bennie: (Gwen-FarAway)
[personal profile] bennie
Title: Red Cape & Bouquet (1/?)
Characters: Gwen/Leon
Rating: PG (mentions of death)
Spoilers: No spoilers
Disclaimer: Guinevere & Leon belong to... well... somebody. But not me anyway.
Summary: He was there from the very beginning.
Word Count: 1,471
A/N: Well another Gwen'sOrigins!fic, there is literally nothing about Guinevere before Arthur in the legends, apart from who maybe her father was. It's fun to fill in the gaps with our favorite Knight! I blame this on A) [ profile] threemeows for setting up the brilliant comm [ profile] iam32flavours and the Gwen/Leon challenge and B) T.H. White (for obvious reasons, if you've read The Sword in the Stone)

Red Capes & Bouquets

Eve looked up from her doll, suddenly anxious. The click-clack-clicking of feet racketing on the floor above her had stopped. She could no longer hear their voices. The panic ridden screeches of her mother and the angry shouts of her father had faded away.

Eve was scared. She had only crouched here under the floorboards in the tiny nook that only rats inhabited as a joke. She had expected them to find her immediately, to laugh and smile and make some comment about what a good jest it was. To call her a good little girl and to be happy again. Not to shout at each other any more. Not to argue.

Instead there had been more arguing. More shouting. More screeching and yelling and the sounds of things being smashed. So Eve had stayed where she was. She wouldn't move no matter how many times they called her name. Perhaps if she just waited here until the sun was gone they would go to bed and not notice her.

Suddenly and unexpectedly and nearly all at once, Eve became aware that there were no footsteps any more. It was not sundown yet. The light was still streaming brightly through the cracks in the floorboards above her, and she could still hear the faint sounds of swallows rustling above in the rafters and the rats scrambling about beneath her feet. It was daylight, but there were no human sounds to be heard any more. The screaming had stopped. She couldn't even hear the dainty tread of her mother's pretty maid, Morfudd or the imperious barks of the steward, Cook.

There was no one breathing in the castle apart from little Eve.

She stayed perfectly still in her cramped little hiding place and shut her eyes, as if that way she could disappear into thin air, as if that way no one would be able to see her.


Eve’s deep brown eyes snapped open at the sound. She peered curiously through the crack between the floorboards. There was a flash of red and gold as the long silken cloak brushed over Gwen’s hiding place. She could hear the swift tread of a young man, barely out of his boyhood, pacing steadily across room. He was moving away from Eve’s sightline now, towards the place she knew her four-poster bed lay.

Eve could no longer see him, but she kept her eyes open anyway, keen for another glance of the red cloak embroidered with a pretty golden dragon.

The paces stopped suddenly and a curtain was drawn. Eve heard a sudden, sharp breath.

“My God.” Came the gasp.

Eve was so sure she had been discovered. She shut her eyes as tightly as she possibly could, willing herself to become as small as a mouse, to shrink and shrink and shrink until there was nothing left.

“Queen Leodegrance?” there was horror in the boy's tone. “Your Majesty?”

There was no answer. Eve heard the shuffling of fabrics. She sniffed. She had inhaled too much dust and she could feel something building… a sudden urge she couldn’t quench.

And sure enough, seconds later, the young man in the bright red cloak distinctly heard a small sneeze echoing from underneath the floor.

He immediately drew his sword.

“Who’s there?” he demanded. “Show yourself!”

There was a sound of knocking against the wood below and a previously unforeseen panel in the woodwork lifted up, like a trapdoor. From under the floor emerged a dark princess, of around seven or eight years, dressed in dust-covered silk and pearls. The young man thought perhaps that she looked like the sleeping beauty of legend. Her age untouched but her surroundings ravaged by time.

He replaced his sword in its sheath. “Who are you?” he asked. There was no malice in his tone, only curiosity, with a hint of respect.

“I am Eve.” The little girl replied simply. “That is my mother." she pointed at the bed. "Who are you?”

The young man didn’t answer, he had turned back to gaze at the beautiful woman with the kind face who was lying on the four-poster, unresponsive. There were strange marks on her neck. Her skin was pale as death. He looked down. Shattered glass littered the floor, water dripped like blood from the bedcurtains. Wildflowers lay strewn across the fie woolen rugs and feathers seemed to escape from the room’s cushions of their own accord.

