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Tuesday, 15 March 2022

Excerpt: The Almost Queen (Fate Of The Crown #1)

Have you checked out my complete Arthurian retelling duology? Writing about Arthur, Gwen, and Lancelot was so much fun! Read on for a teaser - there's no waiting, the series is complete!

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Copyright 2020 Laura Greenwood

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"His Highness, Prince Arthur Pendragon, and the Lady Guinevere Olwen," he calls.
I plaster a smile over my face, hoping it looks as serene and composed as I think it does. I don't have to do this, I'm here with Arthur and we'll have a good time regardless of the lack of romantic feelings I have for him. But sometimes, I like to practice the things I may have to do if I become his Queen. Smiling politely ranks right up there as the kind of activity expected of me.
Students crowd in every available space, at least the ones not being used for dancing anyway, with a notable queue around what I assume is the drinks table.
Someone waves in our direction.
"Ah, Galahad must want me. I'll be back in a moment."
Arthur disappears before I can point out the waving boy is too tall to be his friend.
I turn to watch the dancers better, hoping to pick up whatever steps they're on for when we join them. It's always easier if I know what part of the dance they're in.
Someone taps me on the shoulder, and I spin, making my pale pink dress swirl out around me. It's one of my favourite things about these balls. I feel more like a future Queen at events like this than at the formal ones back home.
Arthur stands next to me, then opens his mouth to say something.
I shake my head. "I actually wanted to talk to you first," I say, my words coming out in a ramble as the nerves and excitement build up within me. If I go about this the right way, I can end the evening in Lancelot's arms without any guilt at all.
He starts to say something, but I press my fingers to his lips, stopping him. Something feels different about Arthur this evening, but perhaps that's more to do with me than anything else. I'm approaching our relationship differently.
"This is important," I tell him. "And I need you to listen to me without interrupting. It's hard enough as it is."
I take a deep breath, but don't wait for him to agree. The longer I put this off, the harder it's going to be.
"I don't love you, Arthur. I mean, I do, but as a friend. And I can't marry you. That isn't fair to either of us, and it's not fair to Lancelot either. Because, I...I love him. I'm sorry, Arthur, I've tried not to. I've tried to feel the same way about you as I do about him, but the truth is that I don't. You're such a wonderful man, and you're going to be an amazing King, but I'm not your Queen. I can't be."
My whole body shakes from nerves, and I reach up to adjust my mask, mostly for something to do. I can't believe I've done this here. Now the words hang between us, I realise how foolish I'm being. Why didn't I do this in private? Where we could actually talk about what's between us and work on things there?
"Gwen..."
Wait, that isn't Arthur's voice.
"Lancelot?" I whisper.
Oh no, what have I done? I've told him I love him. But I meant to tell Arthur. I have to talk to Arthur first, he has to know I'm not betraying him.
"Gwen," he repeats. "It's all right." He steps closer.
I shake my head. "Arthur...you're wearing his mask."
"We have the same mask," he responds.
"But, I meant to tell Arthur that," I whisper.
"Should I be offended you want to tell Arthur you love me, but not me?" he teases, the corners of his lips turning up into a mischievous smile.
No wonder Arthur felt off, he isn't my betrothed. He's the one I love. But this isn't how the night was supposed to go.
"I was going to tell you..." I scrunch one of my hands into my skirts, trying to calm myself. "But I needed to talk to Arthur first. I can't betray him, Lancelot, you know that."
"And you think telling him how you feel will avoid that?" He steps closer again. Close enough that it'll only take one more move for us to be kissing.
In the middle of a room full of other students.
I push the worry away. He's wearing the same thing as Arthur. No one will think twice about it.
No. I can't. Not when Arthur doesn't know how I feel.
"I don't know," I admit. "Maybe? All I know is that I've been living a lie and I don't want to any longer."
"I don't either," he admits.
"What do you mean?" I think I know. I feel what's between us, but I need to hear him say the words. If he doesn't, then how am I supposed to know it's true? That I can risk everything for him.
"I love you too, Gwen. I always have, and I always will."
My heart leaps, and it's all I can do to keep the joy within me from exploding everywhere.
Lancelot seizes the opportunity to wrap an arm around my waist and pull me to him. I go willingly. It feels so natural to be in his arms.
When our lips touch, everything fades away. There aren't other people surrounding us at the ball. There are no dancers, no singing and shouting. Everything is Lancelot.
The faint smell of leather and horses comes from him. Some girls may not like it, but I do. It reminds me of everything he stands for. That he's a strong man, capable of protecting, and willing to lay down his life for the people he loves.
Including Arthur.
Oh no. Arthur.
I pull away from Lancelot, breaking our kiss.
"I'm sorry, I can't do this," I whisper.
"What? No, Gwen, it's..."
"I'm sorry." I twirl and pick up my skirts as I rush out of the ballroom.
"Gwen!"


Fate Of The Crown Duology 

Fantasy Arthurian Academy, Complete Series

A complete fantasy fairy tale academy duology (non-bully) following Arthur and Guinevere as they try and avoid their legends coming true. Part of the Grimm World.

Series Overview: 
Heat Level: Low - Relationship Type: m/f - Build: Fast - Point of View Character: Single first person POV, changes between books - Cliffhangers: No (complete series) - Tense: Present

The Almost Queen Fate Of The Crown Grimm Academy Laura Greenwood The Rightful King Fate of The Crown Duology Laura Greenwood Arthurian Legend 

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