Thanks to Arya Tindomiel for her wonderful reviews and encouragement, Anonymus and Sarah Merlin Geek Freak for their constant reviews.
There's an OC here who belongs to Arya Tindomiel. Her name's Estella and she appears in Arya's fic 'Legend of Albion' (Which is awesome, go read it). She's Arthur and Morgana's cousin, and how ArMor are related to her (but not to each other) is explained in the fic. I hope I did justice to her characterization. Thanks for trusting me with her Arya! Enjoy!
"…And so it is with great pride and honour that I present to you Camelot's newest product!" Uther smiled fatherly towards his ward and son standing to his side as he introduced the product, "Without doubt, our company owes everything to my son, Arthur Pendragon, and my ward, Morgana Le Fay and her dedicated R&D team." He gestured discreetly and his PA gave the order for the refreshments to be brought forward. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, my esteemed investors and business partners, I invite you to partake in some light refreshments and there will be a demonstration for all who wish to see how our cooker works. Thank you."
Loud claps and cheers met the CEO of Camelot as he descended the stage, his children flanking him. Uther pulled the two to his side and squeezed their arms affectionately. "I cannot tell you how proud I am of the both of you for doing all that you have done for Camelot, and your friends as well." He chuckled and pushed the two off gently, "Go, have fun and take the rest of the day off. I'm sure you both would rather be anywhere than here. Oh and Arthur," he stopped his son from running off just yet, and smiled genially at his children. "Do take Morgana out somewhere nice as your first date. I hope I taught you better than to bring her to some shabby fast food restaurant."
Arthur groaned in consternation as Morgana laughed and kissed Uther's cheeks. They had told the older man of their relationship the night they had officially gotten together, and Uther had been wonderfully supportive of the two. He loved Morgana as his own daughter and took Arthur aside to give him a serious talk on protecting Morgana and never hurting her. The blonde rolled his eyes now and held his hand out for Morgana to take hold. "Don't worry father. I'll take her to a five star restaurant where we can splurge all of your hard earned money." He shook his father's hand firmly and the younglings left.
They had the entire day to themselves for a change. Freya and Merlin were off spending some time alone; Morgana recalled hearing something about a movie marathon at Freya's place. Arthur had been surprised when Gwen and Lance announced that they were going out, but were pleased and gave the couple his blessings and congratulations. He hoped Gwen found the man for her; she deserved the happiness. Lance had taken Gwen out too, wanting to spend as much time with his new girlfriend as possible. And so the two of them were left to their own devices.
"What do you think we should do Arthur? It's a beautiful day and I certainly wouldn't want to waste it by staying inside." They were in the car, heading home and Morgana giggled as Arthur kept dropping little kisses up along her arm, ending at her neck. He grinned as he kissed her pulse and delighted in hearing her gasp, "I don't know Morgana, I could think of a few things to do inside." She squealed and hit his chest playfully and Damian grinned at the antics of the young Master and Mistress. It was about bloody time and the servants had practically thrown a party when Arthur and Morgana announced their relationship.
"Arthur! Don't you dare!" He just grinned and took her in his arms, resting his chin upon her head. "Well, I thought that maybe we could go riding over at Avalon. We haven't been there in quite a while and I know how much you miss that place." She turned slightly in his arms and beamed up at him, looking for a moment like the little girl she once was. "Can we?" He smiled and kissed her nose, "Anything you want Morgana. We'll just go back and change into our riding clothes, and then we'll go."
An hour later, the couple was standing at the entrance of Avalon Ranches, owned by a good friend of Igraine Pendragon, Nimueh Ryan. The two had been firm friends when Igraine had been alive, and while Uther disliked the woman and vice versa, Arthur and Morgana frequented the ranch ever since they were children. Nimueh, dressed in her trademark red, grinned when she saw them and hugged them tight. "Arthur, Morgana! It's wonderful to see you! Come on, we'll get your horses tacked in no time."
While Arthur had never bought a horse, Morgana had bonded strongly with a beautiful white horse named Aithusa and fell in love with the gentle creature so much so that she bought Aithusa and kept her here at the ranch in Nimueh's care. The raven haired beauty raced to her horse's stall and threw her arms around Aithusa's elegant neck. The horse whinnied with glee and immediately nosed her long black hair, and Arthur could only stare at the contrast between the soft white and the sharp black of animal and human. They were beautiful together. Tapping him on the shoulder, Nimueh gestured for him to follow her and led him to a snorting black stallion. "I think you'll like this one Arthur, he's young and we just got him but he's of a good breed and he's proud and strong. His name's Cabal."
