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Fantasy I Was Fine Until You

British. Intelligence.

I’m Not Over
(I didn’t know what to call it so just kept it the same, besides there’s already been so many changes today.)

During their time in the village, things had not warmed. In fact, things felt frostier than ever, but perhaps that was the cold chill of fear down their backs, dread at what they might find next and the memory of those already found dead. Gaheris, however, didn't worry about such things, he was on the winning side! Working with his father so of course he wasn’t a target, and the almost constant anger inside him kept him warm anyway. The information he had found out was both intriguing and infuriating. Lance was going to get into big trouble for it and Gaheris thought that he’d quite like to be there when his head got chopped off; yet, Caroline would probably tell Lance that she’d let it slip and that wasn’t going to make Lance treat him any better. Lance had already put one brother in a coma, Gaheris didn’t wish to be the second. His father was a clever man though, certainly knew about revenge and plotting, he could help Gaheris with Lance! Get rightful justice for Gareth and make Lance pay! He’d always known Lance was sleeping around, although it being Caroline was quite a shock, Lance had a lot of guts, no it was probably just stupidity. He was probably still giving it to Ruth on the side as well! Of course he was. It was Lance! Gaheris wouldn’t be surprised if Lance had also made his way around the village a bit by now.

Lance was not quite aware of the danger he was in. He was blissfully ignorant to the threat that Gaheris posed and didn’t even know that Caroline had said anything. He’d spent a lot of his time trying to practice and memorise the gestures on the sheet he’d been given. He wanted Galahad to be able to communicate more easily and effectively with him. Writing words was always more of a hassle and harder than saying them but this wasn’t speaking, yet it was still...something. He knew that it would still be a while before he saw his son and that he still had the mess here to sort out but it was something to look forward to.

Arthur on the other hand was worried about Caroline, last time he’d spoken to her, she’d been crying, visibly upset but not telling him what about, then she’d told him that she hated herself and fled into the bathroom. He had no idea what had garnered such a reaction from her or why she’d been out in the cold, especially without her ladies but he hadn’t gotten much chance to ask. They really needed to have a talk, maybe a hug. Perhaps Arthur and her should sit down and try and talk about all these worries she had, try and solve some before they built up any further. She was clearly struggling although part of that’s as likely the grief from losing her lady. He just wanted to be able to support her, to be an actual husband to her.
(I'm 100% loving this site so far. I'll miss Feralfront. But, I'm excited for this all going forward. )

Dread had filled Caroline throughout the night. She had not left the bathroom and chosen instead to sleep in the tub for the night. Curled up and lost in her own thoughts. Hatred for herself boiling. She had kissed Gaheris. How stupid could she have been. Sure, She had no interest in the man. But clearly he must have felt led on by her. How was she supposed to ever be able to look him, Lance, Or Arthur in the eye at this point? Caroline grimaced as she curled around herself tighter. Her neck hurt from the awkward position she had slept in, But she didn't want to get up. Didn't want to face the day.

How long could she wait here though? They might not care much for her, But she was a princess and someone would eventually come knocking and trying to drag her out. Had her ladies noticed her absence yet? Perhaps not. They both were grieving as well, They didn't need worries of her to add to their fears. Finally, Caroline managed to sit up. Stomach twisting. She needed to go and find Lance, Tell him what had happened. He'd hate her even more. But it was for the best that she warned him before he found out somewhere else. Though... Perhaps she could seek out Gaheris. He could be reasonable maybe?

Slowly Caroline moved to her feet. Making her way quietly to the door. Her head was hammering from the nights drinking. But she brushed the pain aside. Hand on the door and slowly opening it. She peered out, Glancing around. No signs of her ladies. But she could see light streaming in from the window. Still morning, But she had slept longer then she would have liked. Swallowing. Caroline carefully slipped out of the bathroom. She should probable hurry upstairs and see about getting properly dressed first. Her ladies would throw a fuss if they saw her walking around in her nightgown.
(Aw, I’m glad. I know it’s weird to change so suddenly but I’m sure we’ll all adapt)

Arthur was up early, he’d been fretting about Caroline and she was right that someone would try to retrieve her from the bathroom because that was Arthur’s very idea. He’d slept downstairs, his room upstairs was taken by the grieving ladies and he didn’t much fancy trying to fall asleep in Merlin’s room, it didn’t suggest good dreams. He’d also wanted to be nearby in case Caroline did decide to leave the bathroom. So, already thinking about trying to wake Caroline and get her to talk to him, he lifted his head as he heard the bathroom door open.

”Caroline” Arthur breathed, already stumbling towards his feet, not having expected to make a move so quickly. She should definitely get dressed, it was inappropriate for her to look like this publicly and he didn’t want either of them to be scolded but he was her husband so if anyone could see her like this, Arthur could. “how are you feeling?” He asked, which maybe was too encompassing of a question. How was she feeling about what? The death of her lady? Sleeping alone in the bathroom. What had happened last night? Why had she been so upset. Arthur’s question was a little bit simplistic to cover all that yet Arthur didn’t want to push her. He didn’t try to block her path but rather figured they could walk together if she was going somewhere.

”I...you didn’t have to sleep in the bathroom” he told her. “But, I mean, it’s fine you did, that’s your choice, I’m just here for you if you need me” he explained. He wasn’t entitled to her sleeping next to him or explaining her whole life to him, he just didn’t want her to be alone. It was a little hard to help though when Caroline was so in her head. Arthur was looking a bit disheveled himself, shirt rumpled and hair messy, a few lines on his face from the way he’d slept, not that he’d seen himself in a mirror. He didn’t exactly look like the heir to the the one right now, not in the soft morning light.
(Yep! We will! )

The sound of Caroline's name made her freeze. A feeling of dread washing over her and for a moment she just wanted to close her eyes. Pretend No one was there. Maybe just run off upstairs. How was she feeling? Caroline's gaze flickered over to her husband. It seemed he had slept downstairs as well. Waiting for her maybe? Her chest tightened. He was sleeping down hair certainly uncomfortable because of her. Caroline's gaze drifted down. He had to be regretting marrying her. Not that either had much of a choice in the matter. "I... Did you sleep down here? You didn't need to do that. " She shot back quietly. Her voice felt meek.

