’t what they had in mind when they decided to seek his audience.
“Guards!!” Arthur shouted and within seconds, five armed guards rushed inside, followed by Agravaine behind them.
“What is the meaning of this? Guards, arrest the knights!!” Agravaine instructed. The guards rushed towards the knights. Elyan and Gwaine drew their swords but Leon stopped them.
“No!! No swords, please,” Leon ordered and the rest obeyed. He and Percival released Arthur and stepped back to stand alongside the other two while the guards surrounded them. Agravaine rushed towards Arthur and checked him up.
“Are you all right Arthur?”
“Yes, I am… but I almost came not to be, thanks to my knights of Camelot!!” Arthur said bitterly.
“What the…” Gwaine was furious.
“What were you doing to him? Speak now or I’ll cut your tongues off!” Agravaine ordered.
“We just wanted to speak with him. Didn’t mean to hurt him, but he was going to attack Elyan and I stopped it, that is all” Leon explained.
“There was nothing to speak about, Leon!! You, all of you should have showed some respect to me but instead you are here to speak on behalf of the traitors!!”
“Sire!!” Elyan started but Gwaine held him back.
“Lock them all in the dungeons and do not let them out until they’ve learned some respect!” Arthur ordered. Agravaine smirked.
“Sire… please! Just listen…” the guards started dragging Leon out, followed by the other knights. Gwaine drew his sword but Agravaine seized it.
“Sire… sire…” Percival pleaded but it fell on deaf ears as Arthur turned his back against them.
“Sire… if Gwen is harmed!! I will not let you rest… sire!! I promise!!” Elyan shouted as he was dragged out along with the rest. Agravaine waited until all the knights had been led out before turning his attention towards Arthur who was still standing with his back against him.
“Sire… are you all right?” Agravaine asked, stepping closer.
Arthur wasn’t all right; in fact he was hurt and bitterly disappointed with everyone around him. The only person he trusts in his life betrayed him and his love, a knight he had respected stabbed him in the back and his knights are turning against him as well. The only person left is Merlin. Should Merlin join forces with the knights and side Guinevere, Arthur will not forgive his friend for the rest of his life!
“Arthur?” Agravaine touched Arthur’s shoulder. Arthur turned around and met his uncle. His face was hurt and his eyes, red with fury.
“I’m sorry about what has happened. I… perhaps I shouldn’t have told you about this at all… I’m sorry Arthur. Please forgive me…” Agravaine replied with a heavy heart and looked down. Arthur reached out towards his uncle and squeezed his uncle’s shoulder.
“You did what anyone in your place would have done, Uncle… you did the right thing.”
“No Arthur, it was wrong!! I should have brought it upon you after questioning Gwen and Lancelot first. Leon is right, they deserve a trial, Arthur. I was hasty with my accusation and it’s unfair for them… please Arthur, forgive me. It’s still not late, maybe you can still over turn the punishment.”
“What are you talking about, Agravaine? You are a member of the council, my uncle, and next in throne should something happen to me… this isn’t the reaction I expected of you!”
“You were concerned about me and the kingdom and reacted properly. You shouldn’t be felling guilty about this. In fact, I owe you my thanks for relieving me of these traitors from my life. If I hadn’t known about their betrayal, I wonder what else I would have had to endure. So thank you, Uncle” Arthur said, nodding his head. Agravaine smiled and reached out to clasp Arthur’s arm.
“I promised your mother, Arthur… and I intend to keep that promise, remember that,” he said. Arthur sighed and nodded again.
“Do you think it’s wise to lock the knights in the dungeon?”
“Perhaps not, but it’ll teach them some manners. A day below will allow them to come back to their senses and behave as they should, as the knights of Camelot.” Arthur replied and walked back to his throne.
“What about Lancelot, sire? Do you want him to be executed? I would not mind carrying out the execution myself.”
“No… I want the pleasure of doing it my own!” Arthur replied bitterly and sat down. Agravaine smirked but Arthur hardly noticed it. “Uncle, there is something I need from you?”
