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Hopeful Hearts: Arthur/Gwen (BBC's Merlin)

Title: Hopeful Hearts
Author: kepp0xy
Fandom: BBC's Merlin
Pairing: Arthur/Gwen
Spoilers: Series 1 and 2
Word Count: ~4500
Author's Notes: I am so sorry for how late this manifesto is. It does contain images, though I wouldn't necessarily call it "image heavy" but it probably isn't dial-up friendly. Many, many thanks to all those who helped me with this - more personally stated at the end ♥





Introduction

Arthur and Gwen's story is one of two like-minded people falling in love, and recognising the worth in one another regardless of the distance between them. While they don't initially act upon their feelings, instead turning to shared values and hopes, the potential for greatness has been there from the beginning.

They two are both still growing, together and apart, and it's the future burning bright before them that they are moving towards.


Character briefs

Arthur Pendragon, son of near-tyrannical king Uther Pendragon, is crown-prince of Camelot. The first glimpse of Prince Arthur is as he bullies a servant. The series protagonist, Merlin, intercedes on the behalf of the servant, standing up to Arthur, who promptly redirects the focus of his bullying, incensing Merlin to the point that the magician takes a swing at him. To this, Arthur explains he's the prince, and sends Merlin to prison. Arthur may one day become the once and future king of the legends, but his prattish and self-serving behaviour shows there's a long way to go before that is a reality.

In this retelling of Arthurian legend, Guinevere, more commonly called by Gwen, is a maidservant in the royal household and the peasant daughter of a blacksmith. Our first look at Gwen is when she introduces herself to Merlin, and manages to welcome him to Camelot, compliment him ("Everyone thinks it's really brave what you did") and then innocently call into question his physical capabilities all in the span of less than 2 minutes. From the start, it's clear that Gwen is a good soul, gentle and thoughtful, but with a long path before her to become Queen.


Canon evidence

Arthur and Gwen are the canon pairing in Merlin. Arthur and Guinevere have a long, sometimes sordid, sometimes sweet, history within Arthurian legend, and Merlin aims to retell their romance in a dynamic way once more.

Because Arthur and Gwen's storyline, particularly in series two, is hard to miss, and because I'm going to assume that we can all agree that some degree of growth happened for Arthur and Gwen individually over the course of series one until their interactions in episode ten, I've decided to set a spotlight on the ten moments I feel are most significant for their development.


1) Confrontation in Ealdor town meeting (1x10: The Moment of Truth)

When Merlin goes to protect his home town of Ealdor from the tyrant Kanen, Arthur, Gwen and Morgana come to his aid. Where Arthur naturally takes charge of training the men to ready them for battle, Gwen and Morgana oversee the preparation of the weapons the fighters will require, giving them ample opportunity to observe.

Having already approached Arthur once before with Morgana, Gwen stands up again to Arthur on behalf of the women, asserting they should be allowed to join the fight. This time, in front of the entire gathered village, Gwen gains the support of the women as well. Arthur acquiesces, allowing the women to fight alongside the men the following day.




2) Confrontation and inspiration in Ealdor's woods (1x10 The Moment of Truth)

Arthur: Guinevere! ...Thank you. You're right. And you were right to speak up, I should've listened to you and Morgana. We're going to need all the help we can get.
Gwen: We'll be fine.
Arthur: How can you be so sure?
Gwen: Because I have faith in you. I mean...we all do.


The morning after the town meeting and before the battle, Gwen brings breakfast to Arthur. Having appeared quite reproachful with Arthur's earlier disregard for the food Hunith provides, Gwen snaps when Arthur is less than thrilled (or genuinely grateful) for breakfast.

The potentially awkward moment instead becomes an exchange something like that between equals. Arthur concedes to Gwen's point and then confides something of his concerns to her. She then bolsters his morale by speaking of the faith she and the others have in him.




3) Discussion after Arthur awakes (1x13 Le Morte d'Arthur)

Arthur is bitten by a questing beast and succumbs to its curse, entering a deep coma. With everyone believing he will die, Gwen visits him one evening, taking over Gaius' nursing duties and confiding her hopes for the future under him while he is unconscious.

He awakens a day or two later after Merlin returns with a remedy; Gwen goes to Arthur's chambers, unaware that he was conscious.

Gwen's warm pleasure at discovering Arthur awake causes Arthur to recall her speech to him while he was unconscious. The slightly flirty scene draws attention to their increasing awareness of one another on a more personal level.




4) Their disagreement about Arthur not making dinner himself (2x02 The Once and Future Queen)

Arthur: We had a nice meal together, what does it matter where it came from?
Gwen: Because I thought you'd shown some humility! You'd done something kind for me even though I'm just a servant. A good king should respect his people no matter who they are!
Arthur: Guinevere. I know I have much to learn. There are some things that I am terrible at - cooking, being one of them. Also... Knowing what to say to someone I care about.


After a dispute in which Gwen scolds Arthur for his atrocious house guest manners, Arthur offers to make Gwen dinner to make up for it. With Gwen's departure, Merlin arrives, and Arthur immediately orders him to collect two dinners from the castle kitchens instead.