Guilt weighed on her. She felt awful. She'd kissed another man. She had to tell him. He'd hate her even more but she couldn't keep this a secret. No- She needed to tell Lance. That was who she felt she'd mostly betrayed. Perhaps that wasn't the way things should be. But Caroline did not hold the same feelings for Arthur as she did Lance. Her relationship with Arthur was one of duty and friendship. With Lance it was different and made her chest hurt more.

When had her eyes gotten watery, How much was she going to keep crying. She must look horrid and how could she be crying over herself. It wasn't her that would be hurt by all this. Without thinking she couldn't help but confess. "I-I kissed Gaheris. " Well, It was more of Gaheris kissed her. But those details didn't really matter to Caroline. She then moved her hand to cover her face. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I just... I just wanted to talk to someone and he... And I don't remember how we started talking. And then he kissed me... And... And he knows about Lance. " Once one thing was sad. The rest came spilling out and Caroline was sniffling and hiccuping when she talked.
It wasn’t completely because of Caroline that Arthur had slept downstairs but she was partially the reason. She was always quick to insist that she should be blamed or that no one should care about her, it did worry Arthur but he chose not to point it out and jostle any insecurities she might have at this moment. He could’ve kicked the ladies out of his room, insisted he needed it and took precedence but that was hardly something in his repertoire. No, he was fine sleeping downstairs, besides, he was just one of the men! Just another knight, he didn’t need special treatment, princely status be damned. ”I bet it was more comfortable than a bathroom” Arthur replied back gently, a soft worried frown on his face for her.

It seemed another bout of tears were on the horizon and another shock for Arthur to process, there seemed to be no end to those lately. She’d kissed Gaheris? That was....he supposed they didn’t seem to get along, certainly had similar ideas about slaves and Gaheris had seemed more brassy lately and more...well, teenagery, Arthur was going to say, but that was still a surprise. He’d kissed her first? Caroline was a beautiful lady, he could objectively see that, but rhat was quite a gutsy move from his cousin. And the real news was that he knew about Lance and Arthur knew Gaheris didn’t think favourably of Lance; it was in his face every time he looked at Lance or even heard his name. Gaheris was not the best choice to have this information, not with the anger that Arthur had sensed in him recently.

Arthur's mouth dropped open in surprise and he just stared at Caroline for a little bit, not sure what to say. “Uh...” what was he supposed to say to that? Had Caroline told him or had Gaheris figured it out? Because that was dangerous information and it put Caroline and Lance seriously at risk. ”We need to talk to Lance” Arthur murmured, voice a little shell shocked and numb, mind whirring. “And Gaheris” although Arthur wasn’t sure if it would be beneficial to talk to them at the same time. They needed Lance to be aware of the danger and they needed Gaheris to keep quiet. Maybe a nice request from the prince would make Gaheris keep quiet out of duty.

Lance was going to be angry again, he’d been displeased when she’d told Arthur. Gaheris was much more of an opposing force and one which was returning to the palace with Lance, where the king was and Arthur wouldn’t be to try and protect him. “Are you sure?” He asked. Maybe she was remembering wrong or she’d misinterpreted something. The kissing was a bit easier to handle though, Arthur was struggling to wrap his head around someone else knowing. He’d figured it might happen eventually but he’d hoped long in the future, now was too quick, it was too much. “I...I didn’t know you liked Gaheris like that” he admitted. She’d said they’d kissed after all. She hadn’t said he’d forced himself on her or that she’d denied his affections. She was already with Lance, for all Arthur knew she just wasn’t into monogamy. He wasn’t trying to judge, just understand. He wanted to know her but she wasn’t fully sharing. Maybe she could share her time between Lance and Gaheris? That was just another worry to the plate though. He felt they were rather different men to be attracted to as well but he guessed if you were gonna have your pick of the bunch why pick two of the same breed.
Arthur was right, She needed to talk to both Gaheris and Lance. But she didn't feel ready for that. Not right now. She was surprised there seemed to be no anger on Arthur's face. She'd expected him to be furious. If not for her cheating on him, For her cheating on Lance. But he seemed to be trying to be understanding. Like Gaheris? No, Caroline wasn't attracted to the other. Thus she quickly was shaking her head. "I-I don't like him. " She confessed. Atleast not like that. She saw Gaheris as nothing but a friend. Though clearly she had messed up that friendship already.

Caroline then wiped her eyes. She didn't really remember how she had even ended up with Gaheris last night. Many of the details were vague in her mind and she hiccuped as she told Arthur. "I-I don't remember how it all happened. I just- I was drinking, And then next thing I knew I was in his tent and he was being nice, And I wanted... I wanted to talk. And I must have led him on because he then was kissing me. And I- I left right after. " She must have been giving him all kinds of wrong signals. She doubt she had much chance of rekindling any sort of friendship with him now. He'd feel the same kind of disgust towards her now, Wouldn't he?

