Author: Guede Mazaka
It was a truly magnificent animal, and as partisan as Guinevere was to all that Britain had, even she had to admit that this stallion put the British-bred ponies to shame. Beautiful high arch in the neck, gracefully tapering muzzle and legs that seemed to be shapely pillars to the sky. Strong enough to bear a fully-armored knight, yet retaining an almost frightening speed. And a coat more lustrous than the furs she wore, black as a moonless clear night except for one strange reddish spot on its chest.
Merlin didn't seem to approve.
"That is the mark of warning," he whispered into her ear, gaze turning baleful as it swept over the horse. As if it could understand, the beast angrily rolled its eyes and lunged for Merlin. It was barely restrained by the men hanging onto its halter, hoofs beating a furious tattoo as it was dragged back. "It would bring no luck."
"No luck to our enemies. He doesn't lack spirit." Usually, Guinevere paid careful heed to Merlin's words, but of late he had been irritating her as to the matter of a child. She understood the need for one, and desired them as well, but Arthur was not quite ready. He was still adjusting to life without Rome, to ruling a people instead of fighting them.
And, if she was to be honest, to the death of his friends, especially Lancelot. However she approached Arthur, she still had not attained an account of the man who'd saved her life that she felt rung true. Her husband put her off with disarmingly humorous stories and simple platitudes, and all the while his eyes would turn east as if to belatedly follow the ashes. It left her cold, and even wheedling stories truer to the real Lancelot from the other knights had not managed to dispel that chill.
It both worried and frustrated her because she knew very well how much of Arthur was truly open to her. Jealousy was not a feeling Guinevere enjoyed, especially against a dead man she too honored, but occasionally she felt that bitterness rise at the realization that some of Arthur's feelings lay elsewhere.
"Guinevere…" Merlin started again, raising his staff.
Abruptly tired of him, Guinevere pulled away and walked up to the still-restless stallion. Arthur had taught her a few things about horsemanship, and she was eager to prove that she had been an attentive student. It would help ensure that now married, she would not be shoved into household affairs. While she was grateful to Merlin for raising her, she knew him well enough to suspect his striving for influence over Arthur, and she refused to give him free rein with the man she loved, as well as with the king she revered.
Surprisingly enough, no tricks were necessary. As soon as she came near, the horse instantly quieted, allowing her to even stroke its nose. She beamed triumphantly on the disgruntled Merlin and took firm hold of the halter. "I believe we'll have him. Arthur's old warhorse is failing, and he'll need a fiery one like this."
Quiet and docile, the horse nuzzled her hair while Merlin grunted and wandered off, going to look over the other wares that the traders had brought.
Small items going silently but noticeably missing: a few items of clothing, a dagger, food regularly vanishing from the kitchen. Strange footsteps in the night where none should be. Locked doors found open, and once, a bit of whistling near a bathing lady, though no corresponding man was ever found.
Arthur was inclined to dismiss the last report, but in the face of the avalanche of others, he couldn't quite bring himself to. Ghosts.
Having never seen one himself, or experienced any of the eerie occurrences that now plagued the town, he was in favor of following his practical sense and dismissing them out of hand. Indeed, he'd tried to, but the stories had kept pouring in and had disturbed the people to such a great extent that he was forced to mount extra night patrols in order to pacify them. And it couldn't have come at a worse time: now that both Saxons and Romans were gone, many of the tribes that had gathered under Merlin's leadership were now showing signs of wanting to break away. Arthur was slowly convincing them to join him, but the negotiations were delicate and unexpectedly complicated. If the other leaders thought him cursed, then they would refuse. They might even attack him, if some of the younger Druids had their way.
It was small comfort that the rumors were beginning to call the ghosts Sarmatian, pointing out that most of the happenings had occurred in the quarters the knights had occupied and near the garrison cemetery. Death had been the only kind of freedom that most of his knights had had, and Arthur hated to think that even that had been denied to them.
"Up late again?" The voice of mist and tart berry juice, one he never was tired of hearing. Guinevere framed her beautiful body in the doorway, knowing full well how attractive she was. Her self-confidence seemed to irritate most men, but for Arthur, it was a tantalizing, valuable change from the campside whores and demure Roman ladies with which he'd been most familiar.
He needed a strong partner. And she was that, as well as fire in his bed. She helped warm him on the nights that he dreamed of ice rivers and cold steel and cooling dead flesh.
"And now you're making yourself depressed." She came all the way into the room and pushed him back from the desk, settling herself on his lap. "What's wrong?"