Arthur approached the magnificent creature slowly, not wanting to startle the skittish animal. He unconsciously murmured comfortingly to the horse, soothing the animal with his low, gentle tone. "Easy there boy. Good boy, you're a wonderful creature aren't you? That's it." He rubbed the horse's velvet nose and Cabal's ears twitched before he playfully butted Arthur's hand. The blonde laughed and rubbed Cabal's pointed ears. "Good boy."
Nimueh smirked, "Told you you'd like him. Want to take him for a ride?" Arthur grinned, "You bet I do." The older woman called to a passing stable hand to bring Cabal's tack along and in no time, Arthur was up the horse and trotting around the grounds of the ranch. Cabal had a long, swift stride that was smooth and even, and Arthur was beaming happily when Morgana joined them on Aithusa. He smiled to his girlfriend –Gods, he could get used calling her that- and thanked Nimueh. "Let's go then, race you to the hill top Morgana!" And with a sharp whistle and slight nudge to Cabal's side, Arthur took off, Morgana not far behind on her mare.
They fell into an easy rhythm, one established ever since they were children and came here to ride. They'd call out friendly taunts to each other occasionally before urging their horses to go faster and they'd laugh whenever one overtook the other. Soon, they reached the hill top where an ancient, bent tree stood proudly despite its bent stature and bare branches. The tree had been there forever, a silent guardian looking down from the hills. Neither could determine who had reached first and conceded to a tie. They dismounted and allowed the horses to graze on the green plains as they collapsed beneath the tree, panting heavily yet still giggling over childhood memories.
"D'you remember, Arthur, when we had our first riding lesson and you were so determined to gallop in just one lesson? I think Nimueh nearly throttled you! You were so bloody competitive even as a little boy." The blonde rolled his eyes and reached out to enfold Morgana in a loose embrace. "Yeah well, I did learn how to gallop the fastest remember?" She snorted and leaned into his muscular chest. "Yes you did Arthur, and you could never shut up about it." He just chuckled and pressed a kiss onto her head, not replying to her taunt. They remained silent for a while before he asked a question that had been playing on his mind ever since they caught Fermin Hales. "Morgana, are you going to give your sister a second chance then?"
She shifted and raised her head to look up at him, a troubled expression marring her perfect brow. "I don't know Arthur. Like I said, part of me wants to, knows that I should give her another chance, but then another part of me is determined to keep her out of my life." She rested her head in the crook of his neck, "So then I decided that maybe I should ask her to the ball, and then go on from there." Morgana traced the lines engraved on his palm, nervously awaiting his answer. "What do you think?"
Arthur bit his lip; he didn't like Morgause and probably never would, but she did love Morgana in her own strange, absent way. And she did come through for them, or at least her sister. He stroked Morgana's hair absent-mindedly and sighed. "If it's what you want Morgana, you know I'll support your decision. Make sure to let her know soon though, the ball is just 2 days away." Morgana whirled around and planted a kiss onto his delectable lips, grinning as she pulled her phone out. "Thank you so much Arthur! You won't regret this!" He just grimaced slightly even as he wrapped an arm around her waist. "Hello? Morgause? It's me, Morgana. I was wondering if you want to come to our annual ball two days from now. Yeah, it's at the Ritz, at 6.30 in the evening, formal wear. And yes, you're allowed to bring a partner. Who? No! You're going out with Cenred? Tell me everything when we meet all right? And Morgause, thank you." Arthur groaned. Great, Morgause and Cenred, together. He was regretting it already.
~ 2 days later ~
Morgana stood in her room, snapping on her diamond drop earrings as she smoothed her wine red dress. It was a beautiful sleeveless dress made of silk with lace embellishing the skirt and bodice. Little crystals were painstakingly stitched and encrusted into the material of the dress, and as she turned and moved beneath the light, every little crystal caught light and shimmered as if they were alive. A gold girdle belt was cinched at her waist and the wide skirt fell gracefully about her, pooling at her feet and swishing softly as she moved about. Her hair was curled gently and piled up in an elegant bun, held together by a long, silver hairpin dusted with tiny sparkling diamonds. A golden choker rested on her swan-like neck; it was in fact, a gift from Arthur. All in all, Morgana looked like a fairy tale princess, no, a goddess. For no princess or queen could have looked as heavenly as she did then, as her smoky green eyes stared from beneath long, curled lashes and her smiling mouth painted a dark shade of red.