“What is it Arthur?”
“Get me Guinevere!” Arthur’s instruction was short and sharp.
Guinevere found Arthur in the throne room, like Agravaine said he would be. He was resting his head back against his throne, his arms hanging loose by the side with one leg stretched out. She walked towards him slowly, threading her footsteps cautiously as not to disturb him. But the moment she stepped inside, Arthur knew of her presence, like he always did. There was some sort of connection between them that Arthur could not explain yet. No matter how softly she treaded, he will always be aware of her like she was of him. Arthur swallowed hard as the thought crossed his mind. How much they loved one another, and how could she do this to him? Guinevere reached the dais and waited for him to acknowledge her. When he didn’t, she cleared her throat. Arthur stirred but remained still. She waited for him, swallowing her breath as her heart raced against her chest. How will she face him? What will she say? How will she explain? He moved slowly at first, lifting his head from the back of his throne and tilted his face to look at her. She met his gaze and found the spark she once remembered fondly, missing. Replaced by cold and hardened anguish. The bitterness of his look was hard to stomach while the hurt was clearly vivid on his face. Gwen ached inside. She knew she’d been the cause of his anguish yet she wanted to reach out and caress the tight muscles of his cheek; calming him back to his usual self. But she could not. No matter how she wanted to, she will have to accept the fact she was standing here, facing him guilty as charged. He looked at her, coldly. His eyes fiery. Guinevere lowered hers and clasped her fingers tightly. She felt the heat of his stare and didn’t have the courage to look back at him. How could she? She broke his heart and destroyed his faith in their love! There is no way he will forgive her, ever.
“Guinevere!” he called, his voice laced with hurt and bitterness.
She looked up at him, her fingers still clasped tightly. Swallowing hard, she opened her mouth to answer yet her words choked.
“So, now… you decline to answer me, is that so?” he asked.
“No, Arthur… I…” she didn’t know how to talk to him. There were so much she wanted to tell him, to confide, to pour her heart out and express her remorse at what had happened yet, she couldn’t find the words to do so.
“Fine. hHave it your way. Do you know why I called you here?” he asked, tapping his fingers on the arms of his throne. She shook her head. He snorted and pounded the arm of his throne. She jerked a bit, startled by the impact.
“What do you have to say for yourself?” he asked, his forehead wrinkled.
“STOP doing this, Guinevere!!” Arthur pounded the arms again, this time hard and stomped his feet. He straightened up and looked furiously at her. Guinevere’s heart sank though she didn’t know what he meant actually. Her answers been genuine. She didn’t know what happened and how will she tell him what occurred.
“You think you’re smart? Trying to buy your freedom with that innocence of yours? I probably would have fallen for your charm before but not anymore! You hear that? Not anymore!!” he barked at her. “Since you hardly remembered you traitorous feat with my knight, let me do the honours of reminding you, Guinevere,” he said. “You were found kissing Sir Lancelot while I had been on my hunting trip! How do you defend yourself, Gwen?”
Guinevere knew it was either now or never. Regardless he accepts the truth or not, she will tell him or at least try.
“Arthur… I’m sorry, I …”
“So you admit it?”
“No!! I don’t!! But please hear me out, Arthur. I was enchanted, I didn’t know what was going on… I would never commit myself into such a despicable act. I would never hurt you!”
“HURT ME!!!” Arthur laughed bitterly and sat up. “Just spare me that, will you? You have done more than just hurt me Gwen… you broke my heart!!” he added.
Gwen’s eyes welled with tears. Her heart ached so badly that she just wanted to run out from the hall and hide herself somewhere, never returning until the situation is solved. Yet she doubted if the situation will ever be resolved.
“You toyed with my feelings Guinevere. I loved you, more than I have loved anyone. I was willing to lay down my life for you, give up this throne and follow you blindly even to the ends of the world, yet… you hurt me. Why? What have I done? Where have I fallen short that my love had to be discarded so easily?” he asked. Gwen’s heart tugged.
