Author's Notes: Takes place at the end of Talking to Dragons. Written for the Yuletide New Year Resolutions 2005 challenge. Concrit welcome as always. Please be nice but honest if you think I could improve something.
Marrying Telemain was the culmination of a lifetime of friendship.
They'd grown up together in the forest, trading lore about the location of the juiciest fruits (and those that would do interesting but harmless things to the eater, such as donkey cabbages, which she'd taken care to cultivate later because it was interesting to force people to turn into a visible manifestation of their personality), sneaking out to play with the family of unicorns that often frolicked in the clover meadow near her house, and, most commonly, dissecting as many spells and magical objects as they could get their hands on. They had made an excellent team; Morwen's focus was on the practical – what could a spell do, or be made to do – while Telemain was more interested in the theoretical – why did the spells act the way they did? He had a tendency to descend into jargon, and worse, with little formal schooling in magic, the jargon was all his own, which made it even more impenetrable. Only long years of practice had enabled Morwen to get to the heart of his explanation and restate it in plain speech. In contrast, Morwen had a tendency to get impatient with the process of studying a spell and move right into practice, which sometimes led to mistakes made by incomplete understanding. Telemain was always there to get her out of sticky situations, even if it took him an unbearably long time to go about it (and even if he was insufferably smug afterward).
Later, they'd gone their separate ways – Telemain to advanced magical schooling, and Morwen to an apprenticeship with a sensible witch in the forest. They'd kept in touch, but the distance had accentuated their differences. Telemain became more and more eccentric, giving little thought to his safety as he experimented with wilder and wilder magics. Morwen lost the chance to experiment at all as she set to learn by rote all the knowledge that Mistress Jocunda had accumulated as part of the witchy tradition. Once they'd settled in their respective homes in the forest, both were too occupied with getting themselves established to be lonely, and in Morwen's case the cats were more than enough company anyway.
But when all that nonsense with the wizards had come up, and they'd been thrown together, well, she'd worried about him. Telemain had a tendency to throw himself into his work without regard for his own health or safety, and he was also impossibly stubborn about it. Even the cats recognized he needed someone to take care of him, and strangely, Morwen didn't really mind very much that she was the one to do it. Realistically, it was absurd. She was too practical to want the sort of crazy adventures they'd been part of when they were young, and too independent to want to shackle herself to someone who sometimes seemed to need more of a mother than a partner.
But she couldn't help herself. She loved his inquisitiveness, the way his bright blue eyes lit up with excitement about his studies, his ability to see something intricate, beautiful, and fascinating in the most mundane activities. She loved the grateful surprise on his face when she dropped by and had been forced to stop him spellcasting by shoving a cup of soup under his nose, or exasperatedly wrapped him in blankets after he'd come to visit and fallen asleep in the library. He was impossible and reckless and childish, she thought, and charming and endearing and handsome, even with that silly beard. He took her friendship and assistance for granted, except those rare moments when he was so pathetically grateful for her help that it made her heart sing. And intellectually, of course, he challenged her.
Secretly, Morwen wondered if perhaps she'd lost out on something by becoming a witch. Her life was serene and productive and calm, but where was the excitement? Where was the thrill of discovery? Where was the romance? So when Daystar had come along and it looked like the world was about to get exciting again, Morwen was almost glad for the change of pace. But she knew she'd have to keep a sharp eye on Telemain, who'd probably get caught up in analyzing the wizards' bubble spell and forget to pay attention to the whole battle thing entirely. Strangely enough, she was almost looking forward to it.
When the battle at the castle was over, Morwen was glad she'd stayed close. Obviously the idiot was too used to magic to pay attention to little things like extra-sharp swords. When the tip of the blade went into his shoulder, her heart had stopped and she'd screamed the spell to melt the wizard almost without thinking. Later, she tried to hide the worry with scorn for his medical abilities, but something in Telemain's narrowed eyes told her she hadn't succeeded. When they were finally alone, he'd allowed her to help him up onto the bed and re-wrap the dressing, but stopped her with one of his warm hands on her arm before she could go back to the King.
"What was that all about, Morwen? It's unlike you. Am I—" he paused and licked his lips. "Have I overstayed my welcome in this friendship? Are you that eager to be rid of me?" The sadness in his voice overcame her inhibitions.
"No," Morwen croaked, then swallowed and gained her voice again. "No, of course not, you silly man. But you're so damn careless! You may be a genius, but you can't possibly have so little thought to your well-being. You could have been killed! It's," by this time she was almost shouting, "it's inconsiderate, that's what it is! How do you think I would feel if you'd died? And then you think I'm just going to let you waltz off and forget to take care of that arm? You'd let it fester is you found something more interesting to do with your time. Ridiculous!"
Telemain smiled faintly, as if amused at her recriminations, and began to rub his thumb in soothing circles along her wrist. "I'm sorry," he said softly, and Morwen's temper deflated somewhat. It was hard to stay angry with him now that he was touching her like that. "Thank you for taking care of me," he continued. "I know I don't say it often enough, but I do appreciate it." Now he had an earnest look in his eyes that made Morwen's mouth go dry. The silence dragged out for a long moment before Morwen shook herself out of the paralysis with a choice thought about her own silliness. If she wanted something to come of all this, she knew she would have to make the first step.
Sighing dramatically, she used her free hand to tuck the blanket more firmly around Telemain's chest. "I suppose I'll just have to move you in with me to make sure you won't forget to take care of yourself," she suggested, casually. There was another moment of pregnant silence in which she almost didn't dare look at him. Finally, she raised her eyes to his face to find him smiling anxiously.
"Errr, yes, perhaps you'd better." He swallowed. "Maybe we should just make it official?" The hand that rested on her wrist slid down and intertwined its fingers with her own. "I, uh, I'd like that."
Morwen smiled and clasped his hand between hers. "Yes." They looked at each other in silence a moment, then Morwen shook herself and laughed gently. "Very sensible of you."
Excusing herself to check in on the King and the state of the forest, Morwen felt happier than she had in a long time. A deep sense of contentment washed over her and she had to fight to keep her sensible exterior in place. As she slipped out of the castle towards the feast and commotion on the lawn, only one reminder marred Morwen's sense that things were coming together. "Oh, hell," she thought, "what ARE the cats going to think?"