Part 13: link
The royal couple makes their way to the balcony overlooking the courtyard, where the citizens of Camelot have gathered to greet their sovereigns.
“Are you all right?” Arthur asks the quiet Guinevere.
“Yes. No. I don’t know,” she answers. “Honestly I’m more nervous for Merlin.”
“I’ll be fine, Gwen,” Merlin says from behind them, and they turn to see him standing there in his new robes. They are deep midnight blue with silver accents at the cuffs and neck. He is carrying an intricately carved staff the color of bleached driftwood, holding it as easily and as naturally as Arthur when he holds his sword. He even has new boots.
that should be worried,” Merlin continues, nodding in Arthur’s direction.
“Thank you, Merlin, you always know just how to make me feel better,” Arthur answers, looking at the ceiling with a sigh.
“Come,” Gwen says. “Our people are waiting to see their new king.”
“Our people are waiting to see their new queen,
” Arthur corrects. “Just wait,” he adds when she looks at him sideways, skeptical.
And with that, they step onto the balcony and are immediately engulfed in cheers. Random cries of “Long live the king!” and “Long live the queen!” can be heard from time to time.
Arthur and Gwen smile warmly at them, and Gwen even waves a few times. They step a little further along, and Arthur holds his hands up, calling for silence.
It comes rather quickly, but it is unclear as to whether it was due to Arthur’s bidding or the fact that Merlin has come fully into view.
“My friends,” Arthur speaks, now, his voice clear in the morning air, “I would first like to thank you all for your loyalty to the true crown of Camelot and for your faith in my father and myself that we would triumph over Morgana’s attempt at usurping the throne.”
“Many lives were lost in the battle, chief among them of course being King Uther,” Arthur continues sadly, “but he died knowing that Camelot would continue and thrive under my rule, not under Lady Morgana’s tyrannical thumb.”
Not exactly true, but I guess they don’t need to know that,
“I can report that the Ladies Morgause and Morgana will never be a threat to Camelot again and are, at the moment, being transported to the traitors’ graveyard outside of the kingdom.”
More cheers. Some people look surprised, not having heard the news.
“There are many people to whom Camelot owes a debt of gratitude,” Arthur says one the cheering dies down. Now comes the hard part.
“Our brave knights, imprisoned in the dungeons for their loyalty to my father,” he indicates one side of the courtyard where the knights are assembled. “However, were it not for the bravery of a small handful of knights who avoided imprisonment, the ranks would have never gotten the opportunity to do their duty to the crown. Please step forward Sir Leon, Sir Gwaine, Sir Lancelot, Sir Percival, and Sir Elyan.”
There are confused mumblings among the crowd as the five men step forward from their positions in the front of the ranks.
“Who are those others?”
“Isn’t that the blacksmith?”
“Wasn’t he banished from Camelot?”
“I would also recognize Sir Bors, a part of this group, but unfortunately was lost to us in battle,” Arthur speaks above the mutterings. He takes a deep breath. “You all know Sir Leon, Captain of the Knights of Camelot, returned to us from his questing to find, well, me,” Arthur chuckles once, then continues, gathering himself. Gwen squeezes his hand.
“And many of you recognize Sir Elyan as Elyan the blacksmith and are wondering how this can be.” He pauses, watching as the assembled heads nod and mutter.
“A new era is beginning in Camelot today, my friends,” Arthur announces. “The principles of knighthood can be found in the common man as well, and I recognize that. Sirs Elyan, Gwaine, Lancelot, and Percival are common-born.”
Merlin smirks as the actually noble-born Gwaine shifts uncomfortably on the cobbles.
“But these men embody the ideals of knighthood: Loyalty. Honor. Valor. Honesty. Bravery. To fight for what is right and good, against tyranny and injustice, to protect and defend the weak and helpless. These men came to Camelot’s aid in her time of greatest need, asking nothing in return. These men fought for this kingdom, for you, for me, though two of them had been banished from this kingdom and one has never even set foot here before. These men are true Knights of Camelot.”