The papers were right on the table. Moreover, she was disturbingly good at reading him, so he didn't attempt to dissemble. "Two more ghost sightings. Thumps that spooked one of the stablehands."
"Did they see it?" When he shook his head, Guinevere smiled and kissed his eyebrows. "Then there's still no proof."
"Perhaps not," Arthur sighed, resting his face on the swell of her breast. He curved his hands to her waist, lean and supple as the bows she used. "But the matter also came up in conference today."
She stiffened, knowing as well as he did what implications that held. "Next time, you should wait until I return to meet with them. I grew up with these men, and I know their mannerisms."
"I would have, but…" Arthur squeezed his eyes shut, then looked at the window again. The shutters were closed, and it might be the changeable firelight that was causing that flicker of shadow-but he was a soldier, and he hadn't lived this long without being able to sense an alien presence.
"…they claimed it was an emergency. Someone crossing their borders at night on a fast horse," Arthur finished, meaningfully pressing his fingers into Guinevere's sides. When she looked questioningly at him, he tilted his head toward the window.
They casually got up and began to move toward the bed, but at the last moment, Arthur whirled about and snatched up his sword while Guinevere seized her bow, stringing an arrow to it in the time needed to blink an eye. He took two quick steps to the shutters and flung them open as she covered him from behind.
Nothing. Nothing but a light snow.
Behind Arthur, a log in the fireplace burned through and crashed apart with a resounding burst of noise. The flames leaped abnormally high, and for an instant, his heart did the same.
Then the light fell, and Arthur came back to himself to find that he'd pressed himself to the glass, desperately searching for another glimpse. Chilly fingers were sunk into his arm, and it took a long second for him to recognize them as Guinevere's. Her face was white, and she looked the closest to fainting that he'd ever seen her.
"That was…" she whispered.
"A ghost." And so the unbelievers are made to see, Arthur thought grimly to himself. He caught himself trying to invoke God and stopped, knowing that wherever, whatever the Christian God was, he didn't linger here. Lancelot wouldn't have stood for it.
Guinevere drew a sharp breath and pulled them away from the window. She closed the shutters with trembling hands, took Arthur's sword from him and put it with her bow. And then she fell on him, hands and mouth hungry, eyes brilliant with the unknown.
He fed her, offering himself up to her obliterating heat. Burying himself in…grief, envy, possession, loss…he didn't know, but the fury of it was enough to make him breathe, cry out and gasp. With her, he could loose himself and give voice to the scream twisted around his gut. With her, it was enough for him to hope on.
She found him in the stables, attending to his new stallion. Her gift, on the anniversary of their wedding day, while for his part, Arthur had given her a fine sword and a set of armor that'd been adapted to fit a female body. His quick acceptance of her in the role of a fighter might have seemed odd to others, but she for one had never ceased to appreciate it.
"He suits you," she offered as greeting.
Both man and horse startled at her sudden appearance, but then Arthur smiled and turned back to his currying, using the smooth movements to calm his horse. "Good afternoon to you as well, my lady."
"I told you not to call me that." She tapped him reprovingly on the cheek, then kissed the same spot. "It makes me feel as these dresses do: fragile and useful."
The horse snorted, blasting her with hot moist air, and she involuntarily took a step back. Laughing, Arthur stepped out of the stall and gathered her into his arms, further ruining her hair with his caresses. "My apologies. Shall we get you out of that dress, then? Gawain and I are going hunting later…"
"Why wait until then?" she asked in an arch tone, sliding her finger down his neck.
And then the horse in the stall exploded: whinnying, bucking, hoofs cutting deep dents in the walls. Arthur immediately spun them back, kicking the bottom door shut as he went so the stallion wouldn't be free to rampage about the stables. "God in heaven!"
"Rope," Guinevere hissed. She threw herself toward the nearest coil, ignoring as best she could the thundering fit that the horse was throwing.
Between the two of them, they managed to calm the beast before too much attention was attracted, but not before Arthur's good mood had completely dissipated. He warily eyed the serenely peaceful stallion, which was now munching through its full manger, as if it were an enemy to be outmaneuvered. "Something's wrong. Those reports…they all date back to when this horse arrived."
"Are you accusing me of sorcery?" Nerves no less tight-strung, Guinevere defensively pulled herself back into a corner. She brushed off Arthur's attempts to coax her out. "I would never-"
"I know! And I wasn't!" Arthur abruptly snapped, harsher and louder than she had heard him speak in some time. It was enough to shock everything in the stable to silence.
