“You always make me brave.” Gwen offers up a sad smile that matches her husband’s. Arthur had been making her braver since she was ten years old, since that very first day at that meeting of knights of the round table her father had taken her to. Since that boy king had taken a chance on the shy, quiet girl in the corner and found himself a friend for life. Someone who would stand with him no matter what, someone who always wanted to be with him, to hear his worries. Someone who loved him.
He had been all that for her too. After Arthur she had feared her father a little less. Hurt a little less. Because no matter how bad the emotional abuse got at home, he had always been there to meet her in that oak tree.
When they had grown up and she had become more than Arthur’s best friend (his wife, his queen) he didn’t stop making her braver. He was just making her braver in the face of different things. The whispers and the pitying glances and the insecurities.
When they were together, when his arms were around her or his lips on hers, everything hurt a little less. They had always been better together. She supposed that had been one of the things that had hurt the most about that long, awful year. He should have known that about her. Gwen could have weathered anything just as long as he had stuck by her side.
She had fallen apart when he had left her alone. She hadn’t known how to exist like that, being one half of a whole for so long that when her other half was missing it had broken her heart so completely.
It had hurt so badly that she let the wrong person pick up the pieces.
But at least know they both knew for certain that they couldn’t survive without the other. Neither of them ever had to be that alone again.
Then Arthur is trying to explain to her how he just knows. His reasoning makes no sense to her but he seems to believe it so strongly. He’d done it, the curse was broken, their little prince was saved. But Gwen doesn’t believe him, she can’t believe him. Belief would hurt too much.
His voice had been full of wonder when he told her about this vision he had of a little boy in her arms. She could almost picture him, with that curly mane. She had been trying to picture him for a decade. But now she tries to block it out of her mind, convinced that she’ll only lose him.
She wanted to believe him. “Then trust me with this, Gwen.” he begs of her. She wants to, and of course she trusts him… but this was too big of a leap for Gwen’s broken heart to take.
Arthur begins to cry again at the sight of those great tears spilling from his wife’s eyes, at the heartbreak in her voice as she tries to give him her own explanations for why she can’t hope that way again. He attempts to comfort her with whispers of understanding. She tells him how much it would kill to to think they got to keep the child growing in her belly just to have him ripped from her again, she begs him to not make her hope for something she can’t have.
Curled up against his side Gwen can feel Arthur wince as if her words had caused him physical pain. Pain at the idea that he would hurt her so badly, something his wife knows he thinks he’s already doing with this curse that was not his fault. Her watery eyes look up into his, her fingertips dance along his jawline. “You didn’t do this to us.” she reminds him, her voice firm behind the tears.
Then his arm is slipping from around her waist, leaving her feeling vulnerable for a moment. Tears fall from the corners of his eyes and she quietly wipes one off of his cheek. He looks saddened, defeated by his wife’s inability to believe in something so grand without proof. She wants to be able to say she does. She wants to make him feel better, bring back that smile he had only a minute ago at his declaration of what he’d done for her, for their little prince. She just can’t.
His eyes close as he apologizes to her. A tiredness seeping through his voice. She was exhausted too but as long as he was awake, she wanted to be awake. Not giving up a single second, even if her eyes burned and her heart hurt over the conversation.
Gwen is still looking up at him when he kisses her forehead, whispers to her in a soft voice. “I’ll hope for you.” She can see it in his eyes, that willingness to hope where she couldn’t. To carry that heavy load. She whispers back. “Okay. Deal.” Because at the very least, she could give him that. She could let him hope if he wanted to hope, and she would be there for him when it crushed the both of them.
Arthur’s hand moves from where it had laid gently against her cheek to find her own where it rested on his chest. He picks her hand up, and she watches his expression as he studies the bandage around it that matched his. His brow furrows. He asks her what happened.
“The same thing that happened to yours,” she starts out in that quiet voice. “A terrible kind of magic.” Gwen remembers how the blade had burned her as it sliced across her skin. How she didn’t know what Mordred would do but held her hand out anyway. The sight of her blood as it seeped across her husband’s chest. “It was to save you.”