Cheers erupt throughout the crowd, and Gwen has to blink back her tears, touched by Arthur’s words and by the outpouring of support from the people.
“I hereby decree that any able-bodied man may petition for knighthood, regardless of standing,” Arthur says, and there is more cheering.
“That doesn’t mean I’m going to make it any easier to become a knight, though,” he adds, the hint of a smile playing about his lips now.
“I would also like to acknowledge Queen Guinevere’s contribution to the battle,” Arthur says now, turning towards a surprised-looking Gwen, reaching his hand out to her.
“While she did not take up a sword and join the fray, she and Gaius tended the wounded and provided comfort and food to the small band of us who were hiding in the woods,” he smiles. “She did this out of her love for this kingdom, though she had been sentenced to death and fled. She loves Camelot, and her love for this kingdom and all of you is what will make her a great queen, a queen worthy of the title.”
“May I say something, my lord?” Gwen asks, biting her lip nervously.
“Of course,” Arthur answers, and nods to her. She steps shyly forward and the crowd is immediately and completely silent. The people are very eager to hear what their familiar new queen has to say.
“As you all know, I have been a servant my entire life. I cleaned floors, washed dishes, laundered clothes. I looked after others; took care of them. I made sure that everything was in its proper place. I was never ashamed of who I was, and it has shaped who I am today,” she pauses, her heart thumping in her chest, unaccustomed to public speaking and not especially enjoying the way her voice sounds as it echoes back at her from the stone walls of the courtyard.
“I have come to realize that as queen, I am still a servant. I am your
servant; the servant of the people of Camelot. I promise you now that I will continue to look after people and take care of them – take care of you
; to make sure everything is in its proper place here in Camelot.”
There is the briefest pause, and Gwen swears her heart stopped beating. Then one person shouts, “Long live the queen!” and the cheering begins anew.
Fresh tears fall from Gwen’s face, tears of relief, tears of happiness, as she feels touched beyond measure. The cheers are not subsiding, they are growing. The knights have joined in now, and Gwen clasps her hands over her heart, overwhelmed.
Arthur beams at her, reaching over for her hand again as she steps back from the railing, squeezing it warmly. Wow. She’s good. Better than I could have hoped.
“Getting jealous now,” Arthur mutters, and calls for silence again.
“Finally, there is one last person who deserves recognition. I’m sure many of you are wondering what my manservant Merlin is doing up here with us and why he is dressed like a noble.”
More mutterings from the crowd. Gwen notices Leon quietly calling the knights to attention, making certain that they are alert.
Arthur thinks. “Merlin has proved himself to be Camelot’s most valuable asset.”
Merlin and Gwen both think, peeking at each other behind Arthur.
“He went above and beyond the ability of any man in this endeavor. His skills were able to match Morgause and Morgana at their game,” he pauses again as a few people in the crowd start to understand what Arthur is actually saying, the mumblings increasing slightly now. “And while he was not directly responsible for their deaths, he was instrumental in both of them as well as finding the key to defeating the so-called immortal army.”
“People of Camelot, hear me, and I beg you, do not fear: Merlin is a wizard.”
Gasps. Shouting. Disbelief.
Gwen glances at Merlin. He looks slightly green, and she reaches her hand out behind Arthur and squeezes Merlin’s hand.
“I am lifting the ban on magic,” Arthur says now, plunging forward.
More shouting, more gasps.
” Arthur’s voice booms, and the crowd silences, cowed. “However, all magical activity will be highly
regulated and monitored. Merlin – Lord Merlin – will take the new post of Court Sorcerer and will also be acting as my primary advisor. He has shown repeatedly and beyond all doubt that he is nothing but loyal to Camelot and to me.”
“He’s been lying to you all this time! How can you call that loyal?” a single voice shouts, and Leon steps forward, hand on hilt, scanning the crowd.
