A/N: I posted this fic on Ao3, and on Ao3 alone. If you read this on any other website or platform, please consider that I did not consent to this.
They were laying in bed, tired, yet not tired enough to sleep yet, and Gawein tenderly brushed Amurphina's hair.
"I'm so glad I found you," he whispered. "No adventure can compare to your beauty, your loveliness, your soft kisses..."
Amurphina turned around and kissed him with a smile. But then she frowned slightly. "Are you planning to leave me?"
Gawein shook his head. "Never. I could never."
"I am glad." Amurphina sighed. "I love you far too much to ever let you go again." Her left hand started caressing Gawein's naked chest. "And adventures are dangerous..." She kissed the scar Gawein had right under his left collarbone. "Just as dangerous as tournaments are..."
Gawein leaned forward to kiss her hair in return. "This scar... I know I told you it was from a tournament... but actually..." He blushed slightly.
"Actually?" Amurphina's gaze was amused. "Did you lie to me, Gawein, my hero?"
Gawein's blush deepened. "I... may have?"
Amurphina shook her head, scolding, but the smile never left her face.
Gawein shook his head, his cheeks still bright red. "It is embarrassing, okay?"
"Well, now you started it. You better tell me your embarrassing story about this scar," Amurphina grinned.
Gawein sighed deeply. Then, he began…
„Hold! Who goes there?“
The voice came out of the bushes next to the street and Gawein halted in surprise. He had not thought that this bridge would be guarded, but apparently, he had been wrong. Carefully, he took a look round.
“I am a knight of Arthur’s court. I am not looking for trouble. Please, let me pass through, as I am weary and have ridden far today. I only wish to reach the next town along the road before darkness falls.” Still, he could not see anyone, and he grew suspicious. His right hand wandered down to the hilt of his sword.
But before he could draw it, he was hit over the head from behind with a club. With a groan, he fell over and slid from the back of his horse. His head was spinning, pain was pulsing from the back of his skull down his spine. Gawein had to close his eyes for a moment.
Another blow hit him, this time in the ribs. He groaned and tried to curl around the injury in an attempt to protect himself, but his movements were too slow and too sluggish.
“Don’t worry, fair knight,” his attacker – or were there more than one? – mocked him. “We’ll take good care of your horse, and your equipment, and especially your money.”
Yes, there were several ruffians around him, Gawein heard them laugh. But he couldn’t do anything about it. He was just lying in the dirt of the road and praying that they would not injure him any further. He was hardly able to move as it was, and he was horribly afraid to die alone in the woods. What if he wouldn’t make it to the next settlement in his condition? What if no other traveller would pass by before it was too late?
But then, to his horror, he realised that the robbers seemed to have considered this as well. The leader drew a short knife from his belt and kneeled over Gawein.
“Don’t be afraid, my knight. We will not let you suffer. You will die a quick and easy death, I’ll take care of that.” With these words, he stabbed Gawein in the chest.
Gawein could feel the cool blade slide into his body. The sheer pain that radiated from his shoulder was so intense that he couldn’t even scream – he simply passed out. The robbers rolled his body into the ditch where they left him. Then, they were on their way.
When Gawein came back to his senses he had no idea how much time had passed, and he was actually wondering if he was still alive, or if this was just a strange afterlife that he had stumbled into. There was pain in his chest and pain in his head and his throat was so dry that he could hardly swallow. Slowly, Gawein opened his eyes.
He was definitely in a hermitage. The small room, the sparse furnishing and the sacral objects on the walls told him enough. The question now was: How had he got here?
Gawein was still wondering about these things when a door to his left opened and the hermit who had apparently picked him up entered the room. It was an elderly little man in a grey robe made of rough fabric who was carrying a large basket full of herbs and roots. When he saw that Gawein was awake, he smiled at him.
“Thank God, you’re awake! I was fearing you might not regain consciousness. That was a nasty blow you took to the head, Sir Knight.”
“Gawein, please.” Gawein blinked in confusion. “How did you find me?”
“Oh, I know these ruffians. You’re not the first they robbed at this bridge and that I had to patch back together afterwards.” The man set his heavy basket on the table in the middle of the room and came over to Gawein’s cot. “You were lucky that they only stabbed you in the shoulder. Had they punctured your lung, I doubt I would have been able to save you.”
Instinctively, Gawein reached for his left shoulder. A thick bandage was wrapped around it. He was still in pain, but it was by far not as bad as it had been when the robber had stabbed him. “I… thank you. Thank you for saving my life.”
“I only do what God needs me to do, young Sir Gawein.” The hermit smiled at him. “Now, within a few days you should be able to journey on, if nothing unexpected happens to either of us.” The hermit turned back to his basket, took out a few roots and started chopping them to make a stew.
Gawein watched him from his bed, feeling safe and at ease under the hermit’s care. “Then let us hope it doesn’t.”