Day 4 : King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot
After Arthur’s coronation, his life began to change. He was responsible for every man, woman and child in his village. The weight of the crown felt like a boulder, crushing his shoulders at times, and he needed an outlet. The Nobles which lived at court, did so with their family and staff. He had befriended a few, but was seen with Lancelot the most.
They were the best of friends, always sparring, jousting and hunting together. Lancelot was not only Arthur’s confidant but also a major part of his council. Early on in their friendship, he had bestowed knighthood on Lancelot and made sure he was in attendance during any battle strategy meetings. Lancelot was smart and very well versed in the arts of war. They fought the Saxons together for years, peace was Arthur’s only goal.
As peace was the goal for Arthur, an Heir and continuation of his bloodline was the goal for his council. They presented Arthur with many marriage prospects, but he continued to turn them all down. Sir Geoffrey approached Lancelot after another failed attempt to secure a match. “ Talk to the King.” he urged Lancelot. “He is 25 yrs old now, in the prime of his life. Most of the Saxon lords have been beaten and there is little else to worry about save expanding the reach of Camelot and enjoying the dynasty he creates for us, but we need an Heir!” he exclaimed. Lancelot nodded and agreed to reason with the King.
Meeting the King in his chamber for their nightly game of chess and drinking, Lancelot sat by the fire, readying the board. The servants brought a tray of wine, bread and cheese, setting it near the game area. Another hurried in with extra candelabras to illuminate the room better while the last one helped the King into his night robes. He did not like to be disturbed once the game began and it frequently ran late so he prepared for bed ahead of time. After being dressed, the servant turned down the kings bedding and approached the game table, where they had already started to play. “My Lord, will there be anything else tonight?” “No Ilys, that will be all.” the boy hurried out, shutting the door behind him.
“Finally some peace and quiet! “ Arthur sighed. “My Lord this, My lord that! I grow weary of this, we should plan another hunt and leave the castle for a few days just so I can clear my head.” “Arthur, Sir Geoffrey came to see my today.” Lancelot began. Arthur rolled his eyes, “I don’t want to talk about that, lets plan this hunt! Who should we invite?” changing the subject. “Arthur, you can’t go one like this, soon there will be no one left to marry!” Lancelot warned. “Should I care? I already have a son.” he reminded. “Mordred will never be King and you know it. He is your bastard son and an abomination!” Lancelot cautioned.
Frustrated, Arthur gets up to fill his glass with more wine. Instead of returning to the game table, he lazily throws himself on the bed. “I tire of this talk.” he exhales, taking a large swig of wine. Standing, Lancelot bows, “I shall leave you to retire then, good night.” walking towards the door, he stops as Arthur speaks. “I did not say, I tire of you, I said I am tired of the topic. All day I have seen portraits among portraits of women I have never met and must decide who I will spend the rest of my life and now my dearest friend will continue this bridal assault in my private chambers when all I want to do is escape into a game.”
Lancelot, unable to complete the task given to him chose to not anger the King and his friend so instead he offered “ Do you want to finish this round? You’re hardly in a position to win, I have you cornered! Is that the reason for your outburst, to distract me from victory?” he joked.
“You knave! “ Arthur laughed, leaving his cup by the nightstand to meet Lancelot. “Where you really going to leave?” he croaked. “I didn’t want to upset you any further, so yes, I was leaving.” Lancelot murmured. Arthur looked into his friend’s eyes and grasped his hand, pressing it against his shaft,voice thick with desire he said “You would leave me like this?”
they kissed passionately, moving towards the bed. Arthur still in his night robe helping Lancelot out of his clothes said “We need to find a better way to deal with all this you are wearing” Arthur whispered into his ear. “Why won’t you move into the rooms next to mine?” he offered. “Arthur, you know I can’t.” Lancelot answered flatly. “ Those rooms are reserved for your Queen.” “I don’t want a queen, I want you.” Arthur said, annoyed at the reminder pushing him on to the bed, climbing on him.
Lancelot flipped Arthur onto his back and straddled him. Pressing his arms down with his weight, he leaned in, kissing him deeply. “Looks like we are ready for a sword fight!” Arthur chuckled, amused by the sudden display of power. Unable to hold the stern look he had, Lancelot began to laugh.
Laying on Arthur’s chest, listening to his heartbeat and the sound of his breathing, they both knew that nights like this were coming to a close. “Can’t you just pick one and be done with it? “ Lancelot suggested. “How about you pick one.” Arthur countered. “I am serious! Tomorrow you will join me in the throne room where all the portraits are displayed. There you will make your decision and I will agree to it, delivering the news to the council over dinner.” “ Surely you jest!” Lancelot said , miffed. Desire still burning in Arthur’s eyes he said, “No, it’s an order. Enough of that now my love… weren’t you just about to storm my castle ?”