“Hold, Sir Leon,” Arthur says, extending his hand.
“Lord Merlin was forced to keep his… skills… a secret because of the law set down by my father. It is a law that was short-sighted at best, cowardly at worst.”
Several people in the crowd gasp at hearing Arthur speak so of his father. Others nod in agreement.
“Merlin has proven to me that not all people who practice magic are evil. Anyone who knows Merlin at all knows that he doesn’t have an evil bone in his body. The best way to fight those who use magic for evil is to have a very strong source of magic used for good. I know this now,” Arthur says, and he sees many heads nodding below. “The price he pays for his freedom and his life is that he will be responsible for regulating sorcery. If you wish to practice magic in Camelot, then you must answer to Lord Merlin. That is my decree.”
“If it were not for Merlin’s considerable skill as a wizard, I would not be standing before you today with my queen by my side, and all of you would be bending your knees to Queen Morgana,” he adds, just to drive his point home.
“Queen Guinevere and I thank you again for your loyalty and support, and the queen has ordered provisions brought from the kitchens for anyone that may have need,” Arthur says, redirecting. I think I’ve overwhelmed them. So now it’s time to ply them with free food.
Doors open and castle servants come out with carts and trays bearing leftover food from last night’s feast, and Arthur notices the mood shift immediately as people crane their necks, hoping to glimpse what morsels may be waiting for them.
Arthur places his arm around Gwen’s waist, gently pulling her to his side, and she smiles up at him.
He’s got that look again.
“Arthur, no,” she whispers.
“They’ll love it, trust me,” he mutters, his hand already moving toward her chin, angling her face up.
He bends down and kisses her sweetly, chastely, and clearly lovingly. The crowd forgets about the food for a moment to cheer again. More cries of “Long live the king!” and “Long live the queen!” can be heard.
“See?” Arthur gloats just slightly. They wave to the crowd and turn to head inside, leaving Leon and the knights to keep the crowd orderly as they come forward for their food.
“Everyone got cheers except for me,” Merlin grumbles once they are back inside.
“Well, you had the biggest burden to bear, Merlin,” Gwen says kindly. “People have gotten so afraid of magic that being told that the thing that many of them fear most is now legal is a lot to take in.”
“And don’t forget, you asked for this,” Arthur adds, poking him in the shoulder.
“Ow,” Merlin complains.
“Don’t worry, Merlin, they’ll come around. People may be a little afraid of you for a bit, but just continue to be your normal sweet self and they’ll come around. Once they see, like we have, that you’re still you despite the fact that you can do some really amazing things, they’ll relax.”
“Thank you, Gwen,” Merlin says, finally smiling.
“Well, I, for one, want nothing more than to take this crown off and sit down,” Arthur says, tucking Gwen’s hand into his elbow and starting down the corridor.
“Sire?” a guard approaches, looking at Arthur with a slightly wide-eyed expression.
“Ugh. See what he wants, Merlin,” Arthur says, continuing to walk.
Merlin groans but does as he is told. I guess this is part of the advisor role.
“Arthur!” Merlin calls after them a few moments later as Arthur and Gwen walk hand in hand towards their chambers.
“What is it, Merlin?” Arthur says wearily, turning.
“The Council wishes to convene.”
“Tomorrow,” Arthur says.
“Merlin, the only place I will be present between now and dinner – if that, even – is in the royal chambers. With my wife,” he says. In the royal chambers between my wife’s beautiful firm thighs, specifically,
he thinks, and one glance at Gwen tells him she knows exactly what he’s thinking.
“They’re already in there,” Merlin protests, pointing in the direction of the hall.
“I am exhausted, Merlin, and Queen Guinevere needs her rest, as you well know,” Arthur points out.
“Merlin,” Gwen says gently, “surely in light of all that has happened, there is nothing so important that the Council cannot wait one more day before we need to meet?”
Merlin cannot help but smile at his friend, how she actually seems a born queen. “Of course, my lady,” he nods.