Though Arthur and Gwen have a friendly time together while eating, Gwen spots the royal seal on her plate as Arthur clears the table.

Gwen speaks up about the implications of Arthur not actually cooking dinner. Gwen's hopes for his future reign and the reasons for her disappointment are the issues of the hour. Arthur has other ideas after admitting he knows he has a great deal to learn before being the man and ruler he wants to be, further admitting his developing care for Gwen.




5) Gwen visiting Arthur after the taxation incident (2x06 Beauty and the Beast part 2)

Gwen: I'm sure he was angry, but you're still his son... Everyone appreciates what you did. They know you tried, and they won't forget that.
Arthur: Maybe he's right. One day I will be king of Camelot. I cannot be friend to the people as well as their ruler.
Gwen: That's not true and you will prove it when you become king. You have a kind heart, Arthur. Don't ever change. Not for anyone.


With Uther's marriage to a troll, the king makes certain decisions based on the troll's recommendations that don't sit well with Arthur. When he comes across an old man being bullied by knights, and realises the man is being punished for being unable to pay his taxes, Arthur goes against Uther and orders all the money returned to the people.

Gwen goes to Arthur's chambers afterwards to thank him for his efforts.

This is the first time they interact since the events of Gwen's kidnapping in 2x04. Gwen willingly going to Arthur in a display of continued faith and Arthur confiding his doubts to her once more, works to reestablish their boundaries, reconfirms their growing friendship in spite of previous hurts and on more comfortable terms, and enables them to move forwards.




6) Arthur accepts Gwen's plea on Gaius' behalf (2x07 The Witchfinder)

Arthur: My father has already passed sentence. There's nothing I can do.
Gwen: You can do the right thing, Arthur Pendragon! You can show some faith in a loyal friend or you can stand by and watch an innocent man die!
Arthur: Guinevere -
Gwen: You did it once before to my father. Are you really willing to let that happen again? And you can stop looking at me like that. I know I'm only a servant. I thought you were a prince, so start behaving like one!


The Witchfinder is brought to Camelot in order to suss out a sorcerer. Gaius falls under suspicion, and after being tortured, admits his guilt. On the eve of his execution, Gwen goes to Merlin and together they act to vindicate Gaius.

When Merlin and Gwen are able to compile enough evidence, Gwen takes the lead on appealing to Arthur. Several issues are brought to light in the brief conversation - their status difference one of the major ones. But they also address one of the biggest wedges between them: Gwen's feelings on how Arthur was complicit in her father's death.




7) Gwen asking Arthur to live for her (2x10 Sweet Dreams)

After being placed under an enchantment to fall in love with Vivian, Arthur is challenged to a fight to the death by her overprotective father. After two rounds in which Arthur's enchanted state of mind show he is incapable of performing in the fights with any kind of success, Merlin discovers the only way to break the enchantment is for Arthur to receive a kiss from the person he truly loves.

Managing to convince Gwen to do so, she goes to Arthur in his tent shortly before he is required to return to the battle arena. After thoroughly kissing each other, Gwen asks that Arthur live. It's the first time Gwen's feelings are explicitly dealt with.




8) Arthur going to Gwen after the tourney (2x10 Sweet Dreams)

Arthur: I've never loved another.
Gwen: One day you will. One day you will find your real princess. One day you will be king of Camelot, and I cannot be your queen.
Arthur: You don't know that.
Gwen: I am as sure of that as you are.


After Arthur's success in the tournament, he goes to Gwen's home to deliver a flower and note to her. He waits for her to return, and their cards are laid on the table. Arthur makes it plain to Gwen that he does love her; Gwen doesn't deny her own feelings. However, they also revisit and achingly acknowledge the distance between their feelings and reality.




9) Arthur saves Gwen from the Dragon's attack (2x13 The Last Dragonlord)

Gwen: You shouldn't have risked your life.
Arthur: I wasn't going to let anything happen to you.


The Great Dragon is released and attacks Camelot. Arthur leads the defense of the city while Gwen tends to those injured by the Dragon's attack. When her duties to the people take her outside to fetch more water, she lands in direct line of the Dragon's next attack. Arthur shouts warning to her, and when it is clear she won't retreat in time, he sprints to her in order to protect her, getting injured by the Dragon in the process.

Once safely back inside, Gwen tends to Arthur's wounds and expresses her irritated disbelief that Arthur had risked his life for hers. Arthur firmly reasserts her importance to him.




10) Gwen goes to Arthur when he returns from facing the Dragon (2x13 The Last Dragonlord)

After an unsuccessful attempt to bring back the last Dragonlord, a man with the skill set to possibly tame the Dragon and cease the attack, Arthur instead rallies a small group of knights to seek out the Dragon.

In her first overt and entirely self-motivated act of affection towards him, Gwen runs to Arthur and embraces him when he returns. Her statement of "I thought I'd lost you," confirms his importance to her.




