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I turned and saw a young woman who stood head and shoulders above the crowd and who carried a bold defiant look on her face. If you can master me, that look seemed to say, then you can master whatever else this wicked world might bring. I can see her now, standing amidst her deerhounds that had the same thin, lean bodies, and the same long nose and the same huntress eyes as their mistress. Green eyes, she had, with a kind of cruelty deep inside them. It was not a soft face, any more than her body was soft. She was a woman of strong lines and high bones, and that made for a good face and a handsome one, but hard, so hard. What made her beautiful was her hair and her carriage, for she stood as straight as a spear, and her hair fell around her like a cascade of tumbling red tangles. That red hair softened her looks, while her laughter snared men like salmon caught in basket traps. There have been many more beautiful women, and thousands who were better, but since the world was weaned I doubt there have been many so unforgettable as Guinevere, eldest daughter of Leodegan, the exiled King of Henis Wyren.
And it would have been better, Merlin always said, had she been drowned at birth.

Bernard Cornwell, The Winter King



James Collier, 'Queen Guenver's A-maying'

Then appeared a most unusual sight: sixteen beautiful dark-haired maidens, arrayed all in white, each holding a white dove in her hands and walking barefoot towards the altar.
Upon reaching the place where Arthur stood, the maidens halted and turned to face one another. No sooner had they done this than approached three tall battlechiefs dressed all in green and black. Each held a naked sword upright at arms' length, and each walked backwards.
Turning neither right nore left, these men took their places beside the dove maidens. Thereupon the twelve warriors brought their spears down upon the stones with a sharp, resounding crack. At once appeared another maid, this one more beautiful than all the others, carrying a new-burnished spear in one hand and a dove in the other.
'It is Gwenhwyvar,' Bedwyr said. 'She has come to honour Arthur, I think.'
'Honour him!' sneered Myrddin. 'She has come to claim him!'
Gwenhwyvar halted before Arthur and bent low, laying the spear cross-wise at his feet. She straightened and placed the white dove in Arthur's hands. Then she reached out a bold hand and took from the High King the Sword of Britain, which she grasped by the blade, wrapping her long fingers around the bright steel. And, raising Caliburnus to her lips, she kissed the crosspiece of the hilt and then cradled the naked blade to her breast.
It was so swiftly done. No-one suspected what had taken place - except Myrddin, who knew well what the swords and doves signified; and Arthur, who knew in his heart that he had found the one woman in all the world his full equal in courage, and above all others worthy of his love.
In this was was Arthur made High King of all Britain. And in this way was Arthur wed.

Stephen Lawhead, Arthur, Book III of the Pendragon Cycle.

'Oh Lancelot,' she sang as she stitched at the shield-crown.
'Oh, Lance, come back soon. Come back with your crooked smile, or with your own way of walking which shows whether you are angry or puzzled - come back to tell me it does not matter whether love is a sin or not. Come back to say that it is enough that I should be Jenny and you should be Lance, whatever may happen to anybody.'
The startling thing was that he came. Sraight from Elaine, straight from her robbery, Lancelot came like an arrow to the heart of love. He had slept with Guenever already in deceit, already had been cheated of his tenfold might. He was a lie now, in God's eyes as he saw them, so he felt that he might as well be a lie in earnest. No more to be the best knight in the world, no more to work miracles against magic, no more to have compensation for ugliness and emptiness in his soul, the young man sped to his sweetheart for consolation. There was the clatter of his iron-shod horse on the cobbles, which made the Queen drop her needle-work to see whether it was Arthur back from his hunting - the ring of his chain-mail against the stone - and then, before she was quite certain of what had happened, Guenever was laughing or weeping, unfaithful to her husband, as she had always known she would be.

T.H. White, The Once and Future King

William Morris poem: 'The Defence of Guenever'

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