“None of that now,” she says, frowning at him. “I don’t want any ‘my ladys’ from you.”
“No, Arthur. Merlin is like another brother to me. He can address me as he always has,” she turns on him, hands on her hips.
He holds up his hands, surrendering. “All right. But publicly, he should use your title. Merlin, go sort it out. I will meet with the Council tomorrow. Tomorrow afternoon.”
“Merlin,” Gwen calls after him, and he turns back again. “I do like your new robes. Very dashing. And the staff is a nice touch indeed.”
“Thank you,” he grins and hurries away.
They reach the end of the corridor leading to the royal chambers to find Smith bounding toward them, loping with that slightly odd large-puppy gait of a dog that has yet to grow into his feet.
“Smith,” Gwen smiles, calling him to her side. He slows when he reaches them and nudges her hip with his head. She obliges by scratching his ears.
“I’m going to get jealous of that dog,” Arthur teases, so Gwen scratches him behind one ear as well.
Arthur laughs and looks down at the dog as they walk, noting his perfect bone structure and proud bearing.
“Almost a shame he’s so devoted to you already. He would have been a magnificent hunting dog,” Arthur sighs.
“He is a magnificent companion and protector, aren’t you boy?” Gwen coos to the dog. Smith’s long tail wags frantically.
They reach the doors to find them open, Caldwell waiting just inside. Gwen crouches to talk to Smith for a moment, kissing the top of his head before he does his turn-three-times-and-lay-down maneuver, settling into his basket.
“Ah, Caldwell,” Arthur says, striding inside. He takes his crown off. “Take this and…” he reaches over and gently removes Gwen’s crown as well just as she enters, “this and put them in their places in the vaults.”
“You don’t want to keep them in a more accessible location, my lord?” Caldwell asks, puzzled.
“No. I hate wearing it and plan to avoid doing so as much as possible. Do you have any objection to going crown-free as much as possible, Guinevere?”
“Um, no,” she chuckles. “It’s heavy and uncomfortable, to be honest,” she tells the servant.
“Yes, my lady,” Caldwell nods respectfully, taking both crowns and placing them in their boxes on the table. “Sire, do you require –”
“Nothing at all, Caldwell, thank you. You may bring lunch later, but the door will be locked, so just knock. I trust you’ve acquainted yourself with the queen’s guard dog?”
“Um, yes, sire. Smith knows I mean the queen no harm,” Caldwell says, smiling. He actually rather likes the dog, winning him over with a scrap of purloined venison.
Arthur notices that the boy tactfully doesn’t ask about the locked door. He’s discreet. Good.
“Check in with Merlin, I mean, Lord Merlin to see if he needs any help with his move. He’ll likely be wanting to head to the vaults himself, just to see if there’s anything down there he might find useful.”
“Yes, Sire. Um, does Lord Merlin have a key?”
“Yes, he does,” Arthur says.
“He does?” Gwen asks. She didn’t know this.
“Gave it to him this morning, yes,” Arthur answers. His allows his gaze to linger over her for just a moment.
“All right. You are dismissed from my service for the day, save meal delivery. Go help Merlin instead,” Arthur turns back to the servant, suddenly eager to be rid of him.
“Yes, my lord,” Caldwell answers. He saw the look that passed between the king and queen, but he resolutely ignores it.
”Arthur and Guinevere are very much in love,” Merlin had warned him privately yesterday. “So be prepared to deal with that. Always, always knock on the doors to the royal chambers before entering. I used to have a bad habit of just barging in, and I’d get yelled at for it all the time. And that was before they were married.” Caldwell nodded, listening.
His last position was working in the knights’ quarters, and he does not want to end up back there. The knights are more slovenly than pigs.
“Just… be discreet and pretend not to notice when they get all… like they get with each other. If you get my meaning,” Merlin had concluded. “And don’t let him bully you. He lashes out when something frightens him.”