Perhaps it was pity that had made him kiss her. Him trying to make her feel better. She should have been nicer. How had she left things? She couldn't really remember. But she hated the thought of facing him more and more. Caroline then squeaked. "I didn't mean to... I don't know how to talk to either of them. " Lance was going to hate her even more. So was Gaheris. Couldn't she just do one thing right for once? Biting her lip. Her gaze drifted down. A certain tiredness coming over her. She didn't want to face today, To face her recent losses, To face Lance or Gaheris. She just wanted to go and curl back up in the bathtub and pretend none of this was happening.
Arthur felt strangely relieved that she didn’t like Gaheris like that. Perhaps it was the relaxation at not having to hide two illicit affairs or from having to see Lance’s reaction to her proclivities. He figured Lance might be quite upset to not have her full attention when he was so enraptured with her. Again Caroline was blaming herself and Arthur wasn’t there so he didn’t know, maybe Gaheris had been led on a bit, but she left out the fact that he threatened to reveal her relationship with Lance in an attempt to further things between them. Caroline was not at fault. Well, she shouldn’t have told him about Lance but she was still preyed upon by Gaheris. She must’ve came back in after her encounter with Gaheris then which would explain her emotional state and why she’d spent the night in the bathroom. But a problem shared was a problem halved.

“I’ll be with you” Arthur reassured her, after all he’d used the word ‘we’. He didn’t think she needed to be alone to do it. Having Arthur there as backup might get Gaheris to behave more, wouldn’t want Arthur spilling anything to Gawain like what he’d done with Kay. Not that Arthur was necessarily thinking about blackmailing his own cousin. And as for Lance, Arthur would also tell him if she wanted him to. Help to make him see that she hadn’t been in control but together they could contain the situation. Lance had a lot on his plate right now though so...that wasn’t going to be a fun one to witness.

“Come on, let’s get you dressed for the day and we can think about how to approach them, together” he promised. It was early, they could separate them both and just have a little chat, it’d be easy. Yeah, of course. And maybe her ladies would not scold Caroline if they assumed she’d been with her husband. They didn’t need to know she’d slept in a bathtub or had been out last night in just her nightwear. No, as far as they knew she’d been cuddled up with Arthur and they’d been somewhere comfortable and warm. “You don’t have to do anything alone you don’t want to” he said plainly. He was at her side and he’d like to think should he need it she’d be there for him too. In fact she had been when he’d found out about Morgan drugging him. “How are you feeling besides those two new developments?” He asked tentatively. Obviously she would still be grieving but did she have any other worries? Was she going to miss Lance, upset she’d been fighting with him? Was she still excited to go home and see her family? Or had that waned. Arthur was still nervous to meet her father and to see Silas again, he didn’t want to have to explain Morgan and the baby and he worried her father wouldn’t like him and he wouldn’t fit in at her kingdom. But he was excited to go somewhere new and to be away from his father’s watchful eye, maybe get a bit of freedom.
Caroline probable shouldn't have been, But she was surprised at Arthur's promise to be at her side. He had a way of constantly surprising her. Her own self doubt had a way of making her think everyone would or should turn on her. A part of her wanted them to hate her. Felt it would be simpler. But she was comforted by knowing Arthur had her back. He was urging her to go forward, Starting with getting dressed. She probable smelled awful. Did the scent of alcohol still cling to her? Sniffling, Caroline nodded her head and moved to follow after Arthur. Getting dressed ment going upstairs. Would her ladies be their waiting? She was surprised they hadn't come looking for her yet. But then she looked at Arthur.

After the death, And the drama of last night. Caroline didn't know how she was feeling. Excitement of going home was mixed with a hesitance. Facing her father felt intimidating. Her relationship with the king had always been good, Even if the man had a way of distancing himself with everyone. Her feelings towards seeing Silas was more simple. She was going to give him a nice scolding for leaving without saying goodbye. But also give him a good long hug. Wiping her eyes once more. Caroline murmured. "I... I'm glad to be back home, Or well. Going home. " The snow was normal. Sure, They weren't at her home castle yet. But this was already feeling more familiar.

Caroline then continued. "And... I'm excited to see Silas. I'm worried about him. " Had he gotten home alright? Would he still be fighting with their father? She didn't figure he'd be in a good state after the loss of his bodyguard. But she forced herself to shake such thoughts from her mind. By now they were reaching upstairs and her room. For a moment she debated on knocking. But if her ladies werent aware she was gone. Well.. She didn't want to alert them. So slowly she creaked open the door and peeked in. Susan was nowhere to be scene. Caroline guesses she had spent the night with Ethan. But she could see where the eldest of her ladies slept. The days had been hard on the old woman as well and Caroline didn't blame the other for sleeping in. Pausing. Caroline glanced over at Arthur and suggested quietly. "She's asleep. Do you, Want to wait out here while I get dressed? " The old woman would probable try and nag Arthur about something if she spotted him.
It took some adjusting to realise that they were now bound together, that they weren’t alone. Arthur wasn’t too used to sharing his life, he was an only child, used to following orders and training, not looking after someone. It wasn’t bad, just different. Despite having been married for a little while now, they were still getting used to it. Lately they hadn’t been sharing a bed, although they had before they’d encountered Lance’s troupe. But it was weird, sharing intimate space with someone, them just being there in the little moments you didn’t think about. They also weren’t lovey dovey, it wasn’t a marriage of hatred but it certainly wasn’t one of passion and fire; they were friends and Arthur was fine with that but he wasn’t sure it helped him adjust to his new life.

He nodded in understanding at Caroline. He was sure he’d feel the same in his return to home, eager at all the small signs that indicated how close they were getting. And to see his family, however much his relationship with his father had been a bit tense lately. Arthur could understand her worries of Silas, he seemed a bit self destructive and far too reliant on others but Arthur figured maybe they could try and work on that with him once they arrived. The death of his bodyguard provided a golden opportunity to teach Silas to be more self sufficient and wilful. He was sure Silas could help him too, learn how to act in the kingdom and learn what he was supposed to be doing.