And Arthur certainly thought her a goddess; his goddess as she descended the winding stairs of the mansion and into his arms. He bowed low and took her pale hand in his, dropping a reverent kiss onto her hand. He straightened and drew her into his arms, taking care not to rumple her divine dress. He placed her hand in the crook of his arms, "My Lady." And she curtseyed carefully, long neck dipped in a graceful nod. "My champion." All the while, Uther stood and smiled at his children with pride. How they had grown to become such wonderful adults. He prayed deep within his heart, that Igraine, Gorlois and Vivienne could look down on their son and daughter respectively with joy.
The Pendragons and Morgana stepped out of the car to be greeted with millions of flashing cameras and reporters shouting at them, wanting to interview them. They moved regally through the crowd and into the Ritz ballroom where the guests were already milling about as they drank champagne and chatted. The trio commanded the attention of everyone as they stepped into the room; the men each cut a dignified figure, with both son and father in identically well cut, sharp black suits. Morgana, needless to say caught the attention of every man and the envy and jealousy of every woman as they stared at her flawlessly confident and perfect figure. They were powerful and they were a family.
Uther nodded to both Arthur and Morgana and went off to mingle with Camelot's more important investors and business partners while the couple were surprised when they caught sight of their mutual cousin, Estella De Bois. By some strange, unthinkable coincidence, Estella was related them both through her mother and her father respectively. Her father, Tristan De Bois was Igraine's older brother, while her mother, Valeria was twin sister to Morgana's deceased mother, Vivienne. Lady Annis had been a good friend of Gorlois, Vivienne's husband and she and Tristan had control of half of the shares of Caerleon each. The two hadn't seen Estella, who was the oldest of the three, in quite a while; the paparazzi had a wild time chronicling her jet-setting lifestyle as she flew from country to country, seemingly doing nothing but attend mindless, socialite parties. What they didn't know was that Estella was in fact, the driving force behind the slew of Caerleon's investors. Her quick tongue and charm had managed to convince even the hardest of men and women and her intelligence had gained many a powerful and loyal investor for the company, making her one of Caerleon's greatest asset. But Estella loved toying with the media, and upheld her wild, party girl image just as a farce.
But what surprised Arthur and Morgana even more than her presence, was the man on her arm. "Gwaine? What the bloody hell are you doing here?" Arthur couldn't believe that the drunkard was escorting his cousin. "How do you even know Estella?" Gwaine grinned sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his head as Estella kissed Morgana on the cheek warmly. "Well, you see, Estella and I go way back and we were together, but then we broke up and we haven't seen in other in years and now we're back together again."
Arthur raised a brow at his friend as Morgana and Estella caught up on old times. "Oh whatever." He just clapped Gwaine on his shoulders and hugged Estella lightly. "Hello cousin." Estella smirked and hugged him back, "Why hello Arthur. It seems my favourite cousins have finally gotten together after years of pig headedness." The blonde glared at her, "Why is it that everyone knew of our feelings before we even knew?" Estella just smiled sympathetically at him and patted his hand, "Ah well Arthur, you couldn't help the fact that you were in love with yourself for so long to not see your feelings for Morgana." Gwaine just snickered and snaked his arm around his girlfriend's waist. Estella was clad in an off-shoulder midnight blue gown that sparkled like the night sky. Her dress was form fitting down to the waist before flaring out dramatically and sweeping across the floor as she walked. Her black hair was curled and let loose, and tiny little pearls were artistically interwoven between the dark strands. Her escort was dressed simply in a black coat and white dress shirt with the top buttons undone, his hair roguishly ruffled as usual.
Estella smiled fondly at her younger cousins before Gwaine dragged her off to where the wine was. "Well, I'll see the both of you later after Gwaine has drunk himself dead." Arthur snorted and kissed her hand, "Good luck with that. I swear that man can drink a barrel of wine and stay sober." Estella laughed as she hugged Morgana warmly, "Yes well, let's put that to the test shall we? Oh and Arthur, Morgana? I'm really happy for the both of you. You deserve each other, and I mean that in the best possible way." She blew a kiss at them before following her beau to the refreshment table, arguing with him all the way. Arthur and Morgana just stared at each other amused. Who would've thought Gwaine would get together with their snappy, witty cousin? But in a way, they were perfect for each other. And Arthur suspected that Estella's sharp tongue definitely kept Gwaine in line, or at least, stopped him from going after anything in a skirt while she was around. It was nice; strange but nice.