“I need to know, Guinevere. I need to know how I have wronged you.”
“Please Arthur… don’t say that. You wronged no one …”
“Then why me, Guinevere? Why did you choose me? Why did you… break me?” Arthur’s emotion flowed through his words. He covered his eyes and leaned back against the throne. “If Lancelot was the one you loved, you could have been honest about it!” he added. Gwen shot him a sharp look, her eyes widening into a stun.
“Don’t say that! Don’t ever say that!!” she hissed. “I love you and only you Arthur Pendragon! Not Lancelot!!”
“Then why did you do THAT!!!” Arthur rose to his feet and stepped down the dais. He took only a couple of strides and was beside Gwen. Reaching up his grabbed her shoulders and gripped them hard!
“Why?” he asked again, his voice hurt. Gwen looked down and sobbed. She knew no matter what she said will definitely fall into deaf ears as Arthur was convinced she was guilty. He wouldn’t listen to her explanations, he has his own and will be adamant to keep that in mind.
“Nothing I say right now will ever be clear to you, Arthur. You’re filled with hatred and rage, nothing will make sense to you,” she admitted sadly. Arthur squeezed her shoulder hard.
“No, Gwen… you’re wrong. It makes perfect sense to me. In fact, it should have been clear to me when I saved you from Hengist but I was a fool, a blind fool who’d been too in love with you to realise it. I was trying to deny the truth, yet it was there for me to see… your love for Lancelot! It was always him, Gwen. Your heart was set and belonged to him.”
“No Arthur!! Please stop saying it!!”
“Why Gwen? Does it hurt you? Does it?” he mocked and shook her. Gwen covered her eyes with her hand but he peeled it off. “Look at me, Guinevere… look at me and say you never loved him?”
Gwen trembled inside. She never saw this coming. How can she say that? That would be a lie. She did love Lancelot. Yes, when all hopes were fading with Arthur and her, Lancelot stepped into the fold and offered his hand. Offered hope. And she almost accepted it. But that was before Arthur came back into the view and rekindled their feelings, reignited the flame that was about to die. She saw his passion and allowed Arthur a chance. But Lancelot was in love with her as well. Knowing it was wrong to hurt both men, she opted for Arthur as he had been and always be her real love. Lancelot will have a special place in her heart but it’s Arthur whom her love belongs to. She was glad when Lancelot noted Arthur’s affection towards her and left. But so did her feelings for him. And when he did return, he was her good friend and nothing more than that.
“Tongue tied, are we?”
“Stop!! Stop doing this to me!!”
“Why Gwen? We are just getting started, why stop now?”
“Enough, Arthur!!” Gwen shouted and removed Arthur’s hands from her shoulder. Arthur watched her silently. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she made no attempt to wipe them away. Her heart cried out painfully and she wanted to rip it off her so that she’d be deprived of the pain. She staggered back as her body felt limp.
“You want the truth Arthur!!! Let me tell you the truth. I love you and only you, regardless what you say. Lancelot was a man in my life but he is nothing more than a friend to me! But you, Arthur Pendragon… it is you whom I love and my heart belongs to you! Believe it or not, I would never hurt you. I’d rather bleed to death than to see you in pain. But please… please do not taunt me with your bitter words, Arthur. It hurts more than you can think!” she snapped at him and sobbed.
“Are you telling me what I saw this afternoon was a lie?” he asked.
She looked at him. There was no remorse on his face. He has yet to be convinced. Gwen felt her blood boil.
“I was enchanted, Arthur, and whatever it was you saw… I was not aware of it!”
“LIE!!!” Arthur shouted again.
“Then so be it!!!” Guinevere shouted back. She had enough. Her heart ached badly and she could not accept the torment any longer.
“I can’t do anything to change your thoughts on me, Arthur, neither can I prove my innocence… but I can prove my love to you. Execute me, Arthur! Punish me in any way you feel justified and I’ll accept it gladly. If that makes you happy, let me endure it… for your happiness!” she finished.