Hands in fists, Arthur backed away and half-turned, his profile a study in composed aggravation. He licked his lips, preparing to say something, but seemed to abandon it for further thought.
The stallion poked its head over the half-door, curiously watching the proceedings. Guinevere furiously glared at it, angry with its inexplicable behavior, with the result of its temper tantrum, but most of all, she was angry with herself for picking out such an ill-fated gift. It hadn't been her intent in the slightest, but she had hurt Arthur with it.
"Well, there's an easy way to settle this," Arthur finally said, voice low and tight with restrained irritation. "The ghost only appears at night, and most often around here. So I'll spend the night in the stable, with…with…"
He was stumbling. Arthur never stumbled, in words or in deed; he either didn't or he did. Confused, Guinevere came up to him and looked into his face. Then she followed his glance to the stallion, which had retreated into the stall, and suspicion produced an answer. "You named it after Lancelot?"
"He once told me about a legend his people had: great warriors are reborn as horses. Admittedly, that one isn't from Sarmatia, but he would have liked to be remembered like that, nonetheless." Arthur's arm slipped around her as he spoke, physical pressure not quite hiding how his voice drifted away. His mouth touched with a little self-deprecation as he turned back to face her. "I suppose it's partly my fault, then."
"No, it isn't. It's a good name." At his surprise, Guinevere shrugged and put her arms around his neck, trying to keep him with her. "He saved me, remember? An honorable and brave man to the last."
Arthur's eyebrow arched its disbelief, but his body untensed and fitted itself to hers. "I had the impression that you two didn't like each other."
"Perhaps I didn't like him, but I respected him well enough. Considering what little we knew of each other." And that was the truth. Not all of it, but the parts that mattered, as no matter what was walking around the town, Lancelot was still dead.
As always, Guinevere felt something more than regret and something less than relief when she thought of that. He had had Arthur in ways that she still didn't, and if he had lived, he would have been competition for and against Arthur. Life was simpler without him.
Life had questions in the holes that he had left behind, which even now she could see in Arthur's eyes. Fresh sword cuts were neater than the scar tissue that came later, but that didn't mean that a wound was better off unhealed. For either of them.
Guinevere made up her mind. "I'm staying with you."
"It's going to be a cold night," Arthur replied, mildly surprised but not exactly disapproving. "And most likely boring."
"So I would rather be bored with you than sitting alone in our bedroom, wondering. And, Artorius Custis, I think I would know a little more about the cold nights here than you," she added in a tart tone.
His acquiescing kiss was sweet and lingering, with only the slightest trace of cinders.
Despite all her protests, Guinevere was the one to fall asleep first. She hid it well, but the uncertainty of the nights since the…apparition…had taken their toll on her. Arthur had dealt with his sleeplessness by going on hunts and then peeling away early for a quick nap, but Guinevere had no such recourse.
In some ways, the woman's life was to be pitied more than the man's, he mused as he arranged the furs around her. He had had to watch his mother struggle to hold his father's estate together, both against Romans and against the Britons who viewed her as a traitor, and then he had watched the eyes of his knights' women as their men had gone off to battle and come back as torn corpses.
Guinevere turned over in her sleep, instinctively curling around her daggers and Arthur's sword. One woman that wouldn't take his sympathy too kindly, unless she was too hurt to object. He had to smile at the fierceness of her frown even as his fingers strove to smooth away the deep grooves in her young skin.
Something suddenly clattered, bone-echoing through the deserted stables-Arthur had had everyone except himself and Guinevere leave them for the night-and he sprang to his feet, sword half-unsheathed. A quick glance around showed nothing different, but the prickling of his nape and the pull between his shoulders spoke otherwise.
Arthur gently nudged Guinevere with his toe, then waved her down when she lunged awake. She caught his eye and nodded, in that instant every inch the warrior. "Is the-is Lancelot still here?" she whispered, slowly creeping to his side.
He'd forgotten. Feeling foolish, he immediately slipped over to that stall only to find his horse quietly at rest. "Still there."
It might have just been a cat, or a ratter mutt; there certainly was a small army of them around the stables, and they were in perpetual warfare. And the more Arthur watched and saw nothing, the more he fell into favor with that conclusion. Relieved, he sheathed his sword and leaned it against the wall.
More dubious, Guinevere made a circle of the stable while he watched before finally returning to the makeshift cot in the corner. It took only a moment for her to drift back into sleep, hand curled under cheek like any child.
