Part 43: link
“So how is it that the two of 你 managed to beat us twice?” Arthur asks as they emerge from the pub, blinking in the bright sunlight. Not the Dragon’s Head; a different pub, one with a billiard table.
“Fray and I used to go out to the pubs when we were at University, not
drink, and then beat drunk guys at billiards,” Gwen explains, chuckling. “And 你 two won two games as well, so we’re all nice and even.”
“Leon needs to get a table,” Arthur comments.
“Leon doesn’t want
a table,” Merlin reminds him. “He says the darts are bad enough.”
“Why is that?” Gwen asks.
“He says the cues will just turn into weapons at some point. That and there’s too much upkeep on a billiard table.”
“And they’re bloody expensive, too,” Merlin adds.
“There it is,” Freya laughs.
“So, tell me,” Arthur asks, “when 你 would go out not drinking, how easily did 你 beat these drunken blokes?”
“We didn’t always
win,” Gwen amends.
“Ah, but when 你 did, was it because 你 were the 更多 skilled team, 或者 because 你 are a couple of cute birds?”
“Oh!” Gwen fumes, taking her hand from his grasp and smacking him with it. “Why is it so hard to accept that we beat 你 a couple times? Did 你 think we went out waving our bums at the guys while they were trying to make their shots? That I was chalking my cue 由 placing the chalk between my tits and bending over like this?
” she pantomimes, holding an invisible cue in front of her.
Merlin is laughing loudly now, earning him a very dirty look from Arthur.
“All right, all right, I’m sorry,” he says.
“You were expecting to just run the 表 and have done, weren’t you?” she asks, hands on her hips.
“Maybe,” he pouts. She stares. “Yeah.”
“Perhaps 下一个 time we’ll stop going easy on you,” Gwen says airily, turning to start walking again.
Gwen blows a 吻乐队（Kiss） to him, now several feet ahead of him, laughing with Freya.
“Girls are strange,” Arthur says, looking at Merlin.
“And boys are yucky,” Gwen shoots back. Arthur promptly jogs 前锋, 期待 and grabs her around the waist, pulling her to him.
“Yucky?” he purrs at her while she giggles at him. “You didn’t seem to think I was so yucky last night,” he smirks at her, 接吻 her. “Or this morning,” he adds, 接吻 her again, longer.
“Don’t want to hear about it,” Merlin says, starting to walk.
“Oh, like you’re so innocent, Emrys,” Gwen calls, extracting herself from Arthur’s grasp.
He turns and makes an innocent face at her.
“Bet 你 a pound that 你 were naked
when I called Freya’s flat this morning to invite 你 out,” she challenges, her hands on her hips.
Merlin blushes, and Freya quietly says, “Give her a pound, Pet.”
Arthur and Gwen laugh and start walking, Arthur patting Merlin on the shoulder as they brush past him.
“Keep your pound, Merlin,” Gwen says over her shoulder.
“Hey, what are 你 two doing later?” Freya asks, taking Merlin’s hand and pulling him, reminding him they are walking.
“Dinner with my father, actually,” Gwen says. “He was going to take us out after Arthur’s opening, but Arthur was sick, so we had to take a rain check.”
“Ooo, 晚餐 with DI Degrance, must be serious,” Freya says in mock severity.
“Nah, despite appearances, Daddy actually likes Arthur,” Gwen says.
“He does?” Arthur asks.
“Yes. He does. And that reminds me… Merlin: we simply must
find a way to get my dad to meet your mum. 你 know, since he turned chicken at the gallery.”
“Right,” Merlin agrees, grinning.
“Ugh, Merlin, you’re setting up your mum?
“Something wrong with my father?” Gwen asks.
“Of course not, it’s not that, but… that’s his mum.
Merlin, do 你 really want to think about your mother being… romantic with someone? Anyone?” Arthur asks.
“Had to have happened once,” Freya mutters, and Gwen laughs.
