Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin.

Rat Stew

Morgana cringed a little as she raised a spoonful of stew to her lips. The scent was atrocious, and she dreaded what that could mean for the taste; but she wasn't one to pass up a meal while others were close to starving, so she steeled herself and took a bite. She gagged a little as she swirled the broth and chewed on the bits of meat, but it wasn't the taste that got her. No, it was the texture. The meat was odd, nothing she'd ever tasted before, but she forced herself to swallow.

A slight knock on the door announced Gwen's return, and Morgana hurriedly served up another bowl for her maidservant, pleased to have someone to share the rather disgusting meal with.

"Did you give out all of it?" Morgana asked as Gwen entered. The young woman nodded as she set the now empty basket on the table, then took her seat across from her mistress.

"What's this, then?" she queried, sniffing questioningly at the contents of her plate.

"Some sort of stew Arthur had," Morgana said. "It isn't very appetizing, but I'm not about to toss it when there are starving people lining the streets."

"I know what you mean," Gwen agreed, taking up her spoon and taking a mouthful of stew. She gagged terribly on it, visibly struggling to swallow. Morgana leapt up and was around the table in a flash, kneeling at the girl's side and holding a napkin to her lips.

"Are you all right?" Morgana asked as Gwen finally swallowed and proceeded to have a fit of coughs, preventing her from answering with anything but a nod for a good minute.

"Yes," she finally choked out, pushing her bowl away. "What on earth is this?" she asked.

"I've no idea," Morgana said, shaking her head. "But I'm going to find out." She stood, surveying their undesirable meal, and sighed. "Best clear this up. It's a shame to waste it, but I wouldn't force it on my worst enemy."

"Yes, Morgana," Gwen said with a nod. She stood and began clearing the table. Morgana contemplated the situation for a few moments more before taking her still full bowl from its resting place and setting out on her way. She walked purposefully and briskly down the corridors to Arthur's chamber, knocking loudly and persistently until Merlin swung the door open.

She gave him a curt nod as she stepped into the room, catching sight of Arthur leisurely helping himself into his coat.

"What is this?" she asked, slamming the bowl down on the table, letting the now tepid broth splash over the edges.

"I'll have to clean that up," Merlin muttered, groaning slightly. Morgana ignored him and waited for Arthur to face her and give her a response. But the young prince did not turn around, he only chuckled lightly before giving his response.

"Why don't you tell hr what it is, Merlin?" he suggested. Morgana's gaze snapped to Merlin, who had ducked his head so she would not catch his gaze.

"It's rat," he whispered.

"Rat?" Morgana asked incredulously. "You were eating rat?" Merlin nodded. "That's…"

"Disgusting?" Arthur offered.

"I was going to say inventive," Morgana replied, her tone sharp. "Or have you not noticed there's a famine going on?" With that, she stormed from the room, letting a pleased smile tug at the corners of her lips once she had left the company of the men.

Rat indeed.