He looked up at the dusty little empress surrounded by her broken empire. “Where is your father?” he asked, almost sharply.

“Gone away.” she replied.

His expression softened, “I am Leon.” He extended a hand to the little girl.

“Come with me Eve.” He said simply, his blue eyes full of sadness. “We must leave now. Your mother is at peace.”

They walked hand-in-hand out of the bedroom. Little Eve glanced back over her shoulder absently; little knowing that this was the last glimpse of her mother she would ever have.

* * * *

That night her father packed a bag. Her nurse had dressed her in a yellow dress that itched and wasn’t at all pretty, but she didn’t cry. This was an adventure. Leon had told her so. Father had sat her down and said that they had to leave. He said that in the New Place she mustn’t be Princess Eve any more, and he couldn’t be King Leo either. Eve was confused. She didn’t know who she could be.

The ride to this New Place was dark and confusing. At first there were people chasing. Eve heard the clash of swords outside the carriage. She clung close to her nurse as the shouts began. She hated shouting. Her father was screaming. Leon’s voice echoed through the night, rising above the thundering horses’ hooves. Eve shut her eyes, tight. I’m a little mouse. She thought. Just a little mouse. They were gone at last, and the sounds of the night prevailed. Over the horses Eve could hear the wind and rusting trees and owls calling through the darkness. She imagined they were calling to her, wishing her luck in the New Place, making her the new person her father wanted her to be. The nurses’ comforting hand in her hair and the rhythmic galloping soothed her into an uneasy dream. It was confusing and wild and full of red capes that slipped from her grasp, and she felt herself relieved to be awake.

In the morning light, Eve peered outside the carriage and saw the White Castle in the distance, saw the chimney smoke from the small village rise above the magnificent turrets. She smiled.

The carriage stopped about a mile outside of the city and Eve got out.

Leon dismounted his horse to greet her, and she took his hand, glad to have someone to help her out of the carriage, like she was a proper Lady. The effect however, was ruined when he was forced to crouch down in order to speak to her face-to-face.

“Are we going to the White Castle?” she asked, gazing unblinkingly at Leon.

Leon couldn’t meet her eyes. “Not any more.” He muttered.

“Why not?” she asked, a little put out.

Leon didn’t answer.

“Where’s father?” she looked around, as if expecting him to come thundering up on his white stallion at any moment.

Leon closed his eyes tight and ran a hand through his hair. Eve thought he looked as if he wished he were a mouse.

“He’s…” he began, then stopped. “Your father is….” He stopped again, opening his eyes and looking directly into Eve’s eyes. “Your parents are gone now, Eve. They are in a happier place.”

Eve didn’t understand, but she didn’t want to make Leon’s face turn all scrunchy again. She didn’t want him to turn into a mouse, he had been very nice to her. She said nothing.

“I know a very nice man who will take care of you, we are going to see him.” He explained.

“Can’t I…” her voice faltered, “Can’t I stay with you?” she asked.

He shook his head sadly. “No you can’t. I’m sorry Eve.”

For the first time in a long time, Eve began to cry.

“Hey,” he said, taking her little hand and giving her a sad smile. “It’ll be okay. Tom is a very good man. His wife just lost a baby, they deserve a chance to be happy. You deserve a chance to be happy. You will have a new father and mother.”

“I don’t like this New Place.” She wiped her tears on her rough sleeve. “Father said I’m not Eve any more.”

Eve’s nurse descended from the carriage. She was carrying a small leather bag. It was all Eve had left in the world.

“You were never Eve.” Leon said. “They gave you that name because you couldn’t pronounce your full name.”

“My full name?” Eve asked, bewildered.

“Yes.” Leon smiled. “You are Guinevere.”

“Gw… Gwen-eve-ree?” she stuttered.

“Gwen-Eh-Vear.” He said patiently.

“Gwen-a-bear?” she asked.

Leon laughed, “Close enough, I suppose. Come then, Gwen-a-bear,” he smiled and extended his hand. “We must walk from here.”

And a little while later

“Gwen. I like Gwen.” He muttered.

And from that day forward she was Guinevere-But-Everybody-Calls-Me-Gwen. Daughter of Tom the blacksmith and Citizen of Camelot.

* * * *

Next Chapter

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