Arthur laughed and waved his hand at her. “Why, even in death you wish to be with him?”
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m burning Lancelot at sunset… and you wish to die as well. Isn’t that proof enough of your love for him?”
Gwen collapsed to the ground, seated and covered her face with her hand. That was it. Her heart could no longer accept the hurt and pain Arthur was discarding on her. Her limbs were weak and she felt faint. Yet she needs to be strong, she can never let him see how vulnerable she’d become because of this. She has to be strong. Arthur clenched his cheek and fisted his palm. He heard sobs from her. His heart tugged. He can never watch her cry as it made him weak. He would have rushed to her side if he was the old Arthur but right now, he was filled with hatred. And he could not bother to do so.
“Enough with your cries, Gwen… nothing works for me anymore.” he said. Gwen removed her hand. Her eyes swelled up.
“Why are you being such a cold hearted tyrant, Arthur?”
“You made me such Gwen!!! REMEMBER!!!” he reminded her.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Will you do everything I ask of you?” he asked.
“Anything that’ll make you happy,” she replied.
Arthur turned around and walked to his throne. He clutched the hilt of his sword tightly and stared ahead for a long time. His heart felt heavy yet it was for the best. He could have been hurt and anyone in his place would have been extremely cruel but he still loved her. There was no way he could see her hurt, even if she loved Lancelot. Even if she denied it. There was only one option for her. He turned around and faced her, his eyes misty and red. His face drawn. Gwen waited.
“I want you to leave Camelot and never return, ever!” he finished, his features stony.
Gwen gasped. Her heart exploded. Was she listening to the right words? Did Arthur just banish her from Camelot? Her tears stopped as she still recovered from the shock. Her fingers trembled as she slowly lifted it to her lips.
“Arthur?” her voice trembled.
He was in pain as well but it was best for them both. “If I had been my father’s son, I would have executed you, Guinevere, but I love you far too much to inflict any kind of pain. Hurting you would be like hurting myself. So, this is the best I can do for you. Leave Camelot and never return, under any circumstances… ever!” he finished.
“Please… don’t do this to me, Arthur…” Gwen cried, her heart could not hold the emotions any longer. Arthur turned around. “Please don’t ask me to leave… I have nowhere else to go, please!” she pleaded and buried her face in her hands. “Ask me to give my life, I’d do it… don’t ask me to leave Arthur, please, please!!” but he wasn’t listening.
“Trust me, Guinevere, it’s the best for us” he said and moved towards the door.
“Don’t say that name anymore, Guinevere, it no longer belongs to you,” he finished and left the hall as she cried her hearts out, filling the throne room with her sadness.
Agravaine was holding the torch in his hands, awaiting Arthur when the king arrived, his stride slow and weak. Arthur’s face was taut and he showed no emotions whatsoever. Agravaine knew something must have happened inside or Arthur would not look as death itself. Lancelot was tied to the stake and he was unconscious. He had bruises on his face, lips and forehead indicating he had been fighting throughout his capture. Arthur reached Agravaine and looked at Lancelot.
“What’s wrong with him?” he asked, pointing towards Lancelot.
“He tried to break free and flee, sire… the guards had to knock him off” Agravaine explained. Arthur sighed and took the torch from Agravaine.
“How about Gwen, Arthur?”
“She’s been taken care of… let’s pay our attention to him,” Arthur said shortly and neared the stake. Lancelot stirred. Arthur eyed him bitterly.
“If only you didn’t come in between me and Guinevere, Lancelot…” Arthur said to himself. Lancelot lifted his lids open, slowly.
“I respected you… and what did you give me in return?” Arthur added harshly, his eyes, red with fury and filled with hatred. Lancelot opened his eyes. He noted the torch in Arthur’s hand and panic raced through his face. He struggled to break free.
“Arthur? What’s the meaning of this?” Lancelot asked.
