A/N: So, ever since Scifi started showing Merlin I've fallen in love. And therefore I am publishing a slew of Merlin oneshots, almost all of which are Merlin/Arthur, because I adore them. In that respect, though, this particular one-shot differs just slightly, because the focus of it is Gwen and her relationships. It started as a 4+1 type story, and still is, but I chose to place each relationship against a stage in the cycle of the moon--therefore the title of Wax and Wane. There is slash, both Gwen/Morgana and a lighter implied Merlin/Arthur, so if it offends you...well, don't read, and then of course there is the het parings of Gwen/Arthur and Gwen/Lancelot. Well...enjoy!
Disclaimer: I live in New Jersey. Do you really think that I have any kind of ownership in a BBC show?
Wax and Wane
1. Merlin (Waxing Crescent)
Merlin is…first. But not really. He is, but he isn't. He isn't her first crush, he isn't her first kiss, and he isn't the first person she has sex with. As a matter of fact their relationship never develops beyond friendship. It's a friendship that she wouldn't trade for the world, but it doesn't become anything more than that.
Still though, he is first. He's the first person that she really loves in that way. He's the first person who doesn't just make her heart skip a beat; he damn well makes it stop. He's the person that makes her want to throw stubborn, realistic Gwen away and embrace romantic, dreams-come-true Gwen. The only reason she doesn't is because she knows he doesn't see her that way. She's his friend, sure, one of his closest, but even she can't breech that heavy veil that he wraps himself in. But he's first, first in the way that everyone who comes after him is different and incomparable and if he had not preceded them they would not have been at all.
And even though it never becomes anything—can't become anything—she does love him. She loves him in a way that always gives him a special little place, a little hollow inside of her heart that belongs only to him.
2. Morgana (Waxing Half Moon)
Strictly speaking, Morgana actually comes before Merlin. She is Morgana's maid long before she ever hears the name Merlin, and she loves her lady long before that silly boy with big ears ever crosses into her life. But before Merlin she loves Morgana in a friendship kind of way, and after Merlin…well after him her relationship with Morgana alters.
She's not sure why. Maybe it's the nightmares that plague her lady, the nightmares that have her crying and screaming and always she calls for her. Morgana doesn't call for anyone else, only for her. And she is always there, she always comes. Or maybe it's the dark, deep despair after her father dies, the feeling that she is alone in the world, more alone than anyone has ever been.
Whatever it is, the transition is—is not, really, but it feels that way—natural. She spends her nights in Morgana's large, feathery bed, curled against her mistress, holding onto her for dear life. She's not sure if her grip is tighter or if Morgana's is; either way they both wake in the morning with bruises in the shape of fingertips.
She loves Morgana. It's more than simple friendship, after she starts to fit herself against the taller, curvier form of her lady; it's a soul-searching friendship-love, based on comfort and desire and need, based on friendship and love, and no, they aren't two halves to a whole. But they are two halves to some whole, looking for that match.
And she stands by Morgana's side, and she holds her at night when the terrors come to visit her dreams. She watches Morgana and the growing…shadows, the ones that cloy around her, the ones that push her farther and farther away. She's scared as she watches Morgana grow darker and secretive and harder. She's scared and she's helpless, and not even how much she loves Morgana will be enough to save her.
3. Arthur (Full Moon)
Arthur is everything. With Arthur she becomes silly, romantic, dreams-come-true Gwen. She can't help herself. Because Arthur, God, is everything. He's the world wrapping itself around her. He's all of the elements, he's the sky and the ground, and without him she's floating in a vortex of nothing. Her love for Merlin and for Morgana, they're pale in comparison to this all-consuming ArthurArthurArthur. (Lancelot isn't though, he's just as bright and just as consuming and that's another story entirely.)
She memorizes everything about him. Somehow she manages to entwine him so deeply into her and yet not lose herself. She knows every plane of his face, every angle of his body, every minute change of expression and what it means; she knows all these things, as though they are part of her like a fingerprint. But she is herself. He threatens to overwhelm her, but he doesn't. He is everything, but she keeps that part of herself intact, unwilling to let it go.
With Arthur—despite all the doubts and all the pain and all the complications—she has never been happier in her life. With Arthur, she's sure that nothing in the world could ever be bleak or sad or despairing.
With Arthur, all it takes is a single kiss to wash the world away.
4. Lancelot (Waning Half Moon)
What distresses her most is that Arthur is everything. But so is Lancelot. How in the world can two people both mean everything to her?
She hates it. She hates the way she feels about Lancelot—it's so trite and cliché to say that it's fire, and it's not really accurate; it's more like ice, numbing her and pulling her in until she's over her head and she can't hold on any longer—and she hates that she loves him just as much as Arthur. She hates that she'll slide into her bed—her marriage bed, with Arthur—still thinking of his hands slipping over her. She hates that she can't meet Arthur's gaze.
She hates the Merlin knows. She knows that he knows. For all that he plays the fool, he's really not clumsy and not stupid and not unobservant. He watches everything around him, probably knows everything that could ever possibly be of importance. And she knows that he knows, from the tremulous smile on his lips and the way he can't quite hold her gaze. She feels sick inside from it.
She feels sicker inside when Arthur smiles that special smile at her, or when he touches her cheek, or when he kisses the hollow of her neck. She wonders if he can sense that Lancelot's lips have been in the same places, that his hands have caressed those delicate spots.
But she does love Lancelot. She loves him so much it makes her want to cry, for what she's doing, for what she's done. And despite everything, she makes no attempts to stop. There's no point. She can't stop loving Lancelot and she can't stop loving Arthur, and she can't leave either one of them. She can't even try.
She doesn't want to try.
+1. How It All Falls Out (Waning Crescent)
It's odd, what it all comes down to. There are secrets and lies and truths that hover on the edges and cannot be denied. Morgana is gone—it's like a sharp pang every time she thinks of her mistress—and nothing is quite the same. Everything is just slightly…slanted.
She splits her time. She loves Lancelot and she loves Arthur and she tries to love them both, tries to keep them both, tries to keep the world from falling around her. She's sure that if Arthur discovers everything will break like finely spun sugar.
But when she finally brings herself to look him in the eye…well, she finds that things are not what she has feared. In Arthur's eyes she sees the knowing, the same kind of knowing that always lingers in Merlin's gaze. It startles her. Arthur—her Arthur—wouldn't know something like that and never say a word.
Searching his eyes and his body posture and the lines and planes and angles she knows so well, she finds her answer. Arthur isn't hers, not all the way through. Just like she isn't his.
She reaches out and touches his cheek, smiling a little. She leans in and kisses him, almost chaste, wondering if that sweetness on his lips is a taste she has forgotten or a taste that was not there before. He reaches out and squeezes her hand and she understands.
They fall into the patterns of dance, of pretending and denying and looking the other way. It works.
But they all know it can't last forever.
All things break, in the end.
Well, thoughts? Questions? Comments? Love? (Love would be greatly appreciated, haha!)