A sweet picture that made Arthur smile as he turned back to his horse. One that was instantly erased by what he saw in the stall.
Two hands slapped about his head, one over his mouth and the other at the back so that he could make no sound. Eyes glittered a desperate plea. "Don't wake her," Lancelot hissed.
The horse…Arthur's eyes flitted about, scouring every inch of the stall. Finding nothing.
"What? I die and you grow stupider?" And there was the smirk, laughing and bitter-laced and white as the moon's crescent blade. The one Arthur had seen sometimes in Guinevere's raillery, in the reflection of a sword, in the wind as it rose eastwards. The one that burned its scar ever deeper inside him.
He believed then.
Lancelot's smile thinned and vanished, his gaze growing cooler as he watched Arthur. A few seconds later, he released Arthur and stood back from the door so Arthur could step inside. "You understand?"
"Hardly, but I think I'm seeing the meat of it." Arthur raised a wondering hand to Lancelot's cheek, half of him still thinking the man would whisper away from his touch, turn to shadow and air. Instead, Lancelot stiffened and held perfectly still for the finger that skated down his face. "So you're the ghost."
"My heartbeat is real enough, and so is my breathing." Harshly. Whatever had happened, the Lancelot that stood before Arthur now was not the one that had died at Badon Hill. Then again, Arthur was not the man he was on that day, either.
Arthur took another step forward, which Lancelot matched with a step backward. And the other man was shivering, naked in a cold breeze. He'd grown thinner, sharper, but…all the scars Arthur remembered were gone. The sword-cut in the arm, the one in the leg, that arrow through the thigh…
The heat flushed into Arthur's face, reminding him. He hastily took off his cloak and offered it. "You were reborn as a horse," he muttered, trying to sort through things and thus gain some control over himself.
"In a matter of speaking. I don't remember anything until I was stepping off the boat into Britain." Lancelot took the cloak with his fingertips and threw it around his shoulders, but didn't wrap it as tightly around himself as he should have. Instead, he seemed to be trying to avoid contact with the fabric. "But seeing as I'm rather well-grown as a horse, I must have spent some time elsewhere."
"Gaul at least. Possibly Italy." Arthur had to smile a little at the faint trace of disgust that passed over Lancelot's face. "You make quite the stallion. A bit of a change from before."
Lancelot snorted and threw a scornful look somewhere to the right of Arthur. "So you say, but I'm the one who has to suffer the result of all your feasting. It's not all armor that bends my back."
Taken aback, Arthur couldn't speak for several moments, as he was too busy reviewing all the careless hurts he doubtless had given Lancelot. How he could make up for it, he didn't know, but he would, if it took him the rest of his life.
"Arthur. It was a joke." Lancelot, however, didn't seem amused. In fact, he seemed to be distancing himself from Arthur even as he strove to smile.
"Joke or not, I still apologize. Lancelot…you're alive." And saying it finally made realization of reality. The words thickened and smeared with amazement and gratitude to whomever was responsible, choking Arthur's throat. He tried and failed to properly express how happy he was, but in the end all he could do was take Lancelot by the shoulders and embrace him. "God in heaven, you're alive."
Oddly enough, Lancelot's hands remained at his side, and he didn't return Arthur's fervent welcome. "Yes, I am. Awkward for you, I'd imagine."
"What?" Off-balance and puzzled, Arthur leaned back so he could see all of his friend's face. Sadness and irritation and wistfulness, which were all emotions that he hadn't ever been used to seeing on Lancelot's face. "Why would you think-"
"You burned me, I noticed. No grave-I thank you for that." Lancelot pushed at Arthur's chest, and confused, Arthur let go. A mistake, because the other man took instant advantage of that to push by and head for the stall door. "But I'm still dead as far as anyone's concerned."
Guinevere awoke a second time to find Arthur struggling with a dead man. She caught her gasp as it was bursting from her mouth and grabbed for her dagger, but did not immediately join in. Instead, she waited out of their sight and watched for some clues to what was going on.
Lancelot, impossibly, was there before her. Clad only in Arthur's cloak, face furious, and fighting to get out of Arthur's arms. "Let go, damn it! Arthur-I knew this was a mistake."
"You're alive. How is that a mistake?" Arthur abruptly seemed to give up and let go, but then he flashed forward and took Lancelot by the waist, bringing them both to the ground. They wrestled viciously across the floor, knees slamming into stomachs and arms locked about each other. "Lancelot, would you-what's wrong? What?"