Before the sun came up, Lancelot slipped out of the King’s chambers and returned to his rooms the way he had done for so many years.
“This one.” Lancelot pointed. “Guinevere of Cameliard” Arthur pronounced. “She will be my bride! Send word for the council to join me for dinner, and relay that I have made a decision.” Arthur leaned in, kissing Lancelot on the cheek in thanks before he left.
At dinner Arthur announced his decision. He also informed the council that his most trusted knight would be the escort for Lady Guinevere, leaving in three days time, along with wedding invitations being sent out on the same day. The journey would be a week’s ride and the Lady would need a month to prepare before her arrival. In that time, the staff would ready the castle for their guests and the wedding that would take place the day after she arrived. Everyone at the table was in a frenzy shouting over each other, trying to start planning . Lancelot sat stone faced and silent while chaos hovered all around him.
In Arthur’s rooms he asked why he would send him to do this. “It is simple. I will miss you terribly, but if you stay here, I will never be able to purge.” “Purge?” Lancelot said angrily. Sighing, “Yes my love, purge. If you are here, how will I be able to conceal my disgust and displeasure. Marry I must, and marry I will but it doesn’t mean I am happy about it. How can I have you in my bed every night and then suddenly find a stranger in it ? I need to be ready and I cannot do that if you are here.” Lancelot understood and although he too was unhappy, he left three days later to retrieve his lover’s bride.
When he arrived at Cameliard he was greeted with a feast fit for a king. Everyone was eager to speak with him and learn all about Camelot. That night be saw Guinevere in person for the first time and froze. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She was polite, intelligent and beaming with happiness. “Tell me all about the king” she said to Lancelot, curiously.
After dinner they retired to a smaller parlor where they would meet regularly and speak about the king, the knights, Camelot and all of its splendid beauty. He told her about their stables and how they had the best horses in all of Britannia, the hills and pastures to ride on, the rivers always full of fish and the abundance of flowers that bloomed all over the kingdom. He promised to take her everywhere.
The time they spent together developed into a real friendship. Lancelot also began to feel more for her than platonic love and began to pull away from her without drawing attention to it. He cut their evenings shorter and spent more time with her father, hurrying along the arrangements.
It was time for them to depart, and Lancelot would ride with her in the royal coach. In that close proximity with nowhere to go, he realized that he was taking this woman to marry his lover, as jealousy took root in his heart. He loved Arthur but could not share that with the world, they could never have more than they did and now he loved Guinevere, which he could do nothing about .
The night of their arrival to Camelot, the city buzzed with excitement to look upon their future Queen. Arthur Greeted them at the entrance and traded places with Lancelot, riding in with his bride to be. After the feast, Arthur waited in his rooms but Lancelot never came.
The couple was married the next day. Lancelot left to France under the cover of night, leaving Arthur a note for him to read the following morning. “My dearest love, I could not bear it, I don’t know how to bear it, so I have left for France. I will be visiting my estates there in hopes that in time, I too can purge you from my soul, now that yours belongs to her in holy matrimony. I do not know how long I will be, but I will return to Camelot, in time.” Arthur ripped the note to pieces then cast it into the fire.
Three months had passed and he had not returned. In that time, Arthur spent every moment with his wife, showing her about Camelot during the day and making love to her at night. He never imagined that he could love anyone else and yet he was torn. He loved Guinevere but he loved Lancelot. She told Arthur about the time she spent with Lancelot and how much of a loyal and caring friend he was to him, that she awaited his arrival so that they could all be the best of friends.
Two more months passed without even so much as a word, making Arthur furious. The next morning he sent a messenger to France ordering his return to court immediately. Two weeks later, he arrived, much to the surprise of Arthur who thought he would refuse him. He was escorted to the throne room where Arthur waited with his queen and the rest of the court.
“Lancelot!” he called out, while the knight bowed then walked up to the King. They embraced and exchanged smiles. Catching sight of Guinevere he quickly apologized and bowed to the queen. “Welcome back!” she offered.
“There will be a feast tonight in honor of Lancelot welcoming him home!’ Arthur announced, the court cheering and clapping. “Go and make ready dear friend, we would hear all about your journey this evening”
The feast went later than usual, most of the court heavily into their cups, toasting the return of the knight. Lancelot drained his cup and refilled it again quickly, drinking heavily, which was unusual for him. He laughed heartily, told stories of the things he had seen as well as the developments in France all the while never making eye contact with either Guinevere or Arthur. Finally the royal couple retired leaving everyone free to stay or retire to their rooms.