“Look, 你 know my dad’s been gone a long time,” Merlin says, his voice serious, soft. Gwen turns, interested, never having heard him speak of his father. “And, well… she’s lonely. She’ll never admit it, but she is. I’d like her to have some happiness. And if she can find some with Gwen’s dad, then, so be it.”
Guinevere’s father takes them to his 最喜爱的 place, a simple diner-type affair, nothing swank 或者 fancy. Solid comfort food. Large portions. Waitresses that keep your drinks filled without your having to ask.
“Yeah, we come here a lot for lunch,” Tom says. “I’m not much for posh places,” he shrugs. “Plus it’s close to the station.”
“It’s great here,” Arthur says, “this chicken is bloody amazing,” he says, peeling off another section of meat and popping it into his mouth with his fingers.
Gwen has a large chef salad, served in a bowl the size of her head. She spears a 猛男, hunk, 大块 of cheese, ham, hard-boiled egg, and, finally, some 生菜 and somehow manages the whole bite, much to Arthur’s amusement.
“Gwen tells me 你 have a bit of a sweet tooth,” Tom says to Arthur. “So make sure 你 save room for dessert. They have a carrot cake that is just mind-boggling.”
“I always have room for dessert,” Arthur grins.
of a sweet tooth?” Gwen laughs. “I don’t believe those were the words I used.”
“I was being polite,” Tom laughs with her. “She really 说 你 were a sugar junkie.”
“Well, those were my words originally, so, no harm done,” Arthur laughs.
“So, Gwen, when exactly is your mother getting married to that Pierre bloke, anyway?” Tom asks, digging his fork into a shepherd’s pie large enough for nearly all three of them.
“I don’t know, 你 know how she is. Vague with the details.”
“Vague with details involving her,
你 mean. If it’s details about anyone else then she’s a bloody private investigator,” he laughs.
“I would imagine 下一个 spring, but for all I know, they’ve gone off and eloped,” Gwen says, then sighs. “I probably should call her. I just hate to, though. It’s expensive.”
“God forbid she pick up the phone, right?”
Gwen rolls her eyes and takes a drink. “But I know 你 want to talk to your lawyer, so I’ll call her maybe tomorrow night and see what I can find out. Rates will be cheaper.”
“I appreciate that, Gwennie.”
“I know, Dad. Oh, guess what?” Gwen changes the subject.
“That big collections of drawings that I wouldn’t let 你 look too closely at?”
“Annis sold it to a spa.”
“Really? Well done, Pendragon,” he says, turning to Arthur.
“Thanks, but I didn’t really do anything,” Arthur chuckles.
“Well, 你 created the piece, didn’t you?”
“Then congratulations. But Gwen,” he turns back, “are 你 all right with strangers ogling whatever it was that 你 didn’t especially want your own father to see?”
Gwen glances at Arthur. “Yes, I think so. I’m learning to accept being an artist’s muse,” she chuckles. She feels Arthur’s hand squeeze her knee under the table.
“Muse?” Tom asks.
“Annis dubbed me thusly about five 分钟 after she met me. I thought I told 你 that,” she tells her father.
“Well, if I start seeing naked pictures of Gwen everywhere, 你 and I are going to have a conversation,” Tom says to Arthur.
“I seriously doubt you’ll see naked pictures of her everywhere,
Mr. Degrance,” Arthur answers.
“You may call me Tom,” he finally relents, seeing Gwen’s grin out of the corner of his eye.
“I promise 你 that I will never paint 或者 draw Guinevere in any way that would make her uncomfortable.”
“Thank you. I’d prefer it if 你 had 说 ‘anyway that would make me
uncomfortable,’ but this will have to do,” he smiles.
“Well if that was the case you’d have him painting me in a parka and snow pants, covered from head to toe,” Gwen laughs.
“Sounds good to me,” Tom grins.
“That would actually be really cute,” Arthur says, picturing it in his head. “Guinevere in the snow, snowflakes landing in her hair, her cheeks 粉, 粉色 with the cold air…”
“What? Something for winter,” he shrugs.