”sure” he agreed, ”come get me if you need any help” he offered, she may not be able to tie up her dress. He was her husband, seeing her undressed should not be a big deal, and Arthur had seen her ladies dress her before, but it still felt unusual and whilst he did offer to help, he didn’t think he’d be as good as they were at tending to her. Surely he could lace a few things though? Arthur chose to wait patiently outside though, he wondered if Merlin had had any more of her visions or whatever it was she had, and if Vere had slept well. He was reminded of their kiss yesterday and felt his own shame creep up his neck. Caroline had been a lot more truthful with him than he ever had been with her. She shared all these truths which were so difficult and Arthur could not get over that bump of telling her his interest lay with men. He was just worried, scared, that she’d be disgusted with him, would hate him, would tell everyone and that his reputation and his kingdom’s would be ruined. But she was his wife, he was supposed to be able to share with her, like she had with him, yet he felt it was too risky. How hypocritical of him. They should solve things together.
Caroline was relieved when Arthur agreed to wait at the door. She didn't want to deal with fending her lady off Arthur today. Smiling sheepishly at Arthur's offer. Perhaps it would be wise for her to get more... Manageable dresses. But Caroline was a princess and it was expected for her to wear such gowns. Carefully she slipped into the room. Glad when her lady did not stir and taking her time to look threw her gowns. Atleast some were easier to slip into these days. Her ladies had packed for travel and while Caroline was a bit uncertain. She thought she could handle the gowns on her own.

It took a bit of time before Caroline finally returned. Peering out the door and giving Arthur a excited smile. The lady was still asleep and Caroline was dressed. Though she was sure she looked a bit ruffled. She then stepped out the room. Wincing a bit at the sound of the door clicking as it closed. Before glancing at Arthur. "I figure she could use some sleep... " Sure, She'd panic when she realized Caroline wasn't there. But the woman could use a few more hours of rest. Caroline knew the recent loss was effecting her as well.

The sneaking past the woman had also provided a certain... Distraction for Caroline. Made her feel better. But now Caroline knew she was going to have to focus on more serious things. Talking to Lance. Caroline was already dreading it and looked down at her feet. Her chest was tightening and her smile had fallen. She then murmured quietly. "I..I'm scared. I, I don't want Lance to hate me.... " Would he yell? Caroline figured she deserved it. But that didn't make it easier to face.
Arthur and Caroline’s lady weren’t fast friends and he wasn’t sure that they ever would be. Whilst he would have liked her to be fond of him, he could understand why she was not and didn’t blame her for it, even if it could be exhausting at times. Maybe she would soften up if Caroline herself ever fell pregnant. Before all this had gone down, he’d probably got in best with her youngest but now she was dead and she’d hated him as well. He figured Susan’s opinion probably wasn’t too different and it was bit awkward to be around her anyway, she reminded him of Ethan and that was a whole different can of worms that didn’t need opening this early hour. They’d reconciled s bit upon learning he’d been drugged but things weren’t the same as they were and Arthur did miss him and still felt bad about hurting him.

It was probably best to leave her lady sleeping, they didn’t need fo grieving and running low on fuel. She was cranky enough on a good day, he could only imagine interacting with her like this. Arthur frowned as Caroline fretted. “He’s not going to hate you” Arthur insisted. Lance would be angry, he figured there’d be shouting, his life was on the line so it wasn’t exactly unexpected but it wouldn’t change the longing that Arthur saw in him for Caroline. “It’s going to be fine” he insisted, “he’ll be upset at first, it’s a lot to take in and he’ll be worried for himself and Galahad” because it threatened his life and the ability to be with his son. “But he’ll calm down, and we’ll work out a plan and Gaheris won’t say a thing,” yes, that all seemed very reasonable.

Now, they just had to find Lance and get him alone. That hunter man and his wife had offered Ruth a room to stay in and Lance had gone with her. That might not help any worried that Gaheris might've put in her head about Lance sleeping with other women. Although Ruth was a slave so Caroline might not see it the same way except that Lance seemed to see them as human. Arthur went to lead the way, except he didn’t have to go the full way because Lance was already up and outside. He hadn’t wandered far, he had suggested everyone be in at least pairs after all, but was standing in the morning light making some weird gestures that Arthur didn’t understand. It wasn’t unusual for a knight to get up early, go outside and train, but Lance wasn’t using a sword. Arthur frowned gently but approached his friend. “We need to talk” Arthur put gently which automatically earned a frown from Lance and an inquisitive look towards Caroline. What was this about? Did he want to know.
Arthur seemed confident that Lance wouldn't hate her. But Caroline wasn't so sure. Still, She nodded and looked down to her feet. Gaheris seemed nice enough. Surely it wouldn't be hard to convince him to stay quiet. He seemed to like Caroline, So even if he didn't like Lance surely he would be willing to stay quiet for her. Arthur then was beginning the trek to find his friend and it took Caroline a moment to work up her nerves to follow. Lingering close beside Arthur. She had hoped it would take longer to find Lance then it actually did. She almost fled at the sight of him. But the man seemed distracted by... Whatever he was doing. Swallowing. Caroline followed close behind Arthur. Having to fight not to hide behind him.

Straight to the point. No chit chat. It was a good thing that the group seemed relatively alone. Sure, There was others outside but they were to far to hear. Ruth also wasn't doing her normal routine of clinging to Lance's side. Likely still resting her injured leg. Biting her lip. Caroline sent Arthur a glance before speaking quietly. "Gaheris knows... " She couldn't bring herself to speak much louder. Shifting as she avoided looking at Lance. Her gaze snapping to look down at her feet. He was going to be furious. She knew it.

