Title: No More Games
Summary: Morgana spends a feast flirting with everyone but the man she wants. Set in a Canon AU in a fictional S4 timeframe, where Merlin has stopped Morgana from going evil by mentoring her about her magic in private.
Word Count: 996
Prompt: #213, "eye contact"
As Morgana wandered through the corridor back to her bedchambers, one thought plagued her.
When did feasts get to be so boring?
The evening had all the hallmarks of a grand celebration. Food beyond compare, talented musicians to fill the hall with revelries, men and women decked out in their finest garb. Even Arthur had been unbearably cheerful, due to Uther’s surprise allowance for Gwen’s attendance. He’d been preoccupied with her, of course, leaving Morgana to command the center of attention, but even though she’d dressed specifically for the role she was expected to play, she ended the night empty and alone.
Not for the lack of interest in her continued company. She’d flirted with every eligible man in the room, as well as a few ineligible ones. The only one to escape her smile was the only one she’d hoped to intrigue, but he’d left the ball early, disappearing without fanfare to do who knew what.
The thrill vanished with him, which gave her the answer she sought even if she didn’t want to accept it.
A single candle on her vanity lit her room when she entered. Wearily, Morgana reached for the clasp on her pendant as she strode across the chamber. Her gaze was downcast, her neck bent as she struggled to find the small hook, so when the shadows shifted at the corner of her eye, she gave a startled gasp and whirled toward the movement.
Her nerves slowed for only a moment when she saw Merlin stepping away from the wall. “What’re you doing here?” she demanded as her pulse took flight again.
He didn’t speak, just closed the distance, his approach steady and slow as his blue eyes locked on hers. His impending proximity put her on the spot, forcing her to choose between retreating or standing her ground. She yearned for the former—oh, how she wished she could run—but pride demanded the latter, and she stayed firm, all the way until he stopped right in front of her.
“Did you have fun at the feast?” he asked, as if they had run into each other by accident and casual conversation was the call of the moment.
Her chin lifted. She wouldn’t back down from him, no matter what he hoped to accomplish. “Of course. If you’d bothered to stick around, you would’ve seen it for yourself.”
“I saw enough.”
“Where did you go?” she couldn’t help but ask. “Was there trouble?” Only she knew the extent of what Merlin did for Camelot, and only because he had been her guide from the time she realized she had magic. It was a secret she cherished if she was being honest with herself, but she could never tell if Merlin understood what it truly meant to her.
“I couldn’t stay,” he said simply. “But you knew that.”
Her protest died on her tongue. Hadn’t she flirted with all those men to deliberately provoke a response from Merlin? And here he was, admitting that he’d noticed.
Without dropping his gaze, Merlin reached up and around Morgana’s neck to find the clasp she’d struggled with. “My turn for a question.”
She licked her dry lips. The soft graze of his fingertips against her nape was as distracting as the gleam in his eyes. “What?”
“What do you want from me?”
As the clasp came free, the weight of the pendant fell against the upper swell of her breast, compelling her to catch it before it slipped away. When her hands knocked against Merlin’s, she froze.
“You’re my friend,” she managed to say.
His fingers closed over hers. “That doesn’t answer my question.”
“Is that why you’re in my room?” Haughtiness was her only defense. “To play games?”
The corner of his mouth lifted. “You didn’t complain about my presence when I was teaching you how to control your magic.”
“But we’re beyond that now. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not some child who sets her curtains on fire anymore.”
“I noticed.” Merlin finally let her go, letting his arms drop to his sides. “So let’s stop these games, shall we? Be honest with each other. Like we’ve always been.”
She’d asked for it. Now she had to live with the result. “All right. I can’t answer your question because I don’t know what I want,” she confessed.
“What about mine?”
“About why I’m here?” When she nodded, he sighed. “Because I had to see for myself what you were like after the feast. Whether you came back alone or not. Whether you came back at all.”
“Where else would I go?”
His lashes ducked, just for a split second, but she felt hope in that tiniest of gestures. “You could’ve had your pick.”
Slowly, she turned away to set her necklace on her vanity. Though she could no longer see him, she felt his presence. If she hadn’t been so preoccupied, she would’ve felt it when she first walked into the room. She almost always did when it came to Merlin.
“Yet, I came back here,” she said, her voice low. “That should tell you something.”
Her breath refused to come. “Enough?”
His touch returned, skimming along the slope of her shoulder. Morgana squeezed her eyes shut when he pressed a fleeting kiss to the side of her neck.
“You’re not the only one of us who’s grown up,” Merlin whispered. “Remember that the next time you think to play games.”
She was locked in place until the door clicked shut behind her. Then, she sagged onto her vanity’s stool, the trembling overtaking her strength.
No more games. Could she do it? It would mean being honest in the day to day, facing Uther and Arthur with truths she’d barely begun to admit to herself.
What do you want from me?
The memory of his eyes boring into hers erased everything else.
Yes, she could do it. She wanted the same thing.
No more games.