It had been two months since her father's death when news of Camlann reached her. Elena cried herself to sleep that night. It wasn't fair that her father was gone; her husband just had to leave her too.
She let herself have one night to mourn, then pulled herself together when the sun rose. She was not the only one who had lost a loved one during Camlann, many others were grieving too, including the queen of Camelot.
The morning after she had received the news, she had her servants prepare a horse and rode off towards Camelot with three knights in tow and her advisor behind in charge of Gawant.
When they arrived in Camelot, Elena had to blink back her tears.
The city was clearly in mourning; the streets and markets were empty and there was an air of pain that filled the atmosphere.
But, that hadn't been the only thing that made Elena want to cry. On the door of a rundown cottage was a small, circular pendant with an eagle carved in the center and she was suddenly sent back into moments of childhood terror, of tears and screaming and pain so much pain, and of calming words 'It is all right my child, for you are as an eagle, meant to fly into the sun.'
Her knuckles turned white from grasping the saddle too tightly and she began to sway from dizziness.
She was able to compose herself without alerting any of her knights about her almost meltdown and continued to ride up to the palace without any other problems.
Standing in front of the steps that led to the castle was Queen Guinevere dressed in a long black dress, her eyes red and puffy but her back was straight and her eyes held a type of defiance that Elena could not explain and envied greatly.
Surrounding their queen was at least half a dozen knights, all stone faced and vacant eyes, and to the left of her stood a tall man with the appearance of a raven, dressed in black silks with his piercing blue eyes that could see into her soul.
Elena dismounted from her horse and began to walk towards the Queen, who had come to meet her half way.
Elena knew that she was to engage the other queen with pleasant, but not personal, small talk, and give her condolences, but one look at Guinevere's tear stained face and all her thoughts on propriety flew out the window.
Instead, Elena all but ran the rest of the way to grasp the woman she barely knew into a tight hug and they both cried into the other's shoulder.
After what felt like hours, they finally pulled apart and Guinevere's lips quirked into a small smile. Then she grabbed Elena's arm before dragging her towards the steps and began to talk to her in what was meant to be a cheerful voice but ended up sounding quite forced.
"Come, we must get you settled! I'll have a maid escort you to your chambers." Gwen paused once she came to the tall man and her smile became genuine. "This is Merlin, my advisor and soon to be Court Sorcerer as soon as we get everything with this pesky ban settled."
The man nodded his head in greeting and Elena responded in kind. It was as if someone had lit a candle in her brain. He definitely looked different, nobler, but he had the same eyes and sharp cheekbones and she wondered how she hadn't noticed before.
Standing in front of her, dressed in finery and trembling with power, was King Arthur's manservant.
The rooms she had been shown to were on the small side; there was a antechamber with a table surrounded by two chairs and a comfortable looking couch and then her bedroom in which there was a big bed in the middle and a purple canopy hanging over it.
There was also a dressing table off to the side and a velvet chair under a window facing the main courtyard.
The chambers were sparsely decorated but filled with an air of comfort that no amount of trinkets could provide and Elena was very happy with them.
Dinner was served in her rooms- there was not to be a feast in her honor because Elena felt it was uncouth to have a celebration in a time of sorrow- then she had a bath and retired for the night.
It was chilly and so she had her maid bring her a handful of extra blankets which she piled around her in the big bed and then she drifted off to sleep. It wasn't a pleasant sleep for the dreams came back. She had been rid of them for the last year and was hoping they were gone forever, but it appeared that was not to be.
There was blood, so much red, between her legs. She could hear screaming, it must have been he own, and a woman's voice trying to provide comfort but she couldn't hear all he knew were the hot tears pouring down her face and the raw pain she felt. It hurt, oh it hurt! There was so much pain, pain, pain. Help, please help me! It can't, no please, it can't, Help!
Elena woke up in a cold sweat, panting heavily and refusing to cry. She did not sleep for the rest of the night.
The next morning she dressed quickly in her black silk and brushed her hair into a bun. She refused to let her maid help her; Girflet had always said she looked better when she dressed herself and as it was a day of honoring the fallen soldiers, it seemed fitting to dress for him.
It was a wonderful ceremony with many lovely speeches and plenty of tears and Elena hated it.
