Pairing: Morgana/Gwen, Morgana/Morgause, Gwen/
Warnings/Spoilers: Cheating, vague S4 spoilers
Summary: Modern day AU; Gwen has the misfortune to discover that the only woman on earth whom she has ever wanted to have sex with is also her fiance's sister.
Notes: This story is for whatcriddid, for poking me into entering a screen writing competition I ended up doing quite well at. HURRAH.
They do it in the dark, because that makes it easier to pretend that it isn’t happening. And generally speaking, they do it in innocuous places, too. Illegitimate places. Places no one should be having sex. Not toilets (gross) but – well. The first time is in a broom cupboard.
Morgana pulls Gwen against her, fumbling at her hips and shoulders and neck in the dark, and kisses her, has to feel for her mouth, wet and soft. She steals away Gwen’s breath and makes her want to cry, just for a minute, because she has never wanted anything like this before and it is possibly the single worst time to be wanting it. (Why now? Why the fuck now?)
But for a few minutes she forgets everything and pins her consciousness to the moment – to Morgana’s milky tongue, her insistent fingers, her hot skin. They are all the things Gwen wanted from her, immediately and inexplicably upon first laying eyes on her the week before. She’d arrived at the Pendragon mansion (mansion!) with Arthur, who’d promised her it wasn’t as huge as it looked from down the bottom of the half-mile long driveway. Then he’d taken her into the ground floor living room, where his half sister was curled up on the sofa with a book.
Morgana was less than a year older than Arthur – in fact, Arthur had once ruefully admitted that there was hardly five months between them and yes he sometimes worried that his father being such a prick might be genetic – but she couldn’t have been less like him, physically. She was slight and short where Arthur was broad and tall, and she had a long, sleek wash of ink-black hair – as if someone had painted it onto her with a brush stroke – where Arthur had an artfully mussed blond birdsnest. Arthur’s eyes were bluer than his sister’s (which were storm-cloud grey in some lights and bottle green in others) and his skin nowhere near as pale. But most markedly different was the accent, because Morgana was, inexplicably, Irish and Arthur was decidedly not. Instead, what they had in common was the odd mannerism – the spread of the hands, the set of the jaw – and that tendency to take on life as if it were a bone to be chewed.
Still, Gwen took one look at Morgana and wanted to fuck her. Couldn’t have said then or ever afterwards why, but she did. Morgana was stunningly beautiful, charmingly coy, and totally female, which had never been Gwen’s thing before. She had once shared a drunken snog with another girl in a pub on a dare but it had been rather less than mind-blowing (slimey, actually, if memory served) and certainly not a revelation.
Morgana was a revelation, though. Morgana’s legs in a pair of striped cotton pyjama bottoms with pale feet and pearly toenails hanging over the edge of the sofa. Morgana’s pink, contrariwise mouth which curled in one corner like it knew a secret that it was keeping from the rest of her face. Morgana’s long, delicate fingers tracing the pages of her book as if they were stroking something precious. Morgana’s awkward, thick, black eyebrows that struck an awkward, stubborn look across her features as she gazed at what she was reading with apparent consternation. Morgana was a shock.
After the first time they fuck, as Gwen leans against the cupboard door with her forehead to the wood, eyes shut against the pitch blackness still clinging to her half-bared flesh, she mumbles that they can never do this again And Morgana agrees, with her arms either side of Gwen’s shoulders and her nose brushing the nape of her neck, where she kisses her, once more (one last time, Gwen thinks – it will be the last time).
Gwen is getting married. To a man. Who is the brother of the woman she is screwing in the dark – in obscure, stupid places. She hates herself. She hates Morgana. She hates Arthur, sometimes, for being too good for her to leave – for having a sister who would have to be the one single woman Gwen has ever wanted to fuck.
That first week, Gwen tells herself she’s being an idiot – she’s nervous because she’s newly engaged and she’s meeting Arthur’s family for the first time and it’s all seriously weird so her hormones are flying everywhere and Morgana, objectively, is very pretty. Also Morgana is the only one in the house who even remotely puts Gwen at ease (when Gwen isn’t thinking about fucking her). Because Morgana, though she’s complicated, is far less so than Uther Pendragon, who splits his time between hiding in his office and glaring at them all over dinner. And she isn’t Arthur, who is as nervous and distracted by being at home as Gwen is. And she talks easily and at length about anything and everything, laughs at the same things Gwen does, riley pokes fun at her father, lends Gwen books and takes her on long, rambling walks about the countryside surrounding their family mansion. Morgana spent the first ten years of her life in a two bedroom flat near the centre of Dublin, until her mother died and her rich, philandering father had to take responsibility for the incontrovertible proof of his past indiscretions. It gives Morgana an interesting perspective on the entire family and it is one of which Gwen is glad.
Besides, they can talk about how Morgana’s relationship with Morgause – a beautiful but emotionally unavailable university lecturer – is on the rocks because Morgause wants to move to New Zealand and save the world one endangered Orca population at a time, and Morgana wants to stay at home and write a book. This is much easier subject matter than how Gwen can possibly hope to be married to Arthur for any length of time when her father in law is probably right this minute calling any number of hit men to have her taken out, or what her mates back in London would say if they knew how rich Arthur actually is.