My interpretation of the pairing, why I ship, and why Arthur/Gwen are worth watching

I was initially interested in Arthur/Gwen for the potential they had as they were developed individually. I've always been keen on pairings that assert a certain balance between themselves - through personality, values, and actions - and all that I had seen in early season one of Merlin suggested there could be a great deal of balance inherent in the pairing once they had their chance.

What intrigued me about the potential of Arthur/Gwen further, were the obstacles they would have to overcome in order to be with one another. At the beginning of the show, they weren 't in one another's orbits, and even once they did come to recognise each other, their status differences would prove incredibly difficult to overcome. The series had gone to the effort, time and again, to indicate that under Uther's reign, peasantry and servants were seen as having very little overall importance.

The final aspect of potential that drew me to this pairing, was the way they might come together to lead Camelot, and eventually, Albion. Once Arthur started to soften around the edges it was evident that the path the show was taking was set to have Arthur live up to his legendary title as "the once and future king" in ways relevant to how modern, democratic societies run. And with Gwen taking more heart in her views, they developed her to become very much a character worthy of standing as "the once and future queen" as well.


And now I see
From a handful of names and a thousand faces
One light, burning, furiously




These observations and hopes were formed before The Moment of Truth in season one had aired. With that episode's broadcast, I felt myself a bit vindicated and definitely overjoyed by the prospective future of Arthur and Gwen.

I mentioned earlier how they set a precedent for future encounters with their interactions in Ealdor. Arthur simultaneously inspires Gwen and frustrates her when he doesn 't live up to expectations, Gwen speaks up, which makes Arthur pay attention and consider what she's saying. This is the balance I'm talking about.

Arthur begins the series a complete prat - he bullies his lowers for entertainment and has little conscious regard for the consequences of his actions. Through his friendship with Merlin, he starts to gain perspective, which opens him up to Gwen's influence.

Where Merlin's motivations for standing up to Arthur are more often than not from a personal place, Gwen's constant starting point when pushing Arthur comes from her opinions on how those in power should lead, and her hopes for the future of Camelot. Each lesson she tries to teach is in the hope of helping Arthur become a king worthy of the loyalty of the people - which is also the type of king he himself constantly strives to be.

Arthur's greatest weakness, something that is revisited frequently over the course of the show, is his internal battle over how Uther rules, and how Arthur believes things should be run. He can waffle on his own morality in the face of his father's influence. Gwen can validate his moral stance without needing to resort to manipulation, which is a tactic some around Arthur are prone to use. Instead, she speaks with earnest certainty. For Gwen, there are lines dividing right and wrong in the world, and one does not cross them, regardless of the circumstance.

It's an ongoing battle for Gwen to find value in her own views and in herself, however. In many ways, this is where Arthur comes to lend himself to Gwen. In all the times she has approached him, he has never turned her away. Further, with each moment of misfortune or some cause for an aching break between them, Arthur goes to her: whether it's after her father's death, or because an enchantment forced them both to reveal the depth of their feelings. By doing so, he implicitly demonstrates his acknowledgement of her worth and of her importance. It also serves to encourage her to swallow her fear and speak up confidently for what she believes in.

Gwen has suffered repeated, dramatic upheaval in her world. She almost loses her life when thought to be a witch, then loses her father when he’s put to death, under the charge of colluding with sorcerers. Despite respective claims of love, no man seems willing to fight for her, then she loses Morgana at the end of season two. All this contributes to Gwen’s lack of self-regard.

Arthur is beginning to take action to look after her and provide her with some security. He guarantees her home and job to her after her father's death, asks Merlin to ensure she's taken care of should Arthur not survive the fight in Sweet Dreams, and risks his own life to saves hers when the Dragon attacks. Gwen can look after herself - has been doing so for some time. But even she wants to be cared for enough by someone she can turn to in safety, and Arthur has begun to fill that role.

So, here is the push and pull, the balance and mutual exchange of challenge and safety. I understand the allure of fiery pairings where the constant tension between them lies in a battle of wills andUST. Gwen and Arthur isn 't a pairing like that. Rather, there is a constant and subtle battle to strike balance. I find the difficulty of finding and maintaining this balance of power and respect infinitely more interesting, and ultimately, more challenging to achieve.


Hopeful hearts are moving targets / I don't know how I survive
We go out like birthday candles / then like suns we rise, we rise




Stemming from the reasons they balance each other are the challenge they'll face to be together.

The perspective Gwen is able to give Arthur is result of her naturally contemplative disposition and her experiences as a servant. Arthur can afford to be deferent to Gwen and provide for her because of the privilege his status grants him and due to his natural desire to do the right thing.

Connect and harmonise them as this does, their status differences still complicate their situation. It casts doubt upon their future and means they will have to fight to be with one another.

And deciding to embark upon such a journey - one that, from their perspectives, has absolutely no guarantee of succeeding, regardless of their best efforts - means they must have more than mutual respect and trust in each other.

They have to really love one another.

There are several paths they could choose to take, possibly some of them with fewer problems than others, but none of them easy. Regardless of how they want to proceed with their relationship, they must still strive to rewrite a core value in Camelot's make up, and convince Albion's other kingdoms to respect their move.

