Title: Something Borrowed
Character/s: Gwen, Morgana, (Uther)
Summary: Gwen knows it is not her place to tell Morgana how she should handle her marriage proposals. But to her the Lady’s happiness trumps all other considerations, and she feels justified to speak her mind.
Warnings: Canon!AU. Drama.
Word Count: 999
Prompt: Whispers in the Dark
Author's Notes: Not quite sure if this is Morwen proper; it could also be genfic.
Gwen rifles through silky garments to find out just what colour would best bring out both both the renowned fairness of her lady’s skin tone and the ridiculous turquoise hem of that evening dress that they both dislike - why is it that Morgana isn’t trying harder to look her best tonight? - when cold fingers brush against her neck, in passing, then retreat to Gwen’s nape, fastening an unannounced necklace. The cold pendent slides about Gwen’s chest, sending the little hairs on her forearms rise, then settles a right below the gap between her collarbones.
Those same fingers grab her shoulders to make her twirl and meet Morgana’s affable gaze.
“I’m the one supposed to dress you up,” Gwen protests meekly, lowering her eyes. “Besides I can’t possibly wear this,” she adds as she lifts her arms to reach out to unfasten the necklace. She can’t very well ask her Lady to do it for her.
But Morgana already has her wrists in her grasp and lowers them, gently, before stepping back, arms crossed. She gives her maid a cool look over. The pendent is a thick, purple opal that Gwen can’t remember ever having seen before. She is at a loss for words.
“You’re right,” Morgana finally concedes, amusement ringing in her voice, “black is much better.”
Sometimes Gwen likes to step back from her situation just to take in the absurdity of life, and life at court especially. Now, as she is clad in the yellow uniform indicative of her position, standing at attention by the wall of the dining room with the other servants, is one of those times.
This banquet required that Arthur and his men go hunt a boar, that the city’s entire supply of produce be drained from its markets for that day, and that the families of servants come to the castle and help them prepare the feast a full day in advance. The whole city is playing matchmaker for this third son of a distant King and the Lady Morgana, and all they are doing is talking politics, chess, horseback riding and everything in between. If eyes could touch, then the handsome foreigner would be lying unconscious on the floor, undressed and forcefully taken, without respite, by every noble female in Morgana’s entourage.
Yet Morgana seems to be the only one not to notice the young man’s plump lips, smiling eyes and quietly imposing stature; the finesse of his sense of humour, the extent of his knowledge, the dexterity of his banter… She gives Gwen another of those sideway glances that make her stomach flip when she makes a particularly good point on the importance of not letting blacksmiths overspecialize in only one kind of trade. Gwen retorts with a sharp look intended to mean ‘this is serious, milady’, to which Morgana simply answers with such a delighted gaze that the suitor himself is forced to glance in the servant’s direction, lingering longer than necessary on the servant’s form, on the poorly concealed opal adorning her chest.
The conversation resumes, seamlessly, but it isn’t of the same fabric as before. Morgana’s offhand manners do not seem to irk him in the least. He sits back, making room for more helpings of wine, throws more or less serious theories on the history of horse breeding, and from then on his gaze is flickering all over the room.
Uther is uncharacteristically silent and his servants should know better than to offer him more wine to ease his disposition when he is clenching his jaw as he does. He would normally have jumped in the argument by now, if only to shush the unseasoned pair’s unbelievably idiotic stance on childrearing, but the heirless king has hosted too many of these parties, and Morgana has too few years ahead of her, that he is willing to bear with his ward’s fruitless prattle, hoping that some dramatic turn of events might take place. He won’t admit it to anyone, but he wouldn’t bat an eye is some benevolent sorcerer cast a spell on the duo, if it could make this costly visit end in a marriage proposal.
Lights are out.
Gwen is standing by the night stand, waiting to be properly dismissed. She can’t quite go past the feeling that there is something she could have done, or that she did not do, that could have prevented the suitor from opting to go spar with the knights rather than spend the evening with the Lady Morgana as the convention dictates.
She wants to do nothing but run home to her father, whose mundane anecdotes would gladly shake off the scent of nobility off her mind and the feeling that something is amiss. What exactly she doesn’t know, but one thing is certain: Morgana shouldn’t be taking her future so lightly.
Morgan is rubbing her thumb against the gentle curves of the pendent. “It’s still warm.” And now the pendent is in Gwen’s hand, and it is indeed warm, and Morgana’s fingers were, too.
“Milady…” She encapsulates the borrowed gem in her hands, steadying them. “You can’t go on like this forever.” She lowered her voice but not the extent of her concern. It isn’t her place to say so, but ultimately the Lady’s well-being is her priority, and so she feels justified to speak her mind.
“But I don’t want to get married,” Morgana says airily.
Gwen’s eyes widen and cast a furtive glance to the closed door, to the open window. “You can’t-” she begins, urgently, eyes scanning Morgana’s face haphazardly, unable to quite land on any point of her moonkissed features, heart sinking at the possibility that they might be overheard.
Morgana’s teeth are gleaming through her sliver of a smile. She takes Gwen’s fisted hand in her own and beckons the maid to lean close to her.
“No, Gwen, listen to me,” her eyes are smiling now that she knows she has Gwen’s full, distressed attention, “I don’t want to get married.”