Caroline then sniffled. Squeaking. "I-I don't remember how it started. I was drinking, Then I was in his tent and telling him everything. And- And he kissed me. And I'm sorry. I'm sorry. " Apologizing felt like the only thing she could do. But it didn't feel like enough. Maybe she should just run back to the bathroom and hide in the tub for a while longer. That might help her calm down. Right now though, It felt hard to breath and she had her arms wrapped tightly around herself. Refusing to look up at Lance.
As it turned out, the news was not something that Lance needed right now. Out of all the people to tell, Gaheris was probably the worst in his opinion. Percival would’ve disapproved but Lance might’ve been able to convince him, Galehaut was angry with him right now but wouldn't of said anything and the other knights had far less of a grudge against Lance than Gaheris did. Gaheris hated Lance, didn’t trust him after Gareth and didn’t like being ordered about by him, also disliked the way he shielded Ruth and certainly thought that Lance was sleeping with her. This was prime material for Gaheris to blackmail him with and he got the feeling that Gaheris had already realised that.

His gaze had narrowed but Caroline was clearly upset and scared about his reaction. He didn’t want her terrified of him but he was also angry. Two people had found out now and both of them had been Caroline’s fault. “You need to be more careful” Lance hissed at her, keeping his voice down and trying not to make a scene; they didn’t want to wake anyone up or draw anyone over. “Two people you’ve told now. Arthur was one thing but Gaheris is dangerous, he will use this against me.” And Lance wasn't just angry, he was worried. This information could threaten his life. If the King caught wind of it then he could have Lance beheaded. And Caroline could be thrown in jail. He didn’t want to leave Galahad so soon and for him to not know his father.

Arthur put an arm around Caroline in an attempt to comfort her. He could tell that Lance was trying to tamp down the feelings inside to stop them bursting out. “We can’t change things now” Arthur said, trying to move the conversation along and obtain Lance’s attention. ”we need to deal with the problem” he explained to his friend. “We might be able to convince Gaheris not to tell” Arthur suggested and Lance didn’t look any more pleased. “I seriously doubt it, in case you haven’t noticed, he doesn’t like me. He’ll try and use it to get his way. He’s going to endanger Ruth“ Lance pointed out and he couldn't have that, but he also couldn’t have this affair spilled. “He’s going to want something to keep him quiet“ Lance insisted, he was not going to just keep his mouth shut because they’d asked nicely, no, he’d want something in return and for the secret he was keeping, Lance figured it’d be pricey.

“I just can’t believe you told him” Lance breathed, ”of all the people to let slip to! Do you realise how much danger you’ve put us in? My son? Ruth?” Not that she cared about Ruth. She couldn’t afford to be so loose lipped when she was drunk. She could tell anyone as long as they got a few glasses of wine down her! If she started spouting that at Royal events then things weren’t going to crash and burn. Arthur would be humiliated, she’d probably be arrested. It was just a whole big mess.
Caroline winced a bit at Lance's tone. Still refusing to look up at him. She was comforted though by Arthur's arm and leaned a bit against him. If only to hide herself a bit more. There was no doubt that Gaheris was going to take advantage of this information. But Caroline didn't know Gaheris well enough to know that. Instead she tried weakly. "Gaheris is Arthur's cousin. Surely he'll be reasonable. " She clearly hadn't spent enough time with Gaheris. Caroline tensed up as Lance berated her. It was reasonable but she still didn't like to hear it and her eyes were teary. Sniffing as she shifted.

Caroline then confessed. "I.. I didn't mean too... " Though that was no excuse. Not with how much was on the line. Caroline then told them. "I...I don't even remember how I ended up in his tent. I was drinking in my room, And then next thing I know I was with him. " It was all a blur. With the only highlights she could remember being that she had somehow gone to his tent, Told him, Kissed him, And then left. Nothing else really stuck out in her memory. She didn't really know why she'd go to him in the middle of the night. Probable just her drunk mind looking for any comfort.

Caroline then wiped her eyes once more. Pausing in thought before suggesting. "Me and Arthur could try and talk to him alone. He might be easier to talk to that way. " He didn't like Lance, But he had no reason to have a grudge with Arthur! Besides, Arthur was a prince. He also seemed to somewhat like Caroline. That might help as well. Caroline then sniffled. "I-I won't let anything happen to you. " She tried. Though that wasn't really a promise she could make. She couldn't even bring herself to look him in the eyes when she said that.
Gaheris and Arthur were family but they weren’t brothers, it wasn’t the same. And when had Gaheris ever proven to be reasonable? He was foul natured and angry. He did seem to like Caroline though and not mind his cousin. Arthur was a better part of his family than Morgan was and at least they had her manipulations in common. Was she trying to comfort him by saying she didn’t remember? Because it wasn’t working. For all they knew she‘d spilled it to someone else as well and couldn’t recall it. She really shouldn't drink if she was going to be like this. But she seemed to drink to deal with her sadness and that was...fairly common an occurrence for her.

”You won’t be able to do anything“ he replied back, bristling a bit. ”you’re going home, Caroline. If Gaheris tells Alexander you won’t even be there, what are you going to do? Trek back for a month just in time for me to be executed? And even if you were there, you’d be chucked in a cell. No ones going to listen to you if they know” She’d put herself in a bad position as well. Arthur would try his best to look out for her but he couldn’t protect her reputation and people would be insisting on punishment for her. “Talk to him, try your best, but he won’t keep quiet just because you batted your eyelashes at him.” he warned.