This oncoming challenge intrigues me. By the final episode of season two, we know they both have come to terms with accepting their feelings for one another. That means the next step will be onto the greater battlefield: testing their resolve and their love.


So we take the path not taken / down into the fields of war
Sword alone, the shield forsaken / this the right we're fighting for




Hand in hand with that fight will be Arthur and Gwen forging themselves into leaders who instill loyalty into their peers and future subjects and allies.

Arthur has already begun to go against his father's positions more fervently and with increased frequency. This trend will have to continue, hopefully with more successes than failures when he does seek to take control of situations.

Similarly, Gwen has begun to take agency, inserting herself into risky situations and making herself accountable for the outcomes. She will have to continue to do this with increased publicity, slowly proving herself capable of greater (the greatest) responsibility.

She will be a ruler of the people - a Peasant Queen - and she must maintain those connections, acting as example of the peasant's worth with opinion. It is Arthur's role, therefore, to orchestrate circumstances giving the people a chance to be heard, an environment of more equality. Together, they will be working towards a kingdom where every person has a voice and the shared focus is on progress.


Underneath, I felt the fire of a burning question / tearing me apart
I was tired of January, I was tired of June / I felt a change a-coming




All this is what initially drew me to the pairing and developed beautifully to keep me wanting more.

Those things don't take into account the unexpected but entirely addictive way Arthur and Gwen are achingly tender with one another. Or how their faces light when they smile at each other. Or how they manage to convey more in a shared glance than they're sometimes capable of putting into words. Or how they constantly look to each other with subdued awe and pride in moments of particular bravery, nobility, or cleverness.

They aren't perfect by any means. The satisfaction of their journey will lie in their growth: in the moments they fail just to get back up again; in the times Gwen can't stand Arthur's arrogance and on the occasions Arthur thinks Gwen has gone too far, their stubbornness keeping them sticking it through. They have a very long way to go, individually, together, and with regards to their place in their society as a whole.

But that's fine. Because they challenge one another, balance one another, aggravate one another, find reason to celebrate one another, and love one another.

They were initially drawn to each other for their shared values and the way they want better for Camelot. They choose to love one another for what they recognise in each other: affection, respect, surprise, and a kind heart beating ever hopefully.

What is there to resist, really?




Fandom guide

LJ Communities/Sites

camelot_love is the largest, most active Arthur/Gwen community. It's a sinfully fun place to hang around, and always has something going on. The community has some of the friendliest, creative members going, and there's always someone willing to chat or party ♥! It's got moderated membership, acceptance to the comm is based on having an active journal, among other things; comm activities are locked, but fic, art, vids, etc, etc are unlocked and viewable to all.

arthurxgwen is slightly smaller, but still fairly active and with quite a friendly group. Membership is open.

Made of Gold the gorgeous Arthur/Gwen tumblr.

Arthur/Gwen fansite


Fanart

Just a small sampling of the talented artists!

| | by irrel LJ Tag DeviantArt

| | | | | by felix_aeternus Illustration Tag Manip Tag

| | by neptune47 Tag

Here is the fanart tag at camelot_love


Reading

I've limited the fanfic selection to those that give a fairly good introduction to the pairing. Many of these authors have other amazing and multi-chaptered works, so after the links, I've included a further link to their masterlist or Arthur/Gwen tag for your perusal. At the bottom of the list, I've also included the camelot_love fic list because I've really only scratched the surface of talented authors in Arthur/Gwen.

Waiting by chaletian: wonderfully characterised, very sweet and soft ficlet which looks at Arthur and Gwen as they play the waiting game: waiting... for everything to begin until Uther dies. Fic Tag

Soothing Touch by dfriendly: a lovely future!fic piece, focusing more on the gentle side of what Arthur/Gwen is/can be, particularly in the bounds of a secret relationship. Arthur/Gwen Tag

Crown of Love: this is a future!fic piece; it's a series of 3 ficlets showcasing Gwen in different situations with Arthur/through her marriage to Arthur. The possibilities of their future relationship - the romantic and the more societal - is beautifully demonstrated.
If You Rescue Me: this piece explores what kind of OT3 dynamic may form now with Morgana's departure between Arthur, Gwen and Merlin. A/G is more background in this, with Gwen very much the focus of the piece and a strong representation of the Arthur & Merlin friendship.
Promise: a deleted scene from The Last Dragonlord where Gwen and Arthur say good-bye. Perfectly characterised, the snapshot slips as a nice bridge between their moments at the beginning and end of the episode.
Healing Hearts: this piece works to show the balance between Arthur and Gwen - understanding of their strengths, sure, but accepting in moments of weakness.
All by imigination. Her masterlist.

The Little Bird: a cut scene from The Nightmare Begins, a very sweet snapshot of how Arthur and Gwen could be with one another in their awkward and disconnected moments.
Little Games: this begins as a somewhat lighter portrayal of Arthur/Gwen, with the two playing truth or dare, getting to know one another and eventually forming something deeper. A lovely take on future possibilities.
All by threemeows. Her masterlist.

