The First to Fall ~ Wilhelmina's Tale
Title: The First to Fall
Disclaimer: Joss owns the Buffy crew, Bruckheimer, Franzoni, & Fuqua own this incarnation of Arthur & his knights. I own the modernized names and situations, kinda.
Summary: Dawn’s not the only one to share a past history with her knights. The first two to fall back into the fold…
A/N: So, while SL is not finished and the third installment of The Quest series (still looking for a better name, but it works for now) is in the early planning stages, I thought it might be interesting to reexamine the histories of the knights and their ladies…
Pairing: Willow/Gavin, Wilhelmina/Gawain The First to Fall
Willow hadn’t slept well the night before. Her mind had been heavy with the thoughts of the day. First Morgan le Fay told them they were all needed, and the ‘awakening’ was almost too much for anyone to bear.
She wasn’t sure that her dreams were really her
dreams. She’d only had a dream like this one back when she, Giles, Buffy, and Xander had tapped into the first slayer’s power her freshman year. ***** There was work to be done, and as a slave of the Romans, Wilhelmina had little choice but to follow her captor’s orders. She’d come with one of the Roman officers and his wife to the outskirts of the Roman fort at Hadrian’s wall as a child. The officer’s wife had died in childbirth the second year of his posting at the wall taking the babe with her. The officer had died months later, leaving sixteen year-old Wilhelmina lost in the frightening world of the North.
Had it not been for Vanora, woman of the knight Bors, she might have been out in the wilderness on her own. Vanora had given her shelter until she was able to find lodgings of her own. She worked in the tavern with the Briton woman and had earned her keep in both the honorable and disreputable trade that went on there. She was no whore though, and laid with only the knights who had been kind to her.
She had often wondered after the giant of the group, the silent knight Dagonet, but he had never sought her attentions. She was too young in his eyes, a comment Wilhelmina had heard him speak to her only confidant among the girls when Vanora had tried to urge him to enjoy himself.
The younger knights, however, had often held her sway. The young, cynical Galahad had often teased her and the warrior Gawain had sought her more nights than any other knight. But she remembered the knights who had been with her that hadn’t returned. Gawain’s brother, Gaheris had been one of her admirers. The loss of the sixteen year old knight had been hard on the younger knights. His death had been hard on her as well.
It was Gaheris, a clumsy and shy boy afraid of death that had taken her innocence. She had loved that boy in both life and death. Part of her had never recovered from the loss of Gaheris. She often went and cleaned the burial mound that held his sword. But as much as that part of her had belonged to Gaheris, she feared a part of her heart belonged to the boy she’d comforted over his brother’s grave. Gawain was a different man. He could be loud and frustrating and annoying in one breath, and speak as sweetly as honeyed wine with the next.
Still, he lacked the kindness and compassion his brother had had. He was overly confident and aware of the attraction he held for her. That was why she refused to bed him.
That was why she still refused to bed him the night before the seven knights went over the Wall to rescue those Romans.
That was why she refused to bed him before the Saxons arrived.
But it was a broken and different Gawain that returned from the battle of Badon Hill. He could never return to his homeland now, never die on his native soil. He had aged, his very
freedom had aged him. He was not softened by the blow. He came to the tavern still, but he did not act as he had as a conscripted warrior. He drank to forget those lost.
“What, the great Sir Gawain can’t stomach this common swill now he’s a free man?” Wilhelmina scoffed.
“What, the great tavern wench Wilhelmina can’t leave a man in peace? I haven’t the coin to pay you for a tup.” Gawain took a deep gulp of the mead.
“I ain’t that kind of slave.”
you’re not a slave. Knights died and the Romans have left. Who’s your master? What shackles have you got about your wrists that keep you here?” Gawain growled, his hand clamping tightly around her wrist. Wilhelmina’s eyes widened in shock at the venom in his words before pulling back in anger.
“I haven’t the papers to return - no
female slave of the empire is given papers such as yours. Not that it matters - my home was destroyed by the Romans. What family I have left is long dead,” Wilhelmina yanked her hand free. “I am as trapped as any other that remains here. No matter that Rome has abandoned us to the wolves.”
“Has Arthur abandoned you? Have we Sarmatians abandoned your kind?”
“Until a fortnight ago, you lofty Sarmatians were just as enslaved as us. Don’t get high and mighty with me, Gawain,” Wilhelmina swept her skirts away from him and returned to the counter.
Her hands shook as she set her platter down. She could not connect the Gawain she knew before with the one that had replaced him. They were free, but at what cost?
Willow jerked upright in her bed, comforted by the soft snores Faith made as she rolled over heavily in her sleep. The sun was peeking up over the hill, signaling a new day. After the last two fun filled days, what would this new sun bring for the knights and their ladies?