You may think that at this point Sir Gareth’s strange adventure is over, but no! Even though the villain had been defeated, there was still a ways to go. Afterward the joust ended, Gareth tried to get into Castle Dangerous to woo Dame Lionesse more directly. Despite her flirting with him and weeping for him and so on, she refused to allow him entry.
“I’m not convinced you’re a true heroic knight worthy of my love,” she called down to him.
“Go be a wandering knight-errant for a year, then, come back and we’ll talk.”
“I feel like this is you moving the goalposts on me,” Gareth called up. “I defeated a bunch of knights just to get here.”
“Think of your adventures up to this point as having been qualifying rounds,” she said. “Now you’re in the finals. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you, and assuming all works out well I will be such a good wife.”
So Gareth, reluctantly, went off by himself, whining and muttering. He couldn’t sleep at all the first night, he felt so bad about it, so pressed on in the dark. Finally he came to a great lodge, which was apparently Peter’s house because he was there. Unless Peter had murdered the original inhabitants and hid their bodies in the basement, I mean, who knows? But Peter was there, and he took care of Gareth’s horse for him.
While Gareth finally got a well-earned night’s sleep at Peter’s lodge, Lionesse, back at her own castle, hatched a scheme! It very much vexed her that she didn’t know exactly who this “Sir Prettyboy” was. From Peter’s description earlier, she knew the following:
A) He was a legit knight.
B) He defeated a bunch of different colors of knight, also jousted Launcelot to something like a draw.
C) He was traveling incognito from Camelot.
She didn’t know his name, Malory says, which really bugged her. She also had forgotten that Peter explicitly asserted Prettyboy was the son of old King Lot of Orkney, because she complained to her brother, Sir Gringamore, about how she really knew nothing about where Prettyboy was from and who his family was and so on.
Sir Gringamore, brother of Lionesse and Linet, appeared abruptly in the narrative at this point. I suppose he had been hiding from the Red Knight, or something.
“Here’s what I want you to do, Gringy,” said Lionesse. “Go follow Sir Prettyboy, and surely he’ll lead you directly to Peter the dwarf. Linet told me that Peter knows who Prettyboy’s father is. In another of Malory’s beloved continuity errors, I don’t know Prettyboy’s father’s name. So, go, kidnap Peter for me and bring him back to your castle. Linet and I will meet you there, and we can question him then.”
“That plan makes perfect sense,” said Sir Gringamore. He dressed up in his best sinister black arms and armor, and rode after Gareth. Though he hadn’t left Castle Dangerous until many hours after Gareth, Gringamore caught up quickly. He found Gareth sleeping at Peter’s house, and Peter there too.
“Yoink!” he cried, and scooped Peter up and carried him off, tucking Peter under his arm like a football.
“What the –! Help! Help! I’m being abducted!” shouted Peter, which woke Gareth up. Gareth saw Gringamore riding off with Peter, but by the time Gareth had his armor back on and stuff, Gringamore was out of sight.
Gareth rode off after him, got lost, got directions from a helpful peasant in a wholly pointless interlude, and arrived at Gringamore’s castle.
Gringamore and his sisters were already there, of course, along with their prisoner Peter.
“I demand to know Sir Prettyboy’s real name!” cried Lionesse. “Tell us! Tell us, or else you will be pent up here for all time! My brother’s got a great dungeon, you’ll love it there, oh no wait you won’t because it’s terrible!”
“Wait, what is this about?” asked Peter. He’s understandably peeved.
“Prettyboy — who is he? Who is he really? Where was he born? Who are his parents?”
“I… why didn’t you just ask me? I have no reason not to tell you. I mean, I already told you this once before. He’s Sir Gareth, youngest brother of Sir Gawaine, son of King Lot and Queen Margawse, nephew of King Arthur. Did I not make that clear once already? Anyway. Now that that’s settled, how about you let me go and we can just forget this happened? Because otherwise Gareth is liable to show up and tear this castle down, I’m warning you. Jerks.”
“I was going to let you go, but then you called me a jerk,” said Gringamore, all sanctimonious. “Let’s all go to dinner without Peter and let him think about what he’s done,” he said to his sisters.
And the three of them left Peter locked up, and went to supper in Gringamore’s castle’s dining hall, where it was all happiness and light, since Dame Lionesse was finally out of her castle and that stupid siege lifted. Linet pointed out that Prettyboy probably really was a king’s son, given how courteous he was, which made sense according to 15th century logic I guess.