"What's-I'm dead, Arthur. I'm dead and life has gone on. You're king here, and married-" The virulent torrent suddenly cut off, leaving only the echoes to rattle about the stable in cacophonic counterpoint to the nervous whinnying of the other horses.
Lancelot collapsed under Arthur, one arm pinned above his head and the other trapped somewhere between the two of him. Exhaustion rapidly pumped his chest up and down, and his face was full of regret. "You're married," he repeated.
"So I am. But Guinevere's life and yours weren't in exchange," Arthur mumbled, breath also ragged. Some of his clothes had been torn or knocked awry, and one bare shoulder gleamed in the dim light of the one lantern they had. "I know you died saving her…"
"You're still missing the point. Arthur, just get off of me. Then you can have your great warhorse back, and all will be well. I'll even be more discreet about my nighttime explorations." When Lancelot's eyes closed, it was as if he was trying to die all over again. His face turned into a fold of Arthur's cloak, and he took a deep breath, the strain in his face relaxing for an instant.
Guinevere decided she'd heard and seen enough, and she came out of her hiding place. "I don't think it's that simple."
Both of the men jumped. Arthur twisted first to see her, but he had to quickly reverse himself in order to seize Lancelot's arm and keep the man from fleeing. "We woke you?"
"You woke the entire stable," she retorted, waving at the other stalls, whose horses were growing quieter, but were still audibly stamping and whuffing.
Notably, the burning softness that rested in Lancelot's eyes when he looked at Arthur tempered to harder edges when he looked at Guinevere. She shivered, suddenly feeling that her many layers of clothing were much too thin, but nevertheless she stood her ground.
Or rather, knelt so she could directly meet Lancelot's gaze. "I never thanked you for saving me."
"So the great queen's doing so now?" His chin went up in a challenge, and he straightened without bothering to tug the cloak over the newly-exposed skin. "Well, you're very welcome."
"You should wait until after I've done it," she scolded. Her skirts were in the way, so she took a moment to hike them up before straddling him. As she leaned in to kiss him, she clasped one hand to Arthur's shoulder, both for support and to prevent him from leaving.
He tasted like oats, and beer. His lips were slack, though when she slipped in her tongue, his tentatively returned the gesture before going limp. All in all, it was hardly what she had expected from him.
"Guinevere," Arthur said, rough low voice scratching down her back. Beneath her, Lancelot stiffened and edged away, toward Arthur.
"Bors tells me interesting stories. Him and Vanora." She threw Arthur a daring look, and was secretly relieved to see that anger had not yet begun to replace the shock on his face. "He says you two used to share women."
At that, Lancelot ceased being a doll and came back to life; his hands grabbed her waist and tried to shove her off. She lost her balance and began to fall backward, but Arthur's arm caught her. His other arm went forward to ward off Lancelot, who seemed stunned by the action. So did Arthur.
While it was flattering, it also wasn't what Guinevere wanted. As she saw it, they'd all been given a chance to see what could have happened, and chances like that were not to be thrown away lightly. Therefore she wriggled out of Arthur's grip and pushed him down onto Lancelot, who cursed in a pained voice.
"What?" Arthur immediately eased off and ran his hands over Lancelot's chest, looking for the injury.
The fire that had been straining in Lancelot's eyes snapped, and Guinevere thought she could see it shoot from him to Arthur, straight as a well-fletched arrow in flight. Lancelot's arms went up and dragged Arthur down. "This," was all that escaped before their mouths locked on each other.
And it hurt more than she had expected to simply watch. Yes, it brought the blood to her cheeks and the air to the top of her throat where it stuck, and yes, her hands did shake as she laid them on Arthur's back. But she loved him, and she'd shared her life with him, and she wanted that to matter as much as the way Lancelot rose to Arthur's hands, as the way Arthur took Lancelot's mouth in a way he'd never taken Guinevere's.
She didn't have a single regret as she yanked them apart. "Arthur. We are married."
"Odd behavior for a married woman," Lancelot muttered, fingers still tangled in Arthur's hair.
"And I want him, too," she added, forestalling the guilt that was sprouting thickly in Arthur's face. She slid back into a startled Lancelot's arms and pulled Arthur back down, moving her lips over his neck until she felt hands begin to shape her hips and breasts.
One continued past her and darted down to cover the erection she felt swelling against her; Lancelot muffled a gasp into her shoulder, his hands skating over her belly and pulling up her skirts with little ceremony. He started to twist and buck, teeth dancing along the edge of her dress. "So you want us like that? Like those whores fucked us?"
