railise graciously voted for Team Hacker & thus earned the right to ask me to fill a prompt. She wanted fluff but this wound up being hurt/comfort. I hope u like it!
Title: I'll Stand By You
Pairings: Arthur/Gwen, Merlin
Beta:tempertemper who is the most amazing person at sniffing out spelling & grammatical errors & fixing dialogue & such. She ROCKS.
It had been the night Tom had been burned at the stake. He stood by his window looking out at the courtyard where the pile of burning flesh had cooled to ash. He shook his head a little to attempt to shift the unease he felt when he thought of Guinevere, truly alone in the world now. He saw her when he looked out his window again, trying to stealthily gather ashes into a wooden jar. He knew he should raise an alarm but didn’t have the heart. He turned away and went to bed. It had happened three years ago but he remembered the date like his own birthday.
They told the King that they were heading to the outlying areas of Camelot to see what the true state of the area was and what kind of help they might need from their ruler. They got through that in record time and started back. Once they were out of sight and they were sure they were not being followed they made a detour to the final resting place of Gwen’s father. She had buried that wooden jar near a forest clearing and came to pay her respects and sometimes just to think. She jumped up from where she was sitting, rapidly wiping tears.
“Sire. Merlin. What can I do for you?”
His gaze never leaving Gwen, Arthur said, “Merlin, keep watch.”
“Yes, Arthur,” Merlin replied doubling back on his own horse.
“Gwen.” He approached her slowly, much as one would a wild horse.
She turned away. “Lovely day isn’t it? Perfect for picking flowers and herbs. I have enough herbs at home though and this part of the forest isn’t known for its herbs anyway, just flowers. I was just gathering a bouquet-” Her voice quavered with the pressure of trying to pretend.
“Gwen,” Arthur said again, this time so close to her that, even with her back turned, he heard the sob that broke from her even though she covered her mouth. He rested a hand on her shoulder and she turned into him with such force he staggered backward.
“Easy, Gwen. I’m right here. I’m so sorry, Gwen. Shhhh, I’m right here.” His words didn’t matter as much as his presence. She wrapped her arms around him and he let her cry against him until she was spent. He let her go to spread out a blanket and some food.
He read the panic in the tension of her shoulders and it made him cringe when he thought that his father had sentenced hers to death and on the anniversary of that event Gwen was terrified that he might see them together and cause her even more pain. He ached for her.
“-is at a meeting with three of our allies. Besides, Merlin will alert us.” He held out a hand in silent invitation. She sat beside him and he served her lunch.
“How did you know where to find me?”
“I- I saw you that night, Gwen. I knew you had his ashes. And I couldn’t forget the date, no matter how hard I tried. And I wanted to help, I really did, but it was out of my hands and I have never gotten over that. You didn’t deserve it, Gwen-”
She took his hand. “Arthur you shouldn’t blame yourself. I don’t blame you. Thank you for this.”
He held her gaze for a moment and then smiled. “It’s what you do when you love someone.”
Overwhelmed, Gwen leaned forward and kissed him, a slow soft kiss. Arthur buried one hand in her curls and used the other to bring her even closer to him. Gwen pulled back, smiled at him and sat with her back tucked into his chest, his legs flanking her. They sat in contented silence for a while.
“He would have liked you.”
“I doubt that, Gwen.”
“Not the prat you were, mind you -” mischief danced in her eyes “-but the man you are and the king you will become.”
She glanced back and held his eyes in a steady gaze. I love you, Arthur Pendragon, more than any man.”
A little shocked to hear it, he kissed her neck and nestled his head there, inhaling her scent for long moments until he heard rustling in the forest.
“Arthur, we have to go.”
“Thanks, Merlin.” He turned to Gwen. “We decided you should leave first. That way we can come to your aid if anyone should trouble you on your journey back. You’ll have a head start while we pack up these things.” He helped her on to her horse and bowed.
“Farewell, Lady Guinevere.”
“Farewell, Prince Arthur, Sir Merlin.”
The three exchanged smiles before Gwen rode off.