Pairing/s: Arthur/Gwen, Gwen/Lancelot
Character/s: Lancelot, Arthur, Gwen
Summary: The Dorocha finally gave Lance a way out.
Word Count: 550
Prompt: #53 Pretending
Author’s Note: none
Pretending. Just another word for lying, another word for hiding beneath a stoic face and soft words and duty.
Most of the time, Lancelot ignored his love for Gwen. She'd chosen someone else, and when he saw that she was happy with Arthur, he told her that he was glad of it.
It was a lie, of course, a pretence. He still wanted her, still loved her. But it was his own fault; he had left her behind - twice, thinking that it was for the best, that she was better off without him. When Arthur stepped in to take his place, he couldn't really blame Gwen for choosing the better man.
It had been his own damn fault after all.
When he finally realized what he'd thrown away, when he couldn't even think of turning to another to replace Gwen in his heart, instead he drove himself ever onward to greater and greater feats of daring and heroic stupidity and with every royal acknowledgement, grew sicker with it.
He felt as if he were drowning in regret.
Then, revolted by his own inaction, his cowardly inability to cope, he begged Arthur to send him away. He reminded the king of marauders and howling wolves and how the neighbouring rulers were seeking to undermine all Arthur had done. He spoke of the defence of the realm and how his skills with a sword would be best used, not at court, but where the dangers were, in the far reaches of the kingdom.
Of course, Arthur refused to hear of it, said he needed his best knight at the citadel helping with recruits, pointed out that Lancelot was a model of how a peasant could achieve greatness among the knights of Camelot and how could anyone see that if he were far from court.
In her own way, Gwen, too, refused to let him go, but it was a subtler thing. Although they were never alone, during banquets and fetes and training sessions, Lancelot caught her staring at him, worry and regret in her eyes. And when he gazed back, she quickly turned away, pretending, always pretending that she didn't know how he felt about her, as if she couldn't see the love in his eyes.
Every day hurt. Lancelot watched as she sent smiles Arthur's way, or saw the two of them walking together sharing secrets or hiding in alcoves whispering and it was strangling him inch by slow inch.
And he was a coward for not being strong enough to leave.
But at last the Dorocha gave him a way out.
Before they left on their mission to close the rift, with soft smiles and hesitation, Gwen asked him to protect Arthur. She must have known that he could deny her nothing. She must have known somehow that Arthur would be an idiot and try and sacrifice himself for Camelot and that with his vow, Lancelot would protect his king even from his own folly. Would die first before he'd let Arthur be hurt.
A petty man might have raged at her for it but Lance was grateful.
Because, in the end, it was no sacrifice for Lancelot to walk into the veil and leave everything behind. It was a relief.
Because, in the end, he could finally stop pretending.