“This is how traitors like you are treated in Camelot, Lancelot! In case you’ve forgotten, this is merely a reminder for you,” Arthur replied.
“Have you forgotten what have I done for you?” Lancelot reminded.
“Of course not, Lancelot… and you could have asked anything in return… yet you chose Guinevere, one thing I could not part with!”
“We are in love Arthur!! We have been all these while, since I first saw her… it was you who came in between us!! I have as much hatred for you as you do me!!” Lancelot shouted.
“Then maybe you can take your love for Gwen and hatred for me to your grave!!”
“Good riddance” Arthur said angrily and was about to lit the pyre when a huge gale tossed everyone back, crashing all onto the floor, scattering them everywhere. Arthur’s torch flew off his hand while Agravaine was sent to crashing against the wall of the stairs. The guards were scattered here and there. Lancelot too was sent crashing onto the ground hard and he lay on the floor, hands still bound but no longer tied to the stake. The impact of the fall made him unconscious. Arthur groaned in pain and picked himself up but everyone else was still lying unconsciously on the ground. He looked around in panic, his hand drawing out his sword.
“Your sword will be no use to you Arthur Pendragon” Arthur heard a familiar voice behind him. He turned around and his face darkened when he came across the one face he will not forget easily. It was Dragoon, the old sorcerer who killed his father.
“What are you doing Arthur? I thought you were a king with heart? Burning an innocent man isn’t really your way,” Merlin said, in his disguise as Dragoon. He hunched his back and met Arthur’s gaze equally. Arthur glared at him.
“This is none of your business, old man”
“Really… but I like to stick my nose where I’m not wanted,”
“In that case, then you shall die by my hand!”
“Stop it!!” Merlin raised his hand and Arthur’s sword changed into a long stem of flower. Arthur threw the flower away and rushed towards Dragoon but another chant followed and Arthur was glued to the ground, unable to move. Arthur shouted at Dragoon furiously.
“What do you want?”
“Just some time of yours, Arthur, and I’ll be gone.”
“To explain what happened to Gwen and Lancelot today!” Dragoon explained. Arthur stopped struggling and looked at Dragoon with surprise.
“How did you know that?”
“I know everything that dwells here… besides, I know the person who did this to them!”
“What are you talking about?”
“They were enchanted Arthur! Both of them”
“And how do you know that?”
“This!!” Dragoon threw the bangle he held at Arthur and it clanged at Arthur’s feet. Arthur looked at it and then at Dragoon.
“Is this supposed to be the gift you bought for Gwen?” Dragoon asked.
“No… I got her a ring. I know she hates bangles… wait! What is this?”
“Someone changed your gift and gave Gwen this enchanted bangle, turning her mind from you towards Lancelot. Everything that happened after she wore the bangle was caused by the enchantment… created by Morgana!”
“Morgana!!” the name sounded like a curse in Arthur’s ears.
“She wanted to break you and Gwen apart and came up with this foil. And she used Lancelot in her plan. He is enchanted as well… revived from the lake of Avalon through magic. The Lancelot you lost at the Isle of Blessed is still there, but he is hidden by the evil that engulfs him. Just like Gwen, he had no idea what he was doing!”
“This is ridiculous! I do not believe the word of a sorcerer, especially one like you! How can I believe you? How do I know you didn’t put it there yourself?” Arthur asked.
“You are a hard man to please, Arthur Pendragon!” Dragoon said, shaking his head. “I have no reason to break you and Gwen apart, but Morgana does. She wants the throne for herself and would do anything to get it. If Gwen becomes the queen, it’ll deprive her chance of claiming the throne herself, which is why she is keen to rid of Gwen first, than you.” he added.
Arthur struggled, but the magic that held him was strong and he found it extremely hard to break free. Dragoon walked towards him, slowly.
“I don’t care if you believe me or not, young king but I would have expected you to believe in your love. Your heart, which so often spelled the right decision, is tainted with poisonous advice from those who claim to give you their best interest, yet it is they you should doubt. Not the love you and Guinevere share,” Dragoon advised. Arthur stopped struggling. His arms loosened by his side.