Morgana’s storm grey eyes are cool and soft as they sit on the dividing fence between the mansion gardens and an expanse of woodland behind. She is in the middle of a particularly bitter row-via-text with Morgause and Gwen feels for her – and feels awful about enjoying the way Morgana’s mouth goes when she’s upset (though it’s adorable, as is the crease that appears between her eyebrows).
Gwen says something stupid about how if she were Morgause she’d never leave Morgana’s line of sight, let alone threaten to leave the country without her, and abruptly Morgana’s looking at her like she absolutely shouldn’t be. Gwen thinks oops. But she doesn’t want Morgana to stop – she’d quite like Morgana to look at her like that forever, actually. There’s no harm in a look, is there?
It starts spitting cold rain so they tramp back over increasingly greasy-wet grass, Morgana all the time checking her blackberry and gritting her teeth. When they get into the kitchen she flings the thing away from her in disgust and Gwen makes her tea, because it’s all she really knows what to do in a crisis. (When her dad died she made buckets of the stuff. Gallons. Every surface in the kitchen was covered in mugs of stagnant brown liquid, as cold as the grave).
Morgana says she thinks Gwen is lucky, and Arthur’s lucky, to have her. Gwen manages a tight smile, a horrible knot of guilt in her belly.
That night they go to a local country pub – which is actually several miles and a half hour drive away, because this is the countryside and nothing is actually ‘local’ – leaving Arthur behind on some supposed bonding mission with his dad. They get drunk, and Morgana starts feeling her up under cover of the dim light and the noise and Gwen doesn’t stop her. She likes the delicate feel of Morgana’s fingers on her thigh, and the cool, soft look in her grey eyes, and the slight part of her lips.
Gwen kisses her, clumsily and drunkenly, and it is decidedly less slimy than the last drunken kiss she shared with a girl in a pub. Their hands roam, and their noses touch, and for a moment it’s kind of stunningly perfect. Then Morgana’s withdrawing, flushing, apologising, saying she’s just in a stupid place right now and probably she should sober up before she makes more of an idiot of herself. Gwen has no idea whether or not to agree with her, despite that clearly having been a stupid thing to do. Part of her wants to stay fuzzy and warm and drunk and turned on in the back of this stinking old pub and cuddle with Morgana until dawn. It’s a more inviting prospect than returning to the Pendragon mansion and listening to Arthur have yet another argument about trust funds with his father.
The next day, when they are both completely sober, they have sex in a broom cupboard, silent and standing up, half-dressed, pressed against the door. Gwen has no idea how it actually ends up happening – she goes in looking for a dustpan (because when she’s agitated and making tea would look odd, she cleans) and Morgana follows, ostensibly to help, and the door clicks shut behind them and it’s dark and suddenly Gwen can feel the shift and pull of Morgana’s chest as she breathes and she just – just…
The entire moment is like experiencing the point in a dream where you have fallen off a cliff and are on the verge of striking the ground when the terror of it jars you awake. Except that Gwen does not wake up, and she is left sweaty and hating herself in a broom cupboard, with Morgana kissing the nape of her neck.
They do it twice more. On the balcony of a top floor room round the back of the house after dark, cast in shadow, grit from the stone floor scraping Gwen’s elbows and getting under her finger nails as she scrabbles, Morgana’s mouth slick between her thighs. Behind the sofa in the library, the door locked, the lights off, Gwen sitting up, naked from the waist down, Morgana almost on her stomach, a wave of inky hair hiding her face from view, little pink tongue doing its work as if alone, divorced from the rest of her body.
They kiss, afterwards, that time – Morgana cups Gwen’s face in the gloom and kisses her. She does it so softly it feels tender and Gwen can forget the discomfort of being sat with her own sticky fluids cooling swiftly on her thighs for a moment.
“Morgause is going to leave me,” she whispers, a moment later. She sounds miserable.
“I know,” Gwen replies, “I’m sorry.”
She strokes Morgana’s hair as the other woman lays her head on her shoulder.
“Christ, Gwen,” she adds, as if for good measure.
“I know,” Gwen agrees, and Morgana laughs without any humour at all.
That’s the last time for a while. Gwen decides that it has to stop – really has to – and it does. She makes a point not to be alone with Morgana anymore and if Morgana is hurt she doesn’t show it. Then they head back to London and Gwen does her absolute best to forget the whole ridiculous business and be happy. She’s marrying Arthur Pendragon, for god’s sake! And in some ways, she is happy. Arthur is not a hard man to love and does it matter if she pictures their married life and sees only an entirely blank field that feels vast and empty and terrifying?
Also, every time she thinks about Morgana alone, Morgana back in that big stupid fucking mansion, being made miserable by some idiot university lecturer who would prefer to save whales than love her, she wants to cry.
