This is a multi-chapter story, and I am famously bad at them. Or perhaps not famously. Just bad. You have been warned. But, I happen to have some free time on my hands – Don't worry, I'm not a fired city worker, I'm on holiday – so I should have plenty of time to get some more done.
This starts out suprisingly angsty, but I'm not very good at keeping up angst. Warn me if I start getting too humerous. That just wouldn't do.
Oooh, so I haven't done one of these 'summary at the top of a chapter' things so… here goes *deep breath*
Title: The Art of Seduction (As taught by Gwen and Morgana)
Chapter Title: A Dust of Destruction
Rating: T for sexual suggestions and a swear word. May go up. May not. Who can tell (well, I should be able to but, meh)
Summary: Arthur does nothing. More exciting than it sounds. Well, it would have to be, wouldn't it?
Pairing: Arthur/Merlin with a hint of past teenage Arthur/Morgana
Wow, that was less exciting than I expected. Oh well, on with the story!
The Crown Prince's chambers were eerily quiet, which was odd, because even in a castle things generally only appear eerie in the middle of the night when a storm is raging and someone died an exact number of years ago that night, and certainly do not at three in the afternoon on a Sunday. Blazing sunshine streamed through the windows and in all other parts of the castle the sound of summer revels, may pole dances and market place hubbub could be heard, and all truly seemed right in Camelot. But, eerie it was, and for a good reason. Arthur was in his rooms. Alone. And he was being quiet. More than quiet, totally silent. Nothing stirred in the room, not even the rustling of sheets that was quite a common noise when Arthur was bored and anyone reasonably good looking was around. The silence pervaded the corridor behind it and maids coming to and from other chambers hushed their chatter as they entered the corridor, their glances towards the Prince's door becoming wide eyed and lacking the usual accompanying giggle or flirtatious comment.
The perfunctory guards outside the door, a sensible pair of brothers named Gareth and Gawain, glanced at each other uneasily for the fourth time since their shift had begun, a mere twenty minutes before. They didn't speak, didn't dare to, because they knew that Arthur was doing Nothing. Not the bored, idle adolescent mere nothing, that could be solved with a suggestion of hunting, riding, or a simple conversation. This was Nothing, a nothing that was studious and direct and concentrated. No food had entered the room, and Arthur hadn't left it for hours. Three sets of guards had stood watch and seen nothing, heard nothing and thought about the endless somethings that could follow. Most would have said before that they would enjoy a quiet day guarding a silent inactive prince, but Arthur was his father's son, so each man was paralysed with fear as he stood there, waiting for anything to happen.
But Nothing did. The sun sloped low over the flagstones as this third pair listened intently to the silence. They listened so hard that Morgana had already swept along the passageway and through the doors, opening them herself with a frown before she was noticed, and only Gawain managed a weak, "Greetings M'lady," before the door slammed shut. Neither brother thought about glancing in on the Prince - their curiosity did not outweigh their common sense. They did not know that in this case, the proverbial clam had followed the storm.
Had they seen the sight that met Morgana's eyes they would have known so. The table was overturned and expensive, heady scented wine had spread thinly across the floor, staining everything in its path – the rug, some scraps of parchment and a scarlet scarf. One of the pots that had sat upon the window sill now lay in pieces against the opposite wall. The rug had been kicked up viciously and one leg of a chair had been ripped off and now sat meekly on the seat as an afterthought. Dust, which had clearly been blown around in the disturbance (Morgana suspected it came from under the rug. Merlin was not famed for his thorough cleaning work) had now settled over everything, giving the destroyed room a look of calm. It was not cold, but for a summer;s day it felt wrong, as if all possible heat had been sucked from the place, leaving it devoid of temperature. Its emptiness gave Morgana, a sensitive being, a slight chill in her bones, as if something wrong or deeply distressing had occurred, but she could not fathom or even help it.
In the centre of the room the bed was the only object untouched, excluding the figure that sat upon it aggressively staring at a wall where the tapestry had been half-torn down. Morgana, a sensible girl at the best of times, said nothing. Over the years she had been many things to Arthur; friend, older sister, younger cousin, enemy, crush, dance partner, sparring partner to name a few. On rarer occasions and not since their youth, Morgana had been a mother. Of the two, only she could remember her own, and only she had the natural instinct to mothering. With this knowledge and memory combined, she had sometimes attempted the comforting smiles and brief but powerful words that had ruled the happiest moments he had shared with her own mother.
Still, it had been nearly ten years since Morgana had last turned mother to Arthur. When the Prince had first begun to flirt with her, and she with him, the whole idea had gained an Oedipal element that both were keen to avoid. Now, though, with recent admissions of Arthur's in mind, it seemed safe to try again. With a gentle swish, the Seer settled herself beside her childhood friend and waited, not saying a word. After a brief moment of pause, Arthur's head hi her shoulder and her hand flew to stroke his brow. The murmured words that had accompanied this gesture in those previous times, when Arthur had fallen off his new horse or lost his favourite sword or suddenly remembered his mother was dead and he would be king one day remained unspoken in the room that demanded silence but both could hear them in their minds.
