Morgana drifts up from sleep breathless and yearning, rocking against the hand pressed between her legs. “Gwen,” she moans, and the sound of her own voice in the silence startles her.
The hand is her own.
Gwen is asleep—was asleep, Morgana thinks as the slow rhythm of Gwen’s breathing sharpens, and she feels self-consciousness scald through her even hotter than her arousal—Gwen was asleep in her own, separate, bed.
“M’lady?” Gwen asks. Sheets rustle in the darkness, and then Morgana hears her fumbling for a candle.
She isn’t Morgana’s lover; she’s never given any indication she wants to be.
“It’s all right,” Morgana says. “I...” She can’t think of any excuse, too aware of the wet drag of her nightgown against her thighs as she moves, of the want still simmering under her skin. Of what she’d seen, Gwen leaning over her naked and laughing, pressing kisses to her palms, her breasts, hands sliding surely down her stomach— “It was just a strange dream,” she says, and hopes the rasp to her voice sounds like sleepiness. “Go back to sleep, I’m sorry I woke you.”
The dream had felt real, though; it had played the same haunting notes through her blood as the visions of death and horror did. It lingers with her still, wrapping around her like bright fog.
Gwen makes a sleepy sound and nestles back into the covers. Morgana thinks about curling into them with her, and then thinks about inviting Gwen to her own bed, and...she’s not going back to sleep, not like this. She turns away and breathes open-mouthed and careful into her pillow, drags her nightgown up around her waist.
(She had undressed Gwen slowly, so slowly, stroking her breasts through her shift as her stays pushed them high and trembling, whispering sweet and carnal promises into Gwen’s ear—I’ll do whatever you want, I’ll make you come so hard you can’t stand up—as she unlaced the stays, licking up Gwen’s spine as she raised the shift over her head. She’d pulled Gwen close against her, the sunlight pouring over them brightening Gwen’s skin almost to gold, and promised her anything, everything, a fortune and a kingdom—)
Morgana’s fingers slip easily over her bare skin, better and more urgent now without the nightgown in the way, and she closes her eyes tighter and shakes with how much she wants it to be Gwen.
(—and Gwen had whispered, just you, trembling in Morgana’s embrace even before Morgana eased Gwen’s legs apart and touched her between them, hot and wet and—)
It’s going to happen, Morgana thinks, and comes.
She doesn’t know when, or why, or how—that’s the hardest part. Gwen hadn’t looked older in the vision, but that’s no use. She doesn’t know whether it was their first time or not, whether she should spend every sunny day sitting in front of the windows in her chambers or whether that would keep it from ever happening. She doesn’t know whether this will change, the way things sometimes do if she tries to make them.
It’s a fragile crystal future of a dream, isn’t it, delicate as new rose-petals and birds’ wings—nothing she wants that much is ever tough enough to survive her reaching for it.
Morgana bends low over her dressing-table, her breasts straining against the flimsy bodice of her gown, and she’s looking now—she sees Gwen watching her in the mirror, eyes dark as she bites the corner of her lip.
But Gwen doesn’t say anything.
She doesn’t say anything when Morgana stretches naked before her bath, or trails the soap more slowly over her throat and breasts than she has in years and then ducks under the water and rises gleaming with droplets trailing slowly over her skin.
Morgana falls asleep to the raggedy-quick sounds of Gwen’s breaths in the other bed, and hopes for pleasant dreams.
She wakes screaming (a river flooded in the south, a village in its path—spring melt, full moon, there’s enough time if she can just—) and Gwen holds her like she always has, strong and steady and undemanding. Morgana sobs the terror and the helplessness out into Gwen’s shoulder and feels cleaner, stronger. It’s everything she needs, right now—everything she wants.
The next day she spends collecting reports and arguing with the court about the danger from flooding, and the day after messengers ride out with warnings. She thinks, cautiously, this might even have been a victory.
She doesn’t—well, that’s a lie.