The memories were over filling her mind, drowning her in grieve, and she fled the ceremony before they could take her completely.
Somehow she ended up in the armory.
She walked through the rows of weapons, moving her arm to feel the many surfaces of items as she passed, allowing them to anchor her to the present. It was once she had made her way to the very back that she realized that she was not alone.
Sitting on a bench, a sword placed in his lap, was Merlin.
Elena immediately walked the distance to the bench and smoothed out her skirts before sitting beside him.
They sat in comfortable silence for a moment, Merlin staring intently at the sword in his lap and Elena thinking of her father and poor Girflet.
Soon, though, the curiosity was strangling her and she couldn't take it any longer. She turned to the man beside her and immediately began to talk. "You have magic then?"
Merlin looked up at her in surprise and slowly nodded.
And you hid it, all this time? Another nod. "When I was here before, something changed. It was as if I became a new person, one I was always supposed to be. I always felt it had something to do with magic, was it you?"
Merlin blinked and looked at his toes. W-what? How did you know?"
"Merlin, I am not as stupid as you appear to believe me to be."
The sorcerer's face turned white and he visibly gulped. "I-I… My lady, I didn't… That's not what I…"
Elena interrupted him with a giggle, something she had not done in seven months, at the sight of such a powerful man looking so afraid of someone as harmless as her. "Really Merlin, I know you meant no harm. I always assumed you had something to do with it because the last thing I remember before I magically changed was you, stuffing a potion down my throat. Now knowing you have magic makes everything much clearer."
Merlin let out a sigh of relief. "Oh. I forget not everyone is as oblivious as Arthur."
Elena would have let out another giggle (really, twice in one night, what was it about Merlin that made her so much brighter?) but the look on his face at the mention of the dead king was so heart breaking that she just patted him on the shoulder and walked out of the armory.
The small but neat manor loomed over Elena, threatening to swallow her whole.
The Queen took a deep breath, tucked a loose hair behind her ear, and knocked loudly on the wooden door.
A fair haired maid swung the door open and nodded her head in greeting. "Queen Elena, I suppose? The mistress said you would be coming. Now follow me, I will show you to the lord and lady." And she turned into the hall.
Elena glanced quickly behind her before squaring her shoulders and following the maid into the manor.
It was time to move forward and she would do it with all the strength she had left.
The manor was very neat and fashionably decorated. Elena glanced around, trying to commit it all to memory, while she followed the maid.
She was led to a sitting room at the end of the hall. As she entered, a middle age woman stood up from her place by the wall and gave Elena an elegant curtsy. "You're Majesty."
Elena let out a sad sigh. "Please madam, today I am just Elena. We are both equals in our grieve. If anything, you are my superior seeing as you are my late husband's mother."
The woman nodded and they sat opposite each other. There was not much talking, but there were plenty of tears and by the end of the visit both women felt as though they had known the other their whole lives.
The party from Gawant had stayed three days longer than intended when Elena had another decent conversation with Queen Guinevere's Advisor.
She had taken to scrounging the library during most of her stay and she was sitting in the far corner staring blankly at a book when there was a loud crash.
The lady jumped from her seat and ran towards the source of the noise.
She was surprised to find Camelot's soon to be Court Sorcerer lying flat on his back, covered in a dozen books.
The man's eyes widened at the sight of her. "Hello your majesty. Those books should really be moved from the top shelf, it would be a great help to clumsy people everywhere."
Elena covered her mouth to hide a giggle (and why did she keep doing that? He hadn't even said anything exceptionally funny) and kneeled beside him, beginning to pick up the dropped books.
Merlin rose an eyebrow at her. "Should queens really be on the floor helping servants pick up their messes?
"I used to eat bugs, I don't think what queens should do applies to me. Besides, you are no longer a servant; you shouldn't be cleaning up either."
Merlin nodded at her and got up on his knees to join her. She took this opportunity to study the man before her while he was occupied with the mess in front of her.
He was handsome in his own way, with his stunning blue eyes and sharp cheek bones and Elena was upset that she hadn't noticed his beauty before. Of course, it wasn't how he looked that made him so remarkable. It was the way he seemed to hum with power and that he didn't even seem to notice. He held himself with confidence, but not with arrogance and Elena knew he was just as royal as any noble men she had ever met.
