Tangible Schizophrenia


Vice Prelude: Deathbed Confession

Author: Guede Mazaka
Rating: PG. Character death.
Pairing: Arthur/Guinevere, implied Arthur/Lancelot
Feedback: Good lines, bad ones, etc.
Disclaimer: Versions from the movie.
Notes: Film noir AU. Makes little attempt to be really historically accurate, and much effort to both be true to genre tropes and to riff on them. Supernatural stuff.
Summary: Guinevere doesn’t let go easily.


Beyond the door, she could hear Arthur and Merlin spitting low, furious words at each other. Occasionally Arthur’s voice would rise and regain some of its former fire, but it would always sink. Never so much that the other man could overwhelm it, but far enough for Guinevere to turn her head to the side and try to clench her fists. Even that slight movement widened the tear inside of her and she bit against her cry, while at her feet the midwife gasped in horror and blanched. Not, however, as white as Guinevere’s own skin.

There hadn’t been enough time, she thought. Those hands should have been red with blood, tan with the sun, or even pale with leisure, which she would have preferred to this slow clawing drag into the dark. And Arthur’s eyes reflected that blackness.

She hadn’t known she had loved him until she had seen that final shadow add itself to his gaunt face and had found herself raging against it. Respected him, yes. And she had come to understand that she needed him for his sword-arm, for his banner, for his justice that smoothed over what they both welded roughly together with war. Guinevere had been too long in the wilderness to think like the queen and not the general, but Arthur could do it. She’d hated to admit it, but she had had to, in the end.

And in the end, it hadn’t been a marriage of convenience. Though he still mourned his closest friend and best knight and…yes, sharpest fragment of his heart. Sometimes she missed that man as well, for Arthur had never been the same. And she had spent too much of herself to keep fighting on that front.

Guinevere squeezed her eyes shut against another long, harsh shake of pain, then relaxed as best she could. Her hand dropped over the side of the bed and dangled so it could nearly feel the calling of the cool, damp earth. It would be pleasant and calm there, but she had never been one for comfort. Clenching her teeth, Guinevere snarled back at the song of her Britain.

I gave you your greatest legend. I kept him here to see you rise. Give me back the man. I don’t care what it takes, who it takes—let me see him again. Let there be more time, somehow.

She heard one faint whisper and made a wild lunge at it, catching hold just as arms seized her waist and cradled her against the hard shards of black that were overtaking her.

“Guinevere!” Arthur was staring horrified at the masses of blood-soaked cloth that were mounded between her legs. “Don’t move. You’ll make it worse.”

“It’s already the worst,” she whispered, trying to close her fingers around his hand. But all she could manage was a touch. “You’ll see us again. He and I—wait, Arthur. We’ll be there.”

He didn’t understand and caught her hand to his mouth, closing his eyes. But Arthur could never bring himself to soften the way, and so he looked at her again.

She smiled the way she did after a victory, with the bodies of her enemies beneath her feet. “Wait. We’ll come to you again. Though it be beyond the times of our children and grandchildren…wait.”

And, comprehending, he bathed her fading eyes in a few quiet tears.