“Thank you, Merlin,” Caldwell answered.
“And for the love of everything sacred, do not tell him that I told you all this!”
“Um, sire,” Caldwell ventures, “Would you like me to help you with your chainmail before I go?”
Gwen’s lips twitch in amusement as Arthur stares a moment, seemingly dumbstruck. He peeks at Gwen. Am I that obvious?
he seems to ask, and her smirk gives him his answer.
“Yeah, all right,” he finally says, and allows his young servant to attend him, removing the heavy garment and the under-padding so he is left in his white tunic and trousers.
Just the way Gwen likes him.
“All right. You may go, now,” Arthur dismisses him.
“Yes, Sire. Thank you,” Caldwell answers. He lifts the boxes containing the crowns and leaves the king and queen. Arthur closes the door behind him and as he walks down the corridor, he hears the lock slide into place.
“Are you very tired?” Arthur asks Guinevere, prowling forward, wrapping her in his arms.
“Yes, but not that
tired,” she smiles seductively at him, pressing her body against his.
“Good answer,” he says. As she twines her arms up around his neck, he bends and lifts her into his arms and strides purposely to the bed.
Placing her reverently on the bed, he leans down and kisses her softly, his hand drifting across her stomach.
Gwen sits up and he puzzles at her until she starts shuffling the bedclothes back. She toes her slippers off and lets them fall to the floor in an uncharacteristically careless manner.
“Your bed is very comfortable,” she remarks, stretching languidly.
bed,” Arthur whispers, his eyes growing dark at the sight of her luscious body writhing slowly on the bed, her fuller breasts straining at the bodice of her coronation gown, re-worn so the people could see it.
“Yes, Husband, our
bed. Now come over here and get me out of this dress,” she purrs at him.
“Yes, my lady,” he answers, first whipping his shirt over his head and tossing it on a nearby chair.
She turns her back and Arthur lounges beside her, his practiced fingers making quick work of her laces and when the dress opens, she sighs again, this time with relief.
“Was it too tight?” he murmurs, his lips trailing her shoulder blade.
“I think so,” she says. “I’ll make sure Lark doesn’t do that again.”
“Good,” he says, helping her sit up now to make it easier to remove her dress. She stands then, and drops the gown to the floor, immediately picking it up again and draping it carefully over the same chair on which Arthur had thrown his shirt.
Arthur leans up on one elbow, watching her with an interested, lustful expression. She drops the straps of her shift and the silk skims down over her body, and, naked, she crawls back onto the bed with him.
He immediately pounces, hands everywhere, lips hungry and searching, and Gwen is surprised at the sudden intensity of his need.
“Arthur…” she gasps, her hands at the ties of his trousers, “slow down. We have all day…”
“I just…” he starts, still kissing in between his words. “I need…” he tries again, struggling with the words. She places her hands on either side of his face and stills him.
“Arthur,” Gwen says softly, staring into his eyes.
“There’s just been so much ugliness, Guinevere,” he finally settles down enough to speak, his head on her shoulder, lips brushing her neck as he talks. “So much death. Betrayal. Hate.”
“I know,” she whispers, holding him to her, caressing the broad muscles of his back. She understands now, but she lets him continue.
“I need you now. Your love, your goodness. You are my life. I need life now.”
“And you are mine, Arthur. You are everything to me.”
“At least for the next several months,” he says, his hand drifting to her stomach again, and she feels him smile against her neck.
“The heart expands, my love,” she sighs.
“Indeed,” he mutters, and his lips start kissing her neck again, and the brief discussion is apparently over.
His hand finds her breast now, gentle and soft, teasing the tender and sensitive flesh. Gwen’s hands resume their work removing his trousers, opening them and pushing them as far as she can before he quickly pulls away to yank them off.
Arthur drops over her, gently covering her, careful not to squash her. He kisses her lips, lingering over them, savoring their taste.