“I know how much both of you love one another and it is destined that you’ll be a greater king with the love of Guinevere by your side. It’s been written into your future a long time ago and almost every magical being in this world knows of it. There are those who support this relationship and those who oppose it. Morgana is one such person. She is a seer and saw the future both you and Gwen would build together. If that is to happen, Morgana would be left with nothing. This is the reason why she needs to get rid of Gwen by all means. And she succeeded today. She broke you both apart and now turning you into a murderer!”
“I don’t need to be taking in the advice of a murderer!!”
Dragoon reached up and slapped Arthur twice. Arthur was taken by surprise and his eyes widened when the old man slapped him. He bit his lips furiously.
“Your father was dying, Arthur! But I still cured him… and would have been alive if it wasn’t for Morgana!!! She killed him, with magic!”
“What are you blabbering about?”
“Morgana learned of your intentions to cure your father with magic and used it as an opportunity to get her revenge. She reversed my cure and killed him using the same magic of mine. You blamed me and now I have to live with that guilt for the rest of my life!”
“I’m not believing you… no!!”
“Why don’t you ask Gaius? He knew of this, too… he’ll tell you!” Dragoon said. Arthur found this new piece of information hard to stomach. Morgana? He knew his sister was a witch and had witnessed her power himself, but killing her own father? Did she hate him that much? Would she actually go to such extent, without mercy? After all, she was his daughter and had lived here with them for years!
“It is hard to believe the person you grew up could do this to you, yet Morgana is driven by her hatred for Uther and you! She is thirsty for the throne and you stand in the way. And so she hits you where it hurts most, your heart. She is taking away those dearest to you one by one; to hurt you so that one day your fragile heart will no longer be able to cope with the loss. And then she will strike her final blow!”
“But… but…” Arthur was speechless.
“Gwen and Lancelot here are a victim of her attempt to destroy you Arthur. She knows how to hit you and been using that almost in every attempt. You must dwell carefully, Arthur Pendragon, for some around you have been loyal to her as well, which is why she knows almost all your plans.”
“A traitor, you mean?”
“Yes… be careful whom you believe in. Not all are as they seem!” Dragoon advised. Arthur sighed and looked down, his face softening.
“If it is true… about my father and Morgan, then… I have made a mistake, haven’t I?” he asked.
“Yes… but it’s never late to amend your wrongs,” Dragoon said softly. Arthur looked back at the old man.
“I need to talk to Gaius first… only he can assure me of your words.” Arthur replied.
“Then so be it…” Dragoon said and with an outstretched palm, he released Arthur from the glued stance the latter was in.
“You can leave, old man. Don’t think I’m releasing you because I listened to you. I still have my doubts, but if Gaius’s word proves to be as you said, you will have my respect from now on, but if not… next time you will not be as lucky!” Arthur said and rushed into the castle, leaving Dragoon smiling to himself. Lancelot stirred and caught Dragoon’s attention.
“Hmm… now let’s cure you, Lancelot!” he said and outstretched his palm.
Gwen was making her way down the road, towards the castle gate when Merlin caught up behind her, arms flailing as he tried to reach her. “Gwen!!!” He called her as his panting almost choked his words. Gwen looked back and after seeing him, she stopped. Merlin reached her and panted, holding his hips as he tried to lick his dried lips. Sweat matted his forehead and he looked flushed.
“Merlin?” she was surprised. She didn’t expect him to be here as she had planned to leave before anyone realised it. Yet, somehow Merlin found out.
“Where are you going? What are you doing? This is insane!! Come on, let’s get you back home!!” Merlin reached down and took her belongings but she pulled it back. Her eyes were welling with tears and she was having hard time trying to talk with emotions flooding her words.
“Merlin, you knew what happened?”
“He is a clotpole, Gwen!!! Sometimes he hardly knows what he says himself. Ignore him, let’s go home.”