It was then, so caught up with staring at the man before her that she completely forgot why she was on the ground, that she noticed that not once during her stay had she seen him smile like he had when she was but a princess prepared to marry a prince and he was just a nameless servant.
It saddened her greatly, for someone like him should always have a smile on his face, and she decided then and there that she would do whatever it took to make him smile again.
They began to meet in the library, reading books, talking about nothing and everything, except, of course, for their shared losses.
She had begun to depend in those meetings, and she kept changing the subject whenever one of her knights would question when they would be leaving.
It was a time of peace for her, and she knew she wasn't the only one who thought so. During the time in the library there was no sympathy in the other's eyes, no constant questioning of how she was dealing, no one offering their condolences like they actually cared.
During these times in the library, she began to notice things about Merlin. Like how he would blink whenever he was surprised or that he'd flick his neckerchief if he was nervous or uncomfortable, though it wasn't noticeable unless you were staring at him intently. Which, Elena was.
Elena loved Camelot's gardens. They were full of luscious, exotic flowers of different color. When she wasn't in the library with Merlin, she was usually in the gardens.
That was where she was now, sitting beside the gardenias, reading a book she had gotten on her last visit to the library.
She felt someone plop down beside her and turned to see Merlin.
"How did you get there? I didn't see anyone coming!"
He grinned at her, one of those fake grins he had that never reached his eyes, and moved his back and forth in a strange gesture. "Magic."
Elena laughed at that and smacked him on the arm before turning back to her book.
She had started to read again, letting the book pick her up and transport her into its pages, when a hand came crashing down on it.
Surprised, she looked up at Merlin, ready to scold him for interrupting her, but then she saw the look on his face and her breath was stolen from her.
He face was a picture of melancholy, his bright blue eyes looking down on her in sadness, his lips pulled tightly together.
Even looking so depressed he was beautiful, and Elena thought he had never looked more handsom than he did in that moment.
"Elena, I need to know, you lost someone in the war, didn't you? Who was it?"
The queen of Gawant was shocked by this statement. "Are you saying you haven't heard? Everyone has heard, it's impossible not to know."
Instead of looking abashed like he had expected, he pulled his lips into a tighter line than they already were and stared at her. "Well I have been rather busy the last couple of years, I didn't have time to listen to gossip."
Elena huffed. Really, this man could be so infuriating. "I lost my husband. I suspect you'd also like to know that my father is dead?"
Merlin blinked. "No, I know about your father, Gwen told me when news of your arrival reached us. Married? You're married?"
"I was. He was one of Arthur's knights, Girflet."
Girflet? Girflet was married? To the queen of Gawant no less!"
"Well I was just a princess at the time. You did not know that one of the knights of the man you served was going to be king one day?"
"Hey, it's not my fault, I was busy saving this kingdom."
Elena giggled. "And you've done a fantastic job."
Merlin became serious and stared at her again. The intensity of his gaze was overwhelming and Elena had to turn to get away from it. "You really think I did a good job?"
Elena nodded in response, hoping to make him feel better, but all she got in response was a huff.
"I did a terrible job. Arthur is dead and all of Camelot is suffering. Even people outside of Camelot are suffering! Camlann is all my fault!"
She gasped, staring at the man before her. Was it true? Was it really his fault that all of those men were dead? No, she told herself, he was just feeling guilty about letting his king die. How could she ever think that such a wonderful man would let so many people die?
"Your king may be dead, as well as a number of other good men, but you have done so much for this kingdom. Without you, Camelot would have fallen several times, I would still have a sidhe trapped inside of me! You convinced Queen Guinevere to remove the band on magic! Aren't those things to be proud of? People die Merlin. That's just how things are. If you spend all of this time blaming yourself for other's deaths, spend all your time trying to change what was going to happen, you're just wasting your time. You would be better off trying to help the people still living.
Elena finished her little speech and then realized that this was an entirely true statement and that she needed it just as much as Merlin.
"Now please excuse me, I really ned to speak with my knights. We will be leaving in 3 days' time, I have a kingdom to get back to."
Elena smoothed out her skirts before knocking at the wooden door. Queen Guinevere answered the door, looking embarrassed, and Elena pretended not to notice the red around her eyes.
