Into the open Air

Gawain

Two years later

I was very happy to be able to say that things were good again. Merida and I were still happily living in our beautiful castle, and we were intensely content. We still visited Camelot often, and the King was happy again. He married a wise, friendly woman, and they were expecting their first child, which, to be honest, made me relieved, for if Arthur had a son, I wouldn’t inherit the whole kingdom. Mordred no longer had contact with our mother, and he and Agravain seemed a lot happier. Even though I still missed them, I had accepted the fact that Gaheris and Gareth were no longer here. And of course, what made everything even better, was our wee bonny babby (I had taken over Merida’s term). She was just as adventurous as Merida, which required us to be around all the time, otherwise she would just walk away. The only thing I didn’t like was the fact that I had become very emotional and even feminine since our little daughter was born. I even cried when I heard her say ‘Daddy’ for the first time (It was not her first word, however. The first thing she said was something that sounded like ‘bear’, which Merida and I found terribly funny). But I loved being a parent. I loved seeing her running around with her wooden sword, and trying to climb on top of our dogs to ride them as if they were horses. And I loved the fact that she looked like me as well. She had my eyes, and her face looked more like mine. Things just couldn’t be better.

‘Look who’s here!’ Merida said smiling when I was playing with Gwen. I looked up, and to my surprise, Merlin was standing next to her. ‘Merlin!’ I exclaimed. ‘How good to see you!’

‘It had been a long time, and I realised I had not seen your little girl in real life yet, so I decided to visit you. What is her name?’ he asked. ‘Gwendolyn, but we call her Gwen for short. And it has been a long time, indeed. Have a seat!’

Moments later, we were sitting in front of the fireplace, drinking tea. Little Gwendolyn was playing with the wooden horse I had carved for her. ‘She’s a perfect mix of you two,’ Merlin said. ‘She has your hair, Merida, but your face and eyes, Gawain,’ he said to us. We smiled, because we heard that all the time. ‘But more important, is she healthy?’

‘Healthy as can be,’ Merida said proudly. ‘She’s very lively, and I must say I was glad when she was finally out of my tummy, because she kicked like a bear!’

‘I suppose you already know that we’re expecting a new one,’ I said to Merlin. ‘I was aware,’ he said. ‘Congratulations. I hope he or she will be as healthy and lively as this little girl here.’

‘I actually feel like it’s more than just one him or her. I haven’t been pregnant very long, but I feel like my belly is already twice as big as it should be. I wouldn’t be surprised if I give birth to twins, or maybe even triplets,’ Merida said.

Merlin nodded. ‘I think it wouldn’t be wrong if I tell you you’re right,’ he said with a smile. I looked at my beloved wife, who was smiling from ear to ear. ‘Two birds with one stone,’ she whispered. Then her facial expression turned more serious.

‘I think we don’t have to argue about the names if we have two boys,’ she whispered. I immediately realised what she meant. ‘That would be wonderful,’ I said and smiled. Merlin looked puzzled. ‘I could tell you the gender, if you want,’ he said slowly.

I looked at Merida. I was still hesitating, but she was so curious that she said yes before we could even talk about it. I didn’t mind, though. ‘You will give birth to two healthy boys,’ Merlin said with a smile.

Merida and I looked at each other. ‘That’s...amazing,’ she said, and a small tear rolled down her face. I hugged her and stroked her belly. I was proud and happy, but it did feel a little weird because I felt like she was going to give birth to my brothers.

Nobody knew anything to say, so we remained silent for quite a long time. ‘Thanks for everything, Merlin,’ I said to break the slightly awkward silence. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. ‘Well, your prophecy has probably saved my life. If you hadn’t told me about it, I wouldn’t have helped Guinevere, and Merida wouldn’t have come to Brittany and I would’ve been killed by Lancelot.’

‘I don’t think you fully realise how true that is, Gawain,’ Merlin said with a smile. Before he could explain what he meant, Merida interrupted our conversation. ‘What prophecy?’ she asked. ‘Years ago, just before I went to find the floating chessboard, Merlin gave me some good advice.’ I stopped for a moment, to make sure I fully remembered his prophecy.

‘Always do what people ask you to do. Even if it seems to be disadvantageous to you, do it! It might not help you at that very moment, but it will later. Faith can be changed by the tiniest things, and if you want your faith to be good, make sure to do what any stranger asks.’

‘It has not only helped you when you allowed Guinevere to use your boat. Do you remember Sir Locke?’ Merlin asked. I nodded. ‘Well, he-’ ‘Who’s Sir Locke?’ Merida asked. I apologetically smiled at Merlin, and then I started telling the story.

‘Sir Locke was just a squire when I met him. He had challenged the knight who had killed his brother, but squires can’t challenge knights. Therefore, he had to become a knight. He went to King Arthur to be dubbed, but he came across a man who demanded toll from everyone who passed the bridge he was guarding. Locke had to give him his horse, and he received the horse of the man who asked for toll. But with the horse the man had “given” him, he would never reach Camelot in time. So when I met him, I gave him my horse so he had time to reach his duel in time. I killed the man who had robbed him from his horse, and after that, and I’m not too proud of it, but it had to be done, I killed everyone in the castle he owned. Locke won the duel. A long time later, I had returned to Britain with Ysabele, and we were heading to king Amoraen to give him Ysabele. We came across a man who offended Ysabele, so I killed him. Later, we stayed with a King, who happened to be that man’s father. He locked us up when he realised I had killed his son, but we managed to escape. So when we went back to King Marvel from Amoraen’s castle, we came across a small castle, and in it lived Sir Locke! We were having a great time, when the king whose son I had killed, came and declared war on us. Sir Locke helped me, and without his help I wouldn’t have been here today.’