The waitress checks on them, refills their drinks, brings Gwen a couple 更多 napkins.
“So, Arthur,” Tom says once the waitress leaves, “Gwen tells me that your father came to the 显示 and bought one of your paintings. Do 你 think he’s having regrets about tossing 你 aside?”
Arthur glances at Gwen, who smiles a small apologetic smile. I had no idea he would bring this up, sorry.
“Honestly, sir, I have no idea what is going on in his brain.”
“The wealthy and powerful are often the most lonely, I’ve found. Perhaps he’s starting to realize this.”
“I don’t know. Guinevere thought that his buying the painting, that specific
painting was his way of reaching out.”
“And what do you
“At first I wasn’t sure. But I let her and Merlin convince me to deliver the painting to him personally. Didn’t go terribly well. I mean, there was no shouting and he didn’t have Joseph throw me out 或者 anything…”
Gwen snorts, unable to picture Joseph throwing anything larger than a trash bag out.
“He’s old and skinny, but he’s crafty,” Arthur grins at Gwen. “Anyone working that long for my father would have to be,” he adds darkly.
“So then our little Guinevere decided she’d give it a go. Did she tell 你 that?” Arthur asks, raising his eyebrows.
“No… Gwen, what did 你 do?”
“I didn’t do anything!” Gwen exclaims. “Dad!”
Arthur laughs. “She yelled at him.”
“You yelled at Uther Pendragon?” Tom asks, incredulous.
“She went to his house, even,” Arthur adds, thoroughly enjoying himself now. “Well, to be fair, her intentions were noble. She brought over a couple of paintings I had done that were not in the 显示 and will likely never see the outside world.”
“Paintings that Arthur had done of his father and his mother,” Gwen clarifies, before her father can ask.
“Wait. 你 went to the man’s home
and yelled at him?”
“Yeah, he didn’t take very kindly to that,” Gwen says, biting her lower lip. “But to be fair, he raised his voice first.”
“Well, then, I’ll have to have him arrested now,” Tom teases.
“I did get him to admit that he is lonely, though. Kind of. He actually made me sad,” Gwen says, her eyes growing soft now, the sadness showing.
Arthur puts his hand over hers, squeezing it lightly.
“Tell me about the painting he bought,” Tom says, leaning 前锋, 期待 on his hands, done with his dinner.
“Look out, he’s in DI mode now.”
Arthur tells him the story of the storm, the hand on the shoulder, of falling asleep under the 表 and waking up in his 床, 床上 the 下一个 morning.
“No one else knew the significance of the painting?” Tom asks.
“I told Guinevere after Father bought it. Maybe Merlin knew. Probably. I don’t even think Morgana knows about our moment on the porch.”
“Definitely reaching out,” Tom decides.
“Hmm,” Arthur answers.
“Look, I don’t know Uther Pendragon. But I know what it is to be a father. Sometimes your children disappoint you. 你 get over it and forgive them and 爱情 them because they are your flesh. It just takes some people longer than others to realize this.”
“Arthur, what happened to Merlin’s father?” Gwen asks later, curled in Arthur’s arms in bed.
“He died shortly after Merlin was born. Never actually got to see him in person.”
“He was away, in the war. Korea. Hunith was just
pregnant with Merlin when he was called overseas.”
“Oh, my God.”
“She didn’t even know she was pregnant when he left. Must have been a hell of a farewell,” he chuckles once.
“He was a doctor. The hospital where he was stationed – nothing 更多 than a collection of tents, really – was bombed. Completely destroyed.”
“That is so sad,” Gwen says. She actually feels like she might cry.
“Yes,” he says, stroking her shoulder softly, hearing the tremble in her voice. “His box of personal effects contained a battered baby picture of Merlin. To this day, Merlin and Hunith both refuse to watch M*A*S*H*.”
“I don’t blame them.”
“He doesn’t talk about it much,” Arthur says, cuddling her closer to his side. “They visit his grave every 年 on Balinor’s birthday and on the anniversary of his death. Bring him some daisies and a bag of crisps,” Arthur smiles sadly. “But beyond that, they don’t talk about him much.”