Slowly, ever so slowly, a warmth began to flow back into the room as Morgana listened to Arthur's slow but slightly ragged breaths, the only sign that he might be anything other than unaffected by emotion. Her hand drifted from his head to rest comfortingly on his shoulder and she leaned into him slightly, kindly, but with the air of one who is expecting an answer. Arthur could tell, and had a sneaking suspicion that Morgana would stay with him all night, propriety be damned, if he refused to tell her what was going on. He took a deep breath and utterly failed to begin. Eventually, after screwing up his eyes and making a strange choking noise like a kitten with its first hairball, Arthur managed to sit up and struggle through a word.
Morgana looked at him with an eyebrow raised. "What did Merlin do? Arthur?"
The Prince tried to avoid her look and glanced down at his boots, but the pull was too much and he found himself locked in a staring match. It had the effect of a truth drug and he found himself speaking again, without ever having decided to. "He… Oh, God… He got so angry, Morgana, he… I…" Arthur disliked being lost for words, but the sheer confusion that faced him was enough to rob him of any eloquence he once possessed.
"Merlin did this?" The incredulity in Morgana's voice made her sound a little like a small dog, and Arthur almost smiled at the idea of Merlin, sweet, good natured Merlin, tipping over tables and smashing vases as he glanced back around the room, his eyes returning to his boots as he spoke again.
"No, I did this. Afterwards. The runt couldn't even lift the table. He was angry though. I've never seen him like that. Not that type, right? I don't understand it."
Sometimes, despite having spent years with the boy-come-man even Morgana couldn't follow the way his mind worked. Arthur had started to tell his stories from the end and work back, often ignoring the middle completely, something he had picked up from Merlin. Morgana couldn't count the number of times the servant had rushed past her squeaking about some plan to save Arthur or Uther (really, their names being so similar was quite confusing in a castle of fast talkers) or the whole of Camelot, and whilst they always made sense in hindsight, they never seemed to at the time. Now she felt the same kind of befuddlement, lie she was being led blind into a room she knew well, but was all changed around, as Arthur spoke. "Wait, what happened? You aren't making any sense. Oh, no. Wait." Realisation dawned on Morgana, and her mouth formed a perfect 'o'. "You didn't – when we were talking this morning – you didn't act upon it, did you?"
The reply when it came was tentative, but tinged with a hint of annoyance, as the blonde prince turned his head back to wards her, his eyes accusing her of what she didn't know. "Yes. Why? Was there something you should have told me?" As usual, it was difficult for the Crown Prince to grasp the fact that anything that had gone wrong might in any way be even partially his fault, and after his conversation with Morgana that morning, she seemed involved enough in the events to deserve some of the blame. Funnily enough, she didn't quite see it that way.
Morgana stood up abruptly and glared down at Arthur. "Me tell you? Have you no common sense. Of course you don't. You just leapt at him? Like that?" A shield that Morgana recognised as belonging to a newly initiated knight, was lying by the bed and the young woman groaned. "Oh, tell me you didn't." Before she spotted that particularly damning piece of evidence, Morgana's sympathy had been with Arthur, since she had known him for years, loved him with every inch of her heart and spoken passionately with him after his epiphany that very morning. Now, however, being a person subject to rather violent changes in humour, she could only think of Merlin, forced to walk in on yet another liaison of Arthur's. Now that she recalled, the knight in question bore a striking similarity to a certain servant, dark haired, pale skinned, with a pleasing smile, and it was just like Arthur to practice on anyone the night before he made his attempt, without considering the consequences. Consequences like said servant being the one to feed and dress and generally attend to both the prince and his one night stand.
"What?" As if to prove her thoughts true the prince looked even more confused and annoyed, but his temper was in check even as Morgana's was flaring. He couldn't comprehend his idiocy as she could. Her fists clenched at her sides as she wondered at the idiocy of men. She was severely tempted to let fly at him, to rant and rave about feelings and truth and thinking about other people, but with Arthur in the mood he was now Morgana knew the best she could expect would be a laugh and a sly comment about emotional women, despite all the emotional turmoil Arthur himself was clearly suffering. Then again, her frustration would hardly make her case appear any more reasonable, even if it was the truth, and a reply like the one she expected would probably push her over the edge into temporary madness. After all the effort she had put in to training Arthur for his own epiphany, it was infuriating to watch him blow his chances so soon afterwards and still not realise why.
Still, let it never be said that a woman is not in control of her emotions. Breathing deeply and trying to make her face as serene as possible without punching the man in front of her, Morgana pulled up the three-legged chair, arranged her self in it and squeezed the broken leg in her hands as a convenient substitute for Arthur's indubitably good looking but empty head.
"Just tell me what happened. Start this morning, before we talked. Somewhere you fucked up, Arthur. Probably more than once." Her accent and demeanour usually made her swearing sound bloody hilarious to Arthur, but he merely glared up at her. She held his gaze for a few seconds, before he gave in, sighed and began.
I'm debating whether to have the next chapter be one long speech by Arthur, very one-sided and biased etc, or a flashback that shows both sides in third person. You could tell me in a review! Or try telepathy. Reviews are better though! Oh, and Merlin will actually show up this time, in all his glory, as will Gwen.