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Meet Me After the Next Dance

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It was the middle of a feast. Almost everyone was there, except for those few knights who were still recuperating from their injuries. Lancelot had enjoyed being in the presence of his friends after so long, and of course in the presence of his queen.

The feast wasn’t held in the war room where the round table was, but rather in the great hall. The seats of honour near the king and queen were held by some visiting royalty. Lancelot found himself seated near Gawain who he was glad to see again. They had each been on strange adventures lately, and Lancelot was more than happy to both hear the tales and share his own. Gawain had most recently been traveling with the queen, and been separated with her during a hunt when they encountered some sort of revenant. They had put the spirit to rest, though, and agreed to have mass said for them.

It was just as the dancing was starting up that Lancelot caught Guinevere’s eye from across the hall. She smiled at him, her cheeks red, but they didn’t share any of the first few dances. The musicians were all in good form, as were the others on the dance floor, and Lancelot did get up for a few songs.

Gawain danced with the queen more than once; Gawain’s relationship with her was very different than Lancelot’s. While those two were also friends, Gawain was a relative of the queen. Lancelot was friends with Gawain too, but the closeness he and Guinevere shared was different.

During one of the songs where everyone exchanged partners, Lancelot found he was holding Guinevere in his arms. Her face was flushed from dancing and her eyes were bright as she looked up at him. Her lips were just barely parted, and he found himself staring, wanting to do nothing more than kiss her just now, the rest of the court be damned.

They did stop for a moment in the dance, neither moving.

“My lord,” Guinevere said, squeezing his hands.

He blinked, and felt his cheeks heat up. “My queen,” Lancelot said, as they began to dance.

“It is good to see you back here,” Guinevere said.

“It is good to be back.” Lancelot still wanted nothing more than to take her into his arms. “I… May we speak later?”

“I’d love to,” she whispered. “Meet me after the next dance outside the hall?”

“Of course,” he said.

The rest of the dance was a blur. The queen left after that dance, but he stood to the side and had a drink with Gawain after, waiting until the next song had finished as she had said. Gawain had been drinking more than him that evening and was very talkative, so their conversation proved to be very animated but enjoyable.

Lancelot excused himself, and carefully made his way out of the hall. He glanced around for a moment, unsure where his queen was until he saw her waving to him from an alcove. He hurried over, glancing around to make sure no one saw.

“Guinevere,” he said, more of an exhale or sigh of contentment than a word. She reached up, cupping his face, and kissed him. Lancelot put his arms around her and pulled her close. This was dangerous, some part of him still thought. They were so close to the feast; anyone could stroll by and take a closer look at the two forms pressed together in the shadows. Or could wonder why both the queen and her champion had disappeared in such quick succession.

“Lancelot, my dear,” she said, when they both pulled away to catch their breath, still clutching one another as though they might disappear.

“Someone might see us,” he said, but kept his arms around her.

“Tonight I find that I do not care,” she said. Even in the darkness, he could see a little watery shimmer over her eyes. “I missed you.”

He kissed her again, and said, “And I you.” He wished he could offer her something better than this, something better than hidden kisses and stolen embraces, but there was no way for that to be so. He wished that things were different, that they had met one another sooner, or that perhaps he had been sent to court as a prince rather than an unnamed knight and so would have been an appropriate suitor for her. But there was no way to change the past, and as things stood he couldn’t even promise to be there in the future. So Lancelot held her in the dark, and kissed Guinevere once more.