Title: Search for the Bride
Character/s: Uther, Tom, Merlin, Will
Summary: Arthur leaves to find his runaway bride.
Word Count: 872
Prompt: 254: You'll Be Back
Author's Notes: Royals #7
Search for the Bride
Arthur and Merlin were mounting their horses when Uther and King Thomas came out of the castle.
“Now where is he going Uther?” King Thomas asked. “Hunting again?”
“Arthur?” Uther waited for his son to respond.
“We are going to look for the princess. My manservant is from the area where she was last seen.” Arthur bowed his head to the visiting king. “I will return with your daughter. That is a promise.”
“You’ll be back? How long will you be gone?” King Thomas asked. “Remember we made an arrangement.”
“I am very clear on the terms of my marriage.” Arthur glanced at his father. “We need to get moving.”
“Go and return quickly.” Uther waved his hand in dismissal.
Arthur and Merlin left the city and traveled as far as they could to the place Princess Guinevere was last seen. They stopped to camp for the night after the sun had already set.
Arthur looked up at the sky as he took first watch. “Now you’re making me mad, Princess Guinevere. I will find you and bring you back to your father. After all this, you had better not be a hideous beast of a woman.”
Merlin chuckled from his bed roll.
“Merlin, I thought you were asleep.” Arthur poked the fire with a stick.
“Whatever happens, I’m sure she will be awed by your charms.” Merlin laughed.
Arthur rolled his eyes. “The King gave me a sketch of her. She seems lovely but even the loveliest creature can be a trial. She was so determined to keep from marrying me that she ran off into the dark in the middle of the night. She could be lying dead somewhere.”
Merlin sat up. “So you are concerned about her?”
“She’s my wife on paper. My future queen. I need to stop fighting it and accept what is.” Arthur threw the stick in the fire.
“You signed the contract then.” Merlin nodded.
“I wasn’t given much of a choice.” Arthur sighed. “Her father insisted as soon as we returned from our week long hunt.”
Merlin got up and started to pack up.
“What are you doing?” Arthur frowned as merlin moved around him.
“We need to look for her in the dark.” Merlin said. “We can travel to where they were camped then lead the horses through the woods until morning.”
Arthur stood up and doused the fire. “Let’s go!”
Gwen stretched as the sun rose in Ealdor. “Hunith, I will be working in the vegetable garden today. Will promised to help me learn what a weed is and what is not.”
“He’s interested in you.” Hunith smiled.
“I know.” Gwen poured hot water into cups. “I made it clear that I wasn’t interested in courting anyone.”
“You will change your mind in time.” Hunith put two bowls of food on the table and sat down. “Eat. The vegetables will wait for you.”
Gwen sat down and took a sip of tea. “I wonder if I will ever change my mind.”
Two horses galloped into the village and their riders dismounted.
Hunith went to the door to see who it was. She gasped and rushed out.
Will poked his head in and smiled. “It’s Merlin.”
Gwen got up and went to the door just in time to see Hunith hug a blonde man dressed as a nobleman. “Who is that?”
“That is Prince Arthur Pendragon of Camelot." Will smirked. “Hunith has affection for him. I think he’s a pompous ass.”
“I see.” Gwen focused on Arthur. This was the man she was betrothed too? He looked normal.
“Hunith, has there been anyone new to your village in the last two weeks?” Arthur asked as he presented her with two rabbits that he had killed on the way there.
“Yes. A woman. Her name is Gwen.” Hunith took the rabbits. “You know you don’t need to bring me gifts every time you visit.”
“It’s my pleasure.” Arthur smiled. “This woman. Gwen. Does she have dark curls and big dark eyes?”
“Yes. Is she in trouble?” Hunith glanced around.
“Sort of.” Merlin laughed as he came back from putting the horses in the barn. “She’s his wife and the future queen.”
“What?” Hunith looked shocked. “I have the future queen of Camelot sleeping on my floor? Oh my goodness. She said she was running away from an arranged marriage but I thought she was still unwed.”
“We are wed on paper. We have yet to say vows.” Arthur explained. “Where is she?”
“Come, she’s at my home.” Hunith led them to her house where Will and Gwen were standing by the door. “Gwen this is….”
“I know who he is.” Gwen took a deep breath. “I won’t go back with you.”
“You will do just that.” Arthur folded his arms in front of him. “The contract is signed. You are my wife and you will do what i say.”
“Arthur, maybe, you two should talk in private.” Merlin suggested.
“Use my home.” Hunith grabbed Will and Merlin by the arms. “We have work to do. Come along you two.”
Arthur hustled Gwen inside.
Gwen slapped him.
Arthur looked at her as he touched his face. She showed spirit. There was hope for her yet.