A Simple Question: a nicely understated, perfectly characterised and aching piece that explores a likely reality for the future of Arthur/Gwen. Involving waiting, distance and longing.
Learning to Dance: a very cute deleted scene from The Once and Future Queen that plays with the freshness of Arthur/Gwen immediately after the tournament, with a side of Sir William for good measure.
All by tielan. Her Arthur/Gwen tag

To Make You See My Worth: this piece looks at the lengths Arthur may go to win Gwen over.
Yours is a Story That Has Yet to Be Told: a sweet, romantic, tug-at-the-heartstrings series of ficlets that deal with the pairing's loyalty, duty, sacrifice and love.
All by starry_laa. Her Arthur/Gwen tag.

and this is where we start the fight by zauberer_sirin: the piece is AU after 204, but the characterisation is wonderful, and the tac it takes when exploring Arthur/Gwen's awkwardness and growing comfort is lovely. General Merlin tag

Here is the fanfiction tag from camelot_love.

The Many Lives of Gwenhwyfar by sophielou21. Sophie looks at the incarnations and varied roles of the character Guinevere from the genesis of Arthurian legend through to modern day.

I'm sitting down chilling on gun powder: Gwen meta by kepp0xy. I'm including this because, while the meta in its entirety focuses on Gwen's journey through the series, there is a good deal of analysis into Gwen's side of the Arthur/Gwen relationship as well. And Gwen is, on the whole, possibly the most ignored and under appreciated character in the Merlin fandom.


Fanvids

Drumming: great pacing and very evocative.

Live for me Arthur...: artfully uses clips to tell a possible story of Uther finding out about Arthur and Gwen.

Beginning by visionsbeyond: a lovely montage of The Once and Future Queen

Winter Song by hmsharmony: very sweet, slightly aching exploration of the core of Arthur/Gwen

Anyway We Can by felix_aeternus: fantastic vid showing Arthur and Gwen coming together by choice and through internal struggle

His Love will Conquer: a telling of the challenges Arthur and Gwen will face.

You Could be Happy: very pretty, slightly angsty piece

Here is the fanvid tag at camelot_love





Final huge note of appreciation: I have nothing but immense gratitude to loads of people for their help with this. robinmarian for the lovely images she so patiently, willing did for the summary and the gorgeous first kiss box at the end. heather, first, for the beautiful banner starting the meta, and especially for her insight, suggestions and patience; this would have looked very different without you,bb, I am so grateful! imigination for being there pretty much through it all, and letting me nitpick and waffle but not letting me get too far off course. And particularly for letting me bounce ideas and pushing me to expand and develop, lending her thoughtful observations throughout ♥! Finally, huge thanks to my flist, who took time to compile recs to go in the fandom guide, and for their constant cheerleading. Rock <3!

Comments

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I have nothing useful to say at all but I just had to reply.

What is there to resist, really?

♥ ♥ ♥
Also, thanks for writing this! ;D

You are awesome!

Unfortunately, I haven't watch any episodes after S02E06 so I didn't read on after your fifth point. I did, however, do some epic scrolling to post this comment and glanced on recs and art.

I AM UPSET DUE TO LACK OF PICTURES! :'( But that's OK, hahaha! I am coming to terms that not every Arthur-related entry must have Arthurspammage. *goes to find Merlin picspams*

Nonsensical ramblings aside, from what I read: good manifesto! I like the way you structured it; your points; your contextual circumstances; the "um, well, it's canon anyway, guise" section; and the pics that you did include were alskfnajkgn (keyboard smush for WOOHOO!).

(This is the first shippers_manifesto comment I've posted. I hope I haven't broken some cardinal rule about NOT being an irritating fangirl. o.O)

(Conveniently, I do not have an A/G icon.)

Re: You are awesome!

=O!!! You have to watch the rest of the season. It's just so good ♥

I gotta admit that I LOL'd that you felt there weren't enough pictures; I was concerned there were already too many ;D! But, the ones you did enjoy were by robinmarian and all her stuff is so lovely. You can find most of it at 4_evermore.

Thanks for the feedback! I'm so pleased this worked for you. And so far as I know, there are no rules in manifesto commenting. Your comment made me smile ♥
SO GOOD! This was very insightful and a lot of fun to read. The fanvid "His Love Will Conquer" is definitely one of the best Arthur/Gwen fanvids.
Thank you! I'm glad it worked for you :]!

His Love Will Conquer is totally gorgeous, I agree!
Great work. Nice compilation of fanworks and fanvids that accounted for a nice read. :)
Thanks! I'm so pleased you felt this worked!
Oh wonderful! Thank you so much, hon, for writing this. Though, I know i've said that before *laughs*

I guess there isn't all that much I CAN say except that I agree on basically every point - how could I not? And I have to say that I actually haven't read some of the fics you added - YEAH! xD

Like I said, love, this made me very happy! These two just deserve a manifesto so everyone not yet convinced can finally see how brilliant they are! *hugs you lots*
♥! TYVM, BB. I'm so pleased you felt this worked! And yay for new reading xD!
Lovely manifesto!

