In spasms the sickness came, up from his stomach as it sent waves of nausea and dizziness to overwhelm him, poison that ripped through his chest in wracking coughs, that choked his throat like burning smoke, that exploded into blistering pain between his wet and clouded eyes. His voice broke and wheezed. He puked into the chamber pot morning, noon, night.
He was huddled over it when they – Elyan – brought him Guinevere. He blinked, trying to clear the film from his eyes. It did no good; he saw everything through a pale mist. She wore one of his favorite gowns, green and slender, but now it seemed to fit her badly. She had lost weight. She avoided his eyes, her head bowed, and it was clear she was frightened, the way she fled into the opposite corner.
“You cannot even look at me?” he demanded. “Is your shame so great, whore?” She flinched, turning her back to him. “Leave us, Elyan,” he said. “I will have her explain herself.”
Elyan started to leave, then hesitated. “Please, Your Majesty. You have always been a merciful king.”
“Leave us,” Artur said.
When the door closed behind Elyan another fit overtook Artur, and he fell before the chamber pot, heaving. A furious, painful wrenching tore through him, such that he almost passed out. But he recovered and turned back to his cowering queen.
“Well?” he demanded, but she kept her back to him, appearing somehow to disappear into the thin gown, her fair hair hiding any hint of her expression. “Look at me!” he demanded, and when she didn’t he stepped over and grabbed her shoulder.
She cried out, and he realized he was squeezing painfully hard. He relaxed his grip, barely. “Please, Your Majesty,” she begged, her voice just a whisper.
“Your Majesty, am I?” he said, miserably. “Not your Artur, anymore then.”
“Your Majesty, I don’t know what you mean,” she mumbled. She turned towards him slightly but then saw his eyes and turned away again quickly.
“Where is Lancelot?” he said quietly. “I know you both were hiding. Where is he? Where is the secret place you go?” It was not just Guinevere, he thought, who had betrayed him. She had always been his connection to humanity, the way Merlyn had connected him to his other, darker side. The thought of Guinevere with Lancelot drew the darkness over him, clouding his mind.
“It is treason,” he said grimly. “Treason to betray your King.”