Uther's speech was about to begin soon and the couple made their way to their designated seats, passing by Gwen, Lance, Merlin and Freya as they did so. Gwen and Freya looked lovely, the former in a simple blue dress that was a few shades lighter than Estella's dress, with wide, open sleeves that hung loosely about her arms. Freya was dressed in a brilliant emerald dress that was sleeveless and stooped just below her ankles. They looked radiant with their respective beaus dressed in suits as the friends greeted one another and took their seats. Morgana spotted Morgause and Cenred a few seats away from them but had no chance to speak to her sister as Uther stepped up to the podium and began his speech.
He thanked everyone who had worked so hard to make the launching of the project a success, as well as clarifying once more what had happened with Fermin Hales and reassured everyone of Camelot's security and reputation. Morgana and Arthur had zoned out and were playing footsie while trying to keep from giggling aloud when they were thrown back to reality by thunderous clapping and roars of cheers. Arthur frowned and leaned in to whisper to Morgana, "Is it me or is everyone staring at us?" She shook her head, as mystified as he was when Freya, trying hard not to burst out laughing leaned over and whispered to them. "Your father just told the entire world that you're together."
Both had identical expressions of 'Are you kidding me?' on their faces as they stared at Uther with incredulity. The older man just shrugged and smiled helplessly. Arthur groaned, he was going to have to make sure his father didn't have more drinks later on; he was already drunk unfortunately. The blonde smiled to his girlfriend as she laughed and kissed him, not caring that everyone was staring at them. What the hell, the public already knew of their relationship; no point trying to hide the fact from them then. Arthur grabbed her waist, slightly shocked as he kissed back. She felt so soft in his arms and he felt as though he could kiss her forever and not need to come up for air. The press went wild and snapped picture after picture, already forming the headlines for tomorrow's papers.
They finally broke apart and the guests, finally having enough of ogling at the two kissing –Arthur honestly thought they were all perverts and voyeurs- filtered out onto the dance floor once more. Soft strains of music started as the orchestra struck up a slow waltz. He wanted to ask Morgana to dance, but Morgause and Cenred's arrival prevented that.
Morgause like her sister was dressed in red, and bright red lace covered her arms and her neck as a golden belt hung loosely on her hips. The skirt of her dress fell gently around her and her blonde hair was let loose, just a few strands pinned back with a simple pearl barrette. She was blushing as Cenred leered and whispered into her ear before she shot a half-hearted glare at the man and turned towards her sister. Morgause smiled uncertainly at Morgana before extending a hand towards her, "Morgana, you look lovely tonight sister." She was surprised when Morgana took her into a hug and she fought back tears as she hugged her younger sister back.
Morgana just sighed into her sister's embrace and whispered to her, "Thank you Morgause. If it weren't for you Camelot would've been destroyed." The older woman smiled and pushed her sister's hair back tenderly, "Yes well, I couldn't have let that happen to my baby sister now can I? I stood by once when you were in need Morgana, and I intend to never do that again. I hope you can find it within your heart to forgive me sister." Morgana laughed and took her hand, "I think I can Morgause, and I'd love it if we could be a family again."
The sisters shared a loving smile before the moment was broken by a smirking Cenred. "Does that mean I'll be your brother-in-law then little Le Fay?" Morgause just rolled her eyes and smacked the back of his head gently. "Behave, Cenred." The man pouted and rubbed his head, "I did help out too you know." Arthur just snorted, "Only because you're so whipped." Cenred looked affronted and glared at the blonde, "I may be whipped, as you say young Pendragon, but so are you. There's something about Le Fay women that men cannot seem to resist is there?" The blonde could only nod in agreement as he watched Morgana laughing and exposing her long, pale elegant neck. "Yes, I suppose there is."
"So I'll call you and we'll have dinner sometime, is that all right Morgause?" Morgana's sister nodded with a slight smile before turning to Cenred who was impatiently clearing his throat. "Of course sister, and now, I must attend to this child here who insists that I devote my entire evening to him." She nodded once to Arthur who tilted his head in response. "Young Pendragon, I entrust my sister's safety and happiness to you, but understand that if you hurt her, you will have to answer to me." Arthur bowed slightly and gave his reply seriously. "I give you my word Morgause that none shall ever harm Morgana as long as I am around." She hummed and patted Morgana's cheek lightly before giving her one last smile and floating away with Cenred who pulled her into a dance.
Arthur finally turned his attention to his girlfriend and held his hand out, posture at a half bow. "May I have this dance, my Lady?" She nodded graciously, an amused smile gracing her red lips. "Indeed you may, my Champion." And so Arthur took Morgana's hand in his and twirled her gracefully across the ball room, snickering slightly as Morgana's wide skirt flared about her and scattering the guests near them to retreat to a further corner. He overheard his father actually giggling as he talked to Gaius, Merlin's uncle who apparently was a longtime acquaintance of his. Arthur raised his eyes heavenward, Dear Lord, please put me out of my misery and shame. I knew I shouldn't let my father near the wine.