I love the structure you've given it: starting with 10 key scenes, then explaining why they're such a great couple in their interactions and balances.

Rather, there is a constant and subtle battle to strike balance. I find the difficulty of finding and maintaining this balance of power and respect infinitely more interesting, and ultimately, more challenging to achieve.

Precisely why I enjoy them.

An excellent read and well-put! Thank you!
Definitely the reason you highlighted is one of my top-reasons for shipping them. They're too great.

Thanks for the feedback and I'm so glad you felt this worked ♥!
<3

I love when people take the time to really analyze characters in shows or movies I love. I'm honestly too lazy to do so, plus I love seeing if other people have the same opinions as me.

You do! Thanks for taking the time to really look at A&G. They're absolutely adorable together, not because of romantic tension but because they're so honest and treat each other as equals. I just love the scene you used from Witchfinder-the way they communicate without words sometimes is beautiful :)
They're absolutely adorable together, not because of romantic tension but because they're so honest and treat each other as equals.

Absolutely! I also find it sort of refreshing to see a relationship like that play out on TV. Something that isn't all angst or UST, but a union of equals trying to find a way.

the way they communicate without words sometimes is beautiful

For real! I adore this aspect of them as well, and really can't wait for s3 to see more of it ;D!

Thanks so much for the lovely comment! I'm glad this worked for you :]!
AH! IT'S UP! I have to run to work so I don't have time to read it now, but I just wanted to post and go YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

I'll be back with something more coherent later.
♥! Thanks again for your help, bb!
Thank you so much for taking time to write this. It's going directly into memories. Really, I'm rather speechless right now at just how wonderful and amazing this entire Ship Manifesto was written. *applauds you*
Ahh, thank you so much for the kind words!! I'm so pleased you felt this worked ♥!
This was a great read and I have nothing constructive to add except I agree with everything!

Thanks for taking the time to write it. :D
Yay!! I'm so glad this worked for you! Thank you so much <3
I have to say you are awesome for doing all this. I don't think I would have the patience for the linking and coding. It is all appreciated.
LOL! It's funny you bring up the formatting, because it almost took as long to format as it did to write it ;D!

Thanks so much!
So, here is the push and pull, the balance and mutual exchange of challenge and safety. I understand the allure of fiery pairings where the constant tension between them lies in a battle of wills andUST. Gwen and Arthur isn 't a pairing like that. Rather, there is a constant and subtle battle to strike balance. I find the difficulty of finding and maintaining this balance of power and respect infinitely more interesting, and ultimately, more challenging to achieve.

Pretty much, this. Don't get me wrong, I love my fiery pairings ... the carping and sniping and the snapping can be great, awesome, fun. But this is why Arthur and Gwen rock - they're different from what's going on, on pretty much every television show, movie, and novel.

I don't know if you watch Friday Night Lights, but Tami and Coach Taylor exemplify this nicely balanced marriage where they're two equals, minus the fire brand "bitching," for lack of better word. They do tease, they do get into snappish fights, but they're not constantly at each other's throats, trying to one up each other. That's kinda in my mind how Gwen and Arthur should be ...and will be. =) (Minus the American accents and football.)

&hearts you for including my stuff in your rec list. ;D
Agreed. There's a freshness to the way A/G are with one another that adds to their appeal. The balance/equality is a nice thing to see.

RE: Friday Night Lights - I don't watch, but I've been told, several times, about the awesomeness of Coach Taylor/Tami. To the point that people rec'd me the show solely for them. So I totally hear what you're saying, and think you're probs (hopefully) right that that's how Arthur/Gwen will end up being with one another.

Wow epic post and tribute to our kids! *sigh* I loved your take on the couple! Well said! :D
ooooh and nice compliation of scenes! There`s something so special about those s1 scenes coz its like the start of everything!
Once again great post and I`m honoured that you inlcuded my vid in your list! *hugs*
Thanks so much for the kind words, I'm so pleased you felt this worked!

As for s1, I'll always have a spot in my heart for those moments. They're so sweet and unplanned; just this wonderful drawing together of two people with similar hearts. It was so lovely to see that slow growth.

That was absolutely beautiful :) ♥ Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to create this!
Thank you for reading! I'm so glad you enjoyed :]!
Thanks, bb!!! I am ridiculously pleased this is done, NGL. Thanks for all your support ♥! And on a similar note, I am so pleased you felt this worked!
Yay!!!! it's UP!! It's officially UPPP!!!!

CONGRATS BB and WELL DONE!!! *claps*

Like I said K, I really LOVE how you set up this meta. Starting with your top ten AG moments. I love how you chronicled the progression/development of their lovestory. *LE SIGH* My pics. They're starring. LOLOL Thank you bb for letting me do those pics. I really enjoyed prettying them up.

Then the LYRICS that you included. You know already how much I LOVE them. and the CROWN!! Clever idea bb!! Love it!

And of course your INTERPRETATION. Everything that you wrote here bb, everything I totally agree/support.