Arthur feared that Lance was right, Gaheris had seemed more unstable recently and certainly more vindictive. He’d never been that close with his cousin but he’d trusted him. Gaheris had been the one to reveal that Morgan had drugged him and he’d helped a little. Gaheris was also younger than him, still learning, but a nasty streak in him had surfaced over the days they’d spent together. Maybe it was stress from the long journey and all that had happened to him and his siblings, plus the news of Arthur and Morgan, but regardless of how he was there, he was still a bit off the rails. “I’m sure we’ll find some way for him to keep the secret” Arthur said although...maybe he shouldn’t make promises that he couldn’t keep. No, Gaheris would keep the secret because he had to. Simple as. Lance was not going to die, their affair would not be exposed. They could do this. “You seem to be his favourite person in our troupe, he‘ll listen to you“ Arthur told Caroline. Caroline would probably not her state to give up Ruth if Gaheris asked for less intervention but Gaheris might get greedy like he had last night and overstep his boundaries.
Lance was right, Even if Caroline was right by Lance's side. There was little Caroline would be able to do to help. For now, They just had to focus on keeping things as quiet as they could. They had to be able to reason with Gaheris! If they weren't... Caroline shook the thoughts from her mind. Finally looking up at Arthur when he addressed her. He was right, Gaheris seemed to like her the best. But Caroline had known the man for less then a week thus that probable wasn't something to boast about. She then looked towards Lance. Tensing up at his expression before she told him. "I-I can handle him. I know how to handle rumors. " Scandal was a common thing nobles liked to throw around back home. She could handle this scandal!

Looking towards Arthur, She nodded and murmured quietly. "It might be best if just me and Arthur talk to him alone. " Seeing Lance could rile Gaheris up. But... Would Lance really want to leave this kind of thing to them. His neck was the one on the line after all. Still, Caroline took a moment to glance around. While some of the knights were awake. Caroline guesses Gaheris might still be resting in his tent. If he was it would give them a chance to talk to him alone. So, Caroline went to tug on Arthur's sleeve.

"C'mon... Lets go ahead and track Gaheris down. " The longer they left him, The more likely it was he would tell someone. Maybe Caroline would be able to bribe Gaheris? No, He was the nephew of a king. There was little he'd want. For now she'd just try to work with the goodness in his heart. He'd be understanding! Yeah, He had seemed nice so far and Caroline was growing a bit more confident. She needed that hope to get her moving forward.
If there was anyone in their group to tackle this then Caroline was a good shout. She came from a kingdom more about sharp tongues and brain power than about physical strength and weaponry skills. She’d grown up in a society where she’d have learned how to verbally defend herself. She would probably be better for the task than Arthur. Lance didn’t like having this out of his hands but he recognised his presence could damage this chances so he didn’t argue. “Just come and get me if things go awry“ he told them. If they couldn’t talk sense into Gaheris, maybe he could knock a little into him. Challenge him to a duel, although that might be difficult to explain, or bring his brothers into the conversation.

Gaheris was in his tent, not asleep but not yet venturing outside. He remembered what had gone down last night and was....contemplating it all. It’d be great ammunition to use against Lance but he was also aware of the moves he’d made on Caroline, how she was probably angry with him and had warned him that his word meant nothing against hers, Arthur’s and Lance’s which was unfortunately quite true. He didn’t want her to be upset with him, he was a bit displeased she hadn't accepted his advances but he also respected her authority, the way she’d manipulated him right back. He had mutual respect for that and he quite admired her. She wasn't just a pretty face although she was certainly that too.

He couldn’t hear too much rustling of men so figured he had a bit of time to think about how he might proceed but then there was the crunching of snow outside his tent flap and the fall of a shadow across the outside. Gaheris squinted at the shapes outside and it wasn’t long before Arthur was pushing aside the tent flap and climbing inside. Gaheris hadn’t expected his cousin to be the first person he saw. Caroline was obviously in tow and that was more expected but he’d figured he might not be approached so quickly, he'd been more expecting one of his father’s men, maybe that had news about where his father was currently lying low or what his plans were. The soft look of worry and well...disappointment on Arthur’s face was something new and not entirely welcome. It’s not like he could just ask the prince to leave so he watched Arthur sit cross legged, down in the tent, facing him.
Gaheris was luckily still lingering in his tent. Which calmed Caroline a bit, It ment he hadn't gone around telling everyone. Perhaps had she been sober that night she would have remembered better the conversation between the two. But truly, It was all a blur and she feared what else she might have said during the entire event. Staring at the tent. It took Caroline a moment to work up the nerve to scurry inside. Looking towards Gaheris with uncertainty as she stuck close to her husband. Sitting down beside him. It seemed she was fated to be the first to talk. Which didn't excite her. She didn't want to break the silence. Didn't want to address this. But she had too. So she did her best to keep her voice from straining or showing her distress. She knew how to act, But she still feared it came across in her tone.

"We're here about last night. " She started. finding herself fiddling with the ends of her hair to try and calm herself down. She then told Gaheris. "I- We can't let this get out. Theres too much at stake with it. " She didn't like how she stumbled. Wait, Did that sentence sound too much like a threat? She hadn't intended it like such. But best to move on. Shaking her head. She crossed her arms before saying. "Can you keep quiet with this? " Looking at Gaheris now. She didn't get the feeling he was just going to roll over and agree.

Caroline then glanced towards Arthur and decided to add. "Its not as if I am going behind Arthur's back. He knows. And he's fine with it. " Sure, it had started out with cheating. But Arthur and her weren't exactly in love. Though she did care about him. Still, If her husband was fine with her being with Lance. There was hardly any problems with her relationship! They just had to make sure no one else found out about it... Something Caroline wasn't showing a good track record with.
Gaheris waited patiently, if reluctantly, for them to confront him. He didn’t really feel she needed to explain why she was here but maybe she felt there was something else that might be up for discussion? No, probably just a redundant statement, she didn’t look too comfortable if her fidgeting was anything to go by. Gaheris was used to people being uncomfortable around him. She at least understood the magnitude of the secret she had revealed. This wasn’t just some playground secret, this was life threatening and alliance destroying. Just because Gaheris could keep quiet with this though, didn’t mean he would. And speaking of being quiet, Gaheris glanced at his currently silent cousin.