"Oh Elena! I really wasn't expecting you!" And she began patting her hair down and wiping her eyes.
"It is alright Gwen, I have shed my fair share of tears recently." The other queen gave a grateful smile and widened the door so that Elena could enter.
"I wanted to tell you that I plan to return to Gawant in 3 days." Gwen's eyes widened and she frowned.
"Oh. Well, that's good. Your kingdom really must need you." But Elena got the impression that Gwen didn't think it was good at all.
"Yes. I have enjoyed being here in Camelot immensely, but I really must get back to Gawant. I am their queen after all."
Gwen slowly nodded then her eyes got big again and she looked very worried. "Oh! Have you told Merlin you were leaving?"
Now Elena was confused. "Well, yes, but why does that matter?"
But Gwen didn't seem to hear the question. "And how did he take it? What did he say?"
Elena was going to answer, but then she remembered that he hadn't said anything. "Well, I don't know. I left after I told him. You see, he was the one who reminded me that I had a duty."
Gwen rose her eyebrow. "Really? Merlin told you to go back to Gawant?"
"No, but he helped me realize that I should. Now it has been very nice talking to you Qwen, but I do need to prepare for the journey." She curtsied to the queen and left.
He came to her chambers while her maid was packing.
"So you're off then?"
"Yes, we leave the day after tomorrow."
He nodded and sat on a chair. He looked normal, but something wasn't quite right. "Are you alright Merlin?"
The man blinked. "Course. Why wouldn't I be?"
Elena stared at him. He was so hard to figure out. Luckily, she had become quite adept at reading him over the last couple of weeks. She stared at him, her hands on her hips. "The last conversation we had was very… Interesting. Do you have anything to say about that?"
Merlin stared at her like she had just announced that she wanted to dive into a lake naked in the middle of winter. "Um… No… Should I?"
Elena shook her head. "No. I am just sorry if I seemed a little too forward."
Merlin laughed- a real, genuine laugh, not just the ones Elena had been hearing since she had arrived in Camelot-and Elena felt her heart fill up and smiled. "No, you didn't. And even if you did,forward is good. I like forward."
Elena's smile brightened. Just then, her maid, Britney her name was, entered in from her bedroom. "My lady, which riding outfit would you like me to leave out?"
"The green one, thank you Britney." Britney curtsied and returned to her chores.
Elena turned back to Merlin but noticed that his smile had disappeared. "So you're really leaving."
"Yes, I thought we discussed this already."
He began to fidget awkwardly, the chair shaking underneath him. "I-I just… Well…You… I need to go, see you tomorrow."
Then he left the room, leaving behind a very worried Elena.
She didn't see Merlin again until the next night.
There was to be a feast in her honor. Elena had insisted that there was no need, but Gwen would not hear it. She said that Elena had become a great friend to them and deserved to be sent off properly.
So that night, Elena found herself sitting at a table next to Gwen and trying very not to stare at Merlin.
He was wearing dark blue robes that brought out his eyes and his hair was smooth and his eyes were shining and Elena's heart was beating rapidly against her chest.
The dinner was half way over when she saw the sorcerer get up from his chair and walk out of the hall.
Elena waited a few seconds then followed him.
She found him outside in the garden. He was sitting in front of the little pond and staring up at the sky. She slowly walked towards him and even though his head did not turn, Elena knew he had heard her.
Once she had reached the pond, she plopped down beside him and sighed. "I find it hard to believe that Gwen would want to have a feast while she is still grieving."
Merlin looked at her. "Well then you don't know Gwen very well. She will always put others before herself. Gwen understands that the people need to see that Camelot is still very much alive and that we can get past this. Apparently Gwen saw your departure as the perfect opportunity." Then he glared at her as if she had committed some offence.
"Oh. I wish I could be half as good a queen as Guinevere." It was almost comical how quickly Merlin's expression changed from upset to shocked.
"What do you mean? You are an amazing queen!"
Elena giggled. "Thank you Merlin, but I know I'm not cut out to rule a kingdom."
"Yes you are! You're amazing, and funny, and you love to read books and you're gorgeous." He was now staring into her eyes and Elena found she couldn't look away.
"What do those things have to do with being queen."
"I don't know."
