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Title: Like the Wind
Author: kepp0xy
Characters/Pairings: Merlin, Gwen, Morgana, Arthur. Gen.
Genre/Rating: G, episode coda, drama, angst
Spoilers: Episodes 3.01 and 3.02
Word Count: ~860
Summary: At the second banquet held in Morgana's honour, Merlin and Gwen observe the recently returned ward.

Author's Notes: Episode coda to The Tears of Uther Pendragon Part 2. Spoilers for episodes 1 and 2 of series 3.




After Morgana is named Camelot's saviour, after the more urgent repairs are completed and an appropriate time of mourning has passed for those who lost their lives in the kingdom's defence, there is - predictably in Merlin's embittered view - a banquet in Morgana's honour.

He watches her from across the room, as she smiles and nods her head. Falsely bashful, at turns delightedly proud. The court sits in her palm, Uther watching dotingly from his seat as he swills wine.

She wears the same dress tonight in which Merlin had first seen her. A subdued but alluring wine purple, baring her shoulders in innocent temptation which she masters easily: coy glances over the white flesh with a teasing flutter of lashes at the bolder of the knights and noblemen.

The court view her as their saviour, and a proper lady playing their game.

But Merlin believes she sees weight and meaning in the golden threaded diadem that sits across her brow, just as it had that first night. No longer is it a mere adornment, but the furtive declaration of cold longing.

He tries not to stare, for that may lead to glaring. Not that anyone watches him, but it took only one wrong person catching attention of his expression to send up flags of warning, and he is used to trying to stay in the shadows.

"She is changed," Gwen says beside him, and Merlin only just prevents himself from dropping the tray he carries.

He glances at her; she had sounded lost and she looks tired. No, not simply tired. Weary. As though she no longer quite knows where she stands.

He says, "Yes," when Gwen meets his gaze. She flashes a wan smile and breathes out a humourless laugh through her nose. Rising to the balls of her feet, her eyes shift forward once more, tracking Morgana as she moves through the courtiers.

"I don't..." Gwen's lips disappear between her teeth and Merlin waits. "Four days amongst Hengist's bandits was - hard," she says carefully, swallowing around the descriptor. He wishes his hands were free so he could take hold of one of hers. "I can't imagine a year," she finishes wretchedly.

Merlin stands immobile, allows Gwen to interpret his silence as she needs to. He cannot speak; doesn't know where to begin, and wouldn't be able to say much if he did.

"So I don't hold it against her," Gwen continues, then draws a breath and shakes her head. "No," she says lowly, as though correcting herself. "I..."

She gives up then, her shoulders sagging, and with a hissed breath between slightly parted lips, Merlin imagines her valiance leaving her.

"Arthur doesn't see it," he says instead, as Arthur steps up to Morgana with a dry smile. He says something on a smirk, Morgana retorts with exaggerated false offence, and after a playfully tense moment, they both break out into the smiles of mutual satisfaction in the repartee.

"No," Gwen agrees. Her gaze lingers, though Merlin cannot discern whom upon. Then she sighs and turns her back on them, stepping directly in front of him, unanticipated steel in her eyes.

"She does not show it to him," she says, something dark lies beneath her tones which Merlin had rarely heard there before. Forceful, demanding. Frustrated. "But she shows you, Merlin. Why is that?"

He only just stops himself from wincing, able to hold Gwen's eyes evenly. She searches his face as only she can; it had been some time since they kept the secrets of their present from one another.

A year, in fact.

When her left brow finally crinkles upon finding nothing in his expression, Merlin says simply, lowly, "Why does she show you, Gwen?"

He doesn't allow himself to ignore the ache of regret as she deflates before him; of all people, he did not want to be the cause of Gwen losing her fight.

"I don't know," she says brokenly then. And Merlin imagines her face in those grief stricken moments when neither his nor Arthur's company seemed to alleviate whatever loss or guilt she felt over Morgana's vanishing, when his own guilt then seemed to swallow him whole because it was Gwen who held the hope between them -

He jerks, prepared to drop his damned tray in order to grip her arm and squeeze belief into her veins again if he must -

"Gwen?" Morgana's voice floats, plaintive, harmless, across the chatter.

Merlin straightens, and only watches as Gwen visibly gathers herself, a gentle and false smile sitting a mockery of her beauty across her lips as she turns.

