The first thing saw when I opened my eyes, was a bunch of bright red curls. I immediately remembered seeing these curls, which gave me new energy, but it also gave me concerns. And that concern became my downfall.
Minutes later, I opened my eyes again. I still saw the curls. Was I in heaven, or maybe in hell? But then I felt the pain. And even though I didn’t like pain, it gave me happiness. Because feeling pain meant that I wasn’t dead, and that those curls were Merida’s.
I fully opened my eyes, and saw that I was lying on a bed, and Merida was lying next to me, her head on my chest. I smiled. Sweet Merida, who came to save me and everyone else. I owed my life to her.
I tried to sit upright, but my injuries wouldn’t let me. I moaned in pain and lay down again. Merida immediately awoke and looked at me. ‘Gawain!’ she said. ‘Are you okay?’ I nodded, trying to hide my pain. She suddenly looked at me with great fear in her eyes. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘I...I’ve slept next to you all night! I had to stay awake, but I fell asleep next to you!’ ‘But nothing happened,’ I said and smiled. She looked worried for another second, but then she smiled and laid her head on my chest again.
When I woke up again, Merida was gone. Instead, Queen Elinor was standing in my room. ‘Good morning,’ she said smiling. ‘I’ve brought you some food, because you haven’t eaten for four days. Merida said that you were awake for a while, but when I brought you some food you were already asleep.’ ‘Four days? That long?’ I said. She nodded with a smile. ‘How’s everyone else?’ I asked. ‘They’re all good. They went back to Camelot already.’
I tried to sit upright once more, but it still hurt too much. I shouted. ‘Sorry,’ I said to the Queen, and I felt that my cheeks were turning red. ‘It’s okay,’ she said. ‘Let me help you.’ She helped me up and handed me the tray that she was carrying. ‘Thanks,’ I said. ‘I’ll leave you alone now. Just yell if you need help.’ I nodded. ‘Thanks for all the help,’ I said. ‘I should thank you for watching over Merida the past year,’ she said and left.
Merida entered my room, and I immediately started smiling. She looked at me with a weird look on her face. ‘What’s wrong?’ I asked. ‘It’s just...you look so vulnerable. And I don’t want you to be in pain,’ she said and smiled softly. ‘Some things just can’t be prevented. And it was for a good cause, so it doesn’t matter,’ I said with a smile. ‘Don’t worry.’ ‘But if I had been a little quicker, I could have saved you!’ she said. ‘I’m not dead, Merida. So there’s nothing to grieve about.’
She smiled. ‘I need to change your bandage, so prepare from some extra pain.’ I nodded. She grabbed my blanket, but hesitated. ‘Are you, uhm, are you wearing anything?’ she asked. I laughed. ‘I don’t know! Close your eyes,’ I said, and she did what I asked her. I lifted the blanket, and saw that I was wearing kilt. ‘You can open your eyes now,’ I said. ‘I’m wearing something.’ She lifted the blanket and started laughing. ‘You’re a proper Scot now!’ she said laughing.
‘Prepare,’ she said as she placed a bowl of water on my bedside table. I nodded. She carefully removed the bandage. It hurt, but I managed to stay strong. She grabbed a cloth and soaked it with water. ‘This is going to hurt,’ she said, and started cleaning my wound. And she was right. It felt like a complete swarm of bees was released inside my leg. I tried to keep myself together, but a large moan escaped from my mouth. ‘Sorry,’ Merida quickly said. ‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘Do what you have to do.’
She smiled when she was done, and sat down on my bed. ‘I’m really glad you’re still alive,’ she said. ‘I freaked out when I saw you lying there, I was so scared that I was going to lose you.’ ‘When I saw you riding through the field, I was quite scared too. I know you’re a good fighter, but I didn’t want to lose you either. But here we are, both still alive.’ She smiled.
‘What happened after I was, well, gone?’ I asked. ‘I don’t know when exactly you were “gone”, but after I killed some of your attackers-’ ‘Wait,’ I said , ‘You killed them?’ She nodded. ‘Wow. That’s...amazing,’ I said. She laughed. ‘After I killed them, I couldn’t see you anymore, but I had no time to worry because I had been attacked again. In the end, I’ve fought one man, their leader, and the fight took really long, but I succeeded to kill him, and then they withdrew.’
‘You killed their leader? Merida, that’s amazing,’ I said and took her in my arms. ‘It was nothing, really,’ she said. ‘He tripped over someone’s body, but if he hadn’t fallen, I’m not sure if I would’ve won.’ ‘Don’t be modest, Meri. He was an excellent fighter. I’m so proud,’ I said and laughed.
‘Merida,’ I said. ‘I’ve got to ask you something. Promise me you won’t react too hastily, okay?’ ‘I promise,’ she said. ‘When I’ve gained enough strength, I’ll have to return to Camelot again. I would love to stay here, but I’ve got duties to fulfil. And I really understand if you want to stay here, with your family. I promise that I’ll come to see you as often as I can, and-’ ‘Of course I’ll come with you,’ she said. ‘I’m not going to stay here all alone, and I’m certainly not going to let you go.’ ‘Really?’ I said. ‘Of course,’ she said. ‘I really don’t want to snatch you away from your family,’ I said. ‘Gawain, I’m coming with you, whether you like it or not. Camelot has become my second home. And besides, I can’t leave you alone with your leg. You need good care.’ I sighed and smiled. ‘You’re amazing, Merida.’