Merlin nodded. ‘But that’s not all. Locke and Guinevere aren’t the only ones who saved your life with that prophecy. You didn’t kill everyone in that castle next to the toll bridge. You spared one man’s life.’

At first I couldn’t remember, but suddenly I remembered the pathetic man. ‘Ah, that man. He was the only one who didn’t get mad, he begged me not to kill him, crying like a baby’ Merlin nodded. ‘And you didn’t, because of my prophecy.’ I nodded.

‘That man was the one who tried to attack and rape Merida when she ran away.’ I gasped. ‘And if you had killed him, Merida would have travelled further, and you would not have found her. And without Merida, you would have been killed by Lancelot,’ Merlin said.

I nodded. ‘Faith is weird,’ I said smiling. ‘Those are not my words, but I think you are absolutely right,’ Merlin said, and we all laughed.

‘And your life is not the only thing a prophecy has saved,’ continued Merlin. ‘Tell us,’ I said curiously. ‘Women will make or break this kingdom. I told Arthur this when he was about to marry Guinevere. The “break-part” was about Guinevere, which Arthur refused to believe. However the part about making is about you, Merida,’ said Merlin. ‘I don’t think I have done anything to help make this kingdom,’ she said. ‘Oh, but that’s where you are wrong, my child,’ said Merlin. ‘Because of you, Mordred wasn’t left in charge when Arthur and the others went to Brittany. If you hadn’t told Arthur to leave Sir Tristan in charge, he would have kidnapped Guinevere and married her himself while everyone was gone. There would have been a great battle in which King Arthur would have died. And after that, the kingdom would have fallen into chaos and ruin. And Gawain, you owe your life to Merida too, because Lancelot would have killed you if Merida hadn’t intervened. But actually, the most important part of the prophecy goes back a little more. All of this would have happened if Merida hadn’t come to Camelot. And there was a time you were so close to being sent away, Merida. After your fight with King Arthur, he wanted to send you away, but the prophecy kept him from doing that, and with that he saved his life, along with the kingdom.’

Merida blushed. ‘I told you you’re special,’ I chuckled. ‘It’s not me who’s special,’ she said. ‘It’s faith.’ After that, everyone, even little Gwendolyn, was silent.

‘When are you two going to become King and Queen of the Orkneys?’ Merlin asked suddenly. ‘Soon,’ I said and smiled. ‘We have already visited my uncle three times, and we are planning on going again soon. My uncle says he loves being king, but that he has been king long enough, and that he wants me to take over soon.’

‘I really love the Orkneys,’ Merida said. ‘Everyone is friendly, even though I knew nobody, and they didn’t know me either. And everyone has just the same accent as I have, and that feels good too. And Gwendolyn loves it too,’ she said smiling.

‘Good, good,’ Merlin said. ‘You will be two great leaders, I’m sure.’ ‘Thanks,’ I said, and smiled at Merida who looked terribly proud.

‘I think it’s time for me to go,’ Merlin said suddenly. ‘But you just got here!’ Merida said. ‘All that needed to be said, has been said,’ Merlin said with a smile. ‘Camelot is not too close, and I don’t have a horse.’ ‘You can borrow one of ours,’ Merida said immediately. ‘Thank you very much, but I think I prefer walking,’ Merlin said with a smile.

‘Goodbye, you two,’ he said when we were standing outside. ‘Visit Camelot soon.’ ‘We will,’ I said smiling. ‘Take care, Merlin.’ ‘The best of luck, you two. Oh, by the way, I think it’s a good idea to check your mail.’

‘He is one extraordinary man,’ Merida said when Merlin was gone. ‘He is,’ I said softly. ‘That was a very interesting visit,’ I said when we went back inside. Merida nodded.

I stroked her belly, which really was bigger than when she was pregnant from Gwen as long as she was now. ‘Hello there, Gaheris and Gareth,’ I whispered. ‘We haven’t met yet, but you need to know that I already love you a lot.’ Merida started laughing, and so did I.

‘I bet they are watching from heaven and laughing because I’m acting so pathetic,’ I said. ‘That would be amazing,’ Merida said. ‘We’re naming these two after you,’ she said to the ceiling. ‘So if you have the ability to bring them luck and health, I’d do that if I were you!’

We started laughing again. ‘Wait, Merlin told us to check our mail, didn’t he?’ Merida said suddenly. ‘That’s right,’ I said. ‘Let’s take a look.

As soon as I went outside, a bird landed on my shoulder. I opened the letter, and read it together with Merida.

Dear Gawain and Merida,

We are very pleased to announce the birth of our first son, Gawain. You are most welcome to come visit us, if you want.

Love, Lancelot and Guinevere

P.S. Gawain, if you want to tear this letter apart and throw it in the fire, I understand. But it would mean a lot to me if you responded. I get it if you don’t want to see us, but if you could send me a letter, I would be very grateful. The best of luck. Lancelot.

‘They named their son after me,’ I whispered after I had read the letter four times. Merida nodded. ‘So, what are you going to do?’ she asked. ‘I don’t know,’ I whispered. ‘I think you owe him a letter,’ she said. I shook my head. ‘Are you going to burn it?’ Merida asked. ‘Come on, you can’t burn it, Gawain!’ I shook my head again. ‘Pack your bags, Meri. We’re going to Brittany.’


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