Into the open Air

Merida

Some horrible screams joined the sound of the thunder. In was standing next to my bed in the blink of an eye, listening to the voice of the person who was in a lot of pain, apparently. I opened the door and ran towards the sound. I saw some maids running around, all with very serious looks on their faces.

‘What’s going on?’ I said. One of the maids stopped. ‘It’s Queen Guinevere. I don’t know what exactly is going on, but it certainly isn’t good,’ she said. ‘Can I help?’ I asked. ‘Yes. Go to the kitchen and fetch water and towels. I’ve got to go now.’ I nodded and ran off.

I didn’t look where I was going and suddenly bumped into someone. ‘Are you alright?’ he said. I nodded and looked up. It was Gawain. ‘What’s the matter?’ he asked. ‘I don’t know,’ I said, ‘but it has something to do with the queen. Some other knights came running towards us. ‘Look, I’ve got to go. See you later,’ I said. ‘But, can’t we help?’ ‘I think this is a ladies’ thing. Go back to bed,’ I said. I quickly nodded at the other knight and ran away.

When I arrived in the kitchen, there already were a lot of maids. There was a really tensed atmosphere. ‘Do you know where Guinevere’s room is?’ a maid asked me. ‘I don’t,’ I said. ‘Alright, then you should stay here and wait for orders, she said. Suddenly all the maids were gone. I sat down on a chair, hoping that the Queen was alright.

‘Miss?’ I opened my eyes. ‘You can return to your room. The Queen is doing fine.’ ‘Great to hear,’ I said, a little ashamed because I had fallen asleep. ‘Shall I bring you to your room?’ she asked. ‘No, I’m good. Thanks,’ I said and walked away.

The King and Queen weren’t in the dining room the next morning. Everyone looked rather sleepy when I arrived. I silently took place next to Gawain. ‘Are you alright?’ I asked, because he looked terrible. ‘Not really, he said. I couldn’t sleep, I was so worried.’ ‘It’s okay,’ I said. ‘She’s okay.’ He smiled hesitatingly.

After breakfast we took place in front of the fireplace, as usual. ‘Do you know what happened tonight?’ I asked Gawain. He nodded. ‘I don’t know for sure, but I’m pretty sure what it’s about,’ he said. ‘Arthur and Guinevere have always wanted a baby, but it has always failed. And I think something like that happened tonight,’ he said.

‘That’s horrible,’ I said. ‘But the Queen is okay. What’s bothering you?’ I asked. He looked at me and sighed. I could see the despair in his green eyes. ‘If they don’t get a child, there will be no heir to the throne.’ ‘I still don’t get it,’ I said.

‘There’s something I haven’t told you. When nobody wanted to chase the chessboard, the King promised the throne and the kingdom to the knight who would follow it, if he and Guinevere didn’t get a child. And I really didn’t want the throne nor the kingdom, but he said he would go if nobody went, so I volunteered. But as I said, I have no interest at all at becoming King, and I really hoped that Guinevere would give birth to a son, but now another chance is gone.’

‘Why don’t you want to become king?’ I asked. He sighed. ‘It’s just not for me. I don’t like politics and I think I just want to serve my king, instead of becoming one. And besides, there are other cousins of Arthur who deserve the throne as much as I do. Mordred deserves it even more.’

‘Why?’ I asked. ‘I, well, not important,’ he said quickly. I turned my head, and then looked at him like I always looked at my dad when I wanted something. And it worked. ‘Alright, alright. But it’s a secret, so you’ve never heard this, and I didn’t tell you this, okay?’ ‘Okay,’ I said smiling.

He looked around to make sure there was nobody else in the room. ‘I’ve told you that Mordred is actually my half-brother, haven't I? Well, his mother is the same as mine, and his father is...’ ‘Proceed,’ I said. ‘I can’t,’ he said. ‘This is a secret and it should stay like that.’

I sighed and tried to look as pitiful as I possibly could, and again it worked. ‘Mordred’s father is King Arthur,’ he said softly. ‘And King Arthur is an uncle from my mother’s side of the family.’ I gasped. ‘So, you mean, Mordred’s parents are-’ ‘Siblings, yes.’ My eyes widened. ‘That’s just, I mean, wow,’ I stammered. ‘That’s why it’s a secret,’ he said with a tiny smile that quickly made place for a look full of worries.

‘Gawain, I really think you’re taking a gloomy view of this. I think you would be an amazing king,’ I said quickly. I just couldn’t handle his sad face. ‘Then you don’t know me. I was born to serve, not to lead. What if Guinevere doesn’t give birth to a child and I become king and mess everything up?’

I put my hand on his arm. ‘I honestly think you’re overreacting. I bet that Guinevere will soon give birth to a baby boy and everything will be alright,’ I said. ‘How can you be so sure?’ he asked. ‘I just feel it. And now if you’ll excuse me, I think I am going to visit the Queen to ask how everything is going,’ I said and got up. Gawain looked at me with the saddest puppy-like eyes I had ever seen. I smiled. ‘It’s going to be fine. Trust me,’ I said and walked away.

After quite a long time, I finally found Guinevere’s room and knocked the door. ‘Wait!’ she shouted, followed by some stumbling. ‘Come in,’ she said after a minute or so. I entered the room. It was a beautiful, luxurious room filled with valuable-looking furniture.

‘Hi,’ I said and bowed. ‘Sit down,’ she answered and she pointed at a chair. ‘How are you?’ I asked after I sat down. ‘Better,’ she answered, ‘but still a little tired. I presume you’ve been told what was going on.’ ‘Gawain told me something about it, yes. I’m really, really sorry.’ ‘It’s alright,’ she said. ‘We’ll just have to keep trying.’ I smiled. ‘I’m sure it will happen someday soon,’ I said. ‘But if you’ll excuse me, I still am really tired.’ ‘Of course. Sleep tight,’ I said and left the room.

