Candles and Sunlight

Gwen thought it to be an ordinary day. She was busy with the trading documents, overseeing the final agreements. She was ready for lunch with Gwy and Duran. She was waiting for the rest of her family to return from their excursion.

And then Sir Leon came in. As he did, she felt an odd squeeze in her stomach. And she saw his face, her old friend had that one expression worn when having knowledge of something bad, and the squeeze became tighter.

"Your Highness," He started to say, "There has been an incident."

"Incident?" Gwen asked.

"We received word from the king's party. Your Highness…"

A series of thoughts rushed to Gwen's mind. An accident? A broken bone? A poisoning? A curse? Was it Arthur? Is he alright? What about their boys?

Gwen straightened her back and looked straight at the knight, "Tell me."

"Prince Amhar is dead my queen."

No.

No. That's not true. Not her son. Amhar cannot be dead. How can that happen?

Well many things can happen that can end a young man's life. It increases when the young man is a prince. But no, her boy is with his father and men that love them and will do everything to keep him safe. Nothing can happen to her son.

"How?" Gwen found her voice and demanded, "How did this happen?"

"They didn't say," Sir Leon said, "The party is returning."

Gwen saw that her vision was blurring and her cheeks were wet. The uncomfortable squeeze had finally climaxed to a pain that cannot possibly be tolerated and it spread to the rest of her body. She wondered if her heart broke. It almost did when she saw her father dead. And all of it produced a wail from her, and she bent over because it was too much.

"My queen… Gwen," Sir Leon reached for her. Her old friend tried to save her by a gentle rub to her back. It did not calm her, but she focused on it until she could find a way to control her sobbing. And then another thought occurred to her.

"My sons," She croaked out, "Please bring me my sons."

"Yes my queen," Sir Leon said. He left, and replacing him was Ellie, her handmaiden, and near her was one of her ladies-in-waiting. Ellie produced a handkerchief and dried her tears, and continued to rub her back.

Her sons, how would they take this? Amhar was devoted to his brothers, and they loved him. Where was Jack, was he alright? They cannot know yet. They should hear it from her, not from the gossiping court.

It was a lifetime when her two youngest boys were brought to her. And they knew something is wrong. They saw her tear streaked face, and they were afraid.

"Gwydre, Duran, come here."

Duran ran into her arms, while Gwydre cautiously walked over, feigning maturity.

She reached for them both, trying to keep them close and protect them.

"We just got word from your father… Amhar is dead."

She watched as their faces fell. Tears welled up in their eyes, and she felt them froze and shiver.

"No," Gwydre said, "Amhar is coming back. He said he was coming back today."

"My love, he isn't coming back. He's gone."

Duran didn't say anything. He buried his head to her chest and cried.

Gwydre didn't cry at first. Her bold boy screamed and thrashed at air, trying to fight death it was now his enemy. She let him, holding Duran tighter.

Finally, when he was tired, Gwen grabbed him and he broke down.

My babies.

They were left alone for the rest of the afternoon, until they were told that Arthur had returned.

The sun was cruelly still bright and wonderful when she saw Arthur return. With him was Merlin, his other knights, her brother and Jack. Duran saw Jack and ran to him and threw himself into his arms. Jack lifted up his little brother and carried him over to Gwen. Jack, quiet Jack, kind Jack, forever Amhar's companion, murmured to her.

"I'm sorry Mum," He said. He then left, with Duran still in his arms.

She then looked to find Gwydre, and finding him with Elyan. She then saw the cart. She saw the sheet and the figure that it covered. She knew that was Amhar.

Just like Father.

Arthur went to her, and as they held one another and she could not look away from their dead child, she felt his breath near her ear. It was almost as if he was saying he was pleading for forgiveness.

::::

"What happened?"

She asked that after they laid their boys to their beds and Amhar was taken to the undertakers to be prepared.

"We were attacked." He said, "Amhar was killed. I saw it happen. So did Jack. I killed the man who did it."

Gwen hugged him, she knew he was about to stumble.

"It was so stupid of me." Arthur berated himself, "It was a planned assassination. All I did was take out the men hired not the ones responsible."

Gwen held him closer, they sat down on their bed.

"We will get through this," she said, "We will just need to get through tonight."

"Guinevere, I couldn't protect our son. He's gone."

He was quiet for the rest of the night.

::::

The great hall was draped in black, as were its occupants and all were holding candles, the incense from them wafted throughout the chambers. Before them all was the coffin and the young man who laid in it.

Their eldest boy was cleaned up and dressed smartly in his royal regalia of red and gold, the Pendragon crest displayed proudly on his chest and his circlet was polished to a shine. As if the whole thing mattered.

Gwen was sitting beside Arthur; both on their thrones as they listened to Merlin give his eulogy to their boy. Their living sons were with Elyan and the other knights, being guarded by everything else.

She hated it. All of it. There were too many flowers. And candles. Too people with too many flowers and holding too many candles. And she on an ugly chair instead of holding her husband and children and she was becoming nauseated from the sweet scents. They could not cover up the fact that her eldest boy was now a rotting corpse.

She didn't realized that she reached for Arthur's hand until he clasped his to hers. A bit of warmth finally returned to her.

The service was finally over.

Sir Kay, Sir Bors and two other young knights unfamiliar to her then lifted Amhar and carried him out to the crypt. Gwen, remembering her role, stood up and followed them, Arthur still vigilant at her side. Merlin and Elyan had Jack, Gwy and Duran behind them.

The march was tiresome. Gwen had to force herself to keep in step with Arthur, keeping right behind the lead and ahead of her children and the rest of the mourners.

They then stopped at the mouth of the crypt, observing Amhar being carried into the darkness. There was another long speech that Gwen was deaf to, only catching the last part.

"And so here Amhar Pendragon, prince of Camelot and all of Albion, rested for eternity. May he be granted peace."

Goodbye my boy.

:::

Again, Arthur was quiet that night. Again, she held him close. And he held her.

:::

AN: This was unbeta'ed. And yes, I killed one of their children.