She knew what was going to happen before it did. She could feel his breath on her cheek and could feel his heart beating in his chest. Shivers tingled down her back and she slowly lifted her lips to meet his…
The bed was soft but did nothing to comfort her nerves. Her heart was beating faster than hummingbird wings and the silk night dress on her body felt like iron against her skin. The door opened and she looked into sympathetic eyes. It wasn't too bad. She hated it and never wanted to do it again, but it wasn't too bad.
Elena's eyes suddenly shot open and she jumped back, trying to keep her vision clear.
She tried to look at Merlin but she could feel the tears coming and she couldn't see so she turned and she fled to her chambers.
The next morning was a blur. She got up at the crack of dawn and rushed out to meet her knights in the courtyard.
It had been quick work for the servants to saddle the horses and soon Elena was standing in front of the palace, staring at Queen Guinevere.
"Thank you for letting us stay. Your hospitality has been wonderful."
"The pleasure was mine." Then Gwen pulled Elena into a tight hug. They pulled away fairly quickly and Elena nodded before walking to her horse.
As she was helped up into the saddle she tried to catch Merlin's eye, but he was pointedly refusing to look at her.
She sighed and, for what felt like the millionth time that day, wished she had not had a complete breakdown the night before. She had had a very detailed dream about all the reasons she should have stayed around and now she felt very guilty.
The first few months after she had returned from Camelot were disasterous.
The council kept trying to force her into another marriage, as if they had forgotten her husband had just died months before and she wanted to scream at all of them.
Other countries had thought Gawant was not safe with a lone female ruler and Elena had to meet with several kings to convince them she could rule a kingdom just fine on her own.
This infuriated her more than the council had. They were fine with Guinevere ruling on her own, even if it was just because Camelot was a happier place than it ever had been under the rule of the Pendragons.
It took her quite some time, but soon she was able to convince her people and everyone else that she could be a queen.
Another thing she worked quite hard to fix were the dreams. She was unappy that after two years of overcoming them they came back, so she worked and worked until they dissapeared and the only things that set her off were a husband and wife, a crying baby, and the sound of swords clanging.
She was quite happy with her life and had begun to recover from the loss she had suffered when she recieved a letter from Queen Guinevere elven months after leaving Camelot requesting her presence in court for Guinevere was hosting a peace summit with all the surrounding kingdoms.
Elena could not stop her hands from shaking as she led her horse towards the court yard of Camelot.
Her heart was beating at an unusual rate and not for the first time she hated herself for deciding to come.
Soon her party reached the palace steps and she saw the Camelot party standing outside the palace steps. Queen Guinevere looked much happier than when Elena had last seen her; she stood tall and proud, and her eyes were dancing with life. She was dressed in a gorgeous red gown with her golden crown glistening over her chocolate locks.
Elena smiled at her friend and was relieved when she recieved a smile in return.
She felt her eyes start to pull towards the queen's left and she tried to resist it, but it was no use. She looked and saw the Queen's Advisor-now Court Sorcerer- looking rather handsome in his blue shirt and black pants and she had to fight to keep the blush off her cheeks.
The queen of Gawant took some time to study his face and was glad to see that, just like Gwen, he seemed happier, although there was still a darkness behind his eyes.
A stable hand stepped forward to help Elena off her horse, and she grabbed onto his elbows, letting him pull her off the horse.
She took a moment to watch as the rest of her party dismounted and then she stepped forward to greet the other queen.
Gwen smiled as she aproached and reached out her hand. "Queen Elena, it is good to see you again. You will be using the same chambers you had during your last stay so you already know where they are. I hope that is alright?"
Elena nodded and Gwen's smile brightened. "Oh, good. King Olaf and his daughter are already here, but I do not think they will mind if I spend some time with you."
She was about to protest, but the look on Gwen's face at the mention of the king's daughter made Elena think she was just an excuse to get away from unpleasent company. "Of course; I would love to get reaquainted with you."
Then she grabbed the other queen's arm and they walked up the steps to the palace, Elena desperately trying not to look at Merlin.
Elena spent most of the afternoon speaking with Gwen but a messanger came and unounced that there were more royals passing into the city so Gwen left to greet them.
Instead of being upset to be left on her own, Elena rather enjoyed it and at once dashed to the rose gardens.
Once there, though, she realized they were not unoccupied.