Merlin meets Morgana's eyes for only a moment; malice, and challenge, twinkles at him and he feels his face harden before he can stop himself.

Her grey eyes then fall to Gwen's face, her expression softening in imitation of affection all but Gwen and he would believe, and accidentally Merlin looks to Arthur.

Who is frowning, watching Gwen, before his eyes flick to Merlin's face. Arthur's eyebrow rises and Merlin swallows.

His heart pounds in stilted ways as though shackled, and he only just musters a shrug.

Arthur rolls his eyes, Gwen and Morgana move off amongst the courtiers, and Merlin stands alone. The food on the tray he carries trembles and he can do nothing to stop it.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
kitmerlot1213
Sep. 24th, 2010 12:18 pm (UTC)
This was just excellent!

I like how you have all of the emotions of all of the main players swirling around, but I can't help but think Merlin could start to rely on Gwen more as a fellow compatriot against Morgana but I guess he's so used to keeping his secret.

Great work :)
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for the kind words!

I can't help but think Merlin could start to rely on Gwen more as a fellow compatriot against Morgana but I guess he's so used to keeping his secret.

It would be really nice to see the two of them commiserating with one another about Morgana. It would be a fascinating dynamic: Gwen, Morgana's confidante and loyal servant for years would have a totally different view on the shift than Merlin, who only entered Morgana's life when her visions started causing her major upheaval. They each have access to a whole plethora of experiences and knowledge that the other doesn't. And their starting points would be entirely different as well: where Merlin has already written Morgana off, Gwen will (I assume...) have near unending hope/belief that Morgana will come 'round. Alas.

Thanks again, and I'm so glad you enjoyed this :)!
alittle2happy
Sep. 24th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
gosh, what good angst would it be if morgana really played up on gwen's friendship. Gwen's a beautiful crier (if thats possible). and i would love the drama to be honest :)
Plus it would give gwen more screen time!! :D
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 10:55 am (UTC)
Aww, it would be really sad. Interesting to see how it could play out, though, as I struggle to believe Gwen would be taken in for long; the inevitable battle of wills &/or morality could be heartbreaking and fascinating, though. And yesssss, almost anything for more Gwen screentime.

Thank you so much for reading and commenting :D
genstarwen92
Sep. 24th, 2010 01:42 pm (UTC)
Oh this was ♥
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 10:56 am (UTC)
Thank you :]!
rubberglue
Sep. 24th, 2010 01:53 pm (UTC)
This was very good!
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 10:57 am (UTC)
Thanks so much :D!
anjali_organna
Sep. 24th, 2010 03:24 pm (UTC)
I LOVE you for bringing up the Hengist connection! I totally didn't think of that but you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT to draw that comparison. al;skdfjs this is totally canon for me now, it makes complete sense. And OF COURSE Gwen would feel extra guilty for being wary of Morgana, because she would feel like she should relate to her more because of those similar experiences, but she can't because she knows something is off. And then she has to chalk it up to the length of Morgana's stay with the "bandits" and then she feels guilty all over again. GENIUS.
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:36 pm (UTC)
♥! My heart really goes to Gwen with her altered friendship with Morgana... So much is speculation right now, but I can't help but imagine that it's all eating her up: the desire to understand and help but being headed off at the pass with Morgana's apparently altering moods towards her. So, as you say, she tries to write it all off as to do with having been kidnapped by bandits, but even that doesn't quite fit... It's all just a mess for her.

I imagine it doesn't help that whatever dynamic was presumably created with Merlin and Arthur and Gaius and whoever else in Morgana's absense has also been shaken or altered. All their worlds are just in such turmoil D: Possibly the least affected is Arthur at this point, really.

Anyways! /ramble hahaha thanks for reading this and commenting, doll! I'm stoked to read more of your promised Merlin & Gwen-Morgana thoughts >:D
felix_aeternus
Sep. 24th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
awww Gwen and Merlin. <333 I adore that he recognized that she was losing hope, and that that could be catastrophic for all of them.
kepp0xy
Sep. 28th, 2010 12:39 pm (UTC)
Gwen: Keeper of Hope, Extraordinaire. Thankee darling ♥!
starry_laa
Sep. 24th, 2010 08:25 pm (UTC)
This is exactly what I am after in the show!!! This was a wonderful piece, and I love how you had Gwen comparing her situation with Hengist, to Morgana's. It's obvious to us that Gwen knows something, and thinking about it, yes, Morgana's hostage situation would make Gwen compare it with her own and make her wonder.