Three months later, Morgana arrives in London, booked into a posh hotel because she can’t tolerate living with her father at the moment, thank you. She has a book to write. Arthur has been pushing Gwen to set a date again – he doesn’t understand what the issue is because it’s not like they’re having to save up – and Gwen can’t quite articulate what it is that curdles in her belly when she thinks about promising to stay with him and only him forever. What is she meant to say? I’m sorry, I’ve fucked your sister and I want her so badly it makes my teeth hurt. I love you, but I want to hit your father with a shovel. I don’t think marriage is a good idea. I don’t want to break your heart.
She goes to Morgana, stands outside her hotel room door, and when it opens, manages to say only:
“I don’t know why I’m here.”
Which is pathetic, even to her own ears.
Morgana gives her a pitying look, and invites her in.
This time, they do it with the lights on.
“You ought to leave my brother,” Morgana says, sometime later. They’ve been talking about nothing in particular – Morgana’s book; Eastenders – as Gwen tries to pretend that it’s normal to be curled up naked, in bed with her fiance’s equally naked sister in a hotel room that’s bigger than her flat. Morgana is stroking Gwen’s hair and it feels just like it does with Arthur does that. “Not for me – just… if you’re shagging someone else, you can’t be happy.”
That’s quite typical of Morgana, actually – to be thinking about personal happiness rather than basic human decency. Gwen knows she has to leave Arthur, because she’s been fucking his sister and that’s a horrible thing to do and he disserves someone nicer.
“How am I meant to do it?” She asks Morgana.
“You tell him you’re leaving,” Morgana replies.
“Is that what you told Morgause?”
“It’s what she told me.”
Morgana shrugs. “Well, I write better on a broken heart anyway.”
They spend hours in bed – hours and hours. It might be days and days, actually – Gwen doesn’t want to leave. It’s cold outside, the hotel room is warm and the bed warmer, and by the time she finally gets the courage to check her phone she realises it’s somehow been three days and Arthur has called her one hundred and sixty eight times.
“Now you really will have to leave him,” Morgana intones, “I mean how else are you going to explain where you’ve been?”
“Other than shacked up with his sister?”
“Oh god, don’t tell him you were with me,” Morgana groans, “this family is fucked up enough as it is – Arthur won’t ever speak to me again. Tell him you needed time to think.”
Gwen abruptly hates her, and feels her skin crawling with the idea that she’s just spent three days in the arms of a woman who’s thinking of her own skin at a time like this. She begins to get dressed, her hands shaking.
“Don’t look at me like that,” Morgana sounds hurt, “it’d be cruel to Arthur as well, you know – to tell him. You think he needs to know it was both of us together?”
“I think if he was shagging my brother I’d appreciate him having the decency to come clean,” Gwen replies.
“Maybe that’s how it works in your family,” Morgana sighs, “but in mine, trust me, the pleasant lies are the only thing holding all of us together.”
That’s why I want out, Gwen thinks, in a moment of soothing clarity, and then she finishes getting dressed, and leaves. When lies are the only pleasant thing about a family dynamic, something is very wrong.
Breaking up with Arthur is without a doubt up there with her father’s funeral as one of the worst experiences of her life. She does it, then gets very drunk and cries on and off for a month – then she sets about forgetting.
She doesn’t see Morgana again for nearly four years after – doesn’t see Arthur again, ever, for which she is glad. She reads in a paper about his marriage to some high society girl and feels only relief – she finds Morgana’s book on the best seller’s list and reads it (it’s very good, actually). It’s also been dedicated to her – for Gwen, in neat script on the title page – an odd sensation which drives her to google Morgana later that night.
She’s still in London. There’s an interview with her in The Guardian which tells Gwen precisely nothing about her current life and times except that she’s adopted an enormous white dog named Aithusa who she enjoys taking for long walks around Hampstead Heath. So Gwen, on the off chance, starts taking walks around Hampstead Heath too – and bumps into her on the third go (lucky).
“This is Morgause,” Morgana introduces her, cheerfully, to the beautiful blond who is keeping the enormous white dog company by the tree they’ve been sitting under. “She came back from New Zealand.”
“So I see,” Gwen says, not sure if she’s jealous. “Why did you dedicate your book to me?”
Morgause, over a tuna sandwich, arches one delicate brow.
“Because you were there,” Morgana replies, “and it felt fitting. How are you, Gwen?”
“I’m alright,” Gwen says, which is honest enough. “What about you?”
“Yes – alright,” Morgana glances at Morgause, then smiles, warm and genuine. “She came back for me.”
“You and Arthur – do you…”
“Oh, he forgave me around about the time he married Mithian,” Morgana waved a hand, “also dad died. Somehow that made everything much easier.”
“Have you got someone, then?”
“I’ve got lots of people.”
Morgana smiles, “well, good. But if you want someone else, I know a nice boy called Merlin – not my type but I suspect he’d very much be yours.”
Gwen does not like the idea of being set up by Morgana – by anyone, really, but especially not Morgana – but to her absolute shock, she does like Merlin, quite a lot.
“You’re welcome,” Morgana says, with an impish grin, after their third date, and Gwen rolls her eyes – but decides she likes having Morgana’s friendship. They take Aithusa for walks around Hampstead Heath and talk about everything except Arthur and are careful not to get drunk enough to flirt in the pub afterwards.