"Lancelot." Arthur followed up his growl with a scraping nuzzle past Guinevere's face, his mouth meeting the other man's once again in a sharp, wet clash. She could feel their tongues and lips glancing over her ear, hot reflection of tangling violence. Even as she trembled, trying to turn into it, it smoothed a little into something stronger, like a brutal lump of iron changed to polished blade.
"Was it a Christian wedding?" came a breathless jeer. Lancelot's hands stroked beneath Guinevere's robes, parting them and blessing her with sandpaper-silk caresses, now rough and then soft. He dipped further down, one hand cupping over the other's busy work so he could tug at Arthur's trousers.
She pressed into it, unashamed of what pleasure she could take. Fulcinia had told her proper Roman women were brought up to be decorous in the bedroom, which Guinevere thought foolish. Live in the morning, but death always lurked in the afternoon. "Not quite. But Arthur hasn't learned all our customs yet."
"I'm trying, but you constantly surprise me." Arthur's hands suddenly were on her inner thighs, teasing them with light brushes of thumb-pads until she grew impatient and pushed his fingers inside. His pupils bloomed, then shrunk to dark searing pinpoints.
"Can't see," Lancelot muttered, worming out from under her. "Did she just do what I think she did?"
Guinevere nipped him under the chin as she rode Arthur's hand, and then she reached down to seize his hip. Her foot nudged at his leg until he was sprawled open beneath her. Low liquid heat in her belly, she gave Arthur a demanding look.
To her delight, Arthur seemed to understand, albeit ruefully. His fingers slipped from her-something she momentarily regretted-and detoured downwards. Lancelot's head thumped back against the wood. "I should have a word with Bors and see just what stories he's been telling you," Arthur murmured. "Damn, not enough-Guinevere, could you-"
"Actually, this part was from Gawain." She quickly dug the vial from his clothes and spilled it messily over his hand. Neither he nor Lancelot seemed to mind, however, so Guinevere rolled the empty bottle toward her dagger and then began the awkward twist necessary to get her facing Lancelot, who helped as much as he could once he realized her intentions. It was very little aid she actually received, given that he seemed to be thoroughly absorbed in Arthur's attentions. "Nice…to be queen. People have to…tell you things. Except the king."
"Have to get him in the right mood," Lancelot chuckled, planting his hands on her hips and guiding her down onto him. He licked at some of the sweat running down the front of her throat. "Though now I wonder where…wasn't with me…"
Arthur's fingers-all of them-curled around Lancelot's wrists so thumbs brushed briefly against Guinevere before sliding down. He sucked in a breath, then jerked forward so he landed heavily on her. She felt the effect on Lancelot inside herself, and watched wonderingly as his face flashed in a moment from pain to ecstasy.
"Pelagius had Greek friends. He didn't…but it's very popular among that people." Arthur mouthed his words against Guinevere's nape. "Haven't…since I left Rome…"
"Later, we're going to talk," Guinevere told him, sweet and demure, just before she turned and playfully bit at his bottom lip. It was already swollen and tender from Lancelot, and she could taste a new layer on what she knew was Arthur.
Curious, she bent down and tried kissing Lancelot again. And this time, it was hard and spicy and snarling, sending all her inadequate expectations crashing to the ground. She found herself trapped there, drinking and being drunk, while Arthur's bulk rasped over her back. Striking sparks that flew inside and gathered around the heat there. Her hair seemed to be made of wet lead, weighing down her head and whipping into her face as together, they rocked her into the white blaze of the sun.
Sleep was dragging at Arthur's heels, throwing veil after veil over his mind, but he couldn't yet bring himself to surrender himself to it. "Can you control this?"
"At night. I haven't tried it during the daytime. For obvious reasons." Lancelot hauled himself up Arthur and settled his face into the curve of Arthur's throat.
"You've been avoiding the other knights, too. Why? Will they condemn you?" Guinevere melted into Arthur's other side, one hand carelessly flung across him to play with Lancelot's curls.
She received a snuffle and a bat at her fingers, while Arthur had the sensation of a nose burrowing beneath his jaw. "Not since I'm a horse part of the time. Be different if I had come back only as a man."
"You're taking this very well," Arthur noted, stroking Guinevere's hair. He craned down and kissed her forehead, making her grin drowsily at him.
"There are worse things in the forest than horsemen, risen from the dead or not." She rose and sucked apologetically at the bite on his lip. "Go to sleep, Arthur. You'll wake when you're rested."