I love that Gwen and Merlin confide in one another. I think I would be beyond happy if this happens in the show!

And I love how chilling Morgana comes across in their eyes.

As always, a wonderful piece! ♥
kepp0xy
Sep. 29th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks, doll! In my head, I imagine that Gwen thinks of all the badness in Hengist's, and has been worsening things tenfold for Morgana in various attempts at explaining Morgana's alternating distance and warmth... But, as you said, it's obvious Gwen knows something is up, and I don't think the bandit excuse is entirely holding water for her D:

Gwen and Merlin! Honestly, I reckon they do confide in one another, seeing as most of their lives are not the action/adventure mayhem we see. So, court gossip? They're tugging one another's ears. Peasantry scandal? They share a cup of tea and some lunch. And then, they have one another's backs when shit goes down - as we saw this last ep!

Thank you again for the kind words, darling! I'm so glad you enjoyed this :D
loveandthetruth
Sep. 25th, 2010 08:10 am (UTC)
Oh Merlin. Oh Gwen

Gorgeous and achey and just. Meep.
kepp0xy
Sep. 29th, 2010 09:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the kind words, dear :]!
angelqueen04
Sep. 25th, 2010 02:15 pm (UTC)
Oh wow, they should have totally filmed this scene, because it fits perfectly with the episode! I definitely think that Gwen knows or suspects more than she lets on about Morgana, and it makes sense that she might hint or confide those doubts to Merlin. At this point, he's the only confidant that she has, since she doesn't think it proper to confide in Arthur, and Morgana is obviously out. I really think it would make sense that the two of them would draw closer together as they watch Morgana continue down the path they can't disuade her from.

Great coda! You really captured the current atmosphere of the show. Oh, and this line: The court sits in her palm, Uther watching dotingly from his seat as he swills wine. Is the best line ever! Uther swilling wine... heh.
kepp0xy
Sep. 30th, 2010 10:32 am (UTC)
Thank you so much :)! I'm hoping that something of the Gwen-Morgana dynamic will come to the fold at some point, because I agree with you: Gwen definitely thinks something, though I don't know if she can pin it down. I love the idea of Gwen and Merlin confiding in one another, and as I said to a poster above, they'd be coming together with two totally different viewpoints. Gwen, as Morgana's friend and confidant for years would presumably have unending hope that Morgana would come around, whereas Merlin who knows Morgana's secret and the lengths which she's willing to go to will have already written Morgana off as a hopeless cause. Just, looking at that dynamic would be really interesting, and at turns, heartbreaking.

Thanks again! I'm so glad you enjoyed this :]!
hmsharmony
Sep. 25th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
Another wonderful piece from you! God, I would KILL to have you writing for the show. This is EXACTLY the sort of scene we need. Merlin and Gwen are the only ones who can really see Morgana's change (Gaius obviously sees it as well, but he's not big on taking action, is he?), and it's such a PERFECT opportunity for the writers to find a non-romantic story line for Gwen. And gyah! Merlin/Gwen friendship-iness! I really miss it, and you did such a lovely job of capturing it.
kepp0xy
Sep. 30th, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, doll! I think we got a nice dose of the lighter side of the Gwen/Merlin friendship this past episode, and it'd be really nice to see them do something a bit more serious, looking at Morgana. As you say, right now, it's just the two of them that see the differences, and they'd come from two vastly different viewpoints wrt Morgana that it would be really fascinating to see them try and work with one another.

I'm so glad you enjoyed this :]!
ella_rose88
Sep. 27th, 2010 07:03 am (UTC)
I only just discovered this and I truly loved this sooo much. It was great seeing Gwen and Merlin interact and to hear Gwen's supicions of Morgana and trying to relate Morgana's situatuion to her own when she was captured by Hengist.

This was great at capturing what happened in the episode, but with more Gwen.

All the looks between Arthur, morgana, Merlin and Gwen was a great way to end the piece.
kepp0xy
Sep. 30th, 2010 12:47 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, darling! So glad you enjoyed :]!
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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