Gwen slides her hands over his chest, the light covering of hair tickling her fingertips as she caresses his warms skin. She bends one leg, sliding it against him, adding yet another point of contact, another place aching for the others’ touch.
He kisses his way downward, taking his time along the column of her neck, savoring her skin. Moving downward, her hands in his hair now, running her fingernails lightly along his scalp, leaving a tingling trail in their wake.
Arthur lingers again at her breasts, tenderly kissing them, taking care in their sensitive state. Her moan of pleasure is music to him, and he smiles into her breasts, his hand gently holding, stroking the skin with his thumb.
He leaves her breasts to press soft kisses to her stomach, just slightly more round than it has been. Arthur smiles, knowing that he is probably the only one who can see any difference apart from her. And knowing that he is responsible for it; that his little son or daughter is nestled safely within.
Gwen feels his kisses on her stomach, feels his warm breath against her skin, but she cannot make out what he is whispering.
“What are you saying, Arthur?” she asks softly.
“Talking to the baby,” he says.
“And you’re not going to tell me?”
“No,” he says, dipping his tongue into her navel now, and she jumps slightly, the sensation both ticklish and erotic.
She squirms beneath him, and he moves lower, hoping. Maybe this time,
he thinks, his previous efforts to pleasure her in this manner having been thwarted by her.
“Arthur…” she starts to protest, but he will not be deterred this time, creeping down, kissing her inner thigh now, dragging the very tip of his tongue up towards his target.
“Arthur… no, you… you shoul—oh! Oh my…” her protest switches direction and turn into pleasurable cries as his tongue finds its goal, circling around that most sensitive spot. She moans again, arching beneath him, her hands clutching the sheets as he swirls his tongue around and around, probing lower to thrust inside now and then.
“Ohgodswhyhaven’tIletyoudothisbefore…” she gasps, the words tumbling from her lips like dice from a cup, hurried and scattered.
He chuckles against her moist warmth, thoroughly enjoying her responsiveness, her passion unleashed around him, her pleasure bringing him pleasure as well.
“Oh… ah…” she is whimpering and mewling now, unraveling under him, quickly approaching her climax, climbing towards the sun.
Then Arthur stops, moving back up, hovering close over her body so they are just barely touching, the shared body heat radiating between them.
Gwen makes a disappointed whimper when he withdraws. “Not fair…” she gasps, quivering, dangling on the precipice.
Arthur kisses her now, passionate and fiery. “Sorry,” he apologizes, “I want to share it with you. I need to…”
“Oh,” Gwen understands suddenly, clutching him to her, feeling his erection pressing against her stomach and she strokes him lightly a few times before gripping tighter, guiding him to her.
Arthur doesn’t hesitate, plunging forward into her with a groan. Gwen responds with a gasp, her nails digging into his shoulders.
“Mmm,” he hums against her neck, reaching down, pulling her leg up around his waist, allowing him to delve deeper. “Oh…”
“Arthur,” she whispers, leaning down and kissing his ear, nipping the edge of it before flicking her tongue lightly against it.
He moves swiftly, forceful but not punishing, thrusting, moving within her, absorbing her love, lost in her. “Guinevere,” he answers, his voice gruff.
She holds his face close, kissing his lips, his jaw.
“I love you, Arthur, so much,” she mutters, kissing his temple.
He raises up now, supporting his weight on his elbows as he gazes down at her, her eyes closed, head back, lips parted. Exquisitely beautiful,
he manages to think just as her gasps grow fevered, almost frantic, her fingers curling into his chest, her leg tightening around him as she finally falls from the precipice into the sun.
“Oh!” she cries out, and it is Arthur’s undoing as well as he gathers her to him, groaning her name with his own release.
They cling to each other, their breathing gradually slowing, their throbbing bodies stilling.
“I love you more,” he finally answers, easing himself down, rolling them so she is on top of him. He wraps his arms around her and holds her tightly.
“Feel better?” she asks him, resting her chin against his chest to look up at him.
Part 15: link