Morgana stared up quizzically at him and he smiled down at her, unable to resist dropping another kiss onto her irresistible lips. She sighed into his warm mouth and wrapped her arms tighter around his neck and he groaned as he felt her soft form so close to his. "God have mercy, Morgana, not too close." At first, she was confused but when Arthur gestured well, southward, she bit her lip to stop from laughing out loud. She eased herself a little away from him and kissed his cheek, "I'm sorry Arthur, I didn't know I was tempting you." He smirked and twirled her around, "Yes well, unless you hadn't notice, everything about you is tempting." He leaned closer, careful not to brush against her and whispered lowly in her ear. "Your lips, your eyes, your cute little nose, your slim waist, your neck, your delicious ear; everything is tempting." She blushed a fiery red and buried her head against his chest as he laughed gently. "I love you Morgana and you are my goddess, forever and always."
She could only nod silently, shining eyes telling him just how much she loved him as well. And they just danced, the music stirring their souls and heart as they danced the night away, not another word spoken unless it was to fend off unwanted people trying to get a turn at dancing with either of them. He was hers, and she was his, and they were never ever anyone else's except each other, even if the morning sky turned inky black or the moon rose to greet dawn instead of the sun, even if their worlds were turned around and they were at the other ends of the universe and time, even if everyone was adamant that they remained apart and they were pitted against each other as the legendary King Arthur and his love Morgaine were, even if they had no memory of their love for each other and others claimed them for their own, they would find each other, as a two halves of a whole, beating heart always found each other and as the seas and skies and earth called them home to each other's arms; Arthur and Morgana were, and always will be. And that is the tale that the Pendragons will tell their children and grandchildren and great grandchildren one day, of the lovers who were, are and always will be.
Freya sat in bed, not able to sleep yet as she flipped through the channels. She stopped at the news channel, where news of the ball was being reported. Merlin, who was in the bathroom just about to brush his teeth, dropped his tooth paste and rushed out as he heard a loud shriek from the bedroom. "Freya! What's wrong? What is it?" To his surprise, Freya just leapt out of bed and threw her arms around him, squealing and shrieking into his ear. Merlin was quite astonished that he didn't turn deaf from the high decibels of her shrieks and squeals.
"Arthur and Morgana are just so cute! Do you know what the presses are calling them now? ArMor! It's just so bloody perfect!" Merlin turned to look at the telly and saw the strangest poll he had ever seen in his life. It seemed that the press really had nothing to do but have the public vote for their favourite celebrity/famous corporate couples, and 'ArMor' or Arthur and Morgana, were in the lead by millions of votes, no doubt getting a brilliant head start by Uther's announcement of their relationship tonight.
Freya scrambled to get her phone, "I've got to tell them about this! This is just too perfect!" She hit Morgana's number and waited, and it didn't really occur to her that it was 2 in the morning and Morgana was probably asleep –which indeed she was- when she answered Freya's call groggily, "Hello? Freya? What's wrong?"
If Morgana hadn't been awoken by Freya's phone call yet, she definitely woke up when Freya squealed through the phone ecstatically. "Morgana! Did you see? The press are calling you and Arthur ArMor, and you're leading in the 'Hottest Couples of London' poll!"
Morgana groaned and fell back into her bed. "Freya, this couldn't have waited till next morning? And is there even a poll like that?"
The petite girl's mouth formed a perfect 'O' as she realized her faux pas. "Oops, my bad Morgana. You go back to doing whatever it was you were doing with Arthur." Now normally, Morgana would fire back a quip but she was too exhausted and just yawned in response before ending the call. She turned to her side, finally she'd be able to get some sleep.
"What did Freya want?" Or not.
She just grunted in a rather unladylike manner and ignored Arthur. "Go back to sleep Arthur. I'll tell you in the morning." No, they weren't intimate, or at least, not yet. But Arthur found it near impossible to go back to his room with his bed void of Morgana and had pleaded to be allowed to share her bed just this once. She had relented and they curled up together under her covers and talked and giggled till they fell asleep, just like old times.
Arthur chuckled at his grumpy, sleep deprived girlfriend and wrapped an arm around her waist securely, spooning her smaller form. She was already asleep with a slight smile on her face when he kissed her cheek lightly and whispered 'I love you' in her ear, dreams filled with her golden haired prince who carried her off into the sunset, in their very own fairytale.