When I was walking through the corridors, I suddenly realised I had forgotten to give her the towels a maid had given me. I turned around and ran back. ‘Sorry ma’am, I forgot to-’ I said when I came in. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The Queen was sitting on the bed with Sir Lancelot, and just a few seconds ago they were kissing. ‘I’ll just, ehm, leave those towels here,’ I said awkwardly and turned around. ‘Merida!’ the Queen said. ‘Yes?’ ‘Please don’t tell anyone about this,’ she said. ‘I won’t,’ I said and quickly walked away.

I was still shocked about what I had just seen when I arrived in the living room. Should I tell Gawain? Or maybe even King Arthur. I mean, he was my king now so it would be fair. But I had promised Guinevere not to tell anybody. ‘Looking for Gawain?’ someone said behind me. I turned around and saw the friendly face of Sir Griflet. ‘Ehm, well, yes,’ I said. ‘He’s gone to the stables,’ he said with a smile. ‘Thanks!’ I said and quickly bowed.

‘Hey, Merida,’ Gawain said smiling. ‘How was Guinevere?’ ‘Better,’ I said. Should I tell him? I know I couldn’t lie, but I promised Guinevere. ‘I something the matter?’ Gawain asked. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Come,’ Gawain said, and walked away. He sat down on a haystack gestured that I should sit down, so I did.

‘Now tell me what’s wrong,’ he said. ‘Like I said, it’s nothing,’ I answered. ‘I can see it, Merida. There’s something and I think you should tell me. I’d like to help you if something is the matter.’ ‘You can’t help me with this,’ I said gloomily. I looked at him, and he smiled encouragingly. I sighed.

‘I saw something that I shouldn’t have seen, and I can’t tell you. I promised Guin-’ Shit. Shouldn’t have said that. The look in his eyes changed. ‘Oh no,’ he said. I looked at him questioningly. ‘Was there someone with her?’ he asked. I nodded. ‘Was that person by any chance Lancelot?’ I nodded again. ‘And were they being, like, intimate?’ ‘They were,’ I said softly.

‘Oh lord, I’ve told him to be stop it, and keep it as secret as possible, but he says he loves her too much,’ he said. ‘So you know?’ I said. He nodded. ‘And if he doesn’t watch out, everyone will soon. Stupid fool,’ he sighed.

‘It’s so difficult because he’s my friend, but on the other hand I think King Arthur deserves to know the truth. I’m not really lying to him, but it feels like I am and I can’t bear the feeling of lying to my king,’ he said, and then looked at his sash. ‘And once it nearly killed me, so who knows what will happen next time.’

‘When?’ I asked. ‘Oh right, you don’t know. Well, it’s a long and boring story. Nothing special,’ he said. ‘I bet it is. Tell me,’ I said with a smile. ‘Alright then. A couple of years ago, a knight came to Camelot and challenged the knights to chop of his head, in order to receive the same thing a year later. Obviously nobody stepped forward, but King Arthur said he’d volunteer if nobody else did. So I stepped forward and beheaded the Green Knight. He walked away with his head under his arm. One year later, I travelled to the green chapel. But before I arrived there, I stayed in the castle of a friendly lord. He told me he’d go hunting the next day and give me his prey, if I’d give him mine. The next morning, his wife brought me my breakfast and gave me a kiss on my forehead. The king returned and gave me a swine, and I gave him a kiss on his forehead. The next day, the queen came to my room again. Her behaviour wasn’t really suited for a married woman, but I was kind and she eventually left me with a kiss on my cheek. That night, the king gave me a deer and I gave him a kiss on his cheek. The day I was going to leave and go to the green chapel, the queen gave me this green sash and said it would protect me from the Green Knight. And then she gave me a kiss on my mouth. And I, well, kissed the king on his mouth that night. But I kept the green sash. I travelled to the green chapel. And there, the Green Knight turned out to be the king. He knew all about what I had done. And he nearly killed me, but because I had resisted his wife and because I had come to the green chapel, he forgave me. And that’s why I still wear this sash. It reminds me of a fault I’ve made and about how that nearly killed me. And it also reminds me to be honest at all times.’

‘Wow,’ I said. ‘That’s a terribly brave thing you did.’ ‘Well, it’s not that brave. It’s just honest. Oh by the way, please don’t tell this to anyone,’ he said. ‘Why not? I suppose everyone knows this, don’t they? Or didn’t they ask questions when you returned from the green chapel with your head?’ I asked. ‘Well, yes, everyone knows it. The story has become pretty famous. We were actually surprised that you didn’t know my name. But nobody knows this side of the story. Everyone thinks I got the sash from the Green knight and he just let me go. Nobody knows about the king and his wife and everything.’

‘Nobody? Like, not even Lancelot?’ ‘Nope,’ he said. ‘I don’t even know why I’m telling you this. Only Ysabele knew the whole story but the story died with her, I guess. I think I just can’t lie to you and your blue eyes,’ he said. I laughed. ‘I had a hard time keeping “my secret” from you, too. And I only kept it for two minutes.’ He started laughing too.

‘Do you miss her?’ I asked. Stupid question. Why did I always have to ruin happy moments? But he didn’t seem to mind. ‘I do,’ he said. ‘Have you ever felt true love?’ I shook my head. ‘Well, I hadn’t too, until I met her. And I suddenly understood why Lancelot couldn’t stop loving Guinevere. It’s an amazing thing, you know. All your troubles seem to be gone. Her death was the worst thing I’ve ever been trough. But it has brought some good moments. After her death, Merlin told me to go away for a while. And then I met you and that’s quite a good thing I think.’

I smiled and looked at the blue skies. ‘I think so too.'


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