Thank you K for writing such a beautiful, insightful and drool,squee,flail worthy meta.

EPIC META IS EPIC.
J!!!!! ♥

Thank you so much for this thoughtful comment! I'm so pleased you felt the format of it worked, and served to show their story.

and LOL for you thanking me for using the images - you have no idea how grateful I am that you were willing to do up some graphics for this!! They're so gorgeous and the meta wouldn't be much without them. So thanks for putting so much work into those, lovely. I really appreciate it.
Arthur's greatest weakness, something that is revisited frequently over the course of the show, is his internal battle over how Uther rules, and how Arthur believes things should be run. He can waffle on his own morality in the face of his father's influence. Gwen can validate his moral stance without needing to resort to manipulation, which is a tactic some around Arthur are prone to use. Instead, she speaks with earnest certainty. For Gwen, there are lines dividing right and wrong in the world, and one does not cross them, regardless of the circumstance.

It's an ongoing battle for Gwen to find value in her own views and in herself, however. In many ways, this is where Arthur comes to lend himself to Gwen. In all the times she has approached him, he has never turned her away. Further, with each moment of misfortune or some cause for an aching break between them, Arthur goes to her: whether it's after her father's death, or because an enchantment forced them both to reveal the depth of their feelings. By doing so, he implicitly demonstrates his acknowledgement of her worth and of her importance. It also serves to encourage her to swallow her fear and speak up confidently for what she believes in.


This is TOTALLY why I love them! She pushes him to be a better prince, because she believes in him. Not because she wants to manipulate him into doing anything, but because she believes, first and foremost, that he can be the kind of king Camelot deserves. And I LOVE that he listens to her, even though she is "just a servant."

Great manifesto.
Not because she wants to manipulate him into doing anything, but because she believes, first and foremost, that he can be the kind of king Camelot deserves.

THIIIIS. Absolutely this. They're just so totally on the same page, but coming at it from different angles, and it serves their cause so wonderfully. And makes for heartwarming moments between them.

Thanks for the lovely comment!
Wow. I am very impressed by this post. Simply amazing.

Edited at 2010-02-18 05:08 am (UTC)
Cheers ♥!
GREAT essay, especially since mine would have been just a gif spam with lots of hearts and sparkle text.
LOL which would have been an absolutely valid and gorgeous representation of these two.

Thanks so much :D!
Well-organized and thought out essay.

Where Merlin's motivations for standing up to Arthur are more often than not from a personal place, Gwen's constant starting point when pushing Arthur comes from her opinions on how those in power should lead, and her hopes for the future of Camelot. Each lesson she tries to teach is in the hope of helping Arthur become a king worthy of the loyalty of the people - which is also the type of king he himself constantly strives to be.

Too true. I like that Gwen is more a big picture thinker right now than Merlin and both of them are good for Arthur in different ways.

Thanks for all the fanfic, fan art, and video recommendations as I haven't had a chance to see some of yet.
I like that Gwen is more a big picture thinker right now than Merlin and both of them are good for Arthur in different ways.

Thiiis. I didn't get into it in this meta as it didn't suit the topic - but I totally feel that Arthur, Gwen and Merlin will be this power trio in the future. They all serve to balance one another in different ways, grounding, bolstering, aggravating, inspiring. A/G alone are epic; Arthur & Merlin together are epic; Gwen & Merlin together fight crime. All three together will be utterly amazing.

I'm glad you found some new gems in the list! They're all phenomenal. Thanks so much for the comment and I'm so pleased this worked for you ♥!

they gonna rule someday...

Yay, you finished it! This is wonderfully put together! And you included the drumming vid, which is one of my favouritest things ever.

A whole season later, and I still think the porridge bit from Moment is one of the most crucial bits of their relationship. Arthur only really sees people when they stand up to him (oy oy, Merlin & Morgana) and that was the first time he really saw Gwen. It set the tone of their relationship through the series - because there I'm sure are a hundred pretty maidservants/noblewomen in Camelot who might smile and be a cohort in Shenanigans, but only Gwen manages to break outside her station and say important shit to him. He likes it, it always pleasantly surprises him, and as you observe - he always responds, which is what cements her belief and love in him.

Those things don't take into account the unexpected but entirely addictive way Arthur and Gwen are achingly tender with one another... Or how they manage to convey more in a shared glance than they're sometimes capable of putting into words. Or how they constantly look to each other with subdued awe and pride in moments of particular bravery, nobility, or cleverness.

This, yes, all this. And the balance between them which is so difficult to strike - because of the delicacy and difficulty of their relationship - is one of the things that make Arthur and Gwen such an intriguing ship. One impulsive kiss and there's a romance there which they can't ignore, even if they spend most of s2 just trying to go about their business and develop as people. They've grown to become constants to one another - there are no secrets between them, which is what colours every other relationship on this show - and the growing trust and faith there is lovely. Gwen hugging Arthur was what really showed it - she never moves to express her feelings on her own - but at this point she's lost so much, yet he's still there for her, and despite all the barriers, she's come to accept it.

idk, he's swishy, she's steady: they're going to be an awesome king and queen one day. ♥

Re: they gonna rule someday...

