Title: Not a Cloud in the Sky
Character/s: Gwen, Merlin, Percival, Leon and Aithusa
Summary: On the anniversary of Arthur's death, Gwen, along with Leon and Percival, travel to the Avalon
Warnings: deals with grief and a bit angsty, sorry
Word Count: 1412
Author's Notes: Title is from a line in one of the saddest songs "The day you went away" by Wendy Matthews.
Not a Cloud in the Sky
She didn’t need Geoffrey, with his time-keepers and calendars to tell her that it was close to the anniversary, she knew deep in her heart that a year had passed. A whole year being the type of Queen she had never envisaged. One who ruled alone, nobody to talk to at the end of the day, nobody to share a smile with, and nobody to love. True, she had Leon, Percival and Giaus by her side but they could never replace Arthur.
And Merlin? Her heart ached for him too. Camelot was not the same without either of them and she didn’t think she could stand it any longer. It should never have been this way.
She woke up on morning with a sudden desire to go that place, something she had never felt before. She asked Percival if he could guide them to the lake. So on a sunny day, not grey and overcast as she felt it should have been, accompanied by Percival and Leon, she rode off to a place she had only seen in her dreams. And where did those dreams come from? She wondered, From Merlin? From Arthur himself? or was it just her imagination consoling her that Arthur was at rest in a tranquil place.
As she rode she wondered where Merlin was, and if he would remember. Was it too much to hope to see her friend again? They camped the night in near silence, rose early and kept riding. They reached the lake just before midday. Perhaps it was not so surprising that it looked exactly as it did in her dreams. It was peaceful, but it had an air of sadness about it, but perhaps that was just her mood. Without a word, she slid off her horse and walked purposely into the water, stopping when it reached her waist, closing her eyes and letting her dress billowing around her. A vague memory of standing like that once before. She didn’t know how long she stood there before a voice beside her said “Careful, Gwen, the current here can be quite strong” She started, opening her eyes to find Merlin standing beside her. “Merlin!” she exclaimed. “I wasn’t sure if I would ever see you again” She hugged him tightly “I could never do that to you Gwen” he answered, hugging her back “Come”he nodded back to the shore, where Leon and Percival were waiting, with what looked like a fine picnic lunch, which she knew they did not bring . She quickly brushed aside memories of other picnics and other days and took his hand as he led her towards the others. “You knew we would be here?”she asked. “Yes, he replied simply. “I hope everything is to your satisfaction” It was, and they sat down to eat and drink in the dreadful silence she had never gotten used to. She watched Merlin as she ate, he looked the same, but also he didn’t. Obviously his hair was longer, and he was wearing different clothes, but there was something in his eyes, which she couldn’t put her finger on. She had a thousand questions she wanted to ask, but she was afraid that if she did, then she would stammer, and make no sense, or just rail and sob against him, as she had only ever done in the privacy of her own room.
So they all sat in silence, nobody talked, nobody asked Merlin where had be been, what was he doing, and more importantly, what happened, why did he never come home.
Suddenly, there was a strange noise that came from the trees. The two knights jumped up, their swords at the ready. Merlin smiled and said. “No, No, its fine, put your swords away, sit down” Then, turning to the trees, he called out “Aithusa, come”and then he spoke some more more words in a gutteral language she had never heard before. Out of the trees came a creature which she had never seen, but had heard about. A young white dragon, its body horribly distorted. The one that The Sarrum had imprisoned in a pit with Morgana. Merlin’s smile widened. “Come closer Aithusa, its fine” as the dragon stepped hesitantly forward. Gwen saw her shock and fear reflected of the Knights faces. Merlin glanced and them and said reassuringly “its ok, she won’t hurt you, just no sudden moves, she scares easily”
Percival asked, choking”She gets scared? She’s a bloody great scaly fire-breathing dragon, and she gets scared?” Then Leon added as they sat back down, “Gods, Arthur would be having a conniption by now, I don’t know who he’d try and kill first, you or the dragon”
And just like that the ice broke and they laughed at the absurdity of it all. Not just because they were having a picnic while a bemused looking dragon watched on, but everything. A whole years worth of stress and grief seemed to lift from their shoulders, They all laughed and joked and called her Gwen and it was like old times. Leon and Percival regalled them with stories, some she knew, some she didn’t. Merlin told a few of his own, those she definitely did not know, such as Elena being a changeling. As she sat and listened and laughed, she realised that she was surrounded by those she loved, and who loved her back, she hoped it could always be this way, even without Arthur and Gwaine, she was here with Merlin with a dragon lying by his side, and the knights on either side of her, and she felt unaccountably content. Perhaps that was the purpose of anniversaries. To make you realise you weren’t alone and unloved. That you could keep living and grief needn’t be overwhelming.
The hours flew by, then suddenly they fell to silence, all of them found themselves gazing at the small island surrounded by the mist in the middle of the lake.
“ Is that....” her voice trailed off.
Merlin met her gaze and nodded. “ Yes, that is where Arthur lays” She asked, hoping against hope “Can we go there, can we see?’
Merlin frowned, considering. “ Well, it is not possible for any mortal to pass through the mists, but perhaps...” He got up and she followed him as he walked to the waters edge. Percival and Leon joined them also. She watched him as he held his hand out over the water and his eyes flashed gold. She would have missed it if she wasn’t watching for it, and then, looking down at the water, their reflections faded to reveal an image of Arthur lying on an ornate bed, under gold coverings. He looked for all the world to be sleeping. She realised she was holding her breath, when Merlin waved his hand again, and the image disappeared, their reflections looking back at them once again.
“ The Once and Future King” Merlin said, not looking at them “ It has been foretold that he will rise again one day, when he is needed most”
“ When?” asked Gwen in a whisper, “ Will that be?
“Not in this lifetime Gwen, I’m sorry. I think... I think not for many generations, but I'll be here when that time comes, don't worry”
Tears threatened “No” she said, ‘ No, that cannot be”
Merlin shook his head, “I’m sorry Gwen, but it has to be this way”
She took a breath “Then promise me this” she turned and looked him in the eye. “ Promise me that when it is my time, make sure to bring me here, and and place me next to him. Don’t bury me at Camelot, but by his side, where I belong”
Merlin nodded and said “ I promise Gwen, with all my heart, I promise”
“ Good, now make me another promise, you won’t stay away will you? Come back to Camelot with us?”
Merlin sighed and answered. “ I’ll come, but not to stay, not forever, Gwen but I will come to you whenever I’m needed, I will promise you that”
She nodded and smiled “ I think I can accept that, and what of your dragon, I take it she will come to Camelot too?”
Merlin grinned “ Oh yes, your highness, she most certainly will”
Gwen grinned back, imagining the reactions of the people of a dragon in Camelots midst. She hooked her arm through Merlin’s as they walked back to the picnic.
“ Good, lets go home then”