“No, Merlin. He is right. I should leave. I caused him pain and I won’t be able to forgive myself for what I’ve done! I should go!!”
“Gwen!! Don’t be such a stubborn fool. He was listening to Agravaine and that explains the hasty judgments he gave you and Lancelot. But he is getting his sanity back, thanks to the old sorcerer who saved Lancelot’s life a while ago.”
“Lancelot is saved?”
“Yes, an old sorcerer came into the fold and saved his life. He also proved your innocence to Arthur.”
“But how did he…”
“Know, you mean? It was the same sorcerer who saved your life when Uther planned to execute you and the same old man Arthur brought in to save Uther’s life. Somehow this man has been keeping tabs on everything that happens in Camelot. But I’m really grateful he came in when we needed him most”
“Where is Lancelot now?”
“Gaius sent him to his own village to recuperate. Lancelot was enchanted and revived through magic and the toll was far too much for him to endure, so Gaius and I felt he needs a longer time to heal. And it’s best he did it in a different place than Camelot. He went through too much in the past few days and it’s best that he and Arthur don’t cross paths for some time. Besides, it was Lancelot’s wishes to be sent back to his own village.”
“He was ashamed for what has happened, Gwen, and he said he couldn’t face either you or Arthur. He respected Arthur, and after what has happened, he said he would never be able to look at Arthur in the same way again. And you…”
“He is a good man, Merlin, just like Arthur. Hope he gets well soon. He is a good knight and Arthur needs people like him here.”
“Arthur needs you too, Gwen. Don’t go please!”
Gwen closed her eyes and a tear rolled down her cheek. “I have to Merlin. I promised him I will and I’ll keep my word.”
“But Gwen… this is insane!!”
“No Merlin. This is destiny. I broke his heart, enchantment or no. I killed his love for me and for that I will pay. But I will always love him, forever, as long as my breath leaves my body and beyond. There will never be another in my life, Merlin. And until Arthur forgives me, I will never return”
“Gwen!!! Please...” Merlin hung his shoulders and sighed sadly.
Gwen reached up and cupped Merlin’s cheek, caressing it with her thumb. She smiled as he looked at her. “You are my best friend, Merlin, and have always stood by me. I will never forget you but there is something I need to ask of you, will you do that for me?”
“Take care of Arthur for me, Merlin. It is all I ask of you,” she finished.
Merlin reached out and hugged her as both friends cried their hearts out. As she pulled back, Gwen smiled in between her hurt. “And you take care of yourself too. Don’t get yourself into any trouble,” she said. Merlin snickered but his heart was heavy with sadness.
“Take care of Gaius and tell him I said goodbye,” Gwen added. Merlin nodded.
“Where will you go?”
“I’m not sure Merlin… I’m not sure.”
“Why not go and stay with my mother?”
“I wish not to trouble anyone. I will be fine. I have friends in other villages and I’m sure they will accommodate me. Goodbye Merlin”
“Goodbye, old friend, and take care,” Merlin said as Gwen bid him goodbye, took one last look at the castle and left. Merlin waited until she disappeared behind the gate, wiped his tears, turned his heel and walked back to the castle sadly.
Above, from the castle, Arthur watched Gwen’s departure with a heavy heart. He learned the truth about his father’s death from Gaius and believed everything the old sorcerer said yet he stuck with his judgement. He allowed Gwen to leave and has reasons for it as well. Now that he knew her life was at risk here and there is a traitor looming in the background, waiting to pounce on her… Arthur felt her life can be spared if she lived away from Camelot. Until the situation clamed down, he need to keep her away from here and the only way he can get her out is to break their relationship. It broke both hearts but at least it will keep her safe. As he watched her leave, a tear rolled down his cheek and he ignored it. His heart was crying out for her, and though he knew it was the best for her and for their love, he was still hurt by her departure. He was agonizingly in pain and as she disappeared down the road, he hung his head down and walked back inside the castle.