She thinks about it, of course she does, but the nightmare shook her badly, and she’s wondering now whether Gwen isn’t supposed to be her lover, whether something horrible will happen if they do. She has too few dreams of anything but disaster, and she’s not sure whether that’s because nothing else is as important or because that’s all her gift is good for.
Most of the time, she can make herself believe it’s going to be fine, that this was one of the rare harmless glimpses into the future.
She saw it because she needed to see it badly enough.
Gwen goes down to the forge one day and when Morgana’s alone she strips and lies down on her bed, wanting to do this right, to linger over it the way she hasn’t had a chance to. She wants to build a whole series of moments again in her mind, weaving the pieces of the dream together with fantasy so she can call it back whenever she wants.
It’s been months since Morgana had this kind of time entirely to herself, and she feels almost silly as she trails her fingers down her throat and across her breasts, which tighten at the touch.
Gwen, she thinks, and then it’s not silly at all because she has Gwen’s hands on her, Gwen’s work-rough fingers pressing her nipples between them, and heat flares between her legs. Gwen would be unsure at first, everyone is with new lovers and Gwen doesn’t have the courtier’s confidence Morgana had to learn to fake—she’d want it to be good, she’d be gentle and she’d be slow, and Morgana would say harder and Gwen would, she’d stop kissing Morgana’s face and lower her mouth to Morgana’s breast and suck, and Morgana tugs gently on her nipple, squeezes her thighs together against the ache. Gwen would play until Morgana was gasping, drowning in pleasure, and it would be that same uncertainty, that need for it to be good, and she’d like it so much that Morgana wouldn’t say anything, just cross her legs tighter until she feels slick pulsing between them and she can’t breathe, and then finally she’d beg, now, Gwen, please, and Gwen’s fingers would be gentle still, even now, even when Morgana’s half out of her mind with it, too far gone to mimic Gwen’s touch as her hips push up into the first touch of her hand, her fingers sliding down and she pulls them back up wet over her clit, pressing harder than Gwen would, hearing herself moan thin and sharp at how good—
“Oh!” someone says, and the door slams and Morgana looks up and sees Gwen staring at her, face flushed and hand pressed to her parted lips, and she comes so hard the edges of her vision blur.
It takes a moment for the rest of what Gwen is saying to turn into words but Morgana doesn’t think she missed anything necessary. “—didn’t mean to, I, um.” Gwen is biting her lip now, still visibly flushed, and when Morgana’s eyes drop to Gwen’s bodice she sees Gwen’s nipples drawn tight through the layers of cloth. She makes herself look back up at Gwen, who releases her lip—Morgana almost gets distracted again, seeing it bitten dark and shiny—and says, “I’ll just...be going somewhere else—”
And Morgana says, “Wait,” and Gwen stops, looking at her so openly, with even the thin veil of calm she’d managed torn away now and nothing but desire left. “Do you want—me? Us?”
Even with the dream and everything else she’s terrified, briefly, that she was wrong, but Gwen’s eyes flicker briefly closed and then she stumbles forward, reaching for Morgana, and Morgana catches her and pulls her onto the bed.
“My shoes,” Gwen says, and Morgana lets her go just long enough to bend over, reaching for the laces, before she brushes Gwen’s hair aside and kisses the nape of her neck, the frail-tough knob of her spine. Gwen shivers hard and her fingers slip against the leather, twice, and then Morgana leans forward to kiss the pulse just under the curve of her jaw and Gwen yanks the shoes off still-tied and drops them on the floor.
“I didn’t want to ask,” she says, and Morgana says, “You can always ask me, Gwen, for anything,” and catches Gwen’s mouth with her own.
“Just this,” Gwen says when Morgana pulls away to kiss her cheek, her throat, the beautiful clean arch of her collarbones. “You. Us.” Morgana has to kiss her mouth again for that, curl her tongue against Gwen’s as they lie together. Gwen smiles against her and presses closer.