“He was a hero, I hope they know that,” Gwen says.
“Without a doubt. I just hope that Hunith doesn’t shy away from your father because he’s a copper. 你 know, that same fear.”
“Oh, God, good point,” Gwen says, looking up at him. “But my dad spends most of his time at his 台, 办公桌 these days. He investigates mainly documents and evidence. I think he’s getting close to retirement, honestly. Maybe if he doesn’t have to pay mum anymore he’ll be able to hang up his badge and live a life of leisure.”
“Sounds like you
want him to live this life of leisure,” Arthur says, 接吻 her forehead.
“Yeah,” she admits. “He’s been there a long time. He deserves it.” Gwen yawns and closes her eyes, snuggling in with a sigh.
“I 爱情 you, Arthur,” she whispers, squeezing him.
“I 爱情 you, too.”
They decide to be lazy on Sunday. It is grey and rainy outside, a perfect 日 to keep the door closed and pull the blankets over one’s head. Gwen doesn’t even suggest they go to church. They spend most of the morning in bed, talking, making love, watching TV.
She makes 威化饼, 华夫饼 and sausages for them for breakfast, even though it is nearly lunchtime.
Arthur lounges around in his shorts, Gwen in her dressing gown, almost like the first afternoon they spent together.
The phone doesn’t ring. No one comes knocking. There isn’t even any noise from the neighbors. It’s like the world has decided to leave them alone as they live in their cozy cocoon.
Arthur eventually settles in on the 长椅, 沙发 with his sketchpad, drawing ideas for the mural. Gwen decides to bake some bread, just because she hasn’t in a while.
“Sweet, come look,” he calls.
“One second. I’m up to my elbows here.”
“Shouldn’t 你 be using your hands?”
He smiles when he hears her laugh, which has become one of his 最喜爱的 sounds. Moments later she strolls out, wearing one of his t-shirts.
“When did 你 put that on?” he asks.
“When I decided to bake. Big sleeves on that robe, they’d get in my way. Besides, I like wearing your shirts. They’re comfy.”
Arthur smiles at her, realizing somewhere in the back of his brain that she has nothing on under the 衬衫 and realizing that his attention is drifting.
“I know that look,” she says. “Later.”
“Okay,” he says, slightly dejected. “Come tell me what 你 think, then.”
She looks. The 龙 are spanning the length of the walls. They appear to be playing games, tossing balls between them. One has his nose in the air, looking like he just bumped the ball to another with one of its front legs raised in a very non-threatening way. The third has his head tilted in a jaunty manor.
“This is charming, Arthur. It’s really cute. They’ll 爱情 it.”
“Do 你 like it?”
“Why do 你 always need to ask me these questions?” she laughs. “Yes, I like it.”
“Because your opinion is the only one that matters to me, really,” he answers, quite seriously.
She leans over and kisses him, and he reaches out and runs his hand up the back of her thigh, sliding up under the 衬衫 to her backside.
“Move that dragon’s nose just slightly higher,” she says, pointing to the one with the ball. “And 移动 your hand off my bum. I have 面包 dough that needs my attention 更多 than 你 do right now, darling.”
‘”That’s debatable,” he calls after her as she walks back to the kitchen. She waves a hand back at him dismissively, not turning around.
“Damn it, she’s right,” Arthur says, grabbing his eraser to fix the angle of the dragon’s head.
An 小时 later, Gwen is at one end of the couch, flipping through Merlin’s 秒 manuscript, and Arthur is on the other end, still drawing. Gwen thinks he’s still working on his mural, but really he’s sketching her.
The phone rings, and they both jump. Arthur curses and grabs his eraser. Gwen reaches over for the phone.
“Hello?” She listens a moment, her face a little puzzled. No, not puzzled,
Arthur thinks. Surprised.
“Yes, of course, one moment.”
“Arthur, it’s for you,” Gwen says, holding the phone out.
“Who is it?”
Part 45: link