Gareth showed up, finally. He shouted outside the castle for Gringamore to appear and relinquish Peter. Gringamore went over to a window and shouted down that Peter was Gringamore’s prisoner and would be kept locked up until he learned his lesson. Gareth offered to joust over it, which Gringamore thought was an awesome idea
We’re spared another jousting sequence, however. Lionesse would have rather just put this whole sordid interlude behind them and move on, so Gringamore reluctantly gave up Peter. Lionesse apologized to Gareth for arranging the abduction. Peter and Gareth reunited, and Gareth was like, man, what a stupid misadventure this was, and Gringamore invited them in for after-dinner drinks.
Inside the castle they had a nice time. Gareth and Lionesse were finally in the same room at the same time, able to flirt up close at last. It was clear to everyone, not least themselves, that they were way into one another. They could hardly keep their hands off one another, they didn’t pay attention to anyone else; it was on the verge of unseemly.
Gringamore at one point pulled his sister aside. “Are you sure you want to throw yourself at this guy like this?”
“Hell yes,” Lionesse responded. “He’s King Arthur’s nephew plus all the heroic stuff he did before.”
So Gringamore approached Gareth. “My sister likes you.”
“Duh. And I like her, too.”
“So go ahead and hook up then and get married and have a million babies already.”
“No, no, because back a few chapters I promised to be a wandering knight errant for a year, and go to her afterwards. I’ll have to leave soon, for that.”
“I just want to speed the wheels, man. How about you and me and Lionesse all wander together for the year? You and Lionesse can share a tent, I’ll be sure to pitch mine out of earshot, it won’t be awkward at all.”
Everyone thought this was a solid plan. I don’t know why Lionesse wouldn’t just call off the year of errantry and skip to the wedded bliss, but whatever. The only fly in the ointment was Dame Linet. She resented how Gareth was pawing Lionesse and no one was pawing Linet; after all, it was only a few thousand words back that it looked like Gareth and Linet were going to be one of those taming-of-the-shrew couples where the girl hated the boy and complained constantly and then suddenly for no reason had a total change of heart and became meek and submissive, like you see. When she overheard the two of them plotting to commit premarital sexhaving together, Linet was not down with it at all.
So that night, as Lionesse sneaked into Gareth’s bed, and they started to get hot and heavy… boom! A knight from out of nowhere! Gareth acted on instinct and smote the hell out of the poor dude before anyone knew what was going on. He went down! Blood! Blood! Lionesse screamed! The knight, one of Gringamore’s men, burbled and moaned! He was dying! It was very much not sexy! Gringamore came running, saw his sister and her beau in a state of undress, plus one of his guys lying on the ground bleeding. He freaked out! Sir Gringamore: useless in a crisis!
But it was all good, because Linet sauntered in, to the rescue! She arrived armed with a healing potion she’d put together for just this occasion, and applied it to the dying knight. It healed him right up, no permanent damage. That night Linet’s scheme was an unmitigated success: an innocent knight had been smote, and afterwards Lionesse and Gareth were far too skewed out have sex.
The next night, though, they tried again. Just as they were about to totally get it on this same poor knight appeared! Linet kept sending him in. How Linet got him to do this isn’t clear. “Oh, Sir Arglebargle,” she maybe said, “I left my contact lens solution in Gareth’s bedchamber, would you mind going to fetch it for me?” That Gareth’s bedchamber was actually the dining hall repurposed may have played a role here, but Malory doesn’t connect the dots for us.
Anyway, this time Gareth was ready for Sir Flim-Flam. As soon as he saw an intruder, he grabbed his sword and smashed the knight’s skull to bits with a version of his brother Sir Gawaine’s patented Petulant Sneak Attack Skull-Smash style, toot sweet. Flim-Flam died immediately. Once again, though, it put a pall over the lovemaking.
During the ensuing castle-wide panic, Linet quietly scooped all of the pieces of skull and brains and the knight’s corpse. She took it back to her room and carefully reassembled him, then anointed him with more of her magic potion. Then he was good as new! I don’t know why Linet had failed to demonstrate this magical capacity earlier in the story; there’d certainly been plenty of opportunity.
Gareth figured out that it was Linet who kept interfering in his and Lionesse’s attempts to hook up. He chewed her out over it, complaining not just about how she’d kept him from sleeping with his girlfriend, but also Sir Whatever got in a nasty cut on him during their second scuffle. Afterwards Gareth had a bad wound to deal with. Linet totally failed to offer him some of her healing potion.