*bounces* ♥! Thanks for all your help & support, bb! And for this fantastic comment.

I want to comment all over the place on what you've said, but really I have nothing constructive to add, so just pretend I drew hearts and stars everywhere. Just - everything you said is exactly it. They're lovely for what they bring to the table - and what they accept from one another while there.
great work!!! just want to add up, on part 4 ~ at the end of the episode, after he win the tournament, Arthur said "perhaps this is the time for humility". It has deep meaning (for him and their relationship)
Absolutely on the scene you mention! That moment was actually part of the original list, but there were too many and unfortunately it got cut D: But I totally agree that that moment was really important to them. It was the first outwardly meaningful interaction, in that, Arthur's response to Gwen's points had very real world consequences, stemming directly from their conversation.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment!
Oh, God, just THIS, THIS to every single thing you said. I always find it so difficult to explain why I love Arthur/Gwen, and you managed to explain it all so eloquently, from their defining moments to what makes them such an appealing (not to mention extraordinary) pair.

I'll admit, I'm usually (not always, but usually) one of those people who goes for the UST couple (and at the beginning of the series I was shipping Arthur/Morgana because of that), but when you're faced with two people like Arthur and Gwen who are so clearly the missing part of each other's puzzle, who are equals in every sense of the word despite their class difference, who push the other to grow...it's just something too precious to pass up.

Between your Gwen meta and this...I'm just blown away. &hearts
Thanks for this, it was really interesting to read.

From the start, it's clear that Gwen is a good soul, gentle and thoughtful, but with a long path before her to become Queen.

I think that's what grabbed me so much about this pairing. He's the spoilt prince and she a servant and both have a long way to go before they reach the idealistic king and queen we know them to be. I think this is the only pairing I've shipped where we know thereabouts where they'll be in the future, and for us it's not what will happen then, it's what will happen as we get there.

Through his friendship with Merlin, he starts to gain perspective, which opens him up to Gwen's influence.

I love the influence Merlin has on Arthur, and how that influence sparks the whole Arthur/Gwen relationship. If it wasn't for Merlin, Gwen wouldn't have given a second look at Arthur, and had it not been for Merlin, Arthur probably wouldn't have had the mindset to listen to someone like Gwen.

I understand the allure of fiery pairings where the constant tension between them lies in a battle of wills andUST. Gwen and Arthur isn 't a pairing like that.

Word. I have shipped a few pairings that have been all fiery and full of lust, but my favourite ones are the sweet, real-deal ones. Pam and Jim from The Office stands as one of my favourite OTPs, because of the sincerity of both characters and the way they balance each other out without the need for it to be an incredibly angsty will-they won't-they relationship. The ship Mick/Beth from Moonlight also had that same sweetness (in fact, the whole show was very sweet IMO), and for me, a sweet pairing doesn't mean boring. Sometimes it can be more interesting.

Rather, there is a constant and subtle battle to strike balance. I find the difficulty of finding and maintaining this balance of power and respect infinitely more interesting, and ultimately, more challenging to achieve.

Definitely. I can't wait to see them overcome the obstacles they face, even with the whole Lancelot thing- because what doesn't break you only makes you stronger and I can't wait to see this unfold before us.

Together, they will be working towards a kingdom where every person has a voice and the shared focus is on progress.

Exactly. Arthur may be destined to be a king, but ultimately Gwen's role as queen will help appeal to the whole kingdom.

One line I really can't get out of my head right now, is from blackmamba_esq's current fic: She can’t imagine what it’s like to know you’ll shape the world one day. He can’t imagine what it’s like to know you won’t.

That line really struck a chord in me, because at the moment it's so true, but there will come a time when they equal standing.

***

I remember watching the a/g heavy episodes and just being completely awed with what happened. It didn't matter that their relationship was rushed, because what they said just took my breath away.

Arthur's: "How can I admit I think about her all the time? Or that I care about her more than anyone. How can I admit that I don't know what I'll do if any harm comes to her? Nothing can ever happen between us. To admit my feelings knowing that, hurts too much."

Gwen's "There's always hope" and her "You have a kind heart, Arthur. Don't ever change. Not for anyone." and "One day you will. One day you will find your real princess. One day you will be king of Camelot, and I cannot be your queen."

-Were all lines that I just could not get out of my head. They were the epic-worthy, swoon-ish words that made me so glad to be shipping a pairing that inspired each other and inspired me so much. And granted, 90% of what was said was how the actors carried them off, but they make me sit down and take notice every time.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough, hopefully some of it makes sense. Thanks again for this, and robinmarian's images are stunning!


Edited at 2010-02-18 07:25 pm (UTC)
This is terrific. I read your Gwen Meta which was also well done. You lay out your argument so well w/images and dialog. All that you've said here supports my own belief in this couple. I'm not one for fandom or shipping, but the power of these 2 and the balance you mention, have me on board big time.

Thanks once again.
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