Lancelot, drunk on wine and full of courage stumbled into Arthur’s room. “ I need you” he demanded. Arthur shocked at the intrusion and this declaration stood slack jawed, staring at his lover. In an instance, they were all over each other. Months of separation had done nothing to staunch the fires of their desire and so they began to make love in reckless abandonment. Reckless it was indeed. Amongst the kisses and moans they both heard a loud gasp. Neither of them noticed that Guinevere had slipped into the room. She had been watching them thinking it was possibly a fight as they all had too much too drink, her included.
Once she saw them taking off their clothes and kissing she froze, just watching them. It all clicked in her mind and everything made sense that’s when she gasped. She tried to run back to her room but stumbled on the hem of her night gown. The two men scrambled to their feet, trying to hide their nakedness while also trying to help her to her feet. Standing, she immediately began crying. “How could you do this to me? “ she shrieked at Arthur. “And you!” pointing at Lancelot “You were supposed to be a friend. You brought me here to marry him all the while you were his lover! How could you do this to me? After all that time we spent together” she hiccuped. “After all those nights talking and dreaming of Camelot, after everything, how could you do this, knowing I loved you, Lancelot!” she screamed. “You what?”” Arthur growled.
The color drained from her face and she fainted. She awoke on the bed with both men on either side of her. “Guinevere!” they both said. “Are you alright?” Arthur finished. She motioned to get up but he quickly held her down “ don’t move, you just fainted.” Lancelot got up to retrieve a glass of wine. “drink “ he said, pressing it to her lips. “I think we’ve had enough today” she said, but did as she was told. In a moment she felt better and sat up between them. “We have a serious problem” she said frankly. “What are we to do now? Will you cast me aside?” she asked Arthur. “Do you love me?” he asked her.
“I do, I really do but-” “then there is nothing else to it.” he interjected. “Do you love her?” he asked Lancelot. He didn’t answer so Arthur asked again, with more force in his voice. He put his head in his hands and answered weakly, “I do.” ‘Do you love me still?” he persisted. Lancelot looked up at Arthur and touched his face “ Of course I do, that’s why I’m here tonight.” Arthur nodded and drew him in for a kiss. He then leaned into Guinevere pushing her onto the pillows while kissing her, broke the kiss and turned her head to face Lancelot who now laid next to her again. “Kiss him” Arthur said. Nervously, she looked at both of them. “It’s alright my love.” he encouraged, as she kissed Lancelot. That was the first of many nights the three spent together in love making.
So it went that for a time, they would all be together and each had their own moments of private intimacy. Arthur alone with Guinevere, or alone with Lancelot and nights where Lancelot was alone with Guinevere. The only condition was that these nights had to be spent in the kings quarters to rule out suspicion. When Lancelot was with Guinevere, Arthur would sleep in her rooms until it was time to return to his bed. They lived in joy while the kingdom enjoyed its time of peace.
Not all were happy with the outcome of their lives and Mordred, Arthur’s son never forgave his father for casting him aside as a bastard. He wanted to ruin him, destroy his life. One fateful night he noticed Lancelot and Guinevere laughing together and found it suspicious so he followed them back all the way to the King’s quarters. Arthur entertained the court while Guinevere and Lancelot made love. Mordred ran back down to the feast and urged everyone to run, the queen was in danger! All the knights grabbed their swords and raced through the castle, kicking in the door to the King’s quarters only to find Guinevere and Lancelot in the throws of passion. The naked knight taking advantage of everyone’s shock, quickly fought his way out and escaped. Unfortunately for the queen she was dressed and whisked to the Dungeon under Mordred’s orders. “She will burn!” he yelled behind her as they dragged her away.
Helpless against Mordred and the Priests, Arthur went to find Lancelot. “You must save her. Save her and take her far away from here” he cried. “You are the King! Surely you can put a stop to this!” Lancelot argued. “If you hadn’t been seen, it would never have been a problem. Mordred did this. He has been looking for a way to destroy me and has finally found it. I will lose you both but you will leave here with your lives. I could not bear to bury either of you.”
So on the day of Guinevere’s execution, with the help of Arthur, Lancelot freed her and they escaped to an unknown location in France. Arthur, heartbroken never took another wife. Mordred inevitably rebelled again with the help of several Saxon lords inciting a war with Camelot. Father and son met on the battlefield, five years after the scandal and both died by each other’s hand.