”Well he shouldn’t be” Gaheris shot back at Caroline. Arthur should not be relaxed about his wife having an affair with another man! Let alone Lance of all people who simply couldn’t be trusted. “She’s your wife, how can you be alright with this?” Gaheris asked Arthur, a bit appalled. ”not to mention Lance is supposed to be your friend. But he’s been betraying all his friends lately so I guess i shouldn’t be surprised” Gaheris muttered. Arthur‘s frown deepened: “it’s not like that Gaheris” he tried to explain. ”We didn’t get we’d out of love. I want Caroline to be happy and if that’s with Lance then that’s her business“ It’s not like Arthur felt he was missing out on what could’ve been a beautiful romance with Caroline, no, that was never going to happen.

Gaheris crossed his arms over his chest and didn’t look any more pleased. “I don’t think Lance is going to keep her happy. He’s a serial womaniser and he’s dangerous. Look what he did to Gareth!” Lance was an enemy of his, plain and simple. “Besides, King Alexander deserves to know if one of his knights has betrayed the court” and if Caroline wasn’t being a dutiful wife but he wasn’t really blaming Caroline. Maybe he’d say that Lance had forced her, yeah, that’d get Lance in even more trouble, he liked the sound of that.
It wasn't surprising that Gaheris wasn't willing to so easily agree. But it still made Caroline tense up. Still, Arthur was supporting Caroline and her choice to be with Lance. Something that made her feel a lot better. Womanizer? Caroline shifted uncomfortable at that. She had heard before that Lance had gotten around a bit. He did have a child out of wedlock after all. But he also made her feel so nice... No, She decided she trusted Lance. Even if this wasn't as real to him as it was to her. She was going to enjoy her time with him. Gaheris's reason for disliking Lance though was soon revealed. Gareth. Caroline's gaze softened at that. Gareth was still alive. But not in a good state.

From her knowledge. Gareth had been trying to protect Lance though. And Caroline felt the need to defend Lance. "What happened to Gareth was a accident. He was hurt trying to protect Lance. You should be proud of Gareth. " A knight was ment to protect his comrades. That was what Gareth had done. But arguing the subject would probable only hurt their chances of convincing Gaheris to keep quiet.

Looking down, Caroline stared at her hands in thought. She didn't think Gaheris was just going to be convinced by words alone. Threats were a option, But Caroline didn't want to resort to that. No. Bribery came to her mind. "Is there anything we can do to convince you to stay quiet. Anything you want? " Gaheris was from a noble wealthy family. She doubt they could just pay him off. But there had to be something they could do to persuade him. Caroline and Arthur were royalty. In line to the throne. They had access to a lot of things.
Lance had certainly had his fair share of girlfriends but he was just quick to fall in love. Caroline was all he thought about in the terms of romance as of late and that was unlikely to change anytime soon despite the spats they’d had recently. Galahad would not have been out of wedlock had he known about Elaine‘s pregnancy and had been very much in love with her at the time. He still loved her now but it was not the same burning passion as it had once been. She was an ex, a fond friend that he wanted to look after and keep in his life. He was sad she’d ever left it.

Gaheris narrowed his eyes critically at Caroline as she defended Lance. Oh, of course she would defend her stupid boyfriend, Lance had her brainwashed. She was too busy banging Lance to see how truly terrible a person was. Shame that women could be so easily swayed and blinded by a pretty face. His lip was curling unpleasantly and Arthur didn’t think this chat was going too well. “I want Lance to get what he deserves” Gareth snapped. “He is not worthy of you, or of being let off the hook.“ Lance needed to be punished for what he’d done to Gareth and to Caroline. But, it was a good opportunity to try and get other things from them.

He pursed his lips and scanned Arthur and Caroline. “What will you give me to keep quiet?” He asked. He wanted Lance to back off hovering over Ruth 24/7 although Arthur and Lance were not going to agree to that readily. He wanted to see what cards they were willing to lay down though. Arthur was frowning At Gareth. They shouldn’t have to give him anything! He should listen to them, for the kingdom. Did he want their kingdom to fall apart or for his mother to have so much power? With Caroline called into question, Morgan’s child’s claim to the throne would only strengthen. Did Gaheris not see that?
Caroline frowned at Gaheris. But... She could hardly blame him too much. All of the siblings had been effected by what had happened to Gareth. It only made things more uncomfortable. He wanted payback. But... He also seemed willing to bargain. Which was good. Caroline knew he wanted more access to Ruth. But she knew Arthur and Lance would fight over that. But... There was so much on the line that surely they'd see it wasn't worth the fight? Still, A thought came to Caroline's mind. "You know... It must be difficult being the middle child... " She then was slowly easing closer. Tilting her head. "Gawain and Agravain have always gotten the fame being the oldest. And I bet they always focused on doting on Gareth... " These were dangerous statements. But Caroline had a plan.

She then mused. "Wouldn't it be nice to have a reputation of your own? " Caroline gaze Arthur a small glance. Before focusing back on Gaheris. Smiling at him. "Just think about it. The crown prince, And the princess of the kingdom. Publically boasting about you. Maybe saying some little story about how you rescued the princess from wolves during the journey. You would be adored. Still a squire and you'd already managed to save a princess. Not even your brothers had done that. " She knew who to speak to to get such rumors flying. Caroline then said. "I can only imagine how many ladies would try to court you after hearing those kind of stories. " Girls. He was a teenage boy and she hoped the idea of being renowned by the ladies might endear him to the idea further.

