Title: An Invitation to Brilliance
Pairing/s: Mordred/Morgana, Merlin/Morgana
Character/s: Mordred, Morgana, Merlin
Summary: Mordred arranges a date.
Word Count: 946
Prompt: #76, nervous
Author's Notes: This takes place in my AU where Merlin and Morgana are professors and Mordred their student, and can be found at AO3.
It was a foolhardy plan, to say the least. Any number of things could go wrong. Morgana could decide not to show up, for instance. If she failed to honor her agreement, all would be for naught, and every other scenario he had imagined where his arrangements blew up in his face were completely and utterly moot.
With his hands curled like claws around his cup, Mordred kept his gaze locked on the front door of the shop. His stomach flopped too violently to drink his tea, but holding it so the heat seeped into his skin soothed his racing pulse. His fingers would probably tremble if he dared to let the cup go. Not even Morgana’s final had unnerved him as much as the possibility that this entire afternoon would fail.
He’d waited until the term was over to send her the invitation, and even then, only gave her a day to dwell on her decision before the agreed-upon hour. Watching her in the classroom, day after day, had been torture, but she’d made her opinion of him perfectly clear when he’d tried to console her after the anniversary of her brother’s death. She would not breach the student/teacher barrier, regardless of how well he performed. If anything, it might even work against him if he opted to try again while under her tutelage.
So he waited, because he was hardly foolish, taking small comfort in how she began to brighten after her birthday. He had debated sending a gift—anonymously—but this was much better, more suited to what she needed, something for her to remember for years to come rather than shuttled to the back of a drawer to be dismissed and forgotten.
His heart leapt when a lanky form appeared at the corner of his eye. Dr. Emrys strolled toward the cafe, his hands shoved into his pockets, offering a nod and a small smile to everyone he passed. He paused at the window and peered inside, then took a seat at the nearest table on the walk. It was a glorious day, the sky bright, the sun brighter, but Mordred’s gut twisted at how relaxed and content Dr. Emrys seemed to be.
He could have left. For all Mordred’s intentions, witnessing what came next would be torture. Dr. Emrys’s presence guaranteed that.
But he didn’t. Morgana chose that moment to round the corner.
She looked radiant, her long hair loose from its normal knots to tumble unfettered down her back. The scarf she’d worn at least once a week for the past two months graced her shoulders and throat, accentuating rather than obscuring her natural curves. Though she didn’t bear the same smile Dr. Emrys had, she carried an air of excited expectancy in her quick step, her gaze darting around until it finally landed on the man she expected to meet.
From his vantage across the street, Mordred couldn’t hear Dr. Emrys greet her, or Morgana’s answering words. But he saw her play with the edge of the scarf, as well as the way Dr. Emrys blushed after she did so. When she tilted her head toward the door, Dr. Emrys rose and opened it for her, following her as she entered.
Neither one of them had noticed him. He still had time to escape. But then when they realized that neither of them had arranged this meeting, they wouldn’t know it was him who had instigated it. They might assume it was meant for nefarious reasons instead of the gift he meant it to be. He needed to be exactly where he was, so if they emerged from the cafe prepared for a fight, they could see him and understand he was the one behind it all, the one who had given them exactly what they needed.
That was the biggest lesson he’d learned this year. That the only individuals who ever sparked true emotion in the pair were each other. Those emotions weren’t always pretty. Their fights in the fall had been proof of that. So was that night Mordred had witnessed in Morgana’s office.
But they were real. And what he wanted for Morgana more than anything was for her to feel safe enough to let out that passion Dr. Emrys evoked in her.
A life without it was a pale one, indeed.
It took half an hour for them to come out again, during which time the back of Mordred’s collar soaked through from his nervous sweat. A smiling Morgana touched Dr. Emrys’s arm before heading down the walk, not once looking in Mordred’s direction. Both he and Dr. Emrys watched her disappear around the corner, but when Mordred’s gaze jumped back to see what Dr. Emrys was going to do, he was greeted by the sight of him jogging across the street.
Mordred froze as Dr. Emrys stopped at his table.
“Thank you,” Dr. Emrys said.
His throat tightened. “Does she—”
“No. I saw you before, and when she made it clear she thought I’d been the one to invite her, I decided you must’ve done that for a reason. I don’t know what it was, but…thank you.”
It was both the best and worst response he could’ve hoped for. “I just want her to be happy,” he said, his tone bleak.
The cant of Dr. Emry’s smile was wistful. “So do I.” With one last nod, he walked off, whistling under his breath.
Slowly, Mordred unfolded his hands from around the cup that had long ago grown cold. For better or worse, the deed was done. In his heart, he knew it was the right thing to do.
But the sun wasn’t quite so brilliant as he scooped up his backpack and headed home.