The night before we left DunBroch, King Fergus asked me to come with him. ‘Gawain, my boy, I know I’m probably way too concerned and all, but could you keep an eye on Merida? She can be quite reckless, especially when she, well-’ ‘I’ll keep an eye on her. I promise,’ I said with a smile. ‘Oh, and, when you awoke in the field, you know,’ he said. ‘Oh, yeah, that,’ I said and I blushed. I hadn’t realised that the King had seen us kissing. ‘I’m sure you’re a good man, but she’s very young, so-’ ‘I completely understand,’ I said. He smiled. ‘My daughter falling in love with Lot’s son. I couldn’t have asked for more,’ he said. Then he grabbed a package and handed it to me. ‘Open it when you return to Camelot. It will be useful,’ he said. ‘But I don’t need a present,’ I said. ‘You don’t have to do this.’ ‘I do,’ King Fergus said with a smile. ‘And now you should go to bed, because tomorrow will be a long day.’
‘Goodbye,’ Merida said. Even though she had told me she wanted to return to Camelot, she seemed to have a hard time with leaving her home again. After they had said goodbye to Merida, her parents turned to me. ‘Goodbye, Gawain,’ the Queen said. ‘It has been a pleasure to meet you.’ ‘Thanks for your hospitality,’ I said and bowed. ‘Don’t lose sight of her,’ King Fergus said and winked. I smiled.
Merida helped me with mounting Gringolet. We rode off, and she waved at her parents until they weren’t visible anymore. The trip took a lot longer because I wasn’t able to ride properly, but after three days, we finally saw the white turrets of Camelot. I looked at Merida, and we both smiled. ‘Back home,’ I whispered, and we cantered towards the stables.
Everyone was already standing in the courtyard, and they started applauding. I grabbed Merida’s hand and smiled. ‘There they are, our two biggest heroes,’ King Arthur said and we shook hands. ‘Let’s have a tasty meal, shall we?’ he said and everyone started cheering.
‘You arrived exactly at the right moment,’ King Arthur said when we were eating. ‘And I thank god for that,’ Merida said. ‘I ran into a woman who could coincidentally see what was going on in another place. And I saw that they were in the majority, so I told my dad and he gathered the other clans.’ King Arthur smiled. ‘We owe you a lot, Merida,’ he said. ‘Well, I owed you all a lot too, so we’re even now.’
When we were eating, Lancelot beckoned me to go outside. He stood up, and I followed him. ‘Are you okay, or do you need help?’ Merida asked. ‘I’m okay,’ I said, and hobbled towards the door.
Lancelot was sitting in front of the fireplace. ‘Hello,’ I said smiling, and Lancelot smiled back. ‘Glad to be back?’ he asked. ‘Absolutely,’ I responded, and sat down. ‘I really thought that I was going to lose you,’ Lancelot said out of the blue. His voice sounded so fragile, and it seemed like he could burst into tears any moment. ‘But you didn’t,’ I said. ‘Yeah, and I thank god for that. I don’t know what I would do without you. Without you I would do stupid things. I don’t even think I would survive for a year.’
‘Thanks, man,’ I said, not knowing anything else to say. ‘I already missed you when you were in Scotland. I nearly visited Guinevere the fifth time on one day, but I remembered to contain myself, like you would have told me to do, so I turned around, and bumped into Arthur. If I hadn’t thought of you, I would probably be dead right now.’
‘Well, as long as you can remember me then, it’s good, I guess,’ I said. Lancelot smiled. ‘But how was Scotland?’ he said. ‘Amazing!’ I said enthusiastically. It felt like I was home again. Merida’s parents are really nice, and her brothers are really funny too. We’ve done a lot of fun things.’ ‘Fun things?’ Lancelot said teasingly. ‘No, no, not like that!’ I quickly said. ‘But I saw you two, when you woke up,’ Lancelot said. ‘That was the only time,’ I said and scratched my beard.
‘She’s quite a catch, I must admit,’ Lancelot said with a smile. I laughed and nodded. ‘You’re a lucky man.’ ‘Well, I’m not that sure. I don’t know if she likes me,’ I said. ‘She kissed you, man! Do you need more signs?’ Lancelot said. ‘I don’t know,’ I laughed. ‘Let’s go back.’
After hours of talking, eating and laughing, I was terribly tired and decided to go to bed. I stood up and tried to silently walk away, but my leg wouldn’t let me. ‘Here, let me help,’ Merida said quickly and she stood up. ‘No, it’s okay,’ I said quickly. ‘I’ll manage. If you want to stay here, you should.’ ‘No, it’s okay,’ she said and smiled.
‘Good night,’ Merida said softly after I had lain down. ‘Good night. And thanks for everything,’ I said. She smiled and walked away. I immediately know that I wouldn’t be able to sleep anytime soon. My head was filled with thoughts and images. And the one image that kept coming back, was one of Merida, smiling and crying at the same time, who leaned over to kiss me.
I didn’t know if it just was an act of relief, or something more, but I did know that I wouldn’t be able to let her go. I didn’t know how she felt about me, but I sure knew what I thought of her. I loved her.
I suddenly remembered the package that King Fergus had given me. I searched my belongings until I finally found his gift. I carefully opened it, but it was too dark to feel it. I lit a candle and looked at Fergus’s present. I started laughing when I saw what it was. A blue and dark red kilt. The colours of the clan DunBroch. Then I saw a little a slip of paper. “For if you ever feel homesick,” the scrawl said. I smiled. King Fergus had been very nice to me. He was always joking, and always very nice. I realised that I had finally found a new father.