Caroline then leaning closer she mused. "As for Lance. I'll talk to him and try my best to get him to ease up on you. " She then tried to take things a step further. Placing her hand on his leg and blinking innocently up at him. "Please, I know you hate him. But... If this gets out. I'm sure the king will have no choice but to punish me as well. I need you. " She wasn't sure how well she was doing. But she grew up in a kingdom where wars were fought with words. Hopefully her own words were enough to get her threw this battle.
Caroline was sneaky. She’d certainly learnt the ways of manipulation and where working them on Gaheris right now. Arthur only found himself able to watch. Her words struck home for Gaheris. He was so overlooked, by his family and the public. Girls were only interested in his older brothers or even in Gareth! He didn’t spend much time with Gavin and now Gwen was gone, the only one he’d been really close to. And he was still only a squire. Agravain and Gawain didn’t see him as an adult, treated him like a kid but not in the way they treated Gareth. Gareth could get away with anything, he was the baby, but Gaheris had to learn to ‘grow up’ whilst not being allowed to. It was irritating the way they passed over him, didn’t let him live up to his full potential. Agravain had gotten married without him even there! That showed how much they all cared about him.

Such seductive words to be whispering to Gaheris - power hungry and prideful Gaheris. Gawain and Agravain had gone on so many quests, achieved so much, helped princesses, but all while they were knights. And any feats that Gaheris had achieved on his quest with Gawain were either overlooked or attributed to his brother. It would certainly garner him a lot of attention, just what he wanted. Some approval and some power and some attention. Caroline was getting closer and closer and Arthur figured maybe Gaheris might’ve kissed her last night if she’d been acting anything like this. Arthur was not attracted to Caroline but even he could sense and see the tension she created between them. Quite admirable really, shocking though.

Gaheris liked the sound of making Lance back off, but as she suggested Lance would retreat, she advanced. He wasn’t entirely fooled. She wasn’t attracted to him, he knew that because of her rejection of him yesterday but above all, her attempt was not working as intended on him because the hand on leg threw him through a memory of Gareth doing the exact same. Bent over the bin, throwing up and naked, Gareth had touched him softly and concerned. He could taste the sick now and maybe that sobered him a little. Gaheris squinted at Caroline, it was a good deal, but then he glanced over at Arthur. There was something he’d quite like. ”you could write me a letter of recommendation to your father” he told his cousin. “It’s about time I became a knight” and that was a bold ask. Gawain had yet to suggest it to the king. What if he wasn’t ready? They didn’t want him getting himself killed. And the court should only have worthy knights, this was a rather backhanded way of trying to get into it. Arthur was rather caught in surprise at being addressed and at the bold request. Something in him rebelled against but he couldn’t fully understand why. This was his cousin, had Gawain’s training and the blood of warriors in him. Surely he’d be a good knight? Except his recent behaviour had been less than exemplary. Arthur didn’t want his friend to die though, nor his wife. Arthur glanced at Caroline before nodding at Gaheris. ”I can do that. But you must be silent on this matter!“ Gaheris couldn’t just turn around after he’d been made a knight and spill the beans.
It seemed it didn't take much to convince Gaheris. So much for his hatred of Lance. Caroline could tell he wasn't that pleased with her advances. Which confused her a bit, But she said nothing. Simply pulled away and sat back next to her husband. Looking towards Arthur. Gaheris becoming a knight ment he could get away with far more. Was he even old enough to be ready to go on quests on his own? Caleb was the same age but she behaved far more... Mature then Gaheris ever did. Still, It was worth it to keep Gaheris quiet. So Caroline gave the other a nod. "So we have a deal then? " Caroline was still nervous about this. Lance would need to be careful during the journey home. If he anger Gaheris. Then this whole deal could be torn apart.

Gaheris was almost certainly going to try his luck with Ruth after this. Caroline was almost sure. Would Lance let him? He had too. To much was on the line for him to be risking upsetting Gaheris. But he also cared about Ruth. Which made the situation more uncomfortable. Still, Caroline took the victory where she could and allowed herself to relax a bit. Her head wasn't on the chopping block yet!

Looking down. Caroline thought for a moment before telling him. "I... I know this probable won't help things. But... I thought I'd say, I do care about Lance. Very much." It wasn't just them fooling around. Or well, For Caroline it wasn't. Maybe if he knew Caroline very much cared about Lance it would further endear him to their case. Caroline could hope. Gaheris had been rather nice to her so far after all!
Gaheris seemed willing to settle for now but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t ask for more in the future. He had deadly information and blackmail didn’t usually tend to stop after one set of appeasement. But for the time being, Gaheris was satisfied. He was getting what he’d always wanted and he was sure he could push Lance a bit further. He’d quite enjoy upsetting the man and there was something very satisfying about Lance knowing that Gaheris had this sort of power over him. Gaheris nodded back at Caroline. It was agreed, he’d keep his mouth shut, until he wanted something else. Someone should tell Lance the good news.

Gaheris’ look hardened as Caroline further spoke. “You’re right, that didn’t help” She shouldn’t care about Lance, he was bad for her, was a terrible person. Lance probably didn’t care about her and would only hurt her in the end. He did like Caroline, hence why he thought she should stay away from Lance. It hadn’t done his family any good so why would it benefit her? “You can go now” Gaheris dismissed them and normally he wouldn’t be so bold but they wanted him on their side, he recognised that. Caroline wasn’t going to risk her lover getting killed over such a small slight. Arthur pursed his lips at his cousin’s behaviour but he agreed it was probably best for them to leave, before Gaheris changed his mind or something happened. So Arthur exited the tent back into the freezing cold.

”well, that could’ve gone worse“ he murmured to Caroline once she joined him. Probably couldn’t gone slightly better but overall Arthur didn’t feel too displeased with the results. It wasn’t anything overtly suspicious that Gaheris asked for, although not quite usual for Arthur to write a letter of recommendation. “Although I don’t think we can afford letting anyone else find out” he added. Her and Lance had to be extra careful. Such sensitive information really couldn’t afford to get out.

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