Banquets were one of the few official events Gwen truly looked forward to, at least, before Merlin came to Camelot. After his arrival each banquet became a new excuse to be nervous and let herself stumble through sentences like she was drunk weaving through the streets of the lower town. Her crush on Merlin started the minute she saw him smiling - against all logic - in the stocks. Merlin was so adorable, and sweet, and really very attractive. Even now she couldn't quite imagine how anyone could deny that smile anything.
They'd finally sorted out the whole crush thing, with as little pain as could be expected. Mostly, because Merlin had been completely oblivious of her feelings for him, no matter what she did. She had been confused until she realized he really only had eyes for Arthur, which, after a few days of heartbreak, she decided was actually ridiculously cute. She also thought that Arthur, who had been much nicer since Merlin had become his manservant, had apparently just needed to get laid.
With that all sorted, she'd hoped banquets were going to be fun again.
And then there was Lancelot. He was really only there for one banquet, and she still had a bit of a thing for Merlin at the time, but Lancelot was, well, Lancelot. He was chivalrous and kind, even to her, and he made her feel less awkward instead of more so. She never really did sort out how she felt about him, because he was gone in a few days. Still she hoped she'd see him again one day; after all, he would be a glorious knight for Camelot.
After that, for one whole banquet Gwen could relax. She really was "just friends" with Merlin, Lancelot was gone, and she was blissfully crush free.
Then, after Ealdor, Arthur started noticing her and calling her Guinevere. Gwen had no idea what to do with that. It didn't seem to be the same kind of attention Morgana gave her - a deep bond of friendship, which almost transcended their difference in station. But it wasn't the leer she associated with a noble looking for a quick tumble either.
Before she knew it, she was incapable of speaking a plain, polite, servile sentence to him. Every time she saw him, he would ask her something innocent, like "Guinevere, did you enjoy the joust yesterday?"
She'd mean to say "Yes, Sire." Add a brief curtsy and be done with it, go back to attending to Morgana and her needs. What she'd actually say was something closer to, "I'm not a big fan of jousts, really." She'd been a servant at Camelot for how long and she still said the first thing that came to her mind when directly asked? It was not funny and sweet, no matter what Morgana said.
And then, because she could not just be quiet she'd say: "Not that there's anything wrong with jousts, it's just that I'm not really into all that rough and tumble stuff like you are. Except that, you're the Prince and you'd have to like that stuff, I guess. Not that you have to, have to. I mean you really seem to enjoy it. Although, it's easy to like something you're so good at. By which I mean," and finally, mercifully, she would shut up. Arthur, at this point, would be either laughing at her embarrassment in a way that left her feeling more giddy than shamed or he'd be studying her with an intensity that would make her blush. Finally, she'd manage to say, "Yes, Sire, I did," add a curtsy, and try to politely run away from the Prince. He would stand there watching her retreating figure and if she looked back she'd see him smile at her like he knew something she didn't. Which he probably did about a lot of things, but not about the two of them.
Really, what right did Arthur have calling her Guinevere and smiling at her like that when he was with Merlin?
Now, at banquets, she would stand behind Morgana at the table, next to Merlin, trying to discreetly prompt him to refill Arthur's goblet with a stealthy elbow to the side. If Merlin's attention wandered, and he failed to keep the cup full, Arthur would get thirsty, and he would turn around to prompt Merlin. Above all things at these banquets Gwen was trying to keep Arthur from turning around, because when Arthur had to remind Merlin of his duties he'd catch sight of the two of them, standing near enough to each other for Gwen to be able to elbow Merlin, and Arthur would give them a warm smile. One that would make both of their cheeks flame red.
Now banquets were no fun.
Well, maybe a little fun.