Standing next to the rose bushes was the Court Sorcerer himself. Elena became rather nervous and considered walking away, but Merlin turned to look at her and gestured for her to come and join him.
She moved forward with her hands behind her back and her breathing eratic. Once she reached him she found she could no longer keep her thoughts inside.
"I'm so sorry I ran off Merlin! Its just I haven't been with a man since my wedding night and I didn't... I-I just..."
Merlin shushed her and nodded as if he understood. "It's alright. We both are broken and it was unfair of me to think that it would have been alright to push my despair onto you. I mistook your eagerness to be with me interest in a romantic sense when it was nothing but needing another human being around you and for that I am sorry."
Elena wanted to speak out and tell him how wrong he was, but she found her mouth was glued shut and all she could do was nod.
The first day of the peace talks went without a hitch.
There had been no unreasonable arguments and no nobles leaving in a huff. Besides one event where King Lot had threatened to wage war if Camelot didn't give in to his demands of trade and Merlin had threatened to turn him into a mouse if he kept threatening war, Elena had to say they had made real progress.
The meeting had finally ended before dinner and there was a wonderful banquet with fresh venison and fantastic entertainment
Elena returned to her chambers with her stomach full and her mood light.
The moment she entered her rooms she plopped onto her bed and fell asleep without changin into her nightgown.
Elena awoke to see a man standing over her bed and she let out a quiet scream before realising who it was.
"What are you doing in here? Why are you in my chambers and why on earth did you think it was a good idea to wake me up?"
Merlin just smiled and gestured behind him. " Oh good, you're already dressed. And Bethany said I could."
Elena turned her head to see that, indeed, her maid was standing by the wall looking sheepish before catching her gaze and shrugging her shoulders. Laughing, Elena sighed. "Bethany, you've turned against me. Alright, why did you wake me up?"
"I remember you saying once that you loved horse riding, I figured you might enjoy a ride."
Elena couldn't contain the excitement that she felt at his words. "That sounds lovely but what about the peace talks?"
A mischevious look passed over his face. "I'm sure they will not miss you for one day."
She gasped. It really wouldn't do for her to miss these talks. But then she looked again at Merlin's face and found she really didn't care for duty in that minute.
She quickly moved to her closet to grab her riding boots, hurriedly pulling them over her feet. Then she placed her cloak over her head and raced over to the door, Merlin following her.
"My lady, you should at least..." But Elena would hear none of it and just laughed before pulling Merlin out the door with her and racing towards the stables.
The ride had been amazing.
They had rode through the forest and hadn't stop till they reached a beautiful grove with a river flowing through it.
Merlin had declared that this was as good a place as any to stop for a rest and he helped Elena off her horse before moving back to his and grabbing a basket.
He then spred a blanket out on the ground and gestured for Elena to sit down. She did so and he joined her and soon they were feasting on bread and cheese.
They didn't leave their little grove until the light had begun to dim.
It didn't take them very long to get back to Camelot and soon they were riding through the city, trying to put off heading back to the castle.
"I had no idea you were such a skilled horse man."
Merlin shot her one of his customary grins. "You'd be suprised what one picks up as the King's manservant."
Elena felt the familiar shock of guilt for bringing up the dead king, but Merlin didn't seem particularly bothered by it so she smiled back at him.
It looked as if he was about to speak, but at that moment a man ran from a nearby cottage towards the castle before spotting them and running in their direction.
"Oh Merlin! You've got to come! Marybella is giving birth!"
Merlin quickly turned to Elena. "Do you mind if we go and help?"
Her heart was beating wildly and her fingers were shaking but she really didn't want to leave Merlin's side so she nodded. Merlin smiled and then urged hopped off his horse, quickly tying it up and running towards the cottage.
Elena ran to catch up with him, and when she did, she rose an eyebrow in his direction. "Queen's Advisor, Court sorcerer, and midwife? What's next, court jester?"
Merln laughed. "Gaius decided it was time to retire and his living in a fancy manor in the upper town. I have been left to become physician. I was, after all, his apprentice before I was anything else." Then he drew open the door and strode inside.
Elena nodded then took a deep breath before following. When she got outside, she almost turned right back around.
There was a woman on a bed with her legs spread apart, sccreaming in agony. Merlin was between her legs telling her to push and her husband was holding onto her hand, whispering words of love.
Elena saw the blood between the legs, the sweat on the woman's brow, and, just like with the kiss, she knew what was going to happen.
She ran to the woman's side and began smoothed out her brow. "It's alright, your baby will survive, you just have to push! It will all be over soon, just push!"
There was blood between her legs, so much red. There was so much screaming, it must have been her own. There was a woman's voice trying to give her comfort but all she knew was the hot tears falling down her face and the pain between her legs. The pain, so much pain. Someone help, please help. The pain stopped, but there was no crying. Why wasn't she crying? Her little girl, why couldn't she hear her little girl? No, she can't be, can't be. can't be...
She heard the wails of an infant and Merlin cry, "It's a boy!" there was a sharp intake of breath, and then Elena hit the floor.
She woke up in her chambers, dressed in her silk nightdress, and it took her the longest time to figure out what had happened the night before. Once she had, she curled back into the quilt and cried.
Bethany came to get her ready for the meetings, but Elena refused to get up and had the maid send her regrets to the queen but she was feeling rather ill and didn't think she could get out of bed.
She stayed that way, curled into a ball, for the rest of the day. The memory and the guilt threatend to consume her and it was all she could do not to through herself out of the window.
Around midday there was a knock on her door, and she stilled herself before wipping her face and marching to the door.
Merlin was there, his face gentle and his smile bright and it was Elena felt the tears come once again.
"Thank you for caring me up to my room Merlin, but I am not in the mood to except visitors.
The man sighed and opened his mouth to say something, but then he closed it and began to turn away.
"Wait Merlin!" He turned around again, his face confused, and Elena took a deep breath. "Did Marybell..."
He shook his head sadly and Elena nodded before closing the door. She had known the woman wouldn't make it, even as she envied her.
She forced herself to go to the meeting the next day-it wouldn't do for the Queen of Gawant to miss three day in a row-and she tried to ignore the sorrowful look Merlin gave her.
The meetings went no were as smoothly as they had the first day, and she felt herself growing annoyed at the idioticy of people.
She forced herself to push through it, but then around noon King Lot pressured Gwen on heirs and Elena could not stand it. She stood. "I am sorry, but it seems I am not as fully recovered as I believed my self to be." There were a couple nods and a few, 'get better's, but Gwen stared at her for the longest time and Elena fidgited before walking out of the room.
She made it to the bottom of the staircase before she had to sit against the wall, her head in her lap.
The queen stayed that way for awhile until she felt someone sit next to her.
She looked up to see Merlin sitting beside her, staring down at her with such an intense gaze that Elena felt herself shudder.
Neither said a word, even though she knew Merlin was dying to speak, and she was grateful he kne she just needed his company.
Finally, after what felt like hours of just sitting there, she decided Merlin deserved to know. She sighed and turned once again to look at him.
I guess you would like to know why I crumbled the other night.
Merlin shrugged. "I don't need to know anything you don't want to share."
Elena shook her head. "But you diserve to know; you've been so wonderful, the least I can do is talk to you. As you know, I was married three years ago." She paused here and saw Merlin nod, his expression unreadible.
"Well, seven months later, I gave birth. The baby was two months early and did not survive. Before the birth, I was told I was not going to survive, but the baby would survive. The midwife was wrong; I survived but the baby didn't. My girl, I killed my own daughter. I killed my own..." She burst into tears here and found she could no longer speak.
Merlin gathered her into his arms, rocking her back and forth. He placed his chin on the top of her head. "Sometimes I think I should have died instead of Arthur and all those knights. I should have done something."
Elena let out a laugh; a wet, humorless laugh. "Sometimes I'm glad Girflet died, and I hate myself for it."
"Destiny's over, and even though I don't know what to do with myself, I find my self happy because now I can live for myself." His voice was husky and Elena knew she was not the only one crying.
Although Elena did not understand what he was destiny he was talking about, she understood the sentiment and she buried herself deeper into his chest. "You were right the first time, I was interested Romantically."
Merlin laughed. "What a sad mess we are."
"But we can work it out, together."
Merlin kissed the top of her head, "Yes, together." And they were together until the day she died.
In